By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Jody Singer was named Director of the Marshall Space Flight center in Huntsville, Alabama on Thursday, making her the first woman to be in charge of one of NASA’s largest field installations.
Singer has been serving as the acting director since July but now has been given the official title of director. She will manage as many as 6,000 civil service and contractor employees and oversee an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.
Singer began her NASA career in 1985 as an engineer in NASA’s professional intern program. Among her various other leadership roles, she was also the manager of the Flight Programs and Partnerships Office at Marshall from 2013 to 2016.
Her experience in human spaceflight includes 25 years working in the Space Shuttle Program, where she was responsible for the development, testing, flight readiness, safety and performance of the shuttle’s propulsion elements.
Her experience also includes Return to Flight activities following the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. She served as the first female project manager for the Reusable Solid Rocket Booster Project Office and as deputy manager in the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office as it successfully completed its mission and retirement.
Singer is originally from Hartselle, Alabama and went to the University of Alabama in 1983. She has been recognized with numerous awards during her NASA career, including NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and two Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive Awards, the highest honor for career federal employees.
Members of Alabama’s congressional delegation weighed in on this landmark appointment as well.
“Jody Singer is an excellent choice to lead Marshall Spaceflight Center,” said Senator Richard Shelby. “Her deep understanding of the Space Launch System and other critical NASA projects, along with her dedication to MSFC and the entire agency, make her the ideal candidate for this position. I look forward to working with her to continue prioritizing American space exploration.”
Sen. Doug Jones said, “A proud Hartselle, Alabama native and University of Alabama graduate, Jody has served at NASA for more than three decades and has gained the skills needed to take the Marshall Space Flight Center to the next level. I am confident she is the right person for the job, which comes at a time when space travel and security are increasingly gaining national attention. Her appointment as the first woman in this important position is historic and will also serve as an inspiration to young women who are thinking about careers in the STEM field. Her deep knowledge of the subject matter, proven leadership skills as acting director, and strong ties to Alabama will serve her well as she officially takes the reins at Marshall and further bolsters its reputation as a leader in spaceflight, research, and exploration.”
Congressman Mo Brooks, who represents Huntsville and serves as Vice-Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Space Subcommittee, called Singer to congratulate her on the appointment.
“I congratulate Jody on being appointed director of Marshall Space Flight Center. Marshall is one of NASA’s premier installations, and the center’s unique capabilities are essential to nearly every NASA mission. With a career spanning 30 years at NASA, most recently as acting director of Marshall, Jody has the breadth of experience and extensive knowledge needed to lead the center during this exciting return to manned deep space exploration. A Hartselle, Alabama native and University of Alabama graduate, Jody is right at home at Marshall in the Tennessee Valley. I look forward to working closely with Director Singer to maintain and expand Marshall’s role in current and future missions, and I am pleased to have a partner at Marshall dedicated to maintaining America’s global preeminence in space.”
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, who serves on the Appropriations panel that funds NASA, weighed in on how this is an important advancement for women in STEM fields and for future women working at NASA.
“The announcement that Jody Singer will lead NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is great news for NASA and our state’s role in human space exploration. I believe Jody Singer is a fantastic choice for this important job, and it is especially exciting that she will be the first female to serve in this key position. I look forward to seeing the great things she will continue to accomplish for NASA and the State of Alabama. I am eager to work with her in my role on the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee as we strive to properly fund and support NASA and its missions.”
Caroline Beck is a reporter living in Montgomery. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineBeckADN or email her at Caroline@aldailynews.com