Steve Jurczyk Appointed NASA Associate Administrator; Krista Paquin Retires; Melanie W. Saunders Named Acting Deputy Associate Administrator
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine named Steve Jurczyk as associate administrator, the agency’s highest-ranking civil servant position. Jurczyk has been serving in the position in an acting capacity since March 10. In addition, Deputy Associate Administrator Krista Paquin will retire from NASA at the end of May. Melanie W. Saunders has been assigned as the acting deputy associate administrator, effective June 10.
Until his appointment as associate administrator, Jurczyk had been associate administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate since June 2015. In this position, he formulated and executed the agency’s space technology programs, focusing on developing and demonstrating transformative technologies for human and robotic exploration of the solar system in partnership with industry and academia.
Previously, he was director at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Named to this position in May 2014, he headed NASA’s first center, which plays a critical role in NASA’s aeronautics research, exploration and science missions. Jurczyk served as Langley’s deputy center director from August 2006 until his appointment as director.
Jurczyk began his NASA career in 1988 at Langley in the Electronic Systems Branch as a design and integration and test engineer developing several space-based Earth remote sensing systems. From 2002 to 2004, Jurczyk was director of engineering, and from 2004 to 2006 he was director of research and technology at Langley, where he led the organizations’ contributions to a broad range of research, technology, and engineering disciplines contributing to all NASA mission areas.
He has received many awards during his career, including two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive in 2006, and the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive in 2016 — the highest honors attainable for federal government leadership. He is an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and 1986.
In an agency career spanning more than 30 years, Paquin has served in many critical roles. She started at NASA in 1984 as a Presidential Management Intern, and spent 22 years of her career at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. As a senior executive at Goddard, she was assigned the roles of associate director of management operations, deputy director of the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate, deputy director for Planning and Business Management of Flight Programs, and Goddard associate center director.
In her latest role as deputy associate administrator at Headquarters, she chairs the NASA Mission Support Council, which serves as the senior decision-making body regarding the integrated agency mission support portfolio. Paquin also was associate administrator for the Mission Support Directorate from April 2015, where she was responsible for the leadership and integration of NASA mission support functions with an annual budget of more than $3 billion. She oversaw agencywide human capital management, strategic infrastructure, procurement, protective services, audit liaison, agency directives management, NASA Headquarters operations, the NASA Shared Services Center and NASA partnerships, including Space Act Agreements.
Appointed to the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 1999, Paquin was the recipient of numerous awards, including NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal, the SES Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive, and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in Urban Planning and Management from the University of Maryland.
Saunders has been acting deputy center director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston since February 1, where she helps to manage one of NASA’s largest installations, with almost 10,000 civil service and contractor employees — including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico — and an annual budget of approximately $5 billion. Previously, she was Johnson’s associate director and oversaw a broad range of human spaceflight activities.
Prior to being named associate center director, Saunders served as associate manager of the International Space Station Program from 2005 to 2009, during the most intensive phases of space station assembly. From 2003 to 2005, she was deputy manager of the station’s External Relations Office. Saunders began her NASA career in 1994 as the manager for International Policies for the International Space Station Program, where she negotiated international agreements.
During her NASA career, Saunders has been recognized with the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, a Silver Snoopy, and numerous other individual and group achievement awards. She also was profiled in the inaugural edition of Women@NASA, and in Summer 2017 was featured in Profiles in Diversity, Women Worth Watching. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis.