Lillian Elaine Fishburne (born March 25, 1949) was the first African-American female to hold the rank of Rear Admiral (RDML) in the United States Navy. She was appointed to the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half) by President of the United States Bill Clinton and was officially promoted on February 1, 1998. RDML Fishburne retired from the Navy in February 2001.
After graduating from Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) with her B.A. degree in 1971, Fishburne enrolled in the U.S. Navy Women’s Officers School in Newport, Rhode Island and was commissioned as an Ensign in 1973. Fishburne went on to receive her M.A. degree in management from Webster College in 1980 and her M.S. degree in telecommunications systems management from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1982. In addition, she is a 1993 graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, in Washington, D.C.
Fishburne was first assigned as the personnel and legal officer at the Naval Air Test Facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey. In 1974, she reported to the Recruiting District in Miami, Florida as a Navy officer programs recruiter where she worked until 1977. She then served as the officer-in-charge at the Naval Telecommunications Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Fishburne reported to the Command, Control, and Communications Directorate in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations where she served as the assistant head of the Joint Allied Command and Control Matters Branch. In 1984, she became an executive officer at the Naval Communication Station in Yokosuka, Japan before being named as the special projects officer for the Chief of Naval Operations in the Command, Control, and Communications Directorate.