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David Mitchell, Chief Program Management Officer

David Mitchell

NASA Chief Program Management Officer

David Mitchell was named NASA’s chief program management officer in January 2022. In this role, he is responsible for strengthening the agency’s oversight, management, and implementation of program management policies, processes, and best practices. He began his career in 1984 with the U.S. Navy testing rocket motor systems and aircrew escape systems and joined NASA in 1987, working on transportation systems for instruments and spacecraft, including the Cosmic Background Explorer, which resulted in Nobel prize-winning science.

Mitchell previously served as acting director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, from Jan. 1, 2023, to April 6, 2023. In this position, he focused on ensuring a seamless transition as the agency works to not only fill the center director position permanently, but also the position of associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, the work of which is closely intertwined with Goddard’s work.

Prior to these roles, Mitchell served as the director of the Engineering and Technology Directorate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

In 1990, Mitchell worked on launch vehicle systems, including the Delta II, Scout, and Pegasus launch vehicles, and the successful launches of the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder missions. In 1997, he moved to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program as chair of the GOES-N series Source Evaluation Board, and stayed with the program until 2005 as project manager, when he went on detail assignments to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Headquarters in Washington. In 2006, he worked as a NASA Congressional Fellow focusing on space and science issues.

Mitchell became deputy associate director of Goddard’s Earth Science Projects Division in late 2006 and concurrently served as the project manager for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) proposal effort. Upon MAVEN’s selection in 2008 for development, he served as project manager through the mission’s Mars orbit Insertion in 2014.

From 2015 to January 2021, Mitchell was the director of Goddard’s Flight Projects Directorate, the portfolio of which included more than 80 missions, from small satellites to flagship missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope. At the same time, he served as the formulation project manager for the Comet Astrobiology Exploration SAmple Return (CAESAR) mission, from 2014 to 2019.

Since 2015, he has served as the senior champion for Goddard’s African American Advisory Committee, for which he was awarded NASA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Medal in 2020. He also was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal twice for his work on the GOES and MAVEN projects and received the Presidential Rank Award in 2015.

Mitchell graduated with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1984 and a master’s in engineering administration from the George Washington University in 1989. He completed the Council for Excellence in Government program in 2002, is a 2004 graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Fellows program, and graduated from NASA’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program in 2006.