Women’s History Month: Highlighting Women at JSC - Part 4

Lauri Hansen is the Johnson Space Center Chief of Staff and acting director of the new Strategic Opportunities and Partnerships Development (SOPD) Office.

As JSC Chief of Staff, Hansen assists the director in staff topics such as organization, personnel placement, issues, policies and procedures. The other significant function of the Chief of Staff is in policy development. This is where Hansen recommends policy changes and assists in the development of new policies addressing center strategic goals and objectives. And last, but certainly not least, Hansen tries to make sure the process runs smoothly and that “we don’t drop anything that we need to take care of including agencywide actions, integrating center products, etc.”

As the acting director of SOPD, Hansen will be responsible for getting that function set up for the center. The new office provides strategic planning for future NASA JSC business opportunities and partnerships and manages how JSC teams up with external entities. As a clear entry-point for the center, it will seek to establish new partnerships and integrate center organizations within directorates, as well as the international and academic joint efforts.

Two things Hansen enjoys about her job are: Working with people across the center and the opportunity to influence JSC’s long-term strategy.

“The biggest challenge is the current environment, in which we seem to be caught between the legislative and executive branches of government with somewhat differing visions and directions,” Hansen said. “The situation that we find ourselves in is that we are required to be responsive to our bosses (the executive branch) AND the law (the legislative branch). It would be really nice to get an appropriations bill for NASA. In the meantime, I try to make progress by seeking the common ground between the two.”

And example Hansen gives is that if one group’s priority is a more capability-driven model and another group’s priority is an exploration vehicle as quickly as we can get it, how do we build capabilities that can be used in the exploration vehicle?

“By finding the common ground, it enables us to continue to make progress versus getting bogged down in continued debate,” Hansen said. “Of course, that oversimplifies things a bit, and this solution doesn’t always work. But it’s the best one I’ve come up with so far.”


Hansen was the youngest of five children and the only girl. Hansen said she was lucky to have parents that instilled the belief that she could do whatever she wanted to do.

“Of course, when I wanted to be an Olympic skier, I found out they were wrong,” Hansen said. “But seriously, I have always loved spaceflight and exploration. I was one of those nerdy kids who read science fiction novels all the time and have always seen space as our next frontier. I think human spaceflight is one of the crowning achievements of our nation, and I am incredibly proud to be part of it.”

Neesha Hosein
Johnson Space Center, Houston

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