WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – During Black History Month, US Coast Guard Auxiliary officer Alvin Powell is being honored.

Powell is the president of the Inner Banks STEM Center. He’s also the staff diversity officer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. But before all of this, he held many roles in Washington, D.C. including serving as Chief of the Counterterrorism Unit and investigating the 9/11 attack in New York.

He also was one of the first African-Americans to be a special operations pilot supporting the FBI aviation mission.

“I was born kind of in a low-income area,” said Powell. “A lot of my friends got in trouble, I just didn’t get caught. And I ended up going to college here in North Carolina, going into finance and accounting background, became a federal bank examiner with Treasury Department, stayed there for about five years and then used that background to qualify to get me into the FBI, where I subsequently stayed for about 30 years.”

Before heading to DC, Powell earned his degree at Fayetteville State University. But it wasn’t until he was in the FBI that he noticed how many youth lack positive incentives.

In 2010 he joined the US Coast Guard Auxiliary unit and later made home to Washington, N.C., where he has deep roots. Powell helped organize the Inner Banks STEM Center in 2012 a nonprofit giving kids positive alternatives no matter their socio-economic situation.

He also helped open the Inner Banks STEM Center that sits across from the Washington-Warren Airport in 2018.

“We’ve been able to morph the Coast Guard Auxiliary mission under diversity and inclusiveness into recruiting kids to our STEM program, which focuses on at-risk and then having some exceptional individuals from the Coast Guard Auxiliary come in and teach different boat safety courses and more awareness courses,” said Powell.

Powell said retired US Navy Capt. Dale Benson, the local flotilla commander, is a key supporter of the diversity and inclusiveness initiative within the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“The primary purpose for the Coast Guard Auxiliary is safe boating. But one of the other missions is to take and provide safety and education instruction to the local public with keeping the waterways, ports and boating safe and educating the people on safety,” said Benson.

While Powell credits Benson for helping reach minority and underrepresented communities, Benson praised the work Powell continues to do.

“He’s a tireless worker, he’s a wonderful guy to work with. He’s a very dynamic contributor to the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the organizations that he works with, he deserves every bit of it,” said Benson.

For more information on the STEM center, visit Inner Banks STEM Program.