Paul Kirkpatrick Receives Yes-If Coin for Exemplary Leadership

Paul Kirkpatrick Receives Yes-If Coin for Exemplary Leadership

2-minute read

On Feb. 11, Deputy Chief Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Officer Emeritus for the Commercial Crew Program Paul Kirkpatrick received a NASA Yes-If challenge coin for exemplary leadership over his 44-year career as a safety professional. Kirkpatrick’s coin was presented by Terry Wilcutt chief, SMA, during the SMA directors’ meeting at Kennedy Space Center.

Kirkpatrick’s career in safety began in the U.S. Coast Guard where he served as a Marine Safety Officer for over 26 years. His career at NASA spanned both Return to Flights, the end of the Shuttle Program, and the birth of the International Space Station (ISS) and Commercial Crew Programs, where he held critical leadership roles.

“I was one of the few people in the ISS Program that stayed from the beginning of assembly to completing the last shuttle flight,” said Kirkpatrick. “There’s probably not a piece of the International Space Station that I didn’t deal with. It was a real honor to work with our international partners. After ISS, I transferred to Commercial Crew, which is a wholly different paradigm. Understanding and working in that paradigm was a significant challenge.”

Kirkpatrick’s experience, achievements and his day-to-day leadership were highlighted during the presentation of the Yes-If coin.

“Paul has always represented integrity and provided great leadership. He has earned the respect of his peers, subordinates and senior management by his willingness to tackle difficult tasks, deliver outstanding products and treat teammates, stakeholders and customers with the utmost respect. This combination of experience, attitude and character enabled Paul’s success and has provided an excellent role model for our younger generation,” said Wilcutt. 

When asked what he considers to be important leadership qualities, Kirkpatrick provided this advice:

“Look out for your people; take care of your troops. Standing up for what you believe in. This is especially important in the safety community, where what is right and what is wrong is never that black and white. You have to know how to operate in the gray area. We spend more time operating in gray area than in definitive black and white.”

Kirkpatrick will retire at the end of March 2016.