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Portrait of Cynthia Calhoun with U.S. and NASA flags in background

Cynthia C. Calhoun

Deputy Director, Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate

Cynthia C. Calhoun serves as the deputy director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. In this role, she shares in the responsibility of ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for the Glenn community and contributing to the success of NASA programs and projects by providing technical excellence in mission assurance engineering, operational safety, and occupational health. 

Prior to this position, Calhoun was the deputy chief of the Program and Project Assurance Division where she was responsible for assuring NASA systems were of high quality and operated safely and overseeing the division’s staff of civil servant and contractor employees. She became the Assurance and Risk Management branch chief in 2006, managing a staff that provided system safety, quality, reliability, materials and processes, risk management, software assurance, lessons learned, and mission assurance support for aerospace and aeronautics programs and projects throughout the lifecycle. 

Calhoun joined Glenn in 2002 as the software assurance and risk management lead for aeronautics and aerospace programs and projects. This included serving as the NASA certified risk management trainer for a team of risk facilitators and leading the development of the agency Risk Management Implementation Tool. In both lead positions, she served on agency, interagency, and other national committees as an adviser and consultant in software assurance and risk management. 

Calhoun began working for NASA in 1996 as an engineering project manager at the NASA Software Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, managing agency and interagency IV&V and independent assessment projects, and agency software assurance research projects, and serving as the software assurance lead for the NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance compliance verification audit team.   

Calhoun started her federal career in 1988 as an electronics engineer with the U.S. Air Force at the Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center, Newark Air Force Base in Heath, Ohio where she designed and developed hardware and software for Automatic Test Systems (ATS) that were used to perform diagnostic tests on electronic assemblies and subassemblies from military aircraft and missile subsystems. She also led the Software Engineering Process Group. In 1994, she transferred to the San Antonio Air Logistics Center, Kelly Air Force Base, where she managed cutting-edge advanced diagnostic and technology insertion projects for the Air Force and worked closely with her Army, Navy, and Marine counterparts on ATS technology developments. 

Calhoun received her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering from Ohio University (OU), and she is a Duquesne University alumna of the Master of Science in Information Systems Management program. She is also a graduate of the Air Force Institute of Technology Software Engineering Professional Development Program.  

Calhoun is a member of the OU Foundation board of trustees, OU Russ College of Engineering and Technology board of visitors, and OU board of trustees. She holds professional memberships in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics where she serves on the Diversity Working Group. Calhoun has authored and presented numerous technical publications throughout her career, which included receiving the “Best in Track” paper at the Information Assurance: Risk, Safety, and Surety, U.S. Department of Energy Software Quality Forum. 

Calhoun has received numerous NASA awards such as the Federal Women’s Program Award; Diversity Leadership Award; NASA Group Achievement Honor Award; NASA Mission Manager’s Flight Commendation; NASA Exceptional Service Medal for Software Engineering; NASA EEO Medal; and NASA Administrator’s Gears of Government Initiative Award, the highest award presented in NASA. She also received the National Women of Color STEM Conference Career Achievement Award and the OU Women’s Center Outstanding Alumnae Award.