NASA center names first woman director

Jody Singer, a UA alumna, was appointed director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville on Sept. 13, becoming the first woman to lead one of NASA’s largest centers.

As director of the center, Singer will oversee and lead nearly 6,000 employees and the center’s annual budget of about $2.8 billion.

Singer graduated from The University of Alabama in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and first began working at NASA in 1985 as an engineer in a professional intern program.

Singer told WVUA that her experiences at the University and the people in her life played an important role in her success throughout her career.

“From The University of Alabama to the people I work with today at Marshall Space Flight Center at NASA, the people make the difference,” Singer said. “I’ve had a lot of mentors and folks have invested in me. It’s a real honor to be able to lead such a wonderful team with such a wonderful mission that we have at NASA, and I’m looking so forward to the future.”

Cecilia Lee, a senior majoring in electrical engineering is the only female employed at Geneva Technologies Inc., an astronomical engineering company, and said she was inspired by Singer’s triumph.

“Singer’s success encourages me to pursue my career in a male-dominated field and to aspire toward leadership within that field rather than feel insufficient because of my gender,” Lee said. “Her story inspires me to cultivate leadership skills at the University and to be bold as I graduate into a male-dominated space industry.”

Before being named director, Singer worked in the space shuttle program for 25 years, where she worked on return to flight activities following the Columbia shuttle incident in 2003 and held several leadership positions. Throughout her career, Singer has been awarded various medals from NASA and two Presidential Rank Awards of Meritorious Senior Professional.

Rachel Pitman, a sophomore majoring in metallurgical engineering, said Singer’s success is an example of the opportunities the University gives its students.

“The fact that Singer graduated with one of the hardest degrees to earn when most women were graduating with other degrees is inspiring,” Pitman said. “It shows that even when it was so difficult for women engineers, she still persevered, as must I. It shows that the University opened doors for women and allowed them to do whatever they wanted to accomplish.”

In a NASA press release, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Singer was the right choice to lead the center due to her leadership experience and support of the association’s goals.

“Jody’s deep management experience over three decades at the project, program and center levels will be a huge asset to Marshall’s critical work supporting NASA’s goals of returning to the moon to stay,” Bridenstine said. “Her proven leadership abilities and close connections to Marshall’s work and the human spaceflight community made her the right choice to lead Marshall at this pivotal time.”

Chuck Karr, dean of the College of Engineering, said the college is proud to call Singer an alumna and sees her as one of the University’s legends. In 2017, the College of Engineering honored Singer as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow of the college.

“She is a trailblazer and has accomplished so much during her career at NASA, which is evident by her ascension to the role of first woman director of Marshall Space Flight Center,” Karr said. “Jody gives back to her alma mater by being involved in our Space Days event each November at the Capstone and we appreciate all the time and words of wisdom she has offered our students.”

Director Singer’s Official Bio and Portrait:

NASA Press Release:


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