View Full Version : “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band Names First Female Assistant Director

07-20-04, 07:24 AM
“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band Names First Female Assistant Director
Submitted by: Marine Band
Story Identification #: 2004719102837
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Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.(July 19, 2004) -- On Thursday, July 1, 2004, Staff Sergeant Michelle A. Rakers was commissioned a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, making her both the first commissioned female officer and first female assistant director in the 206-year history of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the nation’s oldest performing musical organization.

As junior assistant director, a position she formally assumed on July 17, 2004, First Lieutenant Rakers will be responsible for leading a third of the more than 500 annual public performances of “The President’s Own”; coordinating the band’s educational outreach programs to Washington, D.C., area schools; and assisting the senior leadership of “The President’s Own,” including the Director, Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Colburn, and Executive Officer, Captain Jason K. Fettig. She becomes part of a tradition of leadership that includes John Philip Sousa, the band’s 17th Director and most famous member.

In remarks given at the ceremony, retired Marine Band Director Colonel Timothy W. Foley said of First Lieutenant Rakers, “She has more than demonstrated her tremendous leadership, and that intangible quality that I believe can’t be taught to conductors ¯ passion for the music…you won’t find anybody with more musical talent, more gifted leadership and more innate conducting ability than she has.”

Upon her commission, First Lieutenant Rakers said, “I don’t take it lightly that I am now an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and … that I am now an assistant director for the greatest band in the world. I’m very honored and privileged to have this opportunity.”

First Lieutenant Rakers joined “The President’s Own” in 1998 as a trumpet player, after earning degrees from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and the University of Evansville in Indiana, and performing with the Kalamazoo Symphony in Michigan and the Evansville Philharmonic in Indiana. She quickly demonstrated her talents as a conductor with “The President’s Own,” leading chamber ensembles in various concert settings for several years. The selection process for her commission was rigorous, with auditions open to any qualified musician in the United States Marine Corps.

The United States Marine Band was founded in 1798. Given the title “The President’s Own” by Thomas Jefferson, the Marine Band’s primary mission is unique ¯ to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.


Retired Marine Band Director Colonel Timothy W. Foley and junior Assistant Director First Lieutenant Michelle A. Rakers in front of the portrait of 17th Director John Philip Sousa, after the ceremony making her the first commissioned officer in the history of “The President’s Own.” Photo by: SSgt Amanda Conway