[image-62]Karen Bradford remembers her persistence and determination as a child when she tried to persuade her parents to take her to Disneyworld. The native of Anniston, Ala. wanted to see Space Mountain, because she thought it was a NASA exhibit, only to be disappointed later when she discovered it was a roller coaster ride.
"I have always been a NASA fan. From the first time I saw a rocket head to the stars to the many Star Trek episodes I have watched on television," said Bradford.
At 19 years old, she left home to start her life's journey. She attributes her self-confidence to her parents, who always believed in her ability to succeed at whatever she chose in life. Sometimes it was the "difficult" boss or co-worker who truly taught her the lessons she needed to succeed, she said.
"I have learned to use difficult situations as an opportunity for knowledge and growth. It isn't always easy, but I can honestly say they have been invaluable experiences," she admitted.
Bradford joined Ames in October, 2000, when her husband retired from the military and they were transferred from the Navy Public Works Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As a wife who has moved often during her husband's military career, she always found "starting over" to be a big obstacle in life, as moving from one duty station to the next, meant she would have to prove herself all over again.
One day she realized that all that moving is why she knows the travel rules for moving troops around the world. Her military-life experiences have given her a diverse set of skills that she has used in a variety of ways. During her career, she helped start a law library in the Office of Regional Counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency Region IX Headquarters in San Francisco, Calif. and was the project manager for building a new payroll office at the Navy Public Works Center, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Today, Bradford is the chief of staff for the Office of the Director at NASA Ames Research Center. As a member of the center's executive team, she is responsible for coordinating the many tasks of the center Director's office.
"NASA is not just about Ames, or America, it's about taking everyone on the next step in exploration and discovery. To be even a small part of this human story is phenomenal," Bradford said.
She offers these words of wisdom for other employees at Ames: "Each and every day, make sure that while you are looking and driving to the future, you listen to the wisdom of the past, and pay attention to the golden moments of the present. And always, try to do something for someone, no matter if noticed or how small."