News Releases

Angela Storey
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

RELEASE : 11-098
Moundville, Ala., Native Ann McNair, 50-year NASA Marshall Veteran, To Be Honored Sept. 15 with 'Women Honoring Women' Award
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Ann McNair, director of the Office of Center Operations at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be honored Sept. 15 with a "Women Honoring Women" award from the nonprofit Women's Economic Development Council of Huntsville.

The council is an affiliation of professional business women in Madison, Marshall, Morgan and Limestone counties of Alabama. The awards celebration -- the 10th since 1999 -- will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

McNair, a native of Moundville, Ala., will be honored with the 2011 Technology Award -- one of six award categories. The honor recognizes her decades of success as a woman, mentor and engineer in a technical field. McNair started her NASA career when the Marshall Center was founded in 1960, and holds the distinction of being the center's first female supervisor in engineering.

"This honor comes as no surprise to those who work each day with Ann McNair," said Robert Lightfoot, director of the Marshall Center. "Her leadership, her technical expertise and her genuine love for the business of spaceflight and the work of the nation's space program are emblematic of the truest spirit of public service, and an example to new generations of scientists and engineers -- and indeed to us all."

McNair said she was surprised and humbled by the honor, announced in August by the Women's Economic Development Council.

"It's so gratifying to realize you can reach out and help someone else," she said. The award goes on her list of the "wow" moments of her career, she said -- alongside such thrills as seeing the Saturn IVB rocket ignite in Earth orbit during Apollo test missions in the 1960s, signaling a major milestone in sending human explorers to the moon.

Bob Devlin, deputy director of Marshall's Office of Center Operations, said a number of McNair's colleagues contributed to her nomination, highlighting her strong leadership both as a veteran NASA contributor and as a mentor for young women and men across the Marshall workforce.

"Through her strong sense of the [work] environment, her willingness to share her experiences and help people work through issues and relationships, Ann epitomizes the heart of mentorship," Devlin wrote. "She has had a lasting impact on a number of individuals and the organization."

More about Ann McNair
Named to her current position in 2007, McNair oversees institutional services -- including environmental management and occupational health; logistics, facility maintenance and operations; industrial labor relations; and protective services -- for the Marshall Center, NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Los Angeles and supporting contractor and government facilities.

From 2004 to 2006, she managed the Mission Operations Laboratory in Marshall's Engineering Directorate, where she directed the Payload Operations Integration Center for the International Space Station and managed operations and ground support facilities at the Huntsville Operations Support Center -- a NASA technology hub for monitoring scientific research and enabling communications during space operations.

McNair was manager from 2000 to 2004 of the Ground Systems Department in Marshall's Flight Projects Directorate. She spearheaded creation of the Chandra Operations Control Center, which monitors the work of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the space telescope NASA launched in 1999 to take X-ray images of the universe. She also led the control center's permanent move to the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. -- the first such control center move to a remote, non-NASA location.

From 1965 to 1967, she was a group chief within the Information Systems Office, supporting the planning and execution of all Apollo flights. In subsequent roles, she supported space shuttle and Spacelab missions and the Hubble Space Telescope -- the deep-space imaging satellite launched to space in 1990 -- and helped supervise the creation and operation of Marshall's U.S. Payload Control Center and Payload Training Complex, where science experiments are prepared for flight to the International Space Station and astronauts and ground-based researchers are taught how to conduct science in the world's premier orbiting research facility.

From 1958 to 1960, McNair was a mathematician for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. She joined Wernher von Braun's rocket team in 1960, when that group became the nucleus for the Marshall Center and spearheaded the nation's emerging space program.

McNair graduated in 1958 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She was selected in 2000 for the Senior Executive Service, the personnel system covering top managerial posts in some 75 federal agencies.

Among her numerous achievements and honors, McNair was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives in 2009 -- the highest honor for federal employees. Also in 2009, she was commended by the Alabama Senate for her outstanding professional achievements during 50 years of NASA service. She was awarded a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2007 for leading the Mission Operations Laboratory. She also received a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 1998, for managing the development, implementation and deployment of the Chandra Operations Control Center. In 1973 and 1989, she was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, which recognizes significant sustained performance that substantially enhances NASA's mission.

McNair resides in Huntsville.

For more information about the Marshall Center's Office of Center Operations, visit:

More about the Women's Economic Development Council
The council provides women with opportunities for leadership and economic development through education, mentoring and networking. The WEDC Foundation, which presents the "Women Honoring Women" award, also offers scholarships, financial assistance, mentorship and professional development programs to participating women in business.

The annual "Women Honoring Women" awards are presented in six categories: Arts and Humanities; Business and Professional; Education; Health and Human Service; Technology; and Community and Public Service. Members of the council submit nominations, which are reviewed by a diverse group of community business leaders. A scoring process based on individual accomplishments is used to select winners.

For more information about the council and the awards, visit:

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