A prominent figure in the field of military service, Octavia Harris possesses more than 30 years of professional experience in the United States Navy and its related government branches. Since 2022, she has excelled as the sub-committee chairperson for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) with the United States Department of Defense. As a leader in the organization, Ms. Harris maintains responsibility for advising the secretary of defense, assessing military challenges and productivity by its members, participating in recruitment activities, and aiding women in the United States Navy in relation to their subspecialties in such areas as special forces, combat, submarine navigation, and piloting.
Ms. Harris initially joined the United States Navy in the 1980s, serving honorably for three decades before deciding to contribute to the military more extensively. She notes that her service in the military led her to continue her faithful service, as military service was ingrained in her DNA. Over the course of 13 years between 2002 and 2015, she served as a senior advisor to the commander of Amphibious Squadron One as well as a command master chief of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, a program manager for the Navy Medical Center in San Diego, California, a human resources manager, and a lead detailer. She also served as command master chief of the USS Pinckney and a project manager and team lead at Kochur Trummer LLC.
Raised in a household that valued the significance of education, Ms. Harris pursued her formal education during her military service. In 2001, she received a Bachelor of Arts in behavioral sciences from the National University, having thereafter earned a Master of Science in operations and health care management and safety from the University of Arkansas in 2007. Congruent to her professional path, Ms. Harris has been a member of numerous pertinent organizations such as the Advisory Committee for Women and Children with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, where she has served as secretary since 2023, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Systems. Further, Ms. Harris has been exemplary in her local community, supporting The Enlisted Project and the Military Women’s Memorial Foundation. With the latter organization, she has served as one of three ambassadors for the memorial, which recognized women and their service beginning from the Revolutionary War.
As a testament to her success in the military and in government, Ms. Harris has been bestowed with several accolades. In 2023, she received the Women’s Memorial Certificate of Achievement, having previously earned the Legion of Merit from President Barack Obama in 2012 and the San Diego Navy Woman of the Year Award from the Navy League of the United States in 2001. She was also honored with the Woman of the Year Award from San Diego County, California.
Although she has experienced a myriad of career achievements, Ms. Harris is particularly gratified by her involvement in the congressional policy changes under the Deborah Sampson Act, through which she was honored for her leadership prowess and pioneering efforts. The Deborah Sampson Act is a bill that was signed into law in 2011 that improved programs and health care services for women veterans through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the forthcoming years, Ms. Harris intends to advance further in her career with the DACOWITS, particularly in the realm of women’s rights. Ultimately, she aspires to see women become fully accepted in all areas of the military. Additionally, she aims to write a series of books regarding her military and life experiences, through which she endeavors to positively influence women and children. In her spare time, Ms. Harris enjoys reading, photography, and taking walks.