Retired Lieutenant Colonel Lisa Harvey ’92 has too many memories to count when it comes to her time at Illinois State—time that she still values to this day.

Born in Washington D.C., she grew up along Lake Michigan’s North Shore. Choosing to study at Illinois State was an easy decision for Harvey, as it was the only state school at the time offering an international business degree, which was originally her passion.

Harvey was excited to learn everything she could about the business world, eventually changing her major and settling on a degree in marketing and business management.

“In my time at ISU, I was exposed to amazing opportunities with academics and extra-curricular activities,” she said.

Harvey was active on campus and was involved in the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC). She remembers taking a leadership course that was especially eye opening and motivating, making her want to become even more involved.

“ROTC gave me the opportunity to manage the 1991 Homecoming Day Parade, which was a lot more hectic than I had expected…but it was sunny and it all worked out well! Getting to be a part of the ROTC Color Guard at the football games was exciting and that led to me being able to organize the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars Color Guard from time to time through the Jacksonville Florida Army Recruitment Office…what a rush!”  

She also spent several years as a residential assistant (RA) on campus, an experience she still values today. The educational training program that RAs are presented with helped Harvey learn important organizational, training, communication, and management skills.

 “I learned it is really helpful to listen to others…we all share in life’s experiences, but through different lenses, and listening can build better understanding. Mountains can be moved when we work together towards a common objective and learning how to listen as a RA was very helpful,” she said.

Harvey is grateful for her time spent at Illinois State, and especially appreciates all the skills she has acquired and used in her personal life and professional career roles.

Life After Graduation

Harvey served as a United States Regular Army Officer, with over 25 years of experience focusing in the areas of strategic operations, organizational development, training, and human resources.

As a graduate of the Naval War College and Webster University, she earned three master’s degrees in national strategic studies, human resources, and business management.

“I am passionate about world affairs and keeping our nation safe, and I had the pleasure of serving overseas for almost 10 years. I first served as a combat arms officer in the Air Defense Artillery (Patriot) and then transitioned to the Adjutant General (Human Resources+) which lead to great opportunities in both a domestic and international capacity,” she said.

Harvey mentions that her career highlights extend beyond her many combat deployments. She spent time working at the Pentagon as a part of a three-person team driven to change federal policies governing Wounded Warriors to better reflect current times. She also was a driving force in the establishment of an agency within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as a part of the NATO communications and Information Agency. She helped successfully negotiate unanimous agreements with 28 nations to provide staffing for 2,000 military positions.

“The most rewarding part of my job in the military was the chance to help keep our nation safe and make a positive impact for our nation and military personnel. The most challenging part of my job was counseling others to help improve their capabilities. Honest one on one communication was often the toughest thing I had to do,” said Harvey.

After retirement, Harvey and her husband John moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in 2016.

Since retiring, she has become active serving her community in many ways, assisting in areas of need. She currently works as an international principle consultant with NATO, serves on the program committee for the World Affairs Council on Hilton Head Island, and participates in the Model UN Program. 

“I also recently started a new entrepreneurial adventure, bringing me full circle to my ISU degree of marketing and business,” she said.

Harvey continues to remember her time at Illinois State, valuing the skills she has learned and memories she has made as she enjoys life post-retirement.

“ISU afforded me multiple opportunities to learn and grow. For me, it was a safe place to learn a little more about who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I learned leadership and interpersonal skills as well as how to prepare and deliver training to large groups. These skills built my confidence and helped me believe I can achieve the goals I set, and still carry on with me to this day.”

Want to learn more about ROTC or Military Science at Illinois State? Visit their website for more information.