JoAnn Morgan, director of External Relations and Business Development at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), announced her retirement from NASA, effective Aug. 3, 2003.

Morgan’s career spans 45 years and includes a list of firsts at KSC, including her appointment as the first woman senior executive at the space center. She has been in leadership roles at KSC for the past 20 years.

Her list of firsts also includes first woman in the Launch Control Center Firing Room during the Apollo program; first woman division chief; first woman to win a NASA medal; first woman senior executive at KSC; first woman associate director for KSC and first woman to act as deputy director of KSC. Additionally, Morgan was the first woman in NASA to win the coveted Sloan Fellowship. The Sloan Fellowship is one of the NASA fellowship programs and grants fellowships to MIT in Massachusetts and Stanford University, Calif., for graduate study. The program is international and includes students from government and industry in the United States and abroad.

“JoAnn’s career is a model of success,” said KSC Director Roy Bridges Jr. “She is the pioneer for all the female engineers at NASA. She is my hero, too. She has a passion for excellence that is rarely exceeded. She thinks ‘out of the box’ and makes things happen. What a joy to work with her!”

Morgan entered the federal work force as a University of Florida student trainee with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1958, and worked for NASA on the Mercury and Gemini programs. During her years in the Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs, she was a key member of the KSC launch team. She then became one of the KSC team developing the Space Shuttle launch processing system central data subsystem, which was initially used for the first launch of the orbiter Columbia. Following this, she served in managerial positions including division chief and deputy director, Expendable Launch Vehicles; director of Payload Projects and Ground Operations; and director for Safety and Mission Assurance with overall responsibilities for the KSC safety, reliability, maintainability, quality and mission assurance programs.

Morgan worked on teams at all the NASA centers and NASA Headquarters, including assignments at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., and Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. During the early part of her career, she spent 15 years on launch teams as an engineering member in information systems, communications and instrumentation services.

Prior to her appointment to the External Relations and Business Development directorate, she was the KSC associate director for Advanced Development and Shuttle Upgrades. In this capacity, she provided leadership for KSC’s support to Shuttle flight systems upgrades and for creating a customer-driven environment and new opportunities for the KSC team to participate in cutting-edge technology development and application.

During her career in the U.S. human space flight programs, Morgan has received many honors and awards, including an achievement award for her work during the activation of Apollo Launch Complex 39, four exceptional service medals, and two outstanding leadership medals.

In 1995, Morgan was recognized as a Meritorious Executive by President Clinton and selected for induction into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame by the governor of Florida. In 2001, she was appointed by Florida’s governor as a trustee of the state universities and reappointed for another term in 2003. Morgan was also the winner of the National Space Club’s 1998 Debus Award and received the 1998 Presidential Distinguished Rank Award.

Morgan has received the Society of Women Engineer’s national Upward Mobility Award and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ J. Tal Webb Award. The Space Coast Chapter of Federally Employed Women awarded her the Distinguished Service Award in 1996, and in 1998, she was recognized by the 34th Annual Space Congress with the Achievement Award for Management Leadership.

She is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the National Space Club, and Tau Beta Pi.

Morgan has a degree in mathematics from Jacksonville State University in Alabama. She has a Master of Science degree in management from Stanford University in California. She is married to Larry Van Morgan, a retired teacher and a local Florida citrus farmer.