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Marcia Smith
Winner of the 2003 Women in Aerospace Lifetime Achievement Award

An excerpt from the nomination form:

Marcia Smith Reflections on Lifetime Achievements

For over 20 years, Ms. Smith has made major contributions to congressional understanding and formulation of space policy. Throughout her tenure at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) she has been called upon to advise Congress on some of the most critical decisions in the history of the space program. Ms. Smith has been providing congressional decision makers with accurate, objective, and comprehensive information and analysis on a wide array of issues about the U.S. and international space programs. She has also testified several times before Congress on these issues. For example, Ms. Smith has testified on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Space Station Program, on the U.S. Human Space Flight Program and the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident, on U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Human Space Flight, among many other topics. She recently said of her position at CRS that she's been, at times, extremely busy (putting in long hours) and often exhausted, but never bored. She has also been a reliable expert on space for the national print and broadcast media and a tireless servant to the professional space community. As one of founding members of Women in Aerospace (WIA), Ms. Smith has clearly made a mark on supporting the role of women professionals in the space community.

Perhaps the best indicator of Ms. Smith's success is the testimony of congressional staff, senior NASA officials, former colleagues, and others in the space policy community that she has interacted with over the years. One NASA space science executive points to her "role on the Paine Commission [National Commission on Space] and her leading authorship role in the 1300+ page report "United States Civilian Space Programs 1958-1978," delivered in Jan 1981 to the House Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications. I still use the latter as an authoritative source whenever I need a factoid about our early program…I assume she continues to be CRS's stalwart and reliable source of expertise." (Marc Allen)

A former staff director for the Subcommittee on Space with the House Science and Technology Committee states: "Surely Marcia's role and contributions to the space program must be considered a unique achievement and one absolutely essential to much of the decision making over the fifteen years. Marcia's knowledge and judgment have established the benchmarks and perspectives that have been absolutely essential to Congressional policymaking, the National Commission on Space, and to the general public's understanding of space related events on countless occasions. In my experience working for the Congress, it became immediately clear that Marcia was a valuable asset and would be my most important resource as I came to grips with complex policy and technical issues. I could rely on her to provide an objective and comprehensive picture that would be the basis for the decisions that needed to be made. In short, she supplied one of the most valuable commodities in this business--credibility." (Bill Smith)

A former executive of the National Research Council recounts that "In my some 25 years tenure as an official with the National Research Council, I came to rely on Ms Smith not only as a very reliable and accurate source of information on the country's space activities, but also as a keen interpreter of the meaning of events and trends in the program in a way that was deep, intellectually very honest, and always clearly articulated and argued. She has consistently hewed to very high professional standards, which in turn have raised the bar for other observers and critics of the program and in so doing both strengthened the program and motivated its people." (Norman Metzger)

A former colleague of Ms. Smith's at CRS states, "Ms. Smith is one the premier analysts in the Service. Her work is always concise, timely, on target, and of consistently high quality. And, very importantly, those reports and memos could always be read and understood by her congressional audience. In discussions with congressional staff over the years, Ms. Smith gets as high or higher marks from these staff than any other CRS analyst they have worked with. Another of her outstanding characteristics is her willingness and ability to work on other topics when congressional demand called for it while maintaining her prolific output on space issues." This colleague concluded, "The reputation that CRS enjoys on the Hill is due, in no small part, to the work Ms. Smith has done in her 20 years at the Service." (Richard Rowberg)

And, a professional staff member of the House Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Space states: "Marcia personifies integrity. During my years on the Hill, I have been struck both by her devotion to presenting issues in an objective, nonpartisan manner and by her dogged pursuit of the facts. She is not satisfied with vague assertions when quantitative data can be obtained that would support or refute the arguments being made. She does not distort the facts to promote a particular viewpoint, and she has little tolerance for those who would. Marcia also personifies competence. Whether working with the National Commission on Space in the 1980s, or working as a science policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service over the last two decades, Marcia has consistently maintained a high level of excellence in her work. She is a worthy role model for any young person-male or female-entering the aerospace policy field. Members and Committees of Congress have benefited from her analyses across a range of science policy issues, and we hope that we can continue to do so for years to come.

Finally, Marcia personifies service. She has quietly worked over the years to advance the opportunities for women in the aerospace community, including being a founder of WIA. She also has striven to share her understanding of the promise of space with the broader public, tirelessly willing to speak to groups and appear in public venues both here and abroad. She cares about the societal impacts of space research and exploration, and she works hard to engage others in that concern. I enthusiastically support the idea of giving Marcia Smith the WIA Lifetime Achievement Award. While she still has much to offer professionally in the years ahead, the award would be a fitting recognition of all she has accomplished to date."
(Richard Obermann)

We can think of no more deserving candidate for the WIA's recognition of a Lifetime Achievement in space.

--Nominators Pamela Whitney, Joseph Alexander, and Richard Rowberg
of the National Research Council

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