Inaugural Leadership Achievement Award recipients announced

The 2024 honorees: Troy Calhoun ’89, Dr. Chris Howard ’91 and Col. (Ret.) Kim Campbell ’97 

U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. — The U.S. Air Force Academy Association of Graduates has announced three recipients of the inaugural Leadership Achievement Award: Coach Troy Calhoun ’89, Dr. Chris Howard ’91 and Col. (Ret.) Kim Campbell ’97.

The Leadership Achievement Award recognizes Academy graduates who have distinguished themselves through professional accomplishments, whether in the military or the private sector.

“These three individuals are outstanding leaders who continually model integrity, service and excellence, and who bring great credit to the Long Blue Line,” says Mark Hille ’97, CEO of the Association of Graduates and Air Force Academy Foundation.

Recipients model the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. The AOG’s board of directors and members of the graduate community, through a rigorous process, selected the winners from a large and accomplished pool of nominees. Individuals 16 to 39 years post-USAFA graduation are eligible.

Coach Troy Calhoun ’89

Troy Calhoun, USAFA Class of 1989, is head coach of the Falcons football team. He’s led the program to a 130-82 record during his 17 years at the helm. The Falcons are 8-5 in bowl games under Calhoun’s leadership, including three consecutive bowl wins. He has coached the team to five Commander-in-Chief trophies. As a cadet, Calhoun started at quarterback in 1986.

Calhoun, who served in the Air Force until 1995, earned an MBA from Oklahoma City University and began coaching football at his alma mater, first as a graduate assistant in 1989-90 and again as an assistant coach during the 1993-94 season.

He worked as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Ohio University and Wake Forest University before joining the Denver Broncos for three seasons. Calhoun spent the 2006-07 season as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Houston Texans NFL franchise before returning to his alma mater in 2007, becoming the program’s sixth head coach and first Academy grad at the helm.

Calhoun won Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors his first season with the Falcons.

During the off-season, Calhoun received a contract extension through 2029. Find out more about Calhoun here.

Dr. Chris Howard ’91

Dr. Chris Howard, USAFA Class of 1991, is executive vice president and chief operating officer at Arizona State University. Dr. Howard, a national expert in higher education policy, works closely with other senior university leaders coordinating university-wide initiatives and advancement. He graduated from the Academy with distinction, earning a degree in political science, and later obtaining an MBA from Harvard Business School and a doctorate from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.

Before joining Arizona State University, Dr. Howard was president of Robert Morris University and Hampden Sydney-College. During his tenure at Robert Morris, the university experienced its largest capital project.

While at the Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a standout running back for the Falcons football program. He won the Campbell Trophy, the nation’s highest academic award for a senior college football player.

Dr. Howard was a helicopter pilot and an intelligence officer while on active duty. He served in Joint Special Operations Command and as a Reserve air attaché to Liberia. He was awarded a Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan.

He currently serves on the National Defense University Board of Visitors. Find out more about Dr. Howard here.

Col. (Ret.) Kim Campbell ’97

Col. (Ret.) Kim “KC” Campbell, USAFA Class of 1997, is a managing director at Victory Strategies, a leadership development, training and coaching firm. As a professional keynote speaker, Col. Campbell shares ideas on how to inspire and empower high-performing teams.

Col. Campbell served more than 24 years in the Air Force as a fighter pilot and senior military leader. She flew 1,800 hours in the A-10 Warthog, including over 100 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2003, Col. Campbell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism after successfully recovering her battle-damaged airplane after an intense close air support mission.

Col. Campbell previously served as director of the Center for Character and Leadership Development at the Academy. She was responsible for the professional development of faculty and staff and reinforcing character and leadership programs amongst the 4,000-member Cadet Wing.

Col. Campbell is a distinguished graduate and earned a space operations degree from the Academy. As a Marshall Scholar, she earned an MBA from the University of London and a master’s in international security studies from England’s University of Reading. Find out more about Col. Campbell here.