Ellen Gertsen, Chief of the Administration Branch

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Ms. Ellen Gertsen serves as the Chief of the Administration Branch within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD).  She provides leadership related to the management and operations of SMD, including human resources, procurement, facilities, and information technology.

She previously served as the Executive Officer for SMD from July 2017 until December 2019.  In this capacity, she served as chief of staff for the SMD Associate Administrator and spearheaded cross-disciplinary initiatives to modernize and streamline how NASA executes its science programs.  Her work focused on ways for NASA to expand opportunities for participation and leverage best practices to enable new areas of scientific discovery. 

Ms. Gertsen joined NASA Headquarters in 2003 as a Presidential Management Fellow and served as a policy analyst for multiple portfolios within SMD as well as the Space Shuttle Program.  In 2008-2009, Ms. Gertsen served as a NASA Congressional Fellow in the United States Senate and specialized in a range of environmental and natural resource issues.  More recently, Ms. Gertsen served a Senior Operations Research Analyst with NASA’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, where she was the primary liaison to the Government Accountability Office for their annual “QuickLook Book” and biennial “High Risk” assessments of major spaceflight project performance and led initial development of NASA’s 2018 Strategic Plan. 

Ms. Gertsen graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in the Science of Earth Systems.  She holds a Master of Public Administration in Earth System Science, Policy, and Management from Columbia University and a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from The George Washington University.