Marta R. Metelko
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
May 19, 2004
NASA Attorney Is Role Model For Young Women
As the country reflects on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, one NASA employee reflects in a very personal manner.
Tereasa H. Washington, Director of the Customer and Employee Relations Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala., and her siblings, were among the first African-Americans to integrate an all-white school in Tuscumbia, Ala., in the 1960s.
Washington persevered in an occasionally hostile societal environment. She earned straight A's and was awarded full scholarships to Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, and Vanderbilt University School of Law in Nashville, Tenn. She received a bachelor's degree in economics from Alabama A&M in 1978. In 1982, she received a doctorate of jurisprudence from Vanderbilt.
After receiving her law degree, Washington joined the MSFC Office of Chief Counsel. In 1983, she was appointed general attorney-advisor, handling legal matters for MSFC administrative and technical operations. In 1988, she became Associate Chief Counsel for issues related to personnel and labor relations. She was appointed MSFC's Associate Deputy Chief counsel in 1992.
Washington was the first African-American lawyer to serve on the MSFC legal staff; the first African-American lawyer in a NASA field center; and the first African-American woman at MSFC appointed to the senior executive service.
She was named director of the MSFC Customer and Employee Relations Directorate in 1998. She manages an organization of more than 250 civil service and contractor employees. She manages a wide range of programs including human resources, internal relations and communications, media relations, government and community relations, employee and organizational development, and educational programs. The directorate is also responsible for technology transfer, the development of space technology for commercial use.
Washington has received numerous awards during her career, including the 2002 Presidential Rank Distinguished Executive Award, the highest honor attainable for a civil servant. She received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 2000; the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, 1999; a Senior Managers in Government award in 1999 from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.; a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 1992; the Astronaut Corps' "Silver Snoopy" Award for service to the Space Shuttle program in 1990; and two MSFC Director's Commendations.
She is an alumnus of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County, a program that identifies leaders who have demonstrated the ability and desire to become more involved in community leadership positions.
Girls Incorporated, a national nonprofit youth organization, presented its annual "She Knows Where She's Going" award to Washington on March 18, 2004. The group annually recognizes three outstanding women of achievement in the community whose lives serve as an inspiration for girls to become confident, self-sufficient and successful.
Earlier this year, the Alabama state legislature issued a resolution citing her for an outstanding professional career and for community service.
Media organizations interested in interviewing Washington should contact Dom Amatore, MSFC Office of Public Affairs at: 256/544-0034.
For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:
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