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CHIPS Articles: Women's History Month: Commander Jody Powers

Women's History Month: Commander Jody Powers
Careers with a purpose: Oceanography
By Defense Media Activity - March 21, 2016
Commander Jody Powers

Q: Why did you decide to join/serve the Navy?

A: I grew up in Illinois, but developed a love of the ocean while on family vacations. I would go snorkeling and SCUBA diving with my dad and just couldn't get enough of being in and around the water.

Throughout my schooling, I loved science and was mesmerized by the deep ocean work Dr. Robert Ballard was doing at the time. He was working with the U.S. Navy on some of his projects and I learned that he had served in the Navy. That piqued my interest! I'd also had an upbringing where I felt safe and was proud of my community and country, and it all just came together for me. The Navy would allow me to get to the ocean, travel, go to school, and serve my country.

Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you?

A: One of my SWO CO's showed me how one person could influence a profound change in an organization. He took command of an unhappy, troubled ship. His competence, care for the crew, and genuine respect for the skills we all brought to the team lifted the morale of the ship and united the crew, and that definitely left a lasting impression on me.

I was also fortunate to serve with a METOC officer who showed me that you could care about your family and still be a successful Naval Officer. He was a great leader and attacked the mission head-on, but he was also a true family man and didn't hide that from the crew. I'm happy to say that I see this a lot now from our community leaders, but at the time I was trill trying to figure out that balance and talking with him helped me work with my family to make some key career decisions that have allowed me to grow into the officer, wife, and mother I am today.

Perhaps my most non-traditional role model is Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. The company's values resonate with me, and upon reading Chouinard's book, "Let My People Go Surfing," I really started to think about how to engender an organizational culture of pride and commitment to both personal and organizational values. His methods don't perfectly translate to the military, but the core values do.

Q: Please tell us a story about someone, perhaps in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than you ever thought you might.

A: My husband is my most honest critic and also my greatest supporter! He has no problem telling me when I'm wrong, when I haven't given something me best effort, or when I'm selling myself short. That tough love has helped propel me over the years and pushed me to trust myself more than I used to.

Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why.

A: They are all memorable in their own right! Going to graduate school at WHOI was a dream come true-I learned a great deal from my classmates and advisors, and I got to work with people I had seen on the Discovery Channel! Onboard USS SHOUP I got my first real taste of life in the Navy, including work-ups, mid watches, that lingering smell of JP5, the breathtaking sunsets at sea, and the lasting friendships-I was hooked!

Working on the Joint Staff was another great tour being in the Pentagon, learning about the other DoD entities, and learning about the requirements and acquisition processes was a real eye-opener. And of course, command at Naval Oceanography Mine Warfare Center has been an amazing tour! My Shipmates inspire me every day!

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: Getting to see the potential in others and helping them to see and achieve it, too.

Reprinted from the U.S. Navy’s All Hands Magazine: www.navy.mil/ah_online/

Women's History Month banner featuring U.S. Navy Commander Jody Powell
Women's History Month banner featuring U.S. Navy Commander Jody Powell

Collage of photos of U.S. Navy Commander Jody Powell
Collage of photos of U.S. Navy Commander Jody Powell
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