Portrait photo of Sandra Connelly

Sandra E. Connelly

Deputy Associate Administrator

Sandra Connelly serves as the Deputy Associate Administrator (DAA) for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) where she provides executive leadership, overall planning, direction, and management of NASA’s $7B science portfolio focused on the scientific exploration of Earth, the Sun, solar system, universe, and biological and physical sciences. She brings to the job over 30 years of leadership in portfolio, program and project management, and strategic planning. She fosters partnerships with other government agencies and collaborates with commercial and international partners to leverage synergistic investments and advance science. She has served as DAA since January 2020.

Ms. Connelly has held previous SMD leadership roles including: the Acting Associate Administrator for Programs, overseeing SMD’s portfolio of over 100 missions in formulation, development, and operations; the Director of the Joint Agency Satellite Division, responsible for managing reimbursable satellite, instrument, and ground system development activities performed by NASA for partner agencies; and the Deputy Director for the Heliophysics Division, overseeing portfolio strategy and implementation.

Prior to joining SMD in 2014, she served as the Director for Engineering, Program and Project management, within NASA’s Office of the Chief Engineer, during which she established and revised agency acquisition, engineering, and program/project management policy for NASA’s space flight, aeronautics, technology and information technology portfolios. Ms. Connelly co-authored several standards and practice guides for international standards organizations including the Project Management Institute and the International Organization for Standardization.

Early in her career, Ms. Connelly served as program manager for the US Navy’s Expert Systems Program. She joined NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1992, serving in various roles including systems engineer, business manager, and science manager for aeronautics and science projects.

Ms. Connelly earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the College of Charleston and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University.