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Huntsville’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center names Kimberly Robinson next CEO

Dr. Kimberly Robinson, a 31-year veteran of NASA, has been named the chief executive officer of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The hiring was announced Tuesday by the Alabama Space Science Exhibition Commission, the state agency that oversees the operation of the center. She will begin her new role on Feb. 15, 2021.

Her background provided the perfect match for the position, according to a news release issued by the Space & Rocket Center.

“Dr. Robinson brings to the position a background that includes leadership, public engagement, engineering, education, flight crew training and hands-on experience shaping the nation’s space program,” the release outlined.

Currently, Robinson serves as NASA’s utilization manager for Advanced Exploration Systems. She was formerly the payload mission manager for Artemis.

She succeeds Louie Ramirez, who has served as executive director and CEO of the center since January 2020 following the retirement of Dr. Deborah Barnhart. Ramirez will remain in a part-time capacity as chief operations officer.

Robinson completed her Ph.D. and master’s degrees in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and her Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

“Along with her vast experience with NASA, Dr. Robinson brings an innovative spirit and the leadership skills needed to guide the Rocket Center as we plan for the future,” stated Joe Newberry, ASSEC board chairman. “Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious and brought her to the top of a rigorous and exhaustive search for our new Executive Director and CEO.”

“I look forward to joining the remarkable team at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to inspire our next generation of explorers,” Robinson said in a statement. “The Rocket Center is a vital part of our community that honors the Rocket City’s storied accomplishments and helps shape tomorrow’s space industry. I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience from three decades in the field of space exploration to the Rocket Center and help plan for our vibrant future.”

Robinson has taught at Oakwood University and UAH.

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Ray Garner is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News. He is the retired chief of staff to the president at The University of Alabama in Huntsville as well as the former business editor of The Huntsville Times. Ray also served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives.