Colonel Nicole Malachowski (USAF, Retired) was born in Santa Maria, CA and graduated high school in Las Vegas, NV. She earned her commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 1996 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and a minor in French. Following graduation she attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Columbus AFB, MS and began her career as pilot. Competitively selected to fly combat aircraft, she embarked on an adventure among the first group of women to fly fighter aircraft.
Colonel Malachowski served as a mission ready fighter pilot in three operational F-15E fighter squadrons and has flown over 188 combat hours in both OPERATION DELIBERATE FORGE and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. She served in combat as an F-15E Flight Commander, F-15E Evaluator, Instructor Pilot and Flight Lead. Colonel Malachowski was a Command Pilot with over 2,300 flight hours in six different Air Force aircraft: T-3, T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-15E, and the F-16C/D.
Her operational F-15E assignments included two tours of duty at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom as well as one operational assignment to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. She served alongside the United States Army 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea, as an Air Liaison Officer. During her second assignment to Seymour Johnson AFB, NC she had the honor of commanding the 333rd Fighter Squadron, leading an elite cadre of F-15E Instructors in the training of the next generation of combat aviators. Further, she was responsible for resources totaling over $1.1B and the execution of a $119M annual flying hour program.
Colonel Malachowski had the honor of serving in several special duty assignments. In 2005, she was selected to fly as Thunderbird #3 with the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron and was the first woman to fly on any Department of Defense military jet demonstration team. As a White House Fellow, class of 2008-2009, she served on the Presidential Transition Support Team (PTST) while assigned to the U.S. General Services Administration. She served two high-level staff assignments in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD P&R) as well as the Secretary of the Air Force Office of International Affairs (SAF/IA). During her last official assignment, she served as the Executive Director of the White House’s national ‘Joining Forces’ program. In this capacity, she directly advised former First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden on all topics relating to service members, veterans, and military families. Topics included, but were not limited to, subjects such as employment, education, mental health, and veterans’ homelessness.
Nicole’s successful military career ended prematurely, as she was medically retired from service due to the impact of late stage, neurological, Tick Borne Illness. As a newly minted Wounded Warrior in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, she relishes any opportunity to talk about her medical journey and gains energy from educating others about the growing Tick Borne Illness epidemic. Prior to medical retirement, she focused her energy on becoming officially certified as both a Mentor and Ambassador in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. In these roles, she supports other wounded, ill, and injured service members through their recovery and transition to civilian life. Even as a veteran, she continues to work closely with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, mentoring several fellow patients throughout their personal journeys and coordinating events that enhance the camaraderie necessary for recovery.
Upon her medical retirement, she voluntarily authored recommendations to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force on how to improve the support of the Air Force’s wounded, ill, and injured, specifically those patients enduring complex and chronic illnesses. Her own personal experience going through the medical retirement process drove her to act on behalf of countless other Airmen enduring similar challenges. Because of her efforts, and in an unprecedented move, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force directed the establishment of a “Task Force on Support to Airmen with Complex Medical Conditions”. In her veteran capacity, Nicole was appointed to this Air Force wide effort, which resulted in dozens of actionable findings and recommendations currently being evaluated for implementation.
Nicole has turned an extraordinary life challenge into an opportunity and has found a new mission advocating at the national level for other Tick Borne Illness patients. She was competitively selected to serve on the patient advocate subcommittee of the newly formed Department of Health and Human Services Tick Borne Diseases Working Group. Established by Congress in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, it was formed to provide subject matter expertise and to review federal efforts related to all tick-borne diseases, to help ensure interagency coordination and minimize overlap, and to examine research priorities. Her contributions include specific observations and recommendations in support of service members, military families, and veterans impacted by global Tick Borne Diseases. Nicole’s input, and that of her fellow patient advocates, is included in the first report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Congress.
She has also been competitively selected as a patient voting member (Consumer Reviewer) on the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) Tick Borne Diseases Panel. In this capacity she joins leading academics, scientists, and policy makers in reviewing leading-edge scientific grants aimed at advancing the diagnosis and treatment of Tick Borne Illness patients worldwide. In 2017, she participated in the award of $5M in government funding and she has been asked to return for the next annual grant cycle. Further, Nicole courageously agreed to have her personal story shared in the annual CDMRP annual report to Congress.
Nicole currently serves as an Advisory Board Member to The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, a Harvard teaching hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts. Her service on this board allows her to give back to the clinic that saved her life and supports them in growing their specialized clinical and research programs for individuals with impairment and disability related to Tick Borne Illness.
Nicole earned a Master of Arts, with honors, in National Security Policy from American Military University and a second Master of Arts, with highest distinction, in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. While there, she earned the Admiral Stephen B. Luce Award as the class honor graduate, the first Air Force officer in the history of the Naval War College to do so. She has been recognized with several honors for her consistent contributions to community service, which include a Nevada State Assembly Resolution and induction into the “Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame.” Dedicated to mentoring the next generation of Americans, she is a frequent motivational speaker at local, state, and national events. In January, 2018, she founded Nicole Malachowski and Associates, LLC, a business dedicated to professional speaking and consulting. In this role, Nicole shows audiences and clients what it takes to break barriers and overcome adversity.
Nicole and her husband Paul have twin children; son Garrick and daughter Norah. Paul is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and F-15E Evaluator Weapons Systems Officer.