Written by a COOP Edition
Name: Val Lunz
Title: Special Assistant to the Flight Projects Directorate
Organization: Code 400
How long have you been at NASA: A little over four years
As Special Assistant to the Flight Projects Directorate, Val Lunz uses momentum as motivation
What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?
Prior to coming to Code 400 in December 2012, I used to be in the Information Technology Communications Directorate, the IT organization, Code 700. In my current role, I see myself as an organizer to make sure actions are carried out and streamlined where possible. I’m the liaison between the Flight Projects Directorate and a lot of the other organizations, as well as internally to the programs and projects to help keep the momentum moving.
Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with at Goddard?
Goddard Chief Science Dr. James Garvin is the most interesting person I’ve met at Goddard. He has a way of giving a presentation that influences and inspires even those who don’t have a background in science. They leave wanting to learn more about it.
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?
New Developing Professionals has been so fun! The New and Developing Professionals Advisory Committee is a merger between a grass roots organization, Goddard Developing Professionals, and the New Employee Welcoming Board. By joining the program, I’m able to engage with other people as well as gain a sense of mega influence. It is a great way to diversify my day and help to keep the larger perspective in mind.
What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?
Don’t be afraid to take chances, and don’t put yourself in a box. It’s all in how you market yourself. Maximize your skills!
If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?
When I informed my family and friends that I was working at NASA they were shocked! They thought for sure that I would be dancing! I always imagined having my own dance studio. I absolutely love modern dance.
What was your best day or the best thing that ever happened to you at Goddard?
One of the best things that happened to me at Goddard was being a part of the Professional Intern Program. While participating in the program, I thought of an IT tool design that would help streamline and enhance several of our budget and IT reporting processes and increase transparency. After completing the program, I formed a partnership with Code 150, specifically the Financial Systems Office under Joanne Sprunk at the time, to have them assist me in turning my ideas into a tool that was available to our directorate and future directorates requiring a similar platform. The IT Business Tool was successfully deployed in 2011. The most rewarding part is, even though I’m not in the department anymore, they are still using the tool and it is still adding value to the overall requirement and organization.
What makes Goddard a great place to work?
Only at Goddard can you come out and everyone is able to share in the mission, like watching the retired shuttle fly over base. It’s at Goddard where we get to do the impossible and stay inventive, and Goddard does a great job including everyone, all roles and responsibilities, in that team that created success. It makes NASA unique, and that is what motivates me!
What at Goddard fuels your creativity?
Resistance fuels my creativity, because it is at times like these I know there are better ways we can make improvements.
Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, activities outside of work that people do not generally know?
I have a strong artistic background. In my house, I have 3D things coming out at you. When I come home from work and other activities, it zones me, keeps me fresh and thinking positively.
If you could meet and talk to anybody, living or dead, who would it be and what’s the first thing you’d ask them?
I would love to meet Winston Churchill because he has this quote about Optimism vs. Pessimist. “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I would ask him, what kinds of things did you have to go through to stay optimistic and passionate as a leader?
Do you have a favorite book, magazine, movie, or TV show?
I enjoy Time magazine to catch up with the world over a cup of coffee. My husband and I really enjoy watching “Hannibal,” “Whitney” and “Rules of Engagement” together, when time allows.
Is there some place in the world that you want to visit or someplace you have been and want to go back?
The whole world! Recently, we bought a house and have a map of the world hanging on our wall. Our goal is to place a pin on each continent within the next 10 years.