James W. (Jim) Kennedy was born in Riverdale, Md., and raised in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He is a graduate of Cocoa Beach High School and began his career with NASA in 1968 in the Aerospace Engineering Cooperative Education Program at Kennedy Space Center, and subsequently, Marshall Space Flight Center. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University in 1972, he was called to active duty with the U.S. Air Force. In 1977, he received a Master’s in business administration from Georgia Southern University.
He joined Marshall Space Flight Center in 1980 as an engineer in the Shuttle Projects Office, and in 1987, was named manager of the Shuttle Program Planning and Management Systems Office. He later served as the manager of the Solid Rocket Booster Project Office.
Kennedy served as the deputy director of Marshall’s Science and Engineering Directorate and was later named director of the center’s Engineering Directorate. In 2001, he was selected to serve as deputy director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, and two years later, he was named the deputy director of the Kennedy Space Center. In 2003, he became the eighth director of the Kennedy Space Center.
Kennedy has received numerous awards during his distinguished career with NASA, including the National Space Club’s Astronautics Engineer of the Year Award, MSFC Leadership Award, the Silver Snoopy Award, NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Presidential Rank Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards, and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. Most recently, he received the Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award from the National Space Club Florida Committee and the Auburn Engineering Achievement Award from the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council.
Jim Kennedy and his wife, Bernadette, have two grown children, Jeff and Jamie, and is the proud grandfather of Hayes and Rebecca.