NATICK, Mass. (March 28, 2017) -- Jennifer Potts told those gathered March 27 for the Women's History Month observance at Natick Soldier Systems Center that she owed much to those trailblazers who had come before her in the Department of Defense.

From Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley in the Revolutionary War forward, American women have always found a way to serve their country during times of war. Contemporary women such as Potts, assistant product director, Acquisition, for the Non-standard Rotary Wing Aircraft Project Office, Program Executive Office Aviation at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, have built upon that sturdy foundation.

"All these women paved the way to give opportunities for women like me to serve in whatever capacity that we chose to," Potts said. "I'm honored by the fact that the path was paved in such a way that I'd have these opportunities."

Potts, wife of Brig. Gen. Anthony W. Potts, NSSC senior commander, pointed out that there are currently 1.6 million U.S. women veterans and that more than 390,000 women serve in DoD, as service members and civilians. She joined the Army Civilian Corps seven years ago, but she has a total of 18 years of experience with Army aviation in program management, logistical and technical capacities.

"I never set out to do the things that I've done in my career," Potts said. "What I've always set out to do is just honestly do the things that were in service to our Army and that were fun. And along the way, I got to do some really, really cool things."

In her current position, she manages some $500 million worth of equipment and services and has worked with numerous international partners.

"It's been a really cool job," Potts said. "I'm not going to lie. I've had the opportunity to see and do things I would never have dreamed of in my career."

Potts related that young women sometimes ask about her path to career success.

"Honestly, I didn't have a path," Potts confided. "I didn't go to go to (college) right out of high school. I didn't have the money. I didn't have the grades."

She eventually wound up working for Boeing, which paid for her to finish her bachelor's degree in night classes. After 9/11, she wound up in the field as a logistics representative for the Apache attack helicopter.

"The theme of my career has always been 'just do what you want to do,'" Potts said. "My willingness to (seize) whatever opportunity was put before me was what kind of put me on the path to have the opportunities I have now."

She got married in 2005, took a sabbatical in 2006 to finish her graduate work, and became an Army civilian in 2010.

"The greatest honor I have," said Potts, "is that every day I get to serve the Army family."

Before stepping off the stage at Hunter Auditorium, Potts offered the workforce a little career advice.

"Don't be bounded by anything other than what you're willing to do," Potts said. "So, how I've gotten through life is the recognition that you don't take yourself too seriously, you have a good time, and you pick yourself up and you dust yourself off, and you move on to whatever's next if you fail.

"And then celebrate those things that are the awesome things, no matter how big or small they are."