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ASCII (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (July 8, 2021) – Growing up on a farm in rural Alabama, Dr. Yolanda Powell-Friend learned lessons in hard work and caring for your neighbor that have stayed with her throughout her life.

Now Deputy Director for Materiel Suitability in the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Systems Readiness Directorate, Powell-Friend has never forgotten those lessons - making what you need, sharing your harvest with your neighbor and not having to lock your door when you left the house. The closest grocery store was 45 miles away – there were no strangers in her small village.

“So many times I didn’t know what we were missing because we had everything that we needed right there,” Powell-Friend said. “It has helped me become the person I am today because I know everyone has a story.

“In our center, each individual’s story helps to shape and frame them to be the types of leaders needed to produce a high performing organization. I appreciate that everyone has their own perspective and everyone’s stories are different. Each of these stories and unique skill sets combined contributes to making the outstanding center that we are today.”

Powell-Friend, a physicist, has spent the last 26 years of her professional career at DEVCOM AvMC, in a career that utilizes her sense of community – and although this community might look a little different than her hometown, they both share a commonality in the importance of taking care of one another and working towards a common goal.

“I am a geek,” she said with a laugh. “I like technology. And I really like making a difference in the Soldier’s life. For me, there is no greater gift you can give than to provide technology - weapon systems - for those that put their lives on the front lines to ensure our freedom.”

When not at work, Powell-Friend stays busy – raising children, staying active in her church and participating in a number of community organizations, but one of her biggest passions is sharing that love for technology and science with young girls.

“You don’t see a lot of women taking time out to mentor young girls. You see men teaching boys how to build trainsets, fly drones and build Legos, but you do not see many women teaching their daughters to conduct science experiments and build robotics. I think we miss an opportunity to instill in girls the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the confidence that they can do it."

“Because I think that it is important that we nurture girls at young ages, I try to prioritize my time in order to speak to young girls about the importance of the sciences. If we wait until they are in high school, they will not naturally gravitate towards careers in STEM related fields. We want to encourage our young girls to purse these careers. It is rewarding to unlock and see the potential that some of these students have.”

From the farmland of South Alabama to the skies, Powell-Friend has never forgotten the importance of working together for the common good.

“My goal has always been to make a difference, to make a difference in others’ lives.”


The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.