By Joanna Bradley, AMRDEC Public AffairsJanuary 23, 2018
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center honored new Technical Director, Dr. Juanita M. Harris, during an Assumption of Responsibility Ceremony on Jan. 18.
Many family members and friends of Harris attended the ceremony, to include her fiancé David Christensen, son Clayton Harris and brother Bryant Denzmore. Also in attendance were Harris's in-laws, Kenneth and Gloria Christensen and Deborah Christensen. The ceremony began with a processional of the family followed with a presentation of tokens of appreciation to her family.
Harris grew up in East St. Louis, Ill., as one of eight children. She attended elementary, middle and high school there, then attended college at the University of Illinois where she received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering.
She began her career as an electronics engineer in St. Louis and has since continued to lead a career peppered with success and accolades.
Her many roles have given her the experience and expertise needed to be successful in this leadership role.
Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, RDECOM commanding general, reaffirmed the Oath of Office to recognize Harris as the Director of AMRDEC.
During his remarks, Wins said Harris is "extremely and exceptionally qualified" for the role of AMRDEC Director. "I'm confident that today we are putting a new leader in place that will not only keep tradition going, but to be up on the challenge of leading her team," Wins said.
In 2015, Harris became the first African-American woman from Redstone Arsenal to be selected for Senior Executive Service.
"I know she was humbled to become the first African-American SES at AMRDEC, but as AMRDEC's previous director said, she had the perfect work experience. She had the depth, breadth, and balanced strategic approach to lead the people on her team and promote the technology they developed in support of the warfighter," Wins continued, "she is a transparent leader with a focus on the mission, workforce development, the responsibilities of supervisors, and what AMRDEC does to empower, unburden and protect the Soldier."
"AMRDEC plays a key role in three of the six Army modernization priority areas: Future Vertical Lift, Long Range Precision Fires and Air Missile Defense."
"This is world-leading research and development, and it has to be if our Nation is to protect its interests, its allies, and our way of life. Fortunately for our country we have people like Dr. Harris to lead a workforce that can adapt to ever-changing conditions to provide comprehensive solutions to the ultimate customer, the warfighter," Wins said.
Harris began working at AMRDEC in 2012 as the deputy director for the Aviation Development Directorate. She then moved to the role of director of the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate in 2015. Wins said of the organization, "AMRDEC continues to shine because of your sustained professional efforts in service of our Army."
Harris was announced the new director of AMRDEC on Nov. 17, 2017 and officially assumed her role on Nov. 26, 2017. "We only select the finest professionals to serve in leadership positions. Dr. Juanita Harris meets all of these criteria for selection as the most senior leader in such a vital organization," Wins expressed.
Harris concluded the ceremony with remarks, which included many thanks and appreciation to distinguished guests, family and friends. "I am honored and humbled to serve this great Army as the new AMRDEC director. I am ready for the leadership charge that has been placed on me to succeed as we move forward in our future," said Harris.
"Now as we move forward, our future is bright and just as essential to the success of the warfighter. We are postured to develop innovative and integrated solutions to meet the challenges of multi-domain engagements," Harris said.
U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.