Jonathan Brett Swanson is the center chief counsel at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. Appointed in April 2022, he is the senior attorney and legal counsel for the center director and heads the center’s legal office. He was named acting center chief council in February 2021. Swanson also serves as NASA deputy ethics official, center export control counsel, legal adviser for several boards, committees, and councils, and is responsible for all legal matters involving or affecting NASA Armstrong. In addition, he is a member of the NASA Legal Leadership Team comprised of the agency’s attorney leaders, established to set legal policy and improve the quality of legal services.
Swanson began his career with NASA as a summer intern at Armstrong in 2004. He joined the Armstrong Legal Office full-time in 2005 following his graduation from the University of Houston Law Center in Texas. In 2015 and 2016, Swanson served at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as the NASA Management Office Chief Counsel on a 12-month detail.
During his time at NASA, Brett has served as NASA Armstrong’s primary attorney-advisor for ethics, partnerships, procurement, employment law, and the Armstrong Exchange. He has also served as the chair of the agency’s Space Act Agreement Guide Liability/Insurance Working Group and led the Legal Capability Leadership Team in implementing enterprise-level online collaboration tools for the NASA legal community.
Swanson received the NASA Office of the General Counsel (OGC) Rising Star Award, the NASA Honor Award for Early Career Achievement, and the Legal Leadership Award, which is the highest and most prestigious award within the NASA legal community. He also received several group achievement awards, including for his support of the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration mission and his work on the NASA/Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Development Team.
Swanson received a Bachelor of Arts in international cultural studies in 2001 from Brigham Young University, Hawaii, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 2005 from the University of Houston Law Center.