Denise served as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from February 19, 2010, to June 6, 2013. She holds the distinction of achieving the highest position ever held by an enlisted woman in the history of the U.S. military.
Chief Jelinski-Hall was born in Little Falls, Minnesota. She reported to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, for Air Force Basic Military Training on November 14, 1984, and completed Air Traffic Control Training at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was then assigned to Offutt AFB, Nebraska, as an air traffic controller in July 1985.
In April 1987, she transferred to the California Air National Guard and served as a ground radio operator. She and her family moved to Hawai‘i in 1990, where she joined the 297th Air Traffic Control Flight at Barbers Point, Hawai‘i, as an air traffic controller, mobile tower chief controller, package chief, and superintendent for the ATC section.
In 2002, Chief Jelinski-Hall transferred to the HQ 201st Combat Communications Group, Hickam AFB, Hawai‘i, where she served as a combat airspace manager. In 2004, she was selected as the first female command chief for the 154th Wing, Hawai‘i Air National Guard. She was designated command Chief Master Sergeant for the Hawai‘i Air National Guard in 2006. Shortly after, the adjutant general of Hawai‘i selected her to serve as the state senior enlisted leader for the Hawai‘i National Guard (Army and Air), the first woman in that position.
She held both positions simultaneously until Gen. Craig McKinley appointed her as his senior enlisted advisor (SEA) for the National Guard Bureau, the first member of the Air National Guard and first woman to serve in that position. Chief Jelinski-Hall’s responsibilities included advising the chief on all enlisted matters affecting training, utilization, health of the force, families, and enlisted professional development of more than 415,000 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in the 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia (“the 54”). While assigned to the Pentagon, Chief Jelinski-Hall served on numerous executive level committees representing the National Guard Enlisted Corps. She travelled across the 54 and overseas, visiting with National Guard Soldiers, Airmen, and their families. She brought back critical information and feedback from the field to improve policies, programs, and quality of life for all Guardsmen. She represented the National Guard at the White House and at senior-level meetings and events with the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff. Chief Jelinski-Hall spoke to diverse audiences throughout the world and routinely engaged with members of Congress, their staffs, and senior industry leaders on Capitol Hill.
Her major awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Hawai‘i National Guard Distinguished Service Order, the Minuteman Award, and the Department of Defense Trailblazer Award, National Guard Bureau. In 2014, she was a Top 100 finalist for the John C. Maxwell Transformational Leadership Award; the next year, she was a Top 30 finalist. And in 2015, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Trident University International.
Chief Jelinski-Hall served on the board of directors for Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) for a three-year term. For two years, she was the director of Colorado Air National Guard membership, and she currently volunteers with the Colorado Springs chapter of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). She currently serves as a trustee on the board of directors for United Through Reading (UTR) and as secretary on UTR’s executive committee. She is also a military advisor at Veterans United Home Loans (VUHL).
Chief Jelinski-Hall is the author of From the Prairie to the Pentagon, an autobiography chronicling her upbringing and military career. She speaks at military and civilian events on leadership and the importance of professional and personal growth and mentorship. In December 2017, she delivered the commencement address for the winter graduation ceremony at Hawai‘i Pacific University, where she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, a degree presented to those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others.
Denise and her husband, Gary Hall, have four children and six grandchildren. They live in Colorado.