U.S. Naval Academy superintendent nominee Rear. Adm. Yvette Davids would be first woman to lead school

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A 1989 U.S. Naval Academy graduate has been nominated to serve as the school’s first female leader.

Rear Adm. Yvette Davids’ nomination to become the academy’s 64th superintendent was announced Friday by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Davids would replace Vice Adm. Sean Buck at the completion of his four-year term this summer. Davids also has been nominated for the rank of vice admiral.


Davids’ Navy career began during Operation Desert Storm, when she served as an electrical officer, combat information center officer and communications officer aboard the combat stores ship USS San Jose.

She went on to become the first woman of Hispanic descent to command a Navy warship when she took the helm the USS Curts, leading the guided missile frigate through the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Rear Adm. Yvette Davids was nominated for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as the next superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.

Her additional onboard postings include serving as commander of the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and Carrier Strike Group 11 with the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Stateside, Davids has served as senior military adviser to the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs with the U.S. Department of State and chief of staff for the U.S. Southern Command.

She currently serves as director of the Learning to Action Drive Team, a post she has held since August 2022. The program was launched to address training, leadership and safety problems in the wake of a catastrophic fire aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in 2020, which injured more than 60 sailors and civilians. Those issues were the subject of a Government Accountability Office report released this week.

Now if she’s confirmed, Davids will train future Navy and Marine Corps officers those problem-solving and oversight skills at the Naval Academy as the school’s 64th superintendent since its founding in 1845.

As a midshipman, Davids studied oceanography and was known under her maiden name, Yvette Gonzales. She rowed on the crew team and eventually married Keith Davids, a 1990 academy graduate who became a rear admiral and SEAL team commander. The couple has twin sons.

Heather Purvis, vice president of the academy’s Class of 1989, described the Davids as “a Navy power couple,” and praised the Navy’s leadership for appointing a woman to the school’s top post.

“I’m super proud,” Purvis said. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening.”

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Class of 1989 president Denise Shorey echoed that sentiment. Davids is, “an amazing professional, an outstanding leader, and she will be a wonderful role model for the men and women of the brigade,” Shorey said. “We couldn’t be happier for her and her family.”

Davids went on to earn masters degrees from the Naval War College in 2002 and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 2012. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Davids has received the Mexican American Women’s National Association’s Las Primeras Award for Latinas who demonstrate important “firsts” in their fields.


The Naval Academy is the last of the five service academies to have a woman nominated as leader. In December, Joanna Nunan became the first female superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Rear Adm. Yvette Davids was nominated for appointment to the rank of vice admiral and assignment as the next superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. This photo is from her time at the academy where she graduated in 1989. (USNA Yearbook photo)

Buck was appointed superintendent in 2019. A 1983 Naval Academy graduate, he commanded the U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. 4th Fleet out of Mayport, Florida.

During his tenure, Buck has been an active face in the Annapolis-area community, and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley has characterized the town-gown relationship between the city and academy as “stronger than ever.”

But under his watch, sexual assault reports increased sharply at the academy, and the military remains under pressure to improve living and working conditions for women and LGBTQ+ service members.

The leadership transition is expected to take place this summer, the Naval Academy said. A Navy spokesperson said Davids is not available for an interview because her nomination is pending.

For the record

Correction: This article has been updated to correct that the USS Bunker Hill is a guided missile cruiser. The Capital regrets the error.