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Star power: Ex-astronaut/NFLer speaks at Village of Promise event

HUNTSVILLE — Leland Melvin is the only person to have been drafted by an NFL team and flown in space as a NASA astronaut.

And he is bringing his story to Huntsville next month.

Melvin is the special guest for this year’s Village of Promise’s Speaker Series event May 16. Presented by Axient, this is the Village’s sixth Speaker Series event since 2011 and ties to its mission to advance families out of poverty using a multi-generational approach.

The Village of Promise is a family advancement center addressing the needs of children and families in distressed, under-resourced neighborhoods.

The Speaker Series provides a stage for national thought leaders to share their insight with the Huntsville community on best-practice solutions for addressing generational poverty.

“Our Speaker Series events all feature keynote speakers with expertise in education and poverty, and the relationship between the two, with Leland being no exception,” said Village of Promise CEO Dana M. Gillis. “We invite community members to join us for an unforgettable evening in support of Village of Promise as Leland’s story is sure to inspire attendees to reach for the stars.”

After injuries ended his NFL career, Melvin worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center for nine years before being selected for the astronaut corps in 1998. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist in 2008 and 2009, helping to construct the International Space Station.

Upon hanging up his space boots, Melvin led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEAM Education Task Force, developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan.

After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader, he shares his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEAM careers.

The May 16 event is at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Davidson Center for Space Exploration. A cocktail reception is at 5:30 p.m. and the event is 6-8 p.m. Tickets are available for advanced purchase through May 5, with event information and purchasing details on the Village of Promise Speaker Series webpage.

“I sincerely believe that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” said Speaker Series Co-Chair Karen Stanley.

“Village’s Speaker Series is a valuable resource in strengthening our community,” said  Speaker Series Co-Chair Brenda Martin.

For more information, call 256-536-8052, visit https://www.villageofpromise.org/ and the Village’s social media pages on Facebook or Instagram.

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