A simple change in curriculum led Pamela Blow-Mitchell ’83, ’84M to discover a passion that would shape her future: Computer Science. She is currently thriving at Lockheed Martin where she serves as the Vice President, Programs, for the Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) business area based in King of Prussia, just west of Philadelphia.
Blow-Mitchell’s career began at Leeds and Northrup and then Premier Systems. But it’s at Lockheed Martin that she found her home. Prior to her current role, she served as Lockheed’s IS&GS Vice President of Program Surveillance, overseeing independent program surveillance and the discipline of technical and management as well as Vice President and Chief Information Officer.
Without discounting the challenges of being an African-American woman in corporate America, Blow-Mitchell credits her continued rise in a male-dominated industry to steady persistence in getting the work done and doing it with excellence. What she loves about her role now is “helping our customers solve their most complex needs so that they can succeed.”
“It all depends on how you define balance. If you’re looking for a 50/50 balance on a scale, that’s not going to happen at this level in corporate America.” —Pamela Blow-Mitchell ’83, ’84M
One affirmation of her success and her leadership was receiving the 2010 Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) President’s Award for IT Leadership. The BEYA awards recognize technical and scientific accomplishments, but also salute people who have shown a strong commitment to diversity and mentoring. Blow- Mitchell is actively involved as a member of the Executive Leadership Council, which focuses on the power of inclusive leadership environments for the development of African-American leaders. She also mentors 15 high-potential, early-career employees.
Blow-Mitchell has many wonderful memories of her time at Beaver College, but it wasn’t until her senior year that she took a few classes in computer science and discovered her talent for the field. “After graduating with a degree in biology, I came back and completed a post-baccalaureate in computer science and a Master of Arts in Computer Science Education.” She graduated with distinction, the highest honor for masters programs. Faculty members that stand out in her memory include Dr. Norman Johnston and Professor Ned Wolff.
“Pam was an amazing student, who matured incredibly during her stay at Beaver College and grew into the wonderfully grounded, focused person that she is today,” recalls Wolff. “She was definitely a different person when she returned in the post-baccalaureate program than when I first taught her as an undergraduate. I recall asking her about that and she responded that she had made the personal decision ‘to get it all together.”
Even with a challenging career, family and faith are at the center of Blow-Mitchell’s world. When asked how she keeps it in balance, she replied, “It all depends on how you define balance. If you’re looking for a 50/50 balance on a scale, that’s not going to happen at this level in corporate America. We decide as a family— and we continue to evaluate as a family.”
Her husband, Kevin Mitchell, has a career that does not require travel, allowing Blow-Mitchell to be away, often leaving early on a Monday morning and returning home on Thursday evening. Their daughter, Montana, gave her mother her blessing to go back to work each Monday. Now a first-year student at Bucknell University, mother and daughter remain in frequent touch by phone, as well as through campus and home visits.
While brought up in the church, the couple had found over the years that they had drifted away. It was a question from their daughter that prompted them to not only go back to church, but examine their belief. Today Pamela and Kevin are very active members at Bethlehem Baptist Church, where Kevin serves as a Reverend, and consider their pastor and his wife, Pastor and Mrs. Charles Warren Quann, among their closest friends.
Blow-Mitchell reconnected to Arcadia University the way many find their way back to an alma mater—a rekindled friendship. A mutual friend brought them together at a high school basketball game. Now Heinz Hall dorm mate Linda Paskell ’81, an adjunct professor at Arcadia, and Pamela are part of each other’s lives much like they were when they lived on the same hall.
There is something magical about finding an old friend, the kind that does not need your history to be explained to, because they lived it with you.