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Note from the Center Director on Diversity


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June 5, 2020

JSC Team,

While our focus and priority has been on the safe and successful launch of Bob, Doug, and Demo Mission-2, I know people are hurting, upset, and disturbed by what is happening across the country. George Floyd was a son of Houston and his death and the protests that have followed have shaken our nation to its core. I, personally, have been stunned, dismayed, and floored with this tragedy – and admittedly – I have struggled to find the words to convey this message to you. I am committed to making sure JSC is a place where you can have safe and difficult conversations with coworkers and managers who understand it is difficult to find the right words at this time.

It’s important to acknowledge that members of our JSC family are also struggling, and this has added additional stress on top of the coronavirus pandemic. While my words may be imperfect, it’s clear to me that racial injustice is a systemic issue that can no longer be ignored and we, as a society, must respond. NASA’s Johnson Space Center serves as a pillar in the most diverse city in America, and yet we are not immune to what happens outside the gates. We still have work to do. In these most challenging times, we must come together recognizing our thoughts and opinions are shaped by our life experiences, and we must commit to having a dialogue about what’s happening in America, in order for us to do better as an organization tasked with inspiring the world.

The core of our work calls on us to have difficult conversations. We know how to have hard conversations, but this is different content. This is personal. We rely on our JSC Expected Behaviors to bind us together, to be open-minded and respectful of one another. When we treat each other with respect and have an aspiration to do great things, this country can achieve the unachievable. I realize race is a tough topic of conversation to have, and I encourage you to use the events happening across our communities as an opportunity to listen, learn, understand, and consider different perspectives. I will have these discussions with our senior leaders, and I am encouraging managers and supervisors to have discussions with their own teams. I also encourage you to reach out to our center resources if you need to talk to someone. Our Diversity and Inclusion and Equal Employment Opportunity Office staff, employee resource groups, Inclusion & Innovation Council and our Employee Assistance Program are good places to start. A diverse group of leaders here at JSC are working on a guide to assist in starting these conversations across the center and we’ll be making it available as soon as it is complete.

At NASA, we are a diverse, welcoming, inclusive, and equitable community. We define diversity broadly as "the entire universe of differences and similarities." Additionally, we define inclusion as "the full participation, belonging, and contribution of organizations and individuals." It is because of this diversity and inclusion, that we are able to carry our Dare | Unite | Explore vision – even during challenging times.

Please know I stand with all our employees and commit to creating a safe space to keep this dialogue going at JSC. I ask all of you to continue to lift each other up. You are always in my thoughts.

With respect,

MG

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Note from EAP Director Jackie Reese

The Employee Assistance Program recognizes that the events around George Floyd’s death have caused a great deal of pain and stress to our already pandemic-weary workforce here at JSC, and have left people feeling even more isolated and uncertain.  EAP clinician Anika Isaac will be facilitating the AAERG’s Weight of the World discussion today (details here), and we encourage you to listen in and learn how to navigate this difficult time.  The EAP will also be offering skill development trainings for the JSC workforce, including “Be a Better Bystander”, “Listening to Walk in Your Shoes”, and “Supporting My Sister – Lessons in Privilege.” Please watch RoundUp Today for dates and times.

Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston