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Todd Collins - The Man Behind the Curtain
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Creative Services Branch Manager R. Todd Stevens is Goddard’s Man Behind the Curtain.

Name: Todd Stevens
Title: Creative Services Branch Manager
Organization: Code 279, Creative Services, Technical Information Management Services Branch, Office of Communications, Management Operations Directorate

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

I manage a team that provides technical support including audio-visual and video conferencing services to the Center. I help ensure that certain events with technical requirements go smoothly. For example, I coordinate center addresses by our Center Director. Frequently I provide support for off-Center events such as the annual Robert H. Goddard Awards Ceremony. I also organize live, real-time viewing of certain launches.

During events, I am usually in the control room overseeing the technical operations. The Building 8 auditorium control room is an enclosed, windowed room at the rear of the auditorium. We are sort of like the Wizard in “The Wizard of Oz” because we are seldom seen or noticed, but we conjure up magic for the audiences. All the equipment we use helps us create a pleasing spectacle. I have a Bachelor of Arts in film from Dennison University in Granville, Ohio so I always look at my job with an artistic eye.

Teamwork is critical and necessary to achieve our goals. I try to lead by example and offer praise and incentives. I believe in motivation so I try to motivate by stressing the importance of every individual’s role at Goddard. Everyone is important and makes a difference. I don’t want any of my employees to retire or quit ever because we have such a solid team!
Photo of Todd Stevens› Larger image
Photo of Todd Stevens in the Building 8 control room. Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk
I am also a roving reporter for the “i am goddard” campaign. I interviewed lots of people around the center and asked them the same question: “Are you Goddard?”

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

This is the best job I have ever had! My job is the ultimate job for me because all of my talents are pooled and I get to do a little bit of everything. It reminds me of the opposite of the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel are boxing chocolates on an assembly line. I do not have an assembly line job. I get to be inventive and innovative.

I’m a creative, right-brained person so this job really appeals to me. I love coming up with ideas, contacting the right people and getting them excited about the idea, and then being able to implement them. It’s neat to see these ideas come alive.

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?

Photo of Todd Stevens at one of his races.› Larger image
Todd Stevens during one of his triathlons. Image courtesy of: T. Stevens
I would tell new people that Goddard is a microcosm of the real world, which is constantly changing. Try to be flexible because the world of Goddard is constantly in flux.

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

I was in student films in college and have done some theater, so I would like to be an actor. Portraying other personas is very appealing to me because you find out more about yourself by playing other people. You can really get lost in some roles.

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

I compete in triathlons, which involve swimming, biking, and running. I run full triathlons about three times a year and in between I also participate in off-road mountain biking and running events. I usually place in the top five for my age group. It is especially fun when I pass the twenty year olds!

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 want to meet my childhood hero, Evel Knievel, who was the greatest stunt motorcyclist of all time. I sometimes ride my motorcycle to work and hope to someday get an electric motorcycle. I would ask him if he would ever attempt a stunt using an electric motorcycle.

Do you have a favorite movie?

I love movies that affect me. Movies on my favorites list have traumatized me emotionally and leave me in an altered state when the lights come up. “21 Grams” is one movie that I saw that really affected me because it is about people’s souls.

Related Links:

› Video of Todd Stevens with the "iamgoddard" campaign
› More Conversations With Goddard
Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD