Leadership Lessons

  1. Innovate: Lean forward, think outside the box, and capitalize on opportunities to evolve.
  2. There’s Power in Positivity: Let’s face it- everyone has their off days. Don’t let your crew see yours. Your team will feed off your energy, good or bad, so never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.
  3. Lean Into Challenges: Step out of your comfort zone and take on constructive challenges. If you’re feeling that little pit in the bottom of your stomach, that’s exactly the level of discomfort that you should be feeling and it means that you’re doing it right.
  4. Face-to-Face Interaction: Get out from behind the desk and talk to your crew. Meet them where they are and get to know their names and their stories. The best leaders make the time to be present.
  5. Communicate from the Heart, Not the Paper: People zone out when a presenter reads from a prepared slide or script. This is even more true as a leader. There’s a distinction between speaking and communicating, so once you know the subject matter, put down the notes and allow for two-way communications between you and your audience.
  6. Readiness is Key to Excellence: Proficiency requires meticulous preparation. Focus on your team’s readiness to perform the mission and excellence will follow.
  7. Invest in self, family, shipmates, and community. If you like airplane analogies, you have to put your own mask on before helping others. Invest in your own well-being so that you have ample energy to give to all of those that are counting on you.


CAPT Lexia Littlejohn currently serves as the Sector Commander for Sector Buffalo where she oversees 1,200 active duty, reserve, and Auxiliary members in conducting Coast Guard operations across Lakes Erie and Ontario including the Niagara River and Niagara Falls, a portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway, 570 miles of shoreline across 3 states, and 455 miles of international maritime border.

Previously, CAPT Littlejohn served as the Deputy Commander for Sector Key West where she led a multi-agency team of more than 400 responders and 40 assets in conducting over 100 rescues and effecting salvage operations to reopen the Port of Key West following Hurricane Irma. CAPT Littlejohn’s other assignments have included advising Senators on Coast Guard and maritime security issues as a Coast Guard Fellow for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, formulating the Coast Guard’s $1.4 billion counterdrug budget, and leading a team in the production of over 300 interviews, press releases, and news conferences, which earned her unit the Commander Jim Simpson Award (the Coast Guard’s highest award for public affairs).

CAPT Littlejohn has responded to numerous marine oil spills and spoken at domestic and international pollution conferences on complex incident response. In 2013, CAPT Littlejohn received the Coast Guard Innovation Award’s honorable mention for her crisis management database that improved operational readiness for major contingencies. Her other military awards include two Meritorious Service Medals and seven Coast Guard Commendation Medals.

CAPT Littlejohn holds a B.S. in Marine and Environmental Sciences from the Coast Guard Academy and M.S. and Engineer degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She is the second African American female in Coast Guard history to reach the rank of Captain and the first to command a Sector. CAPT Littlejohn is married to Conor Heelan of the Republic of Ireland and they have three children, Kaia (9), Kasey (8), and Ciara (4).