Deborah Johnson is long-time employee of NASA, who has spent her entire government career at the agency. Not all NASA personnel are astronauts and scientists. many like Johnson support the Mission Directorates and are the staff who keep the agency functioning at all levels–from administrative tasks to the “cool stuff” like public outreach. Below Johnson talks about her career and motivations.

How long have you worked for NASA HQ?

I have worked for NASA Headquarters since September 9, 1978

What made you want to work for NASA?

I am a Washingtonian, and as a kid, I would visit the museums on the Mall. I had always been curious about space travel. I would visit the Air and Space Museum frequently to satisfy my curiosity for new discoveries in space travel and how dividends from space could be applied to everyday challenges here on Earth.

Have you worked in more than one office? If so, in what capacity?

I have worked in more than one office but the majority of my career at NASA HQ was spent in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), where I worked for 37 years. I started off working in the SMD in the Planetary Division, as a secretary. I processed grants and performed administrative functions, which included preparing monthly status charts.

Within five years I was ask to apply for a position to support the Deputy Administrator for SMD as his secretary. I applied and was accepted–a great promotion! In this position I scheduled meetings, prepared travel requests, attended and scribed weekly meetings and prepared presentations for the deputy. Moreover, I met and greeted several NASA program managers and those of other federal agencies, Universities, as well as the private sector. This position really broaden my horizons and further sparked my curiosity of space travel.

Ten years later I became an executive assistant in SMD. In this position I worked for Associate Administrator for SMD, many of which were astronauts. My duties included scheduling the AA calendars, prepared general request for information, meet and greet visitors, prepared travel, briefing presentations for various meetings, submitted security clearance. I also traveled with the AA to provided administrative support and high level meetings and conferences.

Twenty-Two years later, I enjoyed what I was doing but I felt like I needed a change. I decided to take charge of my career, I worked with NASA Training Office to develop goals for my career path. Over three year period I took training at NASA HQ and US Graduate School. Training Taken: power point presentations, excel spreadsheets, leadership and management, writing effective government memorandums and emails, how to deal with difficult people and IT Training. I then approach the Director of the Planetary Division and requested a detailed to work in his Division and he agreed. I was so excited that I landed my dream position Program Planning Specialist. I did event planning for shuttle launches and missions. I also was on the guest launch team and public outreach. The coolest job ever, I was now truly enjoying my positon.

Describe your current position.

Three years ago I was approach by an attorney within SMD about an upcoming position in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for program management analyst. This is just one of many times during the course of my career that unofficial mentoring has helped to propel me forward and enhanced my career prospects. The lawyer in SMD said that I was such a dedicated employee and had such a “can do” attitude, and invited me to apply for the position. I was very reluctant because I was extremely happy in my then-current position. But she continued to urge me to apply; I did so and was accepted. But, I struck a deal with Science and OGC to still allow me to do the cool stuff in Science (Program Planning Specialist). My current duties include hiring and recruitment, submitting award nominations, budget analysis, training coordinator, IT point of contact. In addition, I also handle sensitive issues like security clearances. Last but not least, I still get to do public outreach (coo stuff) for Science when my schedule allows. I now have the best of both worlds. I am truly living my dreams at NASA!

View the Black History Month Image Gallery.

Image Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

黛博拉·约翰逊是NASA的长期雇员,她的整个政府职业生涯都是在该机构度过的。并不是所有的NASA人员都是宇航员科学家。像约翰逊这样的许多人都支持任务委员会,他们是保持该机构在各个层面运作的工作人员——从行政任务到公共宣传等“酷东西”。下面约翰逊谈论了她的职业和动机。

您为NASA总部工作了多长时间

我从1978年9月9日开始在NASA总部工作。

是什么让您想为NASA工作?

我是华盛顿人,小时候,我会参观购物中心的博物馆。我一直对太空旅行感到好奇。我会经常访问航空博物馆,以满足我对太空旅行新发现的好奇心,以及如何将太空的红利应用于地球上的日常挑战。

您在多个办公室工作过吗?如果是这样,以什么身份?

我曾在多个办公室工作过,但我在NASA总部的大部分职业生涯是在科学任务理事会(SMD)度过的,我在那里工作了37年。我开始在SMD的行星部门工作,担任秘书。我处理了赠款并执行了管理职能,其中包括准备每月状态图。

五年之内,我被要求申请一个职位,以支持SMD副局长担任其秘书。我申请并被接受了-很棒的晋升!在这个职位上,我安排会议,准备出差申请,参加并记录每周的会议,为副手准备报告。此外,我还会见了几位NASA的项目经理以及其他联邦机构、大学和私营部门的项目经理。这个职位确实开阔了我的视野,进一步激发了我对太空旅行的好奇心。

十年后,我成为了SMD的行政助理。在这个职位上,我为SMD的副管理员工作,其中许多人是宇航员。我的职责包括安排AA日程表,准备一般的信息请求,会见和问候访客,准备旅行,为各种会议做简报,提交安全许可。我还与机管局一起旅行,提供行政支持和高层会议。

22年后,我很享受自己的工作,但感觉好像需要改变。我决定掌控我的职业生涯,我和NASA的培训办公室一起制定我职业道路的目标。我在美国国家航空航天局总部和美国研究生院接受了三年多的培训。接受的培训:PowerPoint演示文稿,excel电子表格,领导和管理,撰写有效的政府备忘录和电子邮件,如何与困难人士打交道和进行IT培训。然后,我与行星事务部主任联系,要求提供详细的资料到该部门工作,他同意了。我太激动了,我找到了我梦想的职位——项目策划专员。我为航天飞机发射和任务做活动策划。我还参加了客户启动团队和公共宣传。最酷的工作,我现在真的很享受我的职位。

描述你目前的职位。

三年前,我与一位来自SMD的律师进行了接触,他告诉我即将在办公室的总法律顾问(OGC)为项目管理分析师提供一个职位。在我的职业生涯中,非官方的辅导帮助我前进,提升了我的职业前景,这只是其中的一次。SMD的律师说我是一个非常敬业的员工,有一种“我能做到”的态度,并邀请我申请这个职位。我很不情愿,因为我对当时的工作非常满意。但她继续催促我去申请;我这样做了,被录取了。但是,我与科学和OGC达成了一项协议,仍然允许我在科学领域做一些很酷的事情(项目规划专家)。我目前的职责包括招聘,提名,预算分析,培训协调员,IT联络人。此外,我还处理安全许可等敏感问题。最后但并非最不重要的是,在我的时间允许的情况下,我仍然可以为科学做公开推广(酷的事情)。我现在两全其美。我真的在NASA实现我的梦想!

查看黑人历史月图像画廊

图片来源:NASA/Joel Kowsky

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