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Center Snapshot: Jill Marlowe
Jill Marlowe. Image above: Jill Marlowe, deputy director of Langley's Engineering Directorate, is serving as the center's chair for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the largest and most successful workplace philanthropic fundraiser in the world. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

Jill Marlowe, deputy director of Langley’s Engineering Directorate, had a relatively sheltered childhood in the Washington D.C. suburbs. But when pursuing her aerospace and ocean engineering degree at Virginia Tech, the poverty in southwest Virginia that surrounded the university, taught her about true needs.

"The disparity of it struck me back then," Marlowe said, reflecting on the contrast between the college students and the communities in much of rest of the region.

She joined a community service organization and worked at food shelters, passing out butter, cheese and other foods. She got to know some of the families and saw that they were hard working, honest people, who were born into a very difficult set of circumstances.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, in 2010, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.7 percent and 9.2 million, respectively, up from 11.1 percent and 8.8 million in 2009.

"NASA Langley's Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) events really showcase how many different people, each with their own creative ideas and passions, can come together and make a difference for a cause like CFC. With more than 4,000 charitable organizations participating in CFC, it is almost certain that there is an organization out there that speaks to each of our individual causes and passions. One of the beautiful things about CFC is that all of these organizations are gathered in a consolidated campaign with all of the information about their cause, benefitting communities, and organizational overhead rate in one place. This makes it so easy for us to select our causes and, in just a few minutes, make a pledge that can make a lifetime impact for others."
-- Jill Marlowe, NASA Langley's CFC Chair

For more information about the CFC and upcoming events, please visit:
But Marlowe has known for some time now, that despite statistics, the need is always there. And that meant she would be, too.

When Marlowe began her Langley career as an engineer in 1990, a co-worker's child required a heart and lung bypass due to complications at birth. With her then-6-month-old in tow, she visited his family, and saw the support of the hospital and the Ronald MacDonald House. Her co-worker's child is now grown and healthy.

"When we are in the throes of crisis, it is not the time to find the resources," Marlowe said, referencing the help that was readily available for her co-worker's child.

Since being at Langley, she has always been a Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) contributor. She knew that money equaled resources. And that, often times, those resources equal happy endings.

Last year, Vicki Crisp, Langley's director of aeronautics, asked Marlowe to become the deputy for the Combined Federal Campaign. She gladly accepted, knowing that this year, she would become the campaign chair at Langley for the fundraiser's 50th anniversary.

To raise participation and awareness, she has continued work with Langley's Emerging Professionals Social Committee (LEPSC), a partnership that she kick-started last year. Together, center leads and young professionals organize about a dozen events to raise money for the CFC.

Federal employees continue to make the CFC the largest and most successful workplace philanthropic fundraiser in the world. In 2010, employees raised over $281.5 million dollars for charitable causes around the world.

Marlowe remains focused on Langley's CFC goal. In monetary terms, that means $330,000 for the center. But in general terms, it means helping to put the resources in place for those who need them now and those who might unexpectedly need them one day.

Within her engineering role, she enjoys bringing engineers and researchers together to advance technology into real missions, such as Ares 1-X.

"That's what makes me tick," said Marlowe, who also received her Master's in mechanical engineering and a degree of engineer in civil and environmental engineering from George Washington University when it was here as the Joint Institute for the Advancement of Flight Sciences (JIAFS).

Marlowe returned to engineering from working in research more than two years ago. "It was a little bit like coming home," Marlowe said.

Though, nothing beats her home away from Langley that reunites her with her family-of-five. Marlowe has been married to Kevin for 23 years. They have three children Daniel, 18, Shannon, 16, and Ryan, 5-years-old.

As Daniel enjoys his first year at the University of Virginia, and Shannon continues to dance and swim competitively and start the college search herself, Ryan is preparing to enter kindergarten.

"Ryan recalibrated us," Marlowe said. "We were pretty immersed in our careers when he came. But I love where I'm at now. I'm motivated to make a difference, both at Langley and at home."

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman