Huntsville Hidden Figure: NASA Executive retires after four decades

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A NASA executive walked out of Marshall Space Flight Center for the last time Monday.

Lybrease Woodard, who has been associated with NASA since the late seventies, is saying goodbye to a field she says has a big piece of her heart.

Woodard's career with NASA lifted off in 1977,  the same year she graduated from Huntsville High School.

She was part of a program that introduced her to the NASA workforce before she headed off to college.

After graduating from the University of Alabama she returned to Marshall Space Flight Center to work on Spacelab, a lab that carries out missions inside the space shuttle.

In 41 years she has carried many different responsibilities.

Woodard is recognized as one of Huntsville's very own hidden figures.

But her core mission has always remained the same.

"I wanted people to understand that really it's about the relationships. Really it's about the ability to influence," explained Woodard.

Woodard mentored some employees within the Space Flight Center and several people spoke to her character.

"I think she is an example of what people should emulate. Recognizing that you should be willing to give and reach out to people," explained Lewis Wooten, NASA Deputy Lab Director. "Through that process, you are able to help people and also learn about yourself."

And even with all that being said Woodard remains humble.

"I really just hope that I have added value. That was one of the things throughout my career that I really wanted to do," Woodard added.

For the young people who may want to explore the STEM field, she encourages them to be fearless.

"Nothing makes a failure but a try," said Woodard. "And if you never try, you're for sure going to fail.

She said being an active member of the NASA team instead of being self-interested made her career seem more like 41 seconds than 41 years.

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