DeDe Halfhill

Renowned Leadership Expert and Colonel, USAF (Ret.)
Speaker DeDe Halfhill
  • Certified “Dare to Lead” Facilitator and Georgetown University Senior Executive Leadership Coach
  • 25-year accomplished military career, serving as a trusted advisor to some of our nation’s highest-ranking military leaders
  • Featured in Brené Brown’s NYT bestseller ”Dare to Lead” and on 60 Minutes for her candid approach to leadership
  • Provides transparent, real-world insights on the power of embracing humanness and vulnerability in leadership

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Described by Dr. Brené Brown as one of her “leadership heroes and a total badass,” U.S. Air Force retired Colonel, DeDe Halfhill is a proven leader and communications executive who draws on her 25-year accomplished military career to provide a transparent, real-world perspective on the power of embracing humanness and vulnerability in leadership.

During her time with the Air Force, DeDe became a trusted advisor to some of our nation’s highest-ranking military leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, as well as the lead military spokesperson responsible for implementing plans supporting the Department of Defense’s global communications strategy. Deployed twice during the Iraq War, DeDe gained first-hand experience leading and advising through the most difficult circumstances, often when lives were at risk, and when there were no easy answers. She understands leadership, not just from studying it, but by actually living it.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, DeDe speaks honestly about her experience with traditional military leadership and how it lacked the skills to navigate the area of emotion – such as empathy and shame – which often prevented leaders from having the difficult conversations that promote organizational connection, rather than severing it. Whether wholehearted discussions on mental health, racial injustice, or gender inequality, DeDe delivers a thought-provoking look at how these painful topics can be more effectively addressed with vulnerability to create a purposeful, inclusive culture. Weaving in both humorous and heartwarming stories, she demonstrates the practical strategies for any organization to authentically connect, build trust, and empower others in a meaningful way – and that leading with vulnerability and humanity is the path to true courage and exceptional leadership.

For her candid approach to leadership, DeDe’s story and insights have been featured in widely acclaimed outlets, including in Brené Brown’s New York Times bestseller Dare to Lead and on 60 Minutes. She continues to live by the leadership lessons she preaches, becoming a certified “Dare to Lead” facilitator in 2019 as well as a Senior Executive Coach certified through Georgetown University’s Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

DeDe's military service began when she graduated in 1996 from the University of Iowa's Reserve Officer Training Corps. In addition to her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Iowa, she has earned a Masters in Arts degree in Management from American Military University and certifications from the Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, Squadron Officer School, and Defense Information School.

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Speaker Video

60 Minutes: DeDe Halfhill on Vulnerable Leadership

The Art of Language and Connection | Col. DeDe Halfhill w/Dr. Brené Brown Introduction

Leaders Connect: A Real Conversation About Why We Struggle and What Gets in Our Way. In the context of the loneliness that many feel, rising mental health challenges, and increasing concerns over toxic leadership, the time has come for a candid discussion about the skills leaders need to possess to address such challenges. At the core of each of these challenges is connection. If we’re to have any chance at reversing the trends, then it’s time for an honest conversation about what is getting in our way as leaders from building authentic, meaningful connections with our teams. The shift rests in language. The language we use as leaders can have a powerful and positive impact. Use the right words, and we can authentically connect, build trust, and empower others in a meaningful way. Use the wrong words, and the result is often disconnection, isolation, and destruction of the trust we’ve spent so much time and energy to build despite our best intentions otherwise. It’s time to get smart on what drives disconnection and, more importantly, get skilled in fueling sincere, genuine connections.

Featured in Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead and on 60 Minutes for her candid approach to leadership, Col DeDe Halfhill, USAF Retired delivers a thought-provoking conversation about how the words we choose and the empathy we convey not only saves lives but deepens trust, increases resilience, and inspires courage in the organizations we lead. You will leave this presentation with new skills to grow as a trusted leader, connect on purpose, and engage with humanity in the workplace.

Leadership Inside-Out: Looking In to Let Out Your Greatest Leadership Gifts. Do an Amazon search for a book on leadership, and you’ll get over 60,000 possibilities. Each prescribes how a leader can be more bold, inspiring, empowering, innovative, and wise. As leaders, we voraciously read these books. Inspired by their wisdom, we envision how we, too, will be the kind of leader our society, our organizations, our teams need. On our good days, we are this leader. And then there are days we fall short. When we least expect to do so, we show up in a way that looks nothing like the leader we envisioned. We show up as risk-averse, uninspiring, dismissive, insecure, and indecisive. But why? We had such optimism for who we were going to be!

Col DeDe Halfhill, USAF Retired, knows first-hand how hard leadership can be; how often exhaustion, uncertainty, misguided expectations, and unpracticed skills sabotage our best intentions. Featured in Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead and on 60 Minutes for her candid approach to leadership, DeDe will share both humorous and heartwarming stories about the power of self-awareness. Doing the hard work of knowing who we are, what’s getting in our way, and how we respond in everyday moments changes everything about how we lead. The truth is, our greatest gifts are inside, just waiting to be expressed if only we can clear the stuff that’s preventing them from coming out. 

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