Blogs  |  1.31.2022

Join our Black History Month Conversation

Friday, February 18, 2022 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.

We are honored to welcome former NASA leaders, industry innovators, and Challenger Center supporters Charlie Bolden, Robert Curbeam, and Kenneth Harris to speak about their dreams for the future of STEM and STEM education.  The discussion will be moderated by Michelynn Woodard of the Texas Women’s Foundation. Registration is required. Please note: this event is targeted for adults and educators and will be focused on creating a diverse workforce.

Michelynn “Miki” Woodard joins Texas Women’s Foundation as President and CEO in February 2022. A 25-year business and social-impact veteran, she is a respected national voice who has dedicated her career to championing equity, cultural diversity and social justice.

Miki brings to her role at Texas Women’s Foundation a long history of working across industries and geographies leading multimillion-dollar equity, cultural diversity and social justice impact investments, philanthropic programs and advocacy initiatives. Most recently, she served as Head of Social Impact, Diversity and Inclusion for Bad Robot Productions, Inc., and Senior Advisor of the Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation.

A highly sought-after public speaker, Miki frequently lends her voice to social impact dialogues spanning a multitude of media platforms from podcasts to national television programs. Variety recently included Miki in its annual roundup of the top creatives pushing forward the needle on diversity and inclusion, and Inclusion magazine crowned her one of “the country’s most innovative D&I thought leaders.” Miki is a fourth-generation graduate of Hampton University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Retired Marine Corps Major General Charles Frank Bolden Jr. was the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from July 2009 until January 2017.

Bolden’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled into orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others.

Today, in addition to his numerous professional affiliations, General Bolden serves as the Founder and CEO Emeritus of The Charles F. Bolden Group, providing leadership in the areas of Space/Aerospace Exploration, National Security, STEM+AD Education and Health Initiatives.

Bolden is a graduate of C.A. Johnson High School in Columbia, SC. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California.

Bolden is married to the former Alexis Walker of Columbia, SC. They have two children, A. Che’ Bolden, Colonel, USMC (Ret.) and Dr. Kelly M. Bolden, MD, FACS; and four grandchildren – granddaughters Mikaley, Kyra and Talia and grandson Walker Elias.

Robert Curbeam is the Immediate Past Chair of Challenger Center and a former NASA astronaut. He joined Maxar Technologies in 2021. Prior to that, Robert served at Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and was president of the Aerospace and Defense Division for ARES Corporation.

Prior to his roles at Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and ARES, Rober Curbeam was an astronaut with NASA. He held a wide range of positions with NASA as director of Safety, Reliability, and Quality Assurance for the Constellation program, deputy director of Flight Crew Operations; and Spacecraft Communicator (CAPCOM) branch chief. Curbeam was second-in-command for safety across NASA, as the deputy associate administrator of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA headquarters. During his tenure with NASA, he served on three space shuttle missions and seven spacewalks.

Robert retired from the U.S. Navy after 23 years of service. He is a graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and Navy Test Pilot School. He was lead project manager officer for the F-14 Air-to-Ground Weapons Separation Flight Test Program, and he logged more than 3,000 flight hours in 25 different aircraft and spacecraft.

Robert holds an advanced degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering and a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, Calif. He received his bachelor’s degree with merit in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Kenneth Harris has been acknowledged by Forbes Magazine amongst the world’s youngest and most impactful individuals in the field of science. Kenneth is known for delivering thoughtful and dynamic leadership on programs of critical national and international importance. Since the age of 16, Kenneth has been involved in projects at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, totaling five satellites.

Kenneth’s honors and awards extend beyond his professional service to recognition of his tremendous leadership in the STEM field and international community. A proud son of an Engineer, Kenneth champions the importance of early STEM exposure and engagement. Reflected in his TEDx Talk presented to students globally, concerning the power of mentorship and guidance. Kenneth has also appeared as a featured keynote speaker at a number of professional events, conferences, & symposia.