Seventeen Stennis Space Center Employees Receive 2019 NASA Honor Awards
Stennis Space Center Director Rick Gilbrech and NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen presented annual NASA Honor Awards to Stennis employees during an onsite ceremony Sept. 10.
Two Stennis employees received NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. This medal is awarded to government employees for notable leadership accomplishments that significantly influenced the NASA mission.
Richard J. Gilbrech of Slidell, Louisiana, received a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for strong leadership skills as director of Stennis Space Center, which has resulted in lasting contributions to NASA priorities and programs. Since his appointment in 2012, Gilbrech has led in delivery of top-quality engineering products and services that meet expectations on schedule and within budget. Stennis also has improved and sustained a premier safety culture and established itself as a top center in terms of workforce culture and satisfaction.
Barry E. Robinson of Slidell, Louisiana, received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for sustained leadership as the B-2 Test Stand core stage test project manager at Stennis Space Center. The project goal was to ready the B-2 facility for testing the Space Launch System core stage. Robinson coordinated work across six separate facilities and involving 29 separate B-2 stand systems. By February 2019, he had led 100 percent of work to completion and activated all 29 systems, preparing Stennis for a new chapter in rocket propulsion testing.
Three Stennis employees received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal. This medal is awarded to government employees for sustained performance that embodies multiple contributions to NASA projects, programs or initiatives.
John W. Bailey of Picayune, Mississippi, received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for a 20-year agency career (plus 10 with the Department of the Air Force) that spans such areas as technology development and commercialization, applied science, communications, propulsion testing and strategic development. Bailey has served in various roles, including as director of the Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate. He was named Stennis associate director in June 2018. His professionalism, leadership and dedication reflect NASA’s highest traditions of service.
Michele Campbell of Poplarville, Mississippi, received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for more than 20 years of agency service. Campbell began her career at Stennis in the Office of Human Capital, before joining the Office of the Chief Financial Officer as a payroll/labor analyst in 1999. Her in-depth knowledge and expertise has benefited several areas of work at Stennis and across the agency. Campbell’s career reflects a history of exceptional support to NASA/Stennis operations, as well as improvements to agency payroll and labor processing.
Rachel Harrison-Woodard of Biloxi, Mississippi, received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for more than 18 years of support and distinctive accomplishments to the Stennis Space Center propulsion test mission. Harrison-Woodard worked as a contractor before joining the NASA team as a safety and quality engineer in 2013. Her work has helped improve organizational efficiency and reduce center costs while ensuring safety and data quality. She also has focused on human performance to help prevent human error or injury during test projects.
Five Stennis employees received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal. This medal is awarded to government employees for a significant specific achievement or substantial improvement in operations, efficiency, service, financial savings, science or technology that contributes to the mission of NASA.
Ronald J. Bald of Slidell, Louisiana, received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for accomplishments as an attorney advisor in the Office of the Chief Counsel at Stennis and across the agency. His work has raised the quality of the NASA legal team’s performance and substantially improved operations, efficiency and the implementation of best practices. He was a key catalyst in development of a “best in class” on-line system that has enabled greater unification of the NASA legal community for more effective delivery of services.
Dao Kooamphorn of Diamondhead, Mississippi, received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for significant accomplishments as a senior contracting officer in the Stennis Office of Procurement. She provided critical support in awarding and managing contracts for the B-2 Test Stand restoration and modification project. Kooamphorn also is responsible for the Financial Resources Planning Programing and Control contract. She is recognized as a subject matter expert in her field and has developed a reputation exemplifying NASA core values.
John T. Pazos of Pearl River, Louisiana, received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for contributions to significant infrastructure improvements as a senior mechanical design engineer in the Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate. Pazos provided key contributions to the project to replace Stennis’ high-pressure industrial water system piping. Throughout his work, Pazos always looks for innovative and cost-effective design approaches and is adept at applying new technologies. Such a focus contributed to saving millions during the piping project.
Christine Q. Powell of Carriere, Mississippi, received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for her work as assistant director in the Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate. Powell was a guiding force in development and growth of the Systems Engineering/Project Management Program at Stennis. Since its launch in 2015, the program has been recognized across NASA as an extremely effective approach to ensuring workforce development and growth. Powell’s impeccable leadership and expertise have been critical to the success of the program.
Ryan E. Roberts of Slidell, Louisiana, received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for extensive efforts that were critical to the successful activation of the modified B-2 Test Stand. As B-2 Test Stand director, Roberts provided invaluable influence and strong technical leadership during the activation process. Work included a range of activities, including tests of various stand systems. As issues were encountered, Roberts directed efforts to implement strategies to mitigate each one, providing leadership essential to project success.
One Stennis employee received NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal. This medal is awarded to individuals who are not government employees but have made exceptional contributions to the mission of NASA.
Timothy J. Jones of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, received the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal for his dedication and expertise as the most senior SaiTech computer programmer on the Information Technology Services contract at Stennis Space Center. For 28-plus years, Jones has contributed innovations that have shaped Stennis information technology capabilities and services. His expertise has helped elevate Stennis services to an exceptional level of excellence, consistency and modernization.
Two Stennis employees received the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal. This medal is awarded to a government employee for unusual and significant performance during the first 10 years of an individual’s early career in support of the agency.
Michael J. Vallan, who has recently transferred to another NASA center, received the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal for significant contributions as an attorney advisor in the Stennis Office of the Chief Counsel. His efforts include skillfully pursuing a patent application over a number of months, leading to a successful outcome. He has worked with the legal community and Stennis personnel to find outcomes to pressing issues, as well as with intellectual property attorneys across NASA to promote language consistency in that area.
Melissa R. Wagner of Pass Christian, Mississippi, received the NASA Early Career Achievement Medal for critical support to both NASA and commercial rocket propulsion test projects as a contract specialist in the Stennis Office of Procurement. Wagner is responsible for every facet of five Stennis propellant contracts and is the center’s focal point for all issues involving propellants. She has provided significant support to other centers as well. Her performance has a direct impact on the center’s ability to achieve mission success
Four Stennis employees and two groups received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal. This medal is awarded by NASA center directors to individuals or teams for a stellar achievement that supports one or more of NASA’s core values.
Kristie Foster of Steep Hollow Community in Pearl River County, Mississippi, received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for her exceptional quality assurance work as a support contractor for Bastion Technologies at Stennis. Her efforts were critical during the B-2 Test Stand restoration and high-pressure gas facility upgrade projects. She also provided environmental management support to the prior Stratolaunch Jupiter test projects at the E-1 Test Stand. Foster’s distinctive accomplishments exemplify NASA’s commitment to safety, excellence and integrity.
Timothy S. Stiglets of Diamondhead, Mississippi, received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for his leadership of the product data lifecycle management team for Saitech Inc. at Stennis. Recognized as a subject matter expert for the design and data management system, Stiglets has led significant accomplishments for system operation and planning, helping the center as it transitions from a manual paper process to an efficient, automated one. His contributions are preparing center systems to support the next generation of propulsion testing.
Peter V. Tran of Slidell, Louisiana, received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for his outstanding support as a mechanical operations engineer in the Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate. Tran provided key knowledge and support during the high-pressure gas facility upgrade project, helping to modify existing systems and activate new technical systems. Tran demonstrated teamwork and a commitment to excellence in helping address multiple challenges and supported the 24-hour facility demonstration that culminated the upgrade project.
Derek B. Zacher of Picayune, Mississippi, received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for his outstanding leadership and technical expertise as a mechanical engineer in the Engineering and Test Directorate at Stennis. Zacher has helped to address various technical challenges on the A-1 Test Stand, including one concerning the liquid hydrogen run tank, a virtually irreplaceable asset to the stand and its ability to perform testing. His lasting contributions to ensure the future effectiveness of the stand are a reflection of every NASA core value.
The Bastion Technology Inc. Construction Safety Team at Stennis received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for providing exceptional construction safety support during the B-2 Test Stand restoration project and all across the Stennis test complexes. The team has supported multiple direct construction projects, performing numerous formal and informal inspections to ensure safety compliance. It is a sought-after safety resource with years of hands-on construction experience. The Stennis safety program is a model for NASA due in large part to support provided by the Bastion team. Its dedication exemplifies NASA’s uncompromising commitment to safety, excellence, teamwork and integrity.
The XSP Project AR-22 Test Team received the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for outstanding performance during the AR-22 “10 Tests in 10 Days” campaign. Completion of the project marked the first time a large liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine had been tested so often in such a short period of time. The project team – which included test stand personnel as well as individuals in Stennis finance, procurement, legal and human capital offices – met a variety of challenges, including a lightning strike that impacted test systems, with innovation and determination. The outstanding work led to a historic “first-ever” achievement and marked a major milestone in development of the XS-1 spaceplane.
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