Back in 1980 Christine B. “Nickey” Knighton became just the second black woman in the United States to earn the right to wear aviator wings within the Department of Defense and the first from her home state of Georgia, an accomplishment that didn’t go unnoticed by then-President Jimmy Carter who personally congratulated her on the achievement. Col. Knighton also held the distinction of commanding a tactical combat arms unit, specifically, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Bn., 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas from 1996-1998. She is currently the Founder, Principal Owner and Senior Executive Partner at WINNERS! A People Investment Company that inspires leaders to create a lasting legacy that will make them proud.
Knighton was presented with the Tuskegee Airmen Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Military Award for her noteworthy professional achievements throughout her career. She also holds the Order of Saint Michael for outstanding contributions to Army Aviation. Knighton is founder of a public service non-profit organization active in southwest Georgia. Since 1990, SHAPE – Self-esteem, Harmony, Awareness, Pride and Education has provided undergraduate educational opportunities for high school seniors. She is also a past vice president of the Bessie Coleman Foundation, an organization committed to sponsoring and promoting careers in aviation in the military as well as private and commercial sectors. She is a believer in life-long learning and is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Executive Leadership Coaching Certification Program.