After decades of service supporting Soldiers from different levels within the materiel enterprise, Logistics Data Analysis Center’s acting director shares her story and advice for the next generation of Army experts.
LDAC Acting Director Marsha Kelly-Evans has had a combined 32 years of service as a Soldier and Department of Army Civilian. Her message to women looking for a military career in science, technology, engineering and math is to persevere and look for opportunities that will set you apart.
“Don’t get discouraged,” she said. “Continue applying, because that is the first step. I am a firm believer if it’s for you, it will happen.”
For Kelly-Evans, her service started when she enlisted in 1988 as part of the college loan repayment program, taking her first assignment in Germany.
“Four years turned into 25 years later,” she said. “After my retirement, I had been in the military more than half my life.”
As her career progressed, she began to look at the warrant officer program. She first learned about the program from one of the aviation maintenance warrant officers in Germany, who she spoke with about what it takes to be a warrant officer. She would later meet many others, including supply warrant officers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
After working as an automated logistics specialist for several years, she submitted her warrant officer packet. Once she was accepted into the program, she moved from Hawaii to Fort Rucker and was pinned as a warrant officer in 1997. From there, she said she took the unwanted assignments, finding herself all over the world supporting her fellow Soldiers.
Later, a new challenge presented itself. She was offered a nominative position at Redstone Arsenal, working as a supply system technician for the Army Authorized Stockage List team under Army Materiel Command G3 and the Logistics Support Activity, the precursor to LDAC. After soul searching and talking to her family, she took the leap of faith, returning to Alabama.
“I was utterly surprised of the city aspect of Huntsville,” Kelly-Evans said. “There were several things we could do as a family here.”
Her new position with LOGSA was different than any she had before. She wouldn’t be deploying in this position, and it was the onset of her experience working for a military organization made up predominantly of civilians and contractors. One day, she saw former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody’s quote encouraging Soldiers not to judge their relevance to the fight by their proximity to the battlefield.
“At that moment, I was wrestling with being in a non-deployable assignment,” Kelly-Evans said. “It helped me realize I can really make a difference here, making sure units have the right breadth and depth of supplies on the shelves.”
After 25 years of service, Kelly-Evans retired as a chief warrant officer four in 2013, but this did not mark the end of her Army career.
“The opportunity came that I could still do what I was doing, taking care of Soldiers, as a Department of the Army Civilian,” she said.
Kelly-Evans returned to LDAC as the deputy director almost two years ago and says the organization has changed since she worked there as a Soldier.
“It’s been exciting to learn more about the budget, information technology and project management,” she said. “We are doing things people wouldn’t believe for AMC and the Army as a whole. I envision really big things down the road with LDAC in data analytics and IT to allow AMC leaders to see themselves.”
Kelly-Evans said she didn’t get to where she is today on her own. She is grateful for the mentors she had throughout her Army career.
“The Army is not a career where you can say ‘I did this by myself,’” she said. “It’s a collective team. You have to have everyone rolling in the right direction to support the mission.”
She said building relationships and taking care of people is critical in this field. She encourages those looking to advance to have perseverance and the willingness to do the job.
“You treat people the way they want to be treated, and the way you want to be treated with respect and dignity, and they will go to the ends of the earth for you,” she said.