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Mary Collins - Embracing Her Inner Nerd
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Goddard allows IT Specialist Mary Collins to embrace her inner nerd.

Name: Mary Collins
Title: IT Specialist (Customer Service), Program Integration and Management Division
Organization: Code 740, Program Integration and Management Division

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

Since January 2007, I have been the manager for “IT Matters,” a speaker’s series about IT projects and initiatives that matter to our customers. Our presentations are onsite and generally last up to 90 minutes.

Goddard speakers have included Tom Perricone and his team on how to build more secure web apps, and Mary Ann Bents on our mail and calendar system. Some of our other guest speakers were Robert Hyde, Fraud Prevention Manager for the NASA Federal Credit Union, on preventing identity theft; and Lawrie Jordan, Director of Imagery at ESRI, on evolving trends in the geographic imaging and remote sensing community and their impact. I select some of our speakers based on Goddard’s IT projects and topics of general interest. Other times, our speakers are outside experts who have asked if they can present. I welcome all suggestions!
Photo of Mary Collins› Larger image
Photo of Mary Collins in the auditorium before one of her IT Matters presentations. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk

I have found all of our speakers to be delightful. I love rubbing elbows with all these wonderfully talented people. They have all been very easy to work with. I try to make their visit as pleasant as possible so that they can focus exclusively on their presentation by orchestrating all the other aspects of the planning and execution.

Our official “IT Matters” presentation template and promotional poster display the IT organization’s slogan, “Our Mission is to Enable Yours,” which is at the heart of this series. We try to make the series accessible and inclusive. The presentation slides are typically available the day before the talk. We provide real-time access within Goddard via WebEx and also to those at Wallops Flight Facility and IV&V through a video teleconference link. These measures make the series available to people who cannot attend in person. Additionally, through our Equal Opportunity Programs Office, a sign language interpreter is on hand if needed. I now also prepare captioned videos of the session for posting to our website.

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

It’s the variety of things that you can do. Where else can you meet half the cast of the original “Star Trek”? Being at Goddard has allowed me to embrace my inner nerd, which I used to hide. I love that the incredible level of brain power elevates everyone. There are all kinds of great ways to use your talents. All you have to do is find the ways and go for them.
Photo of Mary Collins singing
Mary Collins singing one of the standards. Image courtesy: M. Collins

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?

I would be heavily involved in the performing arts. I love to sing and act, but especially enjoy directing. I am a serious voice student and have taken private lessons since 2004.

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

In 1991, I joined Goddard’s Music and Drama (MAD) Club. I soon found out how much I enjoy performing. My MAD experience led me to direct several Goddard award ceremonies, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have also developed and performed short musical programs for local retirement homes, which is one of my favorite things to do.

What is your favorite type of music to sing?

I love signing show tunes and the old standards such as songs from Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Do you have a favorite composer?

My current musical crush is on the music of Stephen Sondheim. In particular, I love “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Sunday in the Park with George.”

Related Links:

› Link to the IT Matters Video Collection
› More Conversations With Goddard
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD