With Leadership Comes Great Responsibility

Being a female leader in a highly technical, visible organization is a true honor. Every day, I have the privilege of working with amazing, smart, dedicated people, all striving toward the common goal of advancing human spaceflight and sending people back to the moon and on to Mars.

The farther I progress in my career, the more I realize that with that honor comes great responsibility. I am in a position to influence and guide the next generation of female leaders. I now understand that I am always being watched by women and young girls, both inside and outside NASA.

I am often asked to represent NASA and our human spaceflight programs at external conferences and various educational outreach events. Inevitably, I am approached by women and young girls who tell me how motivated they are by seeing another woman in a leadership position in a technical organization such as NASA. By my simply being there, they recognize that they too can play an important role and excel in whatever field excites them. I take these opportunities very seriously and always make time to visit with them, encourage them and to wish them well.

Inside NASA, I am able to set a positive example for women through my everyday actions. I show them that respect and recognition are earned simply by doing your job consistently well, not by demanding it. I show them that a female leader can be tough, while also being compassionate. She can work extremely hard, while also prioritizing her family. She sets high expectations for her people, while she does everything in her power to make them successful. She can sit next to her male colleague and be equally educated, competent and influential. And she pays forward all of the opportunities that were afforded to her by empowering, guiding, supporting, and developing those who follow her.

I truly believe that empowered women empower women, whether we work together, or we cross paths at a conference or in our personal lives. Confident female leaders are not threatened by other rising female leaders, but support, encourage, and open doors for them. Yes, my professional passion is seeing the first woman and the next man walk on the moon, but it is also seeing strong, confident, empowered women take their place among the leaders that will help get them there.