HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has named a new Strategic Planning Chief. Moulton native Johnny Stephenson will head the Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications.
Stephenson has worked at NASA for nearly three decades – a span that saw the agency establish the International Space Station as a manned research laboratory in orbit, sent sophisticated spacecraft on missions to Mars and the far reaches of our solar system, and developed the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory to look far into the universe.
He’s very proud to be part of that history. But the future is what excites Stephenson, who was recently named director of the Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Stephenson’s appointment comes as Marshall and the agency are building and testing the Space Launch System — America’s next great ship of exploration, designed to take humans and cargo on deep space missions including to an asteroid and the journey to Mars.
“For me, it’s always been about the challenge,” Stephenson said. “I’ve always been passionate about NASA’s mission, and the next few years will be thrilling as we prepare for the first launch of our SLS, which will be the most powerful rocket in history. It’s a privilege to be leading a team that is helping tell that story.”
As director of OSAC, Stephenson oversees an organization of 160 civil service and contractor employees in providing strategic planning, objective analysis and comprehensive communications to support Marshall, one of NASA’s largest field centers with an annual budget of approximately $2.4 billion. Stephenson’s five divisions help Marshall leaders determine center objectives and direction; thoroughly analyze costs and risks; engage with stakeholders; and evaluate the requirements of programs, projects and missions to ensure resources are available for continued success. His team also manages the full range of Marshall’s public affairs activities, including media relations, social media, a speakers bureau, exhibits and outreach.
“The space program belongs to the American people, and it’s important to keep them informed about progress on SLS, research aboard the space station and the many science and technology missions managed or supported by the men and women at the center,” Stephenson said. “It’s very gratifying to be in a position that helps define the future of Marshall and of NASA, working every day with great people toward a common goal of achieving great things for our nation.”
His NASA career began in 1986 when, as part of the agency’s student co-op program, he was a systems engineer in Marshall’s Engineering Directorate.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1987 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the Moulton, Alabama, native went to work full time for the directorate, where he later became a technical manager and, from 2000-02, was manager of the Business and Integration Office.
Stephenson has also held positions at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He was presented a NASA Distinguished Service Medal — the highest award bestowed by the agency — for his work as chief architect of and implementation lead for One NASA, an initiative for improved partnering and collaboration across the agency’s 10 field centers. He also served as director of organizational readiness for the NASA Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation.
Returning to Marshall, Stephenson was chairman of a board that awarded an
$800 million contract to design, develop and produce the avionics for guidance, navigation and control hardware for a new NASA Crew Launch Vehicle. He joined OSAC in January 2008, and served as its deputy director beginning in November 2008.
Stephenson and his wife, Sonja Graham Stephenson, also a native of Moulton, Alabama, live in Moulton and have two children.
-Information courtesy Marshall Space Flight Center