Challenger Center, a leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education organization announced the election of Robert Curbeam, Vice President – Business Development for the Space Systems Group, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and former NASA astronaut as Chair Elect of the organization’s Board of Directors. Curbeam will work alongside the current Chair, Virginia Barnes, until his role as Chair begins in August 2019. Barnes has served as Chair since August 2017.


“Robert is an experienced leader with a passion for supporting STEM education and encouraging the next generation to reach for the stars,” said Barnes. “He has demonstrated his commitment to Challenger Center through many years of dedicated service as a board member and will further ensure the organization reaches its goals.”


In addition, the organization has elected seven new members to its board of directors this year. New board members include: Lawrence Cowart formerly of The Coca-Cola Company; Anne Ellis of Ellis Global; Robyn S. Kravit of Tethys Research; Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger of Geosyntec Consultants and formerly of NASA; Lesa B. Roe ofUniversity of North Texas System; Tasmyn Front of Challenger Learning Center – St. Louis and Robert Vela of San Antonio College.


“It is my pleasure to welcome such an incredible group of talented individuals to the board,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “Their diverse career experiences will be particularly helpful as we implement our new strategic plan in an effort to inspire millions of students around the globe. 


Lawrence Cowart spent more than 35 years with Coca-Cola Company. During that time, he held various positions including Vice President of Business Development and Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Cowart is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology.


Anne Ellis is the Founder and CEO of Ellis Global. Prior to launching her own company, Ellis was Vice President, Innovation and Knowledge Share Director at AECOM. Ellis served as the 90th president of the American Co
ncrete Institute and was named one of the ‘Most Influential People in Concrete Construction’ by Concrete Construction magazine.


Tasmyn Front is the Executive Director of the Challenger Learning Center – St. Louis and has over 20 years of administration experience in informal science education. At the Challenger Learning Center, Front leads a team of dedicated educators, managers, and volunteers to develop and facilitate award-winning programs. Prior to Challenger Center, Front worked at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.


Robyn S. Kravit is the Co-Founder and CEO of Tethys Research, a biotechnology start-up company. Kravit has over 30 years of experience in management and venture development. At the beginning of her career, Kravit established and directed significant China-based operations engaged in the international trading of industrial raw materials.


Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger is as an Earth Scientist with Geosyntec Consultants, an environmental consulting firm. Prior to this, Metcalf-Lindenburger was part of the NASA Astronaut Corps, including serving as mission specialist on the crew of STS-131. She has logged more than 362 hours in space. During her time at NASA, she was selected as one of the first Educator Astronauts for the Educator Astronaut Project, a successor of the Teacher in Space program. Before NASA, Metcalf-Lindenburger taught high school Earth Science and Astronomy.  


Lesa B. Roe is the Chancellor of the University of North Texas System and is responsible for all aspects of the system’s operations. Prior to becoming Chancellor, Roe spent 33 years with NASA, including the role of acting Deputy Administrator. In that role, she was responsible for general oversight of 17,000 employees and operations of 10 field centers across the nation.


Robert Vela is the President of San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas and has over 20 years in higher education administration. Prior to becoming President, Vela served as the Dean of Student Affairs, Vice President of Student Affairs, and Vice President for Student and Academic Success. Vela also held positions at San Jacinto College-North Campus, Coastal Blend College, and Texas A&M University – Kingsville. 


To see a complete list of the Challenger Center board of directors, please visit


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.