In 1962, Vice Admiral Gravely became the first African American to take command of a U.S Navy combatant ship. He continued to break barriers throughout his career, becoming the first African American commander, captain, rear admiral, and vice admiral of the U.S Navy before retiring. Each year, the Vice Admiral’s contributions are celebrated with a themed event honoring today’s trailblazers who exemplify Gravely’s motto: Education, Motivation and Perseverance.


Cost: Free!
Theme: Resilience and Opportunity—A conversation about how to turn challenging moments into positive opportunities.
Date: Friday, February 26, 2021
Time: 12pm–1pm
Programming: Tanya Acker, co-host of CBS’ Hot Bench and host of The Tanya Acker Show podcast, will moderate a discussion with guest speakers:
• Retired Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris
• Retired naval officer and author of Trailblazer: The U.S. Navy’s First Black Admiral, Paul Stillwell
• Former Commander of the USS Gravely Alysa Ambrose

TANYA M. ACKER is a co-host of the twice Emmy-nominated Hot Bench (CBS Television Distribution), Tanya Acker is also host of The Tanya Acker Show podcast. She is also the author of Make Your Case – Finding Your Win in Civil Court (Diversion Books 2020).
Tanya is an experienced civil litigator who has represented a wide array of clients, from major automobile manufacturers in high stakes product liability litigation to media companies in hotly contested trade secret disputes.
In addition to serving as a Trustee of the Pacific Battleship Center, which operates the Battleship USS IOWA Museum, Tanya maintains an active involvement in various other philanthropic, civic and business organizations. A volunteer with Love Takes Root, she has traveled to Haiti to work in a clinic and orphanage founded by that organization. She is a member of the Beverly Hills West (CA) chapter of The Links, Incorporated and additionally serves on the boards of Public Counsel; the Western Justice Center; the Boy Scouts of America; and PacWest Bancorp. She is also a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.

SINCLAIR HARRIS retired from the Navy after 34 years of service as a Rear Admiral. He has served on a wide variety of ships across the globe, in the Navy and Joint Staff, and overseas. He currently is the Director for Business Development at LMI, the President of the National Naval Officers Association, National Vice President of the Navy League of the United States, and the Board of the Surface Navy Association.

PAUL STILLWELL is a retired naval reservist. He served a total of 30 years as an enlisted man and officer. He is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the crew of the battleship New Jersey and later had temporary duty on board the sister ship Iowa. He has spent more than 40 years working with the U.S. Naval Institute as a magazine editor, oral historian, and author. He has written or edited 13 books, including The Golden Thirteen: Recollections of the First Black Naval Officers and Trailblazer: The U.S. Navy’s First Black Admiral. The latter is the memoir of Vice Admiral Samuel L. Gravely Jr. His biography of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr. is due to be published in the autumn of 2021.

ALYSA AMBROSE retired from the US Navy as a Captain last year, after a 25 year career.  She was one of the first groups of women to be able to serve on combatants and was often the “first female” in her assignments.  She served on six ships, including USS GRAVELY as its executive officer, before assuming command of the destroyer from 2014-2016.  She deployed six times, including twice in GRAVELY to Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern hot spots. She stays busy now as the homeschooling teacher to her three children on remote learning days.