Press Releases  |  7.8.2021

Three Former NASA Administrators Join Challenger Center’s Advisory Council

Challenger Center

The former NASA Administrators, including two former astronauts and Secretary of the Navy, continue their commitment to Challenger Center by joining esteemed group of advisors

Challenger Center, a leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education organization announced three former NASA Administrators, Charles F. Bolden Jr., Sean O’Keefe, and Richard Truly (seen left to right), will join the organization’s Advisory Council. The Advisory Council includes Challenger, Apollo 1, and Columbia family members, as well as visionary leaders and STEM education advocates. These advisors lend their diverse talents and support to help expand the organization’s reach and deepen its impact.

“We are honored to welcome Mr. Bolden, Mr. O’Keefe, and Mr. Truly to our Advisory Council. I had the privilege to work with these gentlemen during their tenures at NASA and each brings a wealth of experience, leadership, and passion for STEM education; they’ve been committed champions of Challenger Center for years,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “We look forward to collaborating with them and are extremely grateful for their support over the years and now.”

Challenger Center’s Advisory Council includes Challenger family members Marcia Jarvis, The Honorable Steven McAuliffe, Cheryl McNair, Lorna Onizuka, Charles Resnik, June Scobee Rodgers, and Jane Smith Wolcott; Apollo 1 family representative Bonnie White Baer; Columbia family representative Sean McCool; Norman Augustine, and Sarah Brightman.

“Each of these Administrators led NASA through periods of incredible innovation. As careers in STEM evolve to tackle problems, find solutions, and expand our global knowledge base, STEM education must adapt in similar fashion,” said Robert Curbeam, former astronaut and chairman of Challenger Center.  “Challenger Center looks to prepare today’s students to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Mr. Truly, Mr. O’Keefe, and Mr. Bolden’s insight will be invaluable as we pursue our mission to prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators.”

Charles F. Bolden Jr. has dedicated his life to the service of the United States, working to secure our nation’s security, prosperity, and guiding efforts to explore our universe and better understand our fragile planet. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 2003 after a distinguished 34-year career that included 14 years (1980-1994) as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Corps.  He traveled into orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others. In 2009, he was appointed by President Barack Obama as the 12th NASA Administrator, the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis, and served in that role until 2017. While heading NASA, Bolden oversaw the transition from the space shuttle system to a new era of exploration, fully focused on the International Space Station (ISS) and aeronautics technology development. Today, in addition to his numerous professional affiliations, 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.

Sean O’Keefe is a former Secretary of the Navy and NASA Administrator from 2001-2005, and brings extensive higher education, national security, space, and business expertise to Challenger Center’s Advisory Council. O’Keefe is currently a professor at the Syracuse University Maxwell School and previously served as chancellor of the Louisiana State University flagship campus.  O’Keefe was appointed as the 10th NASA Administrator by President George W. Bush having previously served as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Deputy Assistant to the President.  It was during O’Keefe’s tenure at NASA that President Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration, the strategy that is the cornerstone for the current NASA agenda.  Previously, O’Keefe was appointed 69th Secretary of the Navy by President George H.W. Bush, after serving as Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense, 1989-92.  Prior to his present faculty appointment at Syracuse, O’Keefe was CEO of the US subsidiary of the Airbus Group following his experience as a corporate VP at General Electric.

Richard Truly’s career in aviation and space spanned more than 35 years. A naval aviator, experimental test pilot, Vice Admiral, and astronaut, he logged over 6,800 flight hours and made over 300 carrier-arrested landings. He was in the first astronaut selection for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program and when MOL was cancelled in 1969, he joined the NASA astronaut corps. He tested space shuttle Enterprise off the top of NASA’s Boeing 747, including the first flight in the space shuttle’s reentry configuration, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1989 he was appointed as the eighth NASA Administrator, the first former astronaut to lead the organization, and served in that position from 1989-1992.


About Challenger Center

As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. For more information about Challenger Center, please visit or connect on Facebook and Twitter.