National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office of Safety and Mission Assurance
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Cohort Program

The Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Technical Excellence Program (STEP) Cohort Program is designed to progress cohort participants through STEP Level 2 training within 12 months.

Select Year

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What the Program Provides

  • A structured plan for completing the qualification requirements
  • Dedicated time and resources to support the participant's journey
  • A technical mentor for guidance
  • Other support to help facilitate this accelerated plan for professional development

Meet SMA Leadership

Opportunities to meet and interact with members of center and SMA leadership.

Group 1

Virtual Sessions

Virtual sessions that give participants an opportunity to learn from and have the opportunity to interact with Subject Matter Experts from a variety of disciplines, programs and projects.

Group 402 

Opportunities to Learn

Opportunities to learn with and from fellow participants from around the agency, expand professional networks, and forge relationships with SMA colleagues.

Group 401 

Face-to-Face Sessions

Face-to-face sessions that include facility tours and deeper insights into work being conducted at several centers.

Repeat Grid 5

Monthly Agendas

Select the desired month to view the related agenda.

Biographies

Learn more about the 2021 Cohort Program participants.

Alexandria Ayers Headshot

Alexandria Ayers

Nicole Barcellos Headshot

Nicole Barcellos

Brian Bestoso Headshot

Brian Bestoso

Gregory Bond Headshot

Gregory Bond

Darcy DeAngelis Headshot

Darcy DeAngelis

Wesley Enos Headshot

Wesley Enos

Christopher G. Hoffman Headshot

Christopher G. Hoffman

Robert Hughes Headshot

Robert Hughes

Alexander Jennings Headshot

Alexander Jennings

David Knight Headshot

David Knight

Jared Meredith Headshot

Jared Meredith

Adam Mullins Headshot

Adam Mullins

Patrick Olson Headshot

Patrick Olson

Robert Paterson Headshot

Robert Paterson

Tibor Pechan Headshot

Tibor Pechan

Carlos Perez Headshot

Carlos Perez

Amelia Ridgeway Headshot

Amelia Ridgeway

Justin Reid Headshot

Justin Reid

Yonghong Shen Headshot

Yonghong Shen

Brandon Sherman Headshot

Brandon Sherman

Joelle Spagnuolo-Loretta Headshot

Joelle Spagnuolo-Loretta

Jennifer Anne Thompson Headshot

Jennifer Anne Thompson

Tyrin Thurmon Headshot

Tyrin Thurmon

Michael Truong Headshot

Michael Truong

Zachery Walker Headshot

Zachery Walker

Dickson Yeung Headshot

Dickson Yeung

Contacts

The NASA Safety Center is here to assist with any Cohort Program questions. Please contact the appropriate team member.

Name Title Email Phone
Mike Kelly Technical Excellence Office Chief Michael.P.Kelly@nasa.gov 301.286.0662
Don Brandl Quality Engineering Technical Discipline Team Lead Donald.E.Brandl@nasa.gov 256.961.4876
Guille M. del Carmen Software Assurance Technical Discipline Team Lead Guille.DelCarmen@nasa.gov 281.244.5712
Rochelle Gallagher Technical Development Programs Manager Rochelle.L.Gallagher@nasa.gov 216.433.2060
Mark George Aviation Safety and Operational Safety Technical Discipline Team Lead Mark.A.George@nasa.gov 216.433.9565
James Joyner Reliability and Maintainability Technical Discipline Team Lead (Detail) James.J.Joyner@nasa.gov 321.867.8313
Diane Koons System Safety Technical Discipline Team Lead (Detail) Diane.S.Koons@nasa.gov 281.483.1185
Michael Lipka Knowledge Management Specialist Michael.J.Lipka@nasa.gov 216.433.9591
Jessica Padilla SMA Technical Leadership Technical Discipline Team Lead Jessica.C.Padilla@nasa.gov 281.483.2463
Heidi Schultz Cohort Program Manager Heidi.R.Schultz@nasa.gov
Ingrid Wagner Mishap Support Specialist Ingrid.E.Wagner@nasa.gov 216.433.2970
Vacancy Training Program Specialist

Participant Guide

The Participant Guide consists of various documents to guide those involved with the STEP Level 2 Cohort Program - both the participant and the mentor.

Group 417

Download Participant Guide

Additional Resources

There are a variety of STEP resources available to support participants through their journey as well, including the STEP web page, help desks, Points of Contact and more. Visit the My STEP application for instructions and guides.

Group 424

Alexandria Ayers

Nicole Barcellos

Brian Bestoso

Gregory Bond

Darcy DeAngelis

Wesley Enos

Christopher G. Hoffman

Robert Hughes

Alexander Jennings

David Knight

Isaac McGinnis

Isaac McGinnis is the branch head for the Mission Software and Ground Systems Assurance Branch at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). McGinnis has over 20 years of experience in Software Assurance and process improvement. In addition to 10 years of supporting NASA flight projects, McGinnis has successfully implemented assurance programs for large scale commercial software development and deployment of enterprise-level IT solutions. As the GSFC Software Assurance Branch head, McGinnis has focused his efforts on shifting from a compliance-based approach, to an emphasis on engineering judgment and risk-based tailoring. Through partnerships with other Safety and Mission Assurance discipline leads and collaborations with engineering and Independent Verification and Validation, McGinnis has fostered improvements in the GSFC Software Assurance practice throughout the life cycle, including cost estimation, supply chain management and software safety and reliability.

Jared Meredith

Adam Mullins

Patrick Olson

Robert Paterson

Tibor Pechan

Carlos Perez

Amelia Ridgeway

Justin Reid

Yonghong Shen

Brandon Sherman

Joelle Spagnuolo-Loretta

Jennifer Anne Thompson

Tyrin Thurmon

Michael Truong

Zachery Walker

Dickson Yeung

Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly is chief of the Technical Excellence Office for the NASA Safety Center (NSC). In this role, he is responsible for planning, organizing and directing a full range of integrated services including Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) curriculum and course development, SMA engineering support for over 2,800 NASA civil service and support contract employees agencywide, and the SMA Technical Excellence Program (STEP) — NASA’s university for safety. Kelly also serves as program manager for the Chief Safety Officers Summit and Executive Safety Leadership Program. He is located at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. 

Prior to this role, Kelly served as the Technical Leadership Technical Discipline Team Lead (TDTL) and also as the Quality Engineering (QE) TDTL for the NSC. As the Technical Leadership TDTL, he offered a professional development path for the SMA Technical Leadership discipline through STEP and developed and defined the role of the SMA Technical Leadership curriculum participant through professional development opportunities, collaborative events and working groups. As the QE TDTL, Kelly was responsible for the professional development of NASA’s QE workforce.

Before joining the NSC, Kelly was the assistant director of the Goddard Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) directorate in Greenbelt, Maryland. In this position, his duties included serving as the Contracting Officer Representative for the SMA Services contract and supporting both Continuity of Operations Planning and awards programs for the directorate. Kelly provided leadership as the center technical liason officer of the SMA 3 contract, which provides SMA support at supplier facilities for all Goddard projects.

Kelly spent four years as the chief of the Mission Support Division within the Goddard SMA directorate. Under his direction were the Chief SMA Officers, Reliability engineers, System Safety engineers, software Quality Assurance engineers, and Lean Six Sigma and Risk Management programs. Kelly provided SMA leadership, direction and support for all NASA Goddard programs and projects.   

Kelly also served as the chief of the Institutional Support Office within the SMA directorate at Goddard. While in this office, he provided technical leadership for multiple activities at Goddard, which included the Goddard internal auditing program, SMA directives management, mission operations assurance, on-orbit anomalies investigations and Goddard Open Learning Design rules. Also included in his duties were the development and management of the NASA Goddard Supply Chain Management Program. Kelly has visited and led in-depth AS9100 and contractual assessments at more than 70 aerospace suppliers. Kelly was the original creator of the Supply Chain Conference held each year at Goddard. 

Prior to his SMA management role, Kelly was the systems assurance manager for almost 17 years, working many Goddard projects, including the GOES Series, STEREO, SWIFT, SOLAR-B, EO-1, XTE, TRMM, ACE, TOPEX and MOLA. 

Rochelle Gallagher

Rochelle Gallagher is the technical development manager at the NASA Safety Center (NSC) and recently led the development and implementation of STEP in 2020.

Prior to joining the NSC, Gallagher served as an employee and organizational development specialist in the Human Capital Development Division at Glenn Research Center and served as the program manager for all development and leadership programs and scientific and engineering training at the center.

She developed and implemented Rocket University, Glenn’s Women in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] leadership program and NASA’s Women in STEM leadership program. Prior to joining NASA, Gallagher held various federal positions at Health and Human Services and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, was an elementary school teacher in both the public and private sectors and an online instructor at various colleges, and served as a captain in the United States Army’s Signal Corps. Gallagher holds a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and masters degrees in business administration and education, respectively. She is also a certified Whole Person life coach, certified health coach, certified PK-6 teacher in Ohio and Virginia, and graduate of NASA’s Mid-Level Leadership Program.

Heidi Schultz

Heidi Schultz is the training program specialist for the Technical Excellence Office (TEO). In this role, she supports and develops procedures related to the Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Technical Excellence Program (STEP) Level 2 Cohort Program and coordinates Technical Discipline Team Lead project planning. She also collects, reports and analyzes data related to project requirements, make recommendations for maintenance and the quality of STEP programs, and support Professional Development Services for new NASA SMA employees.

Previously, Schultz supported the NASA Safety Center on a TEO program specialist detail. She contributed to the remodeling of leadership curriculums for SMA professionals, developed and implemented virtual STEP sessions, supported validation of STEP curriculums, provided provisions to validate STEP competencies with on-the-job scenarios, and updated STEP curriculums and documentation. 

Schultz has a 23-year career in the aerospace industry in both private and government sectors. She has been with NASA over 14 years, working with the Launch Services Program located at the Vandenberg Air Force Base resident office in California. Schultz has a background working with environmental hazards; performing Operational and System Safety functions; and overseeing facility operations, construction, and maintenance programs. 

To safeguard sensitive and proprietary information, some content may only be available from inside the NASA firewall. Creating a shortcut to the Cohort Program web page on your mobile device home screen is easy. No mobile app download required!

For iPhone Users:

  1. Launch the Safari browser* on Apple’s iOS and open nsc.nasa.gov/cohort
  2. Tap the share button on the browser’s toolbar (the rectangle with an arrow pointing upward at the bottom of the screen
  3. Tap the “Add to Home Screen” icon in the Share menu
  4. Enter the name of the shortcut and press “Add”
  5. The Cohort Program icon will appear on your home screen like any other app shortcut or widget, so you can drag it around and put it wherever you like

*Due to limitations in iOS, only Apple’s Safari web browser is capable of creating this shortcut.

For Android Users:

  1. Launch Chrome for Android* and open nsc.nasa.gov/cohort
  2. Tap the menu button (three dots in the right-hand corner of the screen)
  3. Tap “Add to Home screen”
  4. Enter the name of the shortcut and press “Add”
  5. The Cohort Program icon will appear on your home screen like any other app icon, so you can drag it around and put it wherever you like

*If using Firefox for Android, first tap the menu button, choose the “Page” option and select “Add to Home Screen.”