Lori Garver - NASA
Lori Garver is the Deputy Administrator for NASA, where she provides overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for the agency to achieve NASA's mission: to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown to benefit all humankind. Inspired by her parents to pursue a career in public service, Garver's focus turned to space when she went to work for Senator John Glenn from 1983 to 1984. She is a passionate advocate for human spaceflight and scientific discovery, and as a space policy expert has advised Presidents & companies on maintaining the United States' leadership in exploration and discovery.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
NASA has a critical need for new people to enter the pipeline of STEM studies and become the exploration leaders of tomorrow. For our nation to reach higher in space, send humans to new destinations in the solar system and develop the groundbreaking science missions and space and aeronautics technologies of tomorrow, we will need talented and innovative STEM professionals.
STEM proficiency leads to good jobs, and a robust STEM pipeline is good for the economy and the overall health of aerospace worldwide, which improves the quality of life around the globe.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Those of us in senior positions in aerospace need to convey our passion for aeronautics and space exploration and share why we feel that way.
We must demonstrate how our work benefits people around the world and how young people entering STEM fields can make a difference. We should support education and hands-on opportunities to participate in missions and flying research experiments in space. We can do this by developing effective partnerships with industry, academia and nonprofits to create mentorships, share our pool of knowledge and convey our passion.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
One of the best ways is to ensure that girls become interested in STEM subjects at a young age and then encourage and support that interest throughout their academic careers. By highlighting successful women in STEM, we convey the excitement that this wonderful field offers. Educational forums and other public events that give visibility to women working in STEM right now are great conduits for reaching and inspiring these students. We must give girls a challenge, but also plant the seed that it's a challenge they can meet if they work hard. STEM fields of study are hard, but with passion and a desire to create something new for the world, anything can be accomplished.
What about STEM gives you passion?
I love space. I want to go there. I enjoy facilitating scientific discoveries that change the world and making it possible for our space program to create new capabilities for our nation. STEM is about a legacy because we're always working on things that advance our capabilities. Sometimes these things take years to come to fruition, but the diligence pays off. We know if we reach a little higher, we will be able to do things that seemed impossible even a few years ago.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
Women@NASA is a website that continues to expand the resources available to girls to see examples of women who have overcome great odds and worked hard to succeed in the aerospace field. These women are not just scientists and engineers, but support NASA in a variety of ways. They all have made significant contributions to NASA. I am very proud of this NASA website for showing that women from diverse backgrounds have found a common thread of professional fulfillment supporting our nation's space program.