For the past 22 years, Northrop Grumman’s Yolanda Curtis has been committed to making an impact in healthcare. Her journey with the company began after she was living overseas with her family for her husband’s Army service. Having taken a break from a career in fashion to raise her children, she attended a career fair where a recruiter approached her about a role supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). African American woman smiling with arms crossed “I felt I had the best of both worlds – an opportunity to work for a Fortune 500 corporation while making a difference in people’s lives,” Yolanda said. And she’s never looked back. Last year, Yolanda was tapped to be director of the company’s Health Protection Solutions operating unit. Her largest team, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, provides the global health community with Agile IT and solutions to promote health, prevent disease and prepare for and respond to adverse health events domestically and internationally. In recent months, this has included helping the CDC fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Leading the team who supports the CDC response efforts to COVID-19

As of April, under Yolanda’s leadership, Northrop Grumman team members have directly supported the CDC’s response efforts, with more working behind the scenes to augment those efforts. Over the course of the response, team members have worked around the clock, nights and weekends to provide the CDC with web development in multiple languages, social media management, graphic design support and web and social metrics. They’ve also implemented systems enhancements that support disease surveillance, laboratory results reporting, data management and analysis. Yolanda was recently recognized for her accomplishments by WashingtonExec, an organization with more than 300 executive members in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. She was noted for helping her organization continue to be a health IT market leader, as well as for her success in working with teams and customers. “A large aspect of my job is to serve employees who support our customers’ mission day in and day out and provide the resources they need to do their jobs well,” she explained. “When employees know their leader cares and wants them to succeed, I believe they make a conscious decision to stay when they could be working elsewhere.” So what’s next for Yolanda? She says there is no timetable; she only knows that her desire to help others and contribute to missions that improve our country adds meaning to her life. She also has some career advice to share. “Don’t wait until you think you have 100 percent of the skills to pursue a new opportunity,” she said. “I recall a vice president telling me 10 years ago that if you are waiting to know everything for a given role, chances are you have already outgrown the position before you ever started.”