Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gail Williams, Leadership Innovator at NASA

Gail Williams enjoyed a 36+-year career at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  She retired in September 2010 and is now an Emeritus at Goddard.  We'll convene with Gail for dinner and discussion on October 29th, 2012.

Gail started a 21-year acquisition management career in 1974, beginning as a GS-5 entry-level contract specialist.  She rose through the ranks to middle management after serving as the Chief of the Procurement Support Division, as well as Acting Procurement Officer.  In 1995, she began a 14-month detail at the Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), returning to Goddard in 1996 as the Special Assistant to the Goddard’s Chief Financial Officer managing the Center’s Workforce Refocusing Program.

As part of her Workforce Refocusing Program responsibilities, in 1997 Gail was tasked with organizing “Focus on Our Future Day” at two NASA Goddard locations.  All Goddard employees were encouraged to learn about Goddard’s future direction and how to effectively support large scale change.  An outgrowth of this activity was the establishment of the Center Director’s Colloquia Series – now award winning and 15 years old.  The series is currently known as the Exploring Leadership Colloquia Series.

While supporting Goddard’s Office of the CFO, Gail was asked to lead an Agency-wide activity to develop competency based career development guidelines for the almost 1,000 financial and budget people at NASA.  This resulted in a several-year commitment and the development of guidance that was labeled a Federal Best Practice by the U.S. CFO Council.

In 2001, the Goddard CFO asked Gail lead an effort and to design a leadership development program for the financial and resources management community of ~350 people at Goddard.  This resulted in a 7-year stint as Program Manager for Goddard’s award winning Leadership Alchemy Program.  Leadership Alchemy was a transformational, state-of-the-art program that earned national and international recognition for the benefits derived by both the participants and the organization.  When speaking at the first national Followership Conference at Claremont-McKenna University on the impact of Leadership Alchemy, Gail was asked to write an article that was subsequently published in the book The Art of Followership.  The article is titled “The Hero’s Journey to Effective Followership and Leadership:  A Practitioner’s Focus.”  Gail was a guest contributor to The Washington Post's "On Leadership Column."

Over time, Gail’s job in the OCFO morphed into supporting strategic and cultural change and leadership development.  She served as an internal consultant to the CFO and the entire CFO management team. In the spring of 2009, Gail joined the Office of Human Capital Management as the Special Assistant to the Director of Human Capital.  She served as Program Manager for the newly awarded Leadership Development and Excellence in Management Program.

Gail’s undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School.  In October 2000, Gail earned a certificate in organizational learning from George Mason University and is certified as a coach by The Newfield Network.