WASHINGTON — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is stepping down Sept. 6 to take the top staff job at the Washington-based Air Line Pilots Association, SpaceNews has confirmed. A formal announcement is expected Aug. 6.
Garver informed colleagues of her decision in an Aug. 5 email. “After quite an extensive decision process, I have decided to make a career change. I will be resigning from my position as NASA Deputy Administrator, effective September 6 and have accepted a new position in the private sector outside the space industry,” Garver wrote. “NASA will be sending out a formal announcement tomorrow with all the details. It has been great working with you all these years and I’m sure that our paths will continue to cross.”
Garver, who has served as NASA’s No. 2 official since July 2009, has spent most of her career working on space policy. She came to Washington in 1983 to work for then-U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. After Glenn’s failed 1984 presidential bid, Garver went to work for the National Space Society, rising to executive director, a job she held until joining NASA in 1996 as a policy adviser to then-NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin.
After George W. Bush took office in 2001, Garver left NASA for the private sector, advising Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and the Planetary Society, among others, as a vice president at the Washington-based consulting firm DFI International (since renamed Avascent Group).
Garver served as the lead civil space adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign as well as Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run. When Barack Obama defeated Clinton in the Democratic primary, Garver switched camps and went on to lead Obama Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for NASA.
President Obama nominated Garver and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as a package in May 2009. A joint confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee followed on July 8.
Nine days later, Garver and Bolden were sworn in together in a low-key ceremony at NASA headquarters here.
Garver is the fourth longest-serving NASA deputy administrator, behind Hugh Dryden, George Low and Alan Lovelace.
As deputy, Garver championed various space privatization efforts, including the agency’s Commercial Crew program.
“It will be years before it is known what Lori did to help hold the ship of NASA together and point it away from the past,” longtime space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo commented on NASAWatch.com, which first reported that Garver will be stepping down.