SMA Leadership Profile: Nick Benardini
January 31, 2023
As NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer, James “Nick” Benardini knows his role is all about the community: his NASA discipline colleagues, agency programs and projects, the international community, and academia.
SMA Leadership Profile: Ronnie Rodriguez
December 01, 2022
Merriam Webster defines a leader simply as a “person who leads.” For Kennedy Space Center Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Director Ronnie Rodriguez, a leader is better defined by why people follow him or her.
O’Connor Honored for Career Embodying Yes, If Attitude
May 18, 2022
Ken O’Connor, Mishap program executive at the NASA Safety Center, received the “Yes, If” coin from Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance Russ DeLoach during his retirement celebration on May 5. O’Connor retired after more than 30 years of NASA service.
Jean Hill Receives Yes-If Coin for Embodying the “Yes, If” Approach
February 17, 2022
Jean Hill, Human Landing Systems (HLS) and Lander Ground Operations Design Systems Safety Reliability and Maintainability engineer, Exploration Research and Technology Office at Kennedy Space Center, received a “Yes, If” coin for continuously embracing the “Yes, If” approach in her work. Hill is willing to have the tough and honest conversations that address mitigations needed to ensure the HLS program is meeting and identifying safety requirements.
NASA Employee Plans Retirement 3 Years in Advance, Leads Successful Knowledge Transfer
December 16, 2021
For years, Jean-Marie Lauenstein has been the sole Subject Matter Expert in Silicon Carbide Wide Band Gap Power Device Radiation Hardness Assurance, which is critical to the advancement of technology within NASA. Because of this, Lauenstein had to be more forward-thinking when planning her retirement. She provided her three-year retirement notice in 2018, giving both herself and the NASA Electronic Parts and Packaging Program managers enough time to prepare to transfer knowledge and find a reliable replacement.
Monette Receives Yes, If Coin for Promoting Safety Culture, Leading by Example
December 13, 2021
Kevin Monette, NASA safety specialist at the Kennedy Space Center’s Resident Office at Vandenberg Space Force Base, was recognized as a “Yes, If” coin recipient on Oct. 18, 2021, for his constant commitment to safety on Launch Services Program missions.
SMA Leadership Profile: Michael Hess
October 05, 2021
The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC), NASA Safety Center, and Office of Safety and Mission Assurance all work to ensure the safety and mission success of NASA’s portfolio of programs and projects. While each has its own unique mission (see sidebar), collaboration and communication between these organizations is essential to NASA’s missions. As the new deputy director for safety for the NESC, Michael “Mike” Hess will work to strengthen the existing bridges between these organizations as the agency’s commercial partnerships and coordination with industry continue to evolve.
NASA Announces New Planetary Protection Officer
May 27, 2021
NASA named Dr. J. Nick Benardini as the agency Planetary Protection Officer within the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, effective June 7.
SMA Leadership Profile: Rick Nybakken
November 10, 2020
Sometimes, being on the outside provides perspective. That’s the case for Rick Nybakken, director for Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
“My career path has really helped to shape me: I’ve been at JPL for 35 years, and I’ve probably been in SMA for eight of those years,” explained Nybakken. “Working with Safety and Mission Assurance as a partner helped me understand the value since day one. That contributed to my desire to eventually work in SMA and gain a greater understanding from the inside.”
SMA Leadership Profile: Clifton Arnold
June 30, 2020
When asked about his new Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) role, Clifton Arnold joked that it came with many hats — in fact, more hats that he ever expected.
“The position expanded,” explained Arnold. “Pressure Systems included ground and flight pressure systems. With that, Lifting Devices was added, and then we included a special category called Propellants and Pressurants that deals with all propellants and inert gases.