Small-town roots helped Joseph Pelfrey become NASA’s Chief Marshall

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama., July 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — NASA Welcomes Joseph Pelfrey as Deputy Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center – and shares his inspiring story:

For Joseph Pelfreygrowing up in Cheraw, South Carolina, was idyllic. Most of his family lived in or near the town of less than 6,000 people, so large gatherings were common. He also enjoyed outdoor activities and spending time with friends.

“In a community where almost everyone knows you, it was easy to have a lot of people in your corner,” said Pelfrey, who was named deputy director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in April. Huntsville, Alabama. “As I got older, I discovered that I wanted more than my small town could offer, which led to the next steps in my journey.”

One of those people in Pelfrey’s corner was a high school math teacher, Gladys Sweeney. She assured that Pelfrey was responsible for his educational development and acknowledged that he was capable of more. She and her parents helped him apply for the Caroline from the south Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsvillea two-year residential high school focused on advanced science, technology, engineering, and math education for the top 1% of students in the state.

I left home at 16 and finished my high school years forming an excellent foundation that would lead me to Auburn University majoring in aerospace engineering,” Pelfrey said. “The Governor’s School was also where I met my future wife, Nicole.

Pelfrey joined marshal as a civil servant in 2004, after having held several positions in industry, he then held several management positions in engineering and project offices. These roles helped prepare him for the challenge of being by Marshall deputy director, a job in which he helps lead the centre’s approximately 7,000 civil service employees and contractors while overseeing an annual budget of approximately $4 billion.

“Our team is amazing,” Pelfrey said. “In all of my roles, I have been surrounded by great teammates who demonstrate a level of innovation and commitment beyond expectation. The NASA mission gives us the opportunity to do amazing things. challenging and it was fun to watch our teams, both government and industry, advance our exploration goals.

“I also had the opportunity to grow, develop my own leadership style, and continually seek ways to improve. Through these opportunities, I developed a leadership philosophy rooted in five attributes: Shared Responsibility , challenge the status quo, stay curious, practice transparency and focus on your mission.”

Pelfrey also helps guide by Marshall portfolio of manned spaceflight, science and technology development efforts. He had the opportunity to contribute to all three areas in his previous role as Director of by Marshall Human Exploration Development and Operations Office. The office monitors by Marshall work in human exploration and transportation projects; housing systems; payload and mission operations and integration; and the International Space Station’s payload, facilities and environmental control and life support systems.

“NASA’s work in low Earth orbit has spurred a growing space enterprise and a desire to explore even further,” Pelfrey said. “There are still many frontiers to pursue and it’s exciting to think of all the amazing things waiting to be discovered.”

When it comes time to “unplug” and get away from work, Pelfrey makes family time a priority. This includes camping, swimming, football weekends in Auburn, and cruises. He also serves in his church and enjoys helping others. His personal time is usually spent on projects around the house, hunting, or working on his project car – a 1958 Austin Healey Sprite.

Obstacles are part of the territory when it comes to science and space exploration. Pelfrey acknowledges that obstacles lie ahead, but he remains steadfast in his quest to help marshal and NASA carry out their missions across the cosmos.

marshal is adapting and will need to continue to adapt to new operating models to solve the challenges of the future,” he said. “We will have to focus our efforts to seize new ideas, missions and partnership opportunities.

“We have many great things to look forward to, delivering on current commitments and articulating new opportunities to expand our portfolio. marshal will achieve its strategic objectives while playing a key role in achieving those of the agency. »

For more information about NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:


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