Press Release

NASA’s Tereasa Washington to be Recognized as Positive Role Model by Girls Incorporated

By SpaceRef Editor
March 4, 2004
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Girls Incorporated, a national nonprofit youth organization, will present its annual “She Knows Where She’s Going” award to Tereasa H. Washington, director of the Customer and Employee Relations Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.,  for being a positive role model for girls.

The group each year recognizes three outstanding women of achievement in the community whose lives serve as an inspiration for girls to become confident, self-sufficient and successful. Washington will receive the award on March 18 at the Girls Incorporated annual awards banquet at the Marriott-Huntsville.

Washington is to be cited for overcoming personal obstacles early in life, when she and her siblings were among the first African-Americans to integrate an all-white school in Tuscumbia, Ala., in the 1960s. She persevered in a sometimes hostile societal environment, earned straight A’s, and was awarded full scholarships to Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, and Vanderbilt University School of Law in Nashville, Tenn. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Alabama A&M in 1978, and in 1982, was awarded a doctorate of jurisprudence from Vanderbilt.

After receiving her law degree, Washington joined the Marshall Center’s Office of Chief Counsel in 1982. In 1983, she was appointed general attorney-advisor, handling legal matters for Marshall’s administration and technical operations.  In 1988, she became associate chief counsel for issues related to personnel and labor relations and was appointed Marshall Center’s associate deputy chief counsel in 1992.

She was the first African-American lawyer to serve on Marshall’s legal staff, the first African-American lawyer in a NASA field center, and the first African-American woman at Marshall appointed to the senior executive service.

Washington was named director of the Marshall Center’s Customer and Employee Relations Directorate in 1998. She manages an organization of more than 250 civil service and contractor employees and oversees a wide range of programs — including human resources, internal relations and communications, media relations, government and community relations, employee and organizational development, educational programs and technology transfer – the development of space technology for commercial use.

She has received numerous awards during her Marshall career, including the 2002 Presidential Rank Distinguished Executive Award – the highest honor attainable for a civil servant; a NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 2000; the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, 1999; a Senior Managers in Government award in 1999 from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.; a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 1992; the Astronaut Corps’ “Silver Snoopy” Award for service to the Space Shuttle program in 1990; and two Marshall Center Director’s Commendations. She is an alumnus of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County – a program that identifies leaders who have demonstrated the ability and desire to become more involved in community leadership positions.

Washington has served in a number of civic capacities, including the board of directors for the Valley Corridor Summit, an organization devoted to fostering the technological leadership of the Tennessee Valley region.  She also has served on the board of directors of the Huntsville chapter of the Girl Scouts of North America, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation’s advisory board, two terms as president of the board for the Community Intensive Treatment for Youth Program of Huntsville, on the National Advisory Board of Celebrating Life Foundation, and as a professor in Leadership Education for the Adult Professional degree completion program at Oakwood College.

Girls Incorporated of Huntsville – formerly known as Girls Clubs of America – is a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold, said Stephanie Malone, executive director.  For more than 50 years the organization has provided educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas. Today, many innovative programs help girls confront subtle societal messages about their value and potential, and prepare them to lead successful, independent and fulfilling lives, Malone said.

This year a new program, “Galaxy Girls,” will be launched to promote science education, and will include hands-on activities such as building a telescope, planning a trip to distant planets, designing and creating a space suit, rocket building and solving engineering problems associated with returning delicate cargo back to Earth in a spaceship.

SpaceRef staff editor.