Rear Adm. Mary Riggs graduated magna cum laude from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She practiced in a variety of critical care settings including coronary care, intensive care, shock trauma and post-surgical open heart. She received master’s degrees in both physiology and biophysics from Georgetown University, D.C.
Riggs was directly commissioned into the Navy Reserve. In 1990, she was recalled to active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm. She subsequently re-affiliated as a selected Reservist and served in a number of leadership roles supporting clinical units at National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) Bethesda. She served headquarter tours for Operational Health Support Unit (OHSU) Bethesda during Operation Iraqi Freedom supporting 13 detachments and instituted a number of global training and organizational programs to enhance medical readiness. In 2005, she was selected to serve on the woman’s board, bringing to light various gender related issues in the military setting. In 2007, she served with MedFlag 2007 in Gabon, Africa, and also served as the specialty leader for nursing research. In 2008 she was selected as the executive officer, OHSU Portsmouth and managed over 600 Reserve component personnel over 16 detachments.
Riggs served as the commanding officer, OHSU Portsmouth from 2010-2012. During her command, Operation Commanding Force was instituted with active component participation featuring Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support training. In addition to overall operational skills training, evolutions in weapons training, shipboard and disaster/triage training were accomplished. Overall medical readiness was maintained at 90 percent, serving a Reserve population of approximately 10,500. Under her guidance, various unit members submitted eight research publications/posters. This unit also received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its excellence in medical and military operations.
In October 2013, Riggs was recalled to active duty serving at the deputy director of Reserve Policy and Integration. She was instrumental in launching two additional Expeditionary Medical Facility Units. She achieved significant improvements in overall mission readiness in the areas of manpower, personnel, budgeting, planning, policy, mobilization, training, integration and operational support. Her efforts advanced more operationally-centric missions capable of successfully integrating with the active component or joint forces, in support of any contingency operation. She led the execution of a $6 million budget, empowering 7,000 Navy Reserve Medicine personnel in support of the provision of high quality health care to 9.5 million beneficiaries. Riggs was hand-selected to be the principal lead for the Reserve Work- Stream Group in the development of the Electronic Health Record Program. She also served as the pillar lead for Navy Reserve Medicine. She was then selected as the deputy chief of staff for Reserve Navy Medicine Education and Training Command, effective January 2016. She was also assigned as commander, Reserve Component Expeditionary Medicine and deputy director, Nurse Corps.
She is currently assigned as the director, Research and Development (J-9), Defense Health Agency.
Riggs’ personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Naval Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy Achievement Medal (three awards) and various service medals and unit awards.
In her civilian career, she has maintained her clinical skills, continued her pursuit of medical research in the development of new pharmaceuticals and devices and lastly, as a successful entrepreneur, developed two clinical research organizations. She founded a clinical research organization (CRO) in 1998, specializing in providing rigorous scientific clinical trials in products for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. She directed a number of efficacious pivotal trials for treatments in acute heart failure, coronary angiogenesis, coronary stents and immunomodulation in chronic heart failure.