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NASA’s First Female Hispanic Flight Director, El Paso Native, to Speak at Museum

Mar 3, 2016

Credit GINGER KERRICK (NASA PHOTO)

  On Saturday, March 12, the New Mexico Museum of Space History will join the Smithsonian Institution and hundreds of cultural institutions across the country in celebrating a nationwide campaign to reach women and girls in underserved communities with a special edition of Museum Day LIVE! Held during Women's History Month, this “special edition” of Smithsonian’s signature Museum Day LIVE! event encourages all people, and particularly women and girls of color, to explore their nation’s museums, cultural institutions, zoos, aquariums, parks and libraries—which will offer free admission for the day to those who download the free ticket from the Smithsonian website, Smithsonian.com. Tickets are available online now through March 12. Each ticket is good for two guests.

For Museum Day LIVE!, the museum will present a speaker series featuring women in STEM careers. Headlining the series will be Ginger Kerrick, a native of El Paso, graduate of Hanks High School and Texas Tech where she holds a Masters degree in physics. Kerrick began working for NASA as an intern in 1991 and in 2005 became  NASA’s first Hispanic female flight director. She is currently the Assistant Director for the International Space Station for the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Kerrick will be speaking at 11:00 AM on the first floor of the museum.

Speaking at 9:00 AM will be Dr. Bill Gutman, Director of Aerospace Operations at Spaceport America. Gutman is responsible for aerospace operations, including space launches and airfield management. In addition, he works with staff in resolving technical issues, manages launches and flight safety, and maintains the spaceport’s FAA launch site operator license. Gutman was previously a research physicist at the New Mexico State Physical Science Laboratory. He holds a PH.D. in optical and molecular physics from Ohio State University and can frequently be found in the classroom sharing his enthusiasm for space with students across New Mexico.

Lt. Col. Sheryl Ott is scheduled to speak at 10:00 AM. She is the Commander of the 49th Operations Support Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base. Her squadron supports all aspects of the base flying mission including weather, aircrew flight equipment, wing scheduling, and much more. A Senior Pilot, Ott has logged more than 2,200 flight hours in a variety of aircraft from a T-37B to an F-16C/D. Her honors include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Join Service Achievement Medal. She is a graduate of MIT, where she holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering.

At 1:00, new Alamogordo resident Scarlet Parenteau will speak. A graduate of Western Carolina University,  Parenteau worked for Marietta/Lockheed Martin in Denver for 17 years. During her career there, she worked on the Guidance Flight Software for the Titan IV booster rocket. After leaving the aerospace industry in 2003, she taught 4th, 5th & 6th grade at Montessori Charter Schools in Jefferson County Colorado. In 2013, Parenteau went back into aerospace at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at Colorado University. There, she worked on the ground system used for the Payload Operations Center for NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS), which launched in 2015 to study the earth’s magnetosphere. Her last year with the mission was spent as Flight Director and Flight Controller operating the instruments for the on orbit mission.

The speaker series is free to the public and begins at 9:00 am on the first floor of the museum. Speakers for the2:00 and 3:00 sessions will be announced shortly. Free tickets to tour the entire museum are available at Smithsonian.com.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs.  For more information, call 575-437-2840 or toll free 1-877-333-6589 or visit the website atwww.nmspacemuseum.org. Like us at: www.facebook.com/NMSpaceMuseum.

About Ginger Kerrick:

Ginger Kerrick was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Ginger attended Texas Tech University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1991, followed by a Master’s Degree in physics in 1993. In 2004, she was named a distinguished alumni by Texas Tech University, and then again in 2012 by the Texas Tech Alumni Association. 

Ginger began working for NASA as a summer intern in 1991, and started her first permanent assignment at Johnson Space Center in May of 1994 as a Materials Research Engineer. In September 1995, she was reassigned to the Mission Operations Directorate as an instructor for the International Space Station Environmental and Life Support System. Her responsibilities included training development, simulator development, and training conduct for both crew and flight controllers.

Through many years of dedicated service and various positions at NASA, Ginger was selected as a Flight Director in February 2005. This selection made her the first female Hispanic Flight Director in the history of NASA. After many successful missions, Ginger has now transitioned in to her current role as Assistant Director for the International Space Station for the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

In her personal time, she is an avid runner, completing numerous full and half marathons. She also works as a volunteer coordinator for Triumphant Trails, Inc., and all-breed dog rescue organization that helps find homes for the many homeless dogs in the Houston area.