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NASA’s Jeremiah O’Callahan Values Native American Roots and Community Outreach

Two men face pose for the camera in a large conference venue.
Jeremiah O’Callahan (left) met Native American astronaut John Herrington at an American Indian Science and Engineering Conference in 2016.
NASA/ Joe Connolly

Jeremiah O’Callahan is passionate about his Native American heritage. He is proud to introduce himself as part of the Haudenosaunee, Onondaga Eel Clan people, and he is deeply involved in NASA’s efforts to recognize and celebrate that community.

A contracting officer for NASA Glenn’s Procurement Division, O’Callahan became a member of the Advisory Group for Native Americans from the time he was a Pathways intern in 2013.

“I wanted to be part of an effort to help other Native Americans strive to work at NASA,” says O’Callahan. “Because of the barriers to success in those communities such as low graduation rates, poverty, addiction, and years of oppression, many students are not on track to pursue careers here.”

Becoming part of a NASA pilot outreach program that ran for four years, before the COVID-19 pandemic, was a great source of pride for O’Callahan.

“In collaboration with other NASA centers, I was part of a team that visited reservations in New Mexico,” he explains. “We partnered with tribal and technical colleges talking about STEM and non-STEM careers and internships. We also went to middle and high schools to do activities and talks while we created an overall awareness of NASA.”

O’Callahan was born and raised in Cleveland as the result of the relocation of his grandfather from his tribal lands in New York decades ago. Here at home, he is committed to helping others learn more about their family roots. O’Callahan is now the vice chairman of the Lake Erie Native American Council, a group dedicated to supporting the community’s history and culture.

He also wants to welcome those new to Cleveland.  He says native people have traditionally lived in close knit cultures, and it is a very big barrier for them to go to an unfamiliar city to pursue a career with no support.

“Success in Cleveland is that new interns and new hires get included in the Cleveland community,” he says. “We can connect them to support structures to make them comfortable and that helps our retention rate.”

“I want to be the bridge between NASA and the community promoting unity and collaboration, peace and respect.”

Nancy Smith Kilkenny
NASA Glenn Research Center