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New deputy director at Marshall talks about his journey to new role

HUNTSVILLE — NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center quietly welcomed its new deputy director, Joseph Pelfrey, to his new position in April.

But who is the man who assists in leading Marshall Space Flight Center’s nearly 7,000 civil service and contractor employees, while overseeing an annual budget of approximately $4 billion?

For one thing, Pelfrey spent many years working in multiple roles within Marshall for what he said “prepared him for the challenge” of being the center’s deputy director.

An Auburn graduate, Pelfrey joined Marshall as a civil servant in 2004 and continued to hold multiple leadership positions in engineering and project offices.

“Our team is incredible,” Pelfrey said. “In all my roles, I’ve been surrounded with great teammates who demonstrate a level of innovation and commitment beyond expectations. NASA’s mission affords us an opportunity to do some incredibly challenging things and it’s been fun to watch our teams, both government and industry, advance our exploration goals.”

He was previously manager of Marshall’s Human Exploration Development & Operations Office, that oversees Marshall’s work in human exploration and transportation projects; habitation systems; payload and mission operations and integration; and International Space Station payload, facility, and environmental control and life support systems.

“I’ve also had the opportunity to grow, developing my own leadership style and continuously looking for ways to improve,” Pelfrey said. “Through these opportunities, I have developed a leadership philosophy rooted in five attributes: shared accountability, challenge the status quo, stay curious, practice transparency, and be mission focused.”

Pelfrey also helps guide Marshall’s portfolio of human space flight, science, and technology development efforts.

“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 incredible things waiting to be discovered.”

While obstacles are part of the territory when it comes to science and space exploration, Pelfrey said, hurdles lie ahead so he remains undaunted in his quest to help Marshall and NASA achieve their missions throughout the cosmos.

“Marshall is adapting and will need to continue adapting to new operating models to solve challenges of the future,” he said. “We will need to focus our pursuits to capture new ideas, missions, and partnership opportunities.

“We have many great things to look forward to, delivering on current commitments and formulating new opportunities to expand our portfolio. Marshall will meet its strategic goals while serving a key role in meeting those of the agency.”

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