This post was updated November 6, 2011.
Sometimes, the expressions “Thank you!” or “I appreciate all you do,” are wholly inadequate to express gratitude to someone for the contributions they make to one’s personal and professional life. Thankfully, organizations like Women In Aerospace (WIA) encourage people to nominate their heroes and role models for recognition.
I had no idea if Stephanie Schierholz (@Schierholz) would even be eligible for the award this year; I was halfway through my nomination packet before I realized she is currently President-Elect of Women in Aerospace! Nevertheless, I submitted my nomination packet before the August 10 deadline, and decided to share my words here on this blog, as well. In the end, WIA chose someone else for this year’s Aerospace Awareness Award (see notes #2 & #3), but I enjoyed the exercise of pulling together all the facts to nominate Stephanie.
Stephanie L. Schierholz – 2011 Aerospace Awareness Award Nomination
Stephanie L. Schierholz is NASA’s social media manager and an agency spokesperson. In addition to her roles in strategic communications and media relations, Ms. Schierholz leads NASA’s innovative social media activities, and oversees more than 250 agency social media accounts across services such as Twitter, Facebook, Gowalla, and Foursquare. Her leadership and dedication have been instrumental to the growth and continuing success of NASA’s public outreach endeavors, including its increasingly frequent NASA Tweetup events.
Since January 2009, NASA has hosted 29 unique and inspiring public outreach events called “tweetups” for members of the social media service Twitter. These events provide guests with VIP access to NASA facilities, speakers, and activities, including spacecraft launches (Space Shuttle, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Juno Mission to Jupiter, GRAIL Mission to the Moon, NASA NPP, and Mars Science Laboratory in late November 2011.) Registration is open to anyone with a Twitter account, and each NASA Tweetup draws significant interest. Just after the final Space Shuttle mission, the agency received more than 1200 registrations for its tweetup to witness the rocket launch for the Jupiter-bound “Juno” spacecraft. The Juno launch tweetup’s 150 attendees, selected via a lottery system, represented 28 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Looking forward, the agency’s 31st tweetup happens to span the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday (November 23 & 25, 2011) yet it still attracted more than 1050 registrations for its 150 attendee spots.
Ms. Schierholz serves as a leader and mentor to the small cadre of individuals at each NASA center who are responsible for public outreach and social media. She is also the primary liaison, on-site coordinator, and public point of contact for each NASA Tweetup event held at NASA Headquarters (NASA HQ) in Washington, D.C., and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Since July 2010, the agency has held 17 NASA Tweetup events across the United States, and Ms. Schierholz’ passionate dedication and expertise have been directly responsible for the success of at least 12 of those events – six high-profile launch tweetups (five at KSC and one at Vandenberg AFB in California) and three tweetups at NASA HQ. She and her team consistently respond with speed and elegance to dynamic circumstances, such as launch delays, to ensure the best experience for tweetup guests.
As a member of the public, and a two-time alumnus of NASA Tweetup events at KSC (first in November 2009 and again in July 2011,) I can personally attest to the level of commitment, professionalism, enthusiasm, and genuine concern Ms. Schierholz brings to bear in all her public outreach activities. She has been instrumental in reaching out and embracing the public through NASA Tweetup events, numerous public speaking engagements (SxSW, L2 Social Graph, Ragan, and more) and other outreach activities. I am honored to know Ms. Schierholz, and I consider her a friend. She is an incredible role model for women of all ages, and I am inspired by her dedication to sharing the wonder of the universe.
So far, over 2000 individuals from across the globe have attended a NASA Tweetup and shared the experience in real-time with their co-workers, friends, family members, and other followers. An entire community of NASA Tweetup alumni has formed around these events, establishing everything from Facebook and LinkedIn groups to a community-owned and managed wiki for documenting and sharing tips, tricks, photos, videos, blog posts, and news media reports about NASA Tweetup activities. The enthusiasm and dedication Ms. Schierholz brings to her communication and outreach activities, coupled with the inspirational nature of NASA Tweetup events, has led many alumni to seek opportunities to be involved in aerospace public outreach, themselves. Alumni routinely hold speaking engagements at local schools, organize or attend aerospace-related conferences and workshops, or become more politically active; a few alumni have even changed careers as a result of their involvement in NASA’s incredible public outreach activities.
Biography of Stephanie L. Schierholz
Stephanie L. Schierholz is NASA’s social media manager and an agency spokesperson. She has 10 years’ experience leading strategic communications, media relations, and public outreach efforts. She provides strategic communications guidance to NASA’s senior management and is an advocate for incorporating emerging communications technologies into the agency’s public outreach activities.
Ms. Schierholz is a public affairs specialist and spokesperson for the agency’s Space Operations Mission Directorate that leads and implements NASA’s human spaceflight missions on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. She plans, conducts and executes agency news conferences, television events and webcasts to announce billion-dollar contracts, significant scientific discoveries, and the development, testing and launch of spacecraft. 5
In her role as social media manager, she leads NASA’s social media activities, including the primary NASA Twitter account, @NASA, and NASA Tweetups in Washington and at spacecraft launches (Kennedy Space Center, Florida.) Ms. Schierholz has presented at a variety of conferences as a subject matter expert on NASA’s public outreach initiatives, social media best practices, and community building.
She initiated and led the development of a NASA Stylebook and was a contributing editor to “NASA: 50 Years of Exploration and Discovery.” Before coming to NASA, Ms. Schierholz was the director of communications for the Space Foundation. When not dreaming of spaceflight, she is the president-elect of Women in Aerospace, an inaugural member of the British Council’s Transatlantic Network 2020, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America. 6
- The History of NASA Tweetup (Wikipedia)
- NASATweetup Wiki (Community-owned, community-run wiki)
- 2011 Women in Aerospace Awards Nomination Packet (PDF) ↩
- On September 19, 2011, the Women in Aerospace 2011 Award Recipients were announced. ↩
- The recipient of the Women in Aerospace 2011 Aerospace Awareness Award is Cheryl Moore McNair, Chairman of the D.R.E.M.E. Science Literacy Foundation. She is also the Founding Director for the Challenger Center for Space Science Education – the educational organization founded by the seven Challenger family members to continue the STS-51L crew’s mission. She is the widow of astronaut Ron McNair. ↩
- Ordinarily, I’d have referred to Stephanie by her first name after the initial mention, but as a formal nomination submission, I opted for the far more formal “Ms. Schierholz.” ↩
- Stephanie L. Schierholz, Social Media Manager, NASA. Conference speakers, Social Media World Forum North America 2011. ↩
- HOW TO…Network Socially, Women In Aerospace, April 25, 2011. ↩