M.D. ’88, Honorary Doctor of Public Service ’17
Physician, Retired United States Army Lieutenant General, National Military and Medical Leader
Monumental Achievement: Retired Lieutenant General Nadja West is a trailblazer. She was the first African American Army Surgeon General, the first African American woman to become an Army three-star general, and the highest-ranking woman graduate from West Point. As commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, West managed an $11 billion budget, led an organization of more than 130,000 healthcare professionals, and supported more than 4 million people throughout the world. In addition to receiving many military accolades, West has been named as one of Washington’s Most Powerful Women in Washingtonian Magazine, received the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and awarded the Armed Forces Medical Advocate Award from Essence Magazine.
Retired Lieutenant General Nadja West is the 44th Army Surgeon General and the former commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command (USAMEDCOM). In 2015, West became the first African American woman three-star general in the Army’s history, and is currently the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.
A graduate of the George Washington School of Medicine, West completed residencies in family medicine and dermatology, and has held various clinical, operational and leadership positions throughout her 30+ year career as a soldier.
In her last Army assignment, West managed an $11 billion budget and led an organization consisting of more than 130,000 healthcare professionals comprised of active, guard and reserve soldiers, civilians, contractors and volunteers. She was responsible for medical centers, community hospitals and clinics; dental, veterinary and public health facilities; research, education and training platforms; and deployed medical formations around the globe, supporting over 4 million people. In her role as SG, West was the senior medical advisor to the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army. During her tenure, she led the U.S. Army Medical Department through the most comprehensive transformation that military medicine has seen in over three decades.
West served as a Hauser Leader at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership from 2019 - 2020, and serves on the boards of directors for Johnson & Johnson, Nucor Corporation, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation. She is a trustee of the National Recreation Foundation, dedicated to enhancing the role of recreation as a positive force in improving the quality of life of youth. She is also a trustee of Americares - a non-profit that saves lives and improves health for people affected by poverty or disaster so they can reach their full potential. In 2020, she was selected as a trustee of the board of Mount St. Mary’s University, and joined the board of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
She and her husband, Don, have two awesome adult children; one whom is a recent grad of GW Law School.