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Lisa DeVine: Making a difference in defense with fearless leadership – 2024 Women of Impact

“There is a seat at the table for you.” 

That’s what Lisa DeVine wants all young women coming up to know.  

With a 20-year career as an Army officer behind her, including a stint as a paratrooper, DeVine, vice president of Program Integration at Leidos Dynetics, has been seated at tables many of us might find hard to fathom.  

“I think if anybody jumps out of an airplane there’s at least a fear quotient,” DeVine said with a chuckle.  

“But you know the army trains you to overcome, to have confidence in your training, confidence in your coworkers, confidence in your skills.”

While DeVine may downplay her evident fearlessness, she fully admits to possessing a steely determination.  

“I grew up in New York as the third of eight children and I desperately wanted to go to college,” she said. “But there was no way my parents were gonna be able to pay for me to go to college.”

Undeterred, DeVine applied for an Army scholarship and was accepted.  

“I was one of those people who was gonna get there no matter what it took,” she said.

The Army informed her she would be studying engineering. After graduating, DeVine began serving in the Army, taking her all over the world. An experience that DeVine said makes you realize people have far more in common than they have differences. 

“When you live all over the world and you live in those communities, people are really not that much different from one another,” she said. ‘Everybody wants their kids to be healthy. They want to have a successful job. They love to live in strong communities. 

“You don’t see villainy all around the world.”

After the birth of her second child, she and her husband looked for a place to put down roots.

“We had always heard of Huntsville but we had never been here,” DeVine said. “So when our second son was born, we flew from Korea to Huntsville. We were here for about 3 or 4 days and said, ‘Oh yeah, this is where we’re gonna raise our family.’”

Alabama has welcomed DeVine and her family with wide open arms.  

“When we came to Huntsville, even though the Redstone Arsenal is here, you don’t see a lot of uniformed people in the community,” DeVine said. ‘But it was astonishing to us how welcoming and generous and open the entire community was. 

“And so you didn’t feel anonymous, you felt welcomed in the community.” 

DeVine has spent more than 35 years supporting the Department of Defense. In her role at Leidos, DeVine is focused on providing strong business systems in support of the developing and prototyping weapons technologies.

“After having been on the user end of the defense community, I really feel like I’m giving back now working as a defense contractor because I have a strong appreciation and understanding of what it looks and feels like on the other end,” she said

Never one to rest, DeVine is also passionate about expanding women’s roles in the two fields she has excelled in: the military and engineering.  

“When I went in, the military was about 14% women,” she said. “It’s 30 years later and it’s maybe 17% or 18% women. And it’s the same in engineering. When I went into engineering, I often was the only one of the four or five women in our engineering class. 

“It’s just amazing to me that in 30 years we haven’t seemed to make a huge amount of progress.”

DeVine has made it her personal mission to make both worlds more accessible for women.  

“Because women do have a contribution to make,” she said. “They think differently. They collaborate differently than men do. And so there is a seat at the table for them.”  

With a mission to break down barriers, Devine said there is a lot that can be done. 

“Any kind of increased representation would be a success,” said DeVine. “I want to show it is achievable.  We’ve started high school internships. We’re working really hard to have people be able to see themselves in a STEM career and in the defense community.” 

DeVine also wants more companies to provide onramps for women who take time to care for their families.  

“Success for me will look like when there’s not a penalty for stepping off the treadmill and stepping back on,” she said. “So when those senior executive positions open up, you have their resume behind you in order to be competitive for those roles.”   

DeVine believes surrounding yourself with a supportive tribe is the key to success.  

“My parents never made me feel like I couldn’t do anything I put my mind to,” she said. ‘If I said I wanted to do something, they were all in. 

“Surround yourself with people who are your cheerleaders. My husband is often one of my biggest cheerleaders. Surround yourself with people who don’t see barriers, who only see opportunities.”  

In addition to breaking down barriers, Devine plays an active role in the community. She works to support the Huntsville Botanical Garden and the Land Trust of North Alabama. DeVine is also a graduate of Leadership Greater Huntsville.

And DeVine shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  

“I love to try to solve hard problems that have a positive impact.”   

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