Michael J. Shick
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
Class of 1998
Mike graduated from East Kentwood High School in 1998 and entered the United States Air Force in 1999. He began his military career as a Tech. Controller at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Florida. While in that role, Mike became immersed in IT, managing and troubleshooting a base-level network. Two months after the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks, Mike deployed for his first time to northern Italy to support contingency operations. Upon his return, he applied and was selected for a special duty assignment to the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, to continue his communications role in network security and network infrastructure.
While stationed at the Academy, Mike met and married his wife, Rhonda. Also, during that assignment, he started taking night classes at Regis University. While taking courses, he decided to make the Air Force a career. He was selected as part of the Airmen Scholarship and Commissioning Program, thereby earning a full academic Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship to continue his studies at Regis University. In compliance with the ROTC scholarship program, he separated from the enlisted corps to finish his two remaining college years. Simultaneously he worked full-time as a Senior Communications Engineer with a defense contracting firm, managing an enterprise-level network, supporting 80,000+ users. He graduated in 2006 with his Bachelor’s degree and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Upon Mike’s commissioning, Rhonda and he moved down to Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where he started his flying career. He began flying Cessna 172’s and attained his private pilot's license before starting his primary flying training. He completed Joint- Specialized Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer training and immediately attended Advanced Electronic Warfare School, and upon completion in 2007, he attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) and water survival training in Spokane, Washington.
Mike’s first operational duty station was at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska, at the beginning of 2008. During that assignment, he completed his combat qualification as an Electronic Warfare Officer on the RC-135 V/W RIVET JOINT and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He began deploying in support of contingency and other special-type operations, where he logged over 100 combat and support missions across the globe. During that assignment, Mike became a certified flight instructor on the RIVET JOINT, a Tactical Coordinator/Mission Crew Commander, and flew operationally as a duel-qualified Electronic Warfare Officer and Navigator. After a well-deserved promotion to Captain, Mike was picked to be a part of a highly selective cadre of Joint Officers/subject matter experts in Afghanistan and Pakistan during the height of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Upon acceptance of the position, Mike and his family moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 2011
Once in D.C., he reported to his new unit at the Pentagon and began extensive combat, culture, religion, counterinsurgency, and language training at the National Defense University and the Defense Language Institute. Upon completing training in 2012, he embarked on a 12-month deployment to the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and worked with various tactical,
operational, and strategic Afghan and coalition governmental and military leaders to bring about strategic change. During his time in Afghanistan, he logged approximately 280 ground combat missions. After being recommended by various U.S. and British Senior Officers, as well as Department of State leaders, Mike was recognized as the number one Joint/Coalition officer in Afghanistan for his operational line of effort during his time in the country.
After a challenging and highly kinetic year, Mike rotated back to the United States in 2013, where he completed Squadron Officer School in Alabama. He attended The George Washington University and earned a Master’s degree in 2013, and he then attended the National Intelligence University, where he earned his second Master’s degree in 2014. He was then selected as an Executive Officer to the Commander, Air Force Operations Group, A3- Operations, Headquarters Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
Moving to his next assignment, at the beginning of 2015, Mike returned to flying, again at Offutt Air Force Base aboard the mighty RIVET JOINT. He served as the Training Flight Commander in the 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron and later as Deputy Program Manager for the 55th Wing. In 2016, Mike was promoted to the rank of Major and began his doctorate in business administration at Creighton University. The 55th Wing Commander asked Mike to organize an event to support those Airmen across the Air Force who have been recognized as having a long-term illness, injury or wounds, whether it be combat or non-combat related. Mike developed and executed the project with the Air Force Wounded Warrior program to support over 120 Wounded Warriors. The event was a success and focused on those who needed support to overcome their recovery obstacles. By the commander's direction, Mike established the Office of the Warrior Advocate to support Airmen suffering from physical and invisible wounds in need of support. It was the first of its kind in the Air Force and focused on helping those with the greatest need. Benchmarking the program, Mike presented his work to three different Secretary’s of the Air Force and two Chief Master Sergeant’s of the Air Force. Mike completed his second tour at Offutt as both the Director of the Office of the Warrior Advocate and the Chief of the 55th Wing’s Commander’s Action Group.
The next assignment in 2018 brought Mike and his family back to Colorado Springs. This time at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command. The tour began with Mike as a Future Operations Strategist, and then in 2019 as the Chief of Command and Control Systems Integration and the Chief of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) Futures Branch. In 2019, Mike was recognized as the Field Grade Officer of the Year for both NORAD and USNORTHCOM for his work as a strategist and leading the Combatant Command’s system integration efforts. Additionally, Mike’s leadership on USNORTHCOM efforts to support COVID-19 response and advanced battle management was lauded by the 4- star Combatant Commander, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Secretary of Defense, and the White House.
In 2019, Mike received a by-name request to serve as the Deputy Director for the Air Force Chief of Staff’s Invisible Wounds Initiative and is also the Deputy Director, Warrior Wellness and Policy Integration for the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. In Dec 2020, Mike was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. This position is the culmination of his work with Wounded Warriors, establishing the Office of the Warrior Advocate, and, in part, due to his doctoral research, titled, Trauma-Exposed Employee Work Performance: Exploring the Relationships of PTSD Symptom Severity, Perceived Organizational Support, and moderated by authentic leadership. He then graduated from Creighton University with his doctorate in Dec 2020.
Mike and Rhonda have been happily married for 16 years. Their marriage spans six of his seven contingency deployments and numerous exercises and temporary duties. The couple happily has six children: Madeleine (10), Annabelle (9), Michael Jr. (6), Marielle (4), Elizabeth (3), and Eleanore (1). In Mike’s free time, he also is active in supporting his children’s Taekwondo activities. He is also an Affiliate Professor in graduate-level Operations Management and Strategy at one of his alma mater.
Mike’s decorations include a Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, an Aerial Achievement Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, three Air Force Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and two Air Force Achievement Medals. He earned the Senior Combat Systems Officer badge, Army Airborne Wings, Communications Badge, and the Advanced Air Advisor tab. Mike is recognized as a Scholarly Academic in business, holds multiple project and operations industry certifications, has been credited in refereed conferences, and published in a peer-reviewed journal.