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Information > Biographies > MAJOR GENERAL MARCELITE J HARRIS

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Retired Feb. 22, 1997.  

Retired Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris is a proven leader with exceptional skills in management, system development, contract administration and personnel leadership and management. The General is phenomenal is her ability to get projects completed.

The general was the Florida Site Director and the Director of Logistics Processes for United Space Alliance, the company directly responsible to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the total operation of our nation's manned space program, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. In these positions, she served as the company's key leader in working with the Florida community and interacting with the more than 6,000 employees. She was responsible for reducing the cost of operating the space program for commercial and governmental ventures.

During her more than 31 years in the military, she was a valued expert in aerospace acquisition, maintenance management, inventory control, distribution, information management system design and human resource management. She rose through the ranks with increasing responsibilities in logistics and maintenance, and recorded a series of "firsts" for women in the military at home and abroad. These included becoming the first woman maintenance officer, one of the first two women air officers commanding at the Air Force Academy, the first woman to be the Director of Maintenance for the Air Force, and the nation's first African-American woman major general. In addition to all of these accomplishments, she also served as a White House Social Aide during the Carter administration.

At the time of her military retirement, the general served as the Air Force's Director of Maintenance, overseeing an aerospace weapon system inventory of more than $260 billion and a workforce of more than 120,000, the largest single career field in the Air Force. She also was instrumental in developing and modernizing the Air Force's premier maintenance management program known as the Integrated Maintenance Data System (IMDS). This information management system revolutionized, reduced the cost of, and modernized how our country will fight its future wars from home and deployed.

Throughout her career, General Harris has been a major leader in restructuring, enhancing, and improving Air Force business and war fighting processes. She was responsible for the Air Force's total technical training program, impacting over 300,000 people annually. She streamlined it, reduced its cost, and implemented programs that ensured a technician graduate "ready to work." At the Air Force's larger logistics depot, she directly supervised a workforce of more than 17,000 people responsible for the major overhaul of our nation's large weapon systems, the B-2, the B-1, the B-52, the KC-135 plus others. With a passion for the utilization of women, the General was NATO's leader in revamping their total program on the utilization of women in the NATO member country forces.

General Harris has been recognized as a trailblazer on her own and in support of women's rights in the forces at home and internationally. Among the many honors she has received are the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the 1998 Living Legacy Patriot Award, "Black Woman of Courage" from the National Federation of Black Women Business Owners, "Woman of the Year" from the National Organization of Tuskegee Airmen and "Most Prestigious Individual" by Dollars and Sense Magazine. She is listed in "Who's Who in America," "Who's Who Among Black Americans" and "Who's Who Among Business Women". 

Her community involvement is unparalleled and has included membership and leadership roles on the boards of United Way, Junior Achievement, Astronaut Memorial Foundation, Florida Space Authority, Florida Space Business Roundtable and others. The General's corporate affiliation has been as a member of the Board of Directors for United Services Automobile Association. She served as the Board's Vice Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, the Vice Chair of the Personnel and Membership Committee and is presently the Chair of the Advisory Panel. She also served on a congressional committee chaired by Nancy Kasselbaum Baker examining the training of women in the military.

The general is on the Air Force Academy Board of Visitors, the Board of Trustees of the University of Maryland University College and the Honors College of Florida Atlantic University.

Her military citations include a Defense Distinguished Service Medal, four Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and the Viet Nam Service Medal.

General Harris earned degrees from Spelman College and the University of Maryland. She also received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Maryland University College and an honorary doctorate of letters degree from Spelman College.

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