Denna Lambert - People Person, Disability Advocate, Crew Member
Disability Programs Manager Denna Lambert is a real people person. She helps others excel both at work and in the water.
Disability Programs Manager
Formal Job Classification:
Organization She Works For:
Code 120, Equal Opportunity Programs Office, Office of the Director
What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?
I think sometimes at Goddard there is no typical day because my work deals with people. People change every day, so my job changes every day to meet the needs of the people and organizations I support.
I work in my own office, but I also go wherever people need me. If someone with a disability needs help, I go to them. If an employee is acquiring a disability, such as losing their mobility, I need to see their work environment to figure out what reasonable accommodations can be made. Essentially what I do is help people with disabilities find solutions so that they can do their jobs.
I do use some cool tools. I am blind so I use computers that talk to me. I also test the latest technologies for people with disabilities including voice recognition software, memory cueing devices, and the iPad and iPhone for people with disabilities. Sometimes my input
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Photo of Denna Lambert. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
remains internal to Goddard or to other Federal Agencies, but other times it goes back to the developer. When a developer requests input from intended users before the product is released, it is called beta testing. I’m a “wannabe engineer” at heart.
Also, I have a service dog named Denver, who was my guide dog for nine years. He recently retired. For more about Denna and Denver, read “A New Leash on Life”
Teamwork and collaboration are everything because my work relies on and impacts people. I cannot do my work in isolation or in a vacuum. To include everyone’s perspective in a reasonable accommodation solution, the team may include the employee, the employee’s supervisor, our medical officer, and an information technology person. Each team is created based on the needs of that particular situation. With each new case, I create a new team that includes the experts we need.
Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with at Goddard?
The person who most inspires me is my mentor, Karen Flynn, the Deputy Director for Applied Engineering and Technologies Directorate (Code 500). I want to follow her style of leadership. She expects a lot but she always remains kind, caring, and supportive. She is as loyal to her employees as they are to her. I always learn something watching Karen in action.
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Denna Lambert rowing with her crew. Credit: D. Lambert
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?
In 2006, I helped modify the Mars Rover work environment to allow students with disabilities to work there. I went to the control center at the Jet Propulsion Lab, reviewed the work conditions, and then suggested some modifications. A few of these students still keep in touch with me.
What was your best day or the best thing that ever happened to you at Goddard?
The best part of my job is working with really smart people. By helping them, I am also helping with NASA’s mission. A disability can impact a person’s entire life. I enjoy getting to know all aspects of a person, the areas where they excel and those where they need improvement, and helping them grow.
Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?
In 2009, I joined a crew at the Capital Rowing Club on the Anacostia River. I row with the crew about three times a week. We row in boats of 4 or 8 people. I have not fallen in yet, but I’m a good swimmer.
Do you have a favorite book?
Lately I’ve found reading the Bible to be very encouraging. There is always something new and I find guidance for every situation.
› Link to video Denna Lambert who was showcased during Black History Month
› More Conversations With Goddard
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.