JSC’s Amy Voigt Xenofos – winner of 2010 Younger Federal Lawyers Award

 Amy Voigt Xenofos
Amy Voigt Xenofos
One of JSC’s own is a winner of the 2010 Younger Federal Lawyers Award. Amy Voigt Xenofos was one of five recipients of this prestigious award, given by the Federal Bar Association.

The award program is designed to recognize and encourage younger federal lawyers throughout the nation and overseas who achieve high standards of professional achievement. Candidates must have three continuous years of federal service and be under the age of 36. Professional achievements and professional and community responsibilities were two of the criteria that guided the decision of the judges.

“I was approached by the Deputy Chief Counsel about being nominated for this award when the call came out in the spring of 2010,” Xenofos said. “Other than the fact I met the age requirements, I have worked with her for over 10 years, and she is aware of my career accomplishments and thought they were a good match for the purpose of this award.”

The nomination requirements guidelines state that all potential selectees require the signature of three federal officials. The Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations Directorate as well as the Associate General Counsel for Commercial and Intellectual Property Law signed the nomination for Xenofos. These three offices were impacted by the work Xenofos had done that contributed to her nomination.

Xenofos’ accomplishments included in the nomination and that were considered by the review committee included:

-- Service as NASA legal counsel to the Space Shuttle Mishap Investigation Team, which was activated after the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and was chartered to protect, preserve and document all pertinent information for use by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

-- Co-author of an article published in 2004 in the Journal of Space Law entitled “Firsthand Account of Selected Legal Issues from the Recovery and Investigation of the Space Shuttle Columbia.”

-- JSC counsel for the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program and Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) funded Space Act agreement competitions.

-- Service for two years as lead counsel for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

-- Recipient of the Phoenix Award for Excellence in Brownfields Redevelopment in 2007 as a result of serving as NASA lead counsel for the team that executed the transfer of title and remediation responsibility to the City of Downey of the 167-acre NASA Industrial Plant, which formerly was used for work on hardware for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. This transfer was the first of its kind for NASA and only the second of its kind in the federal government.

-- Chair of an agencywide working group to draft a Guide to Organizational Conflicts of Interest as defined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and case law. The Guide is the first of its kind in the federal government and was published in January 2010.

Xenofos said that winning the award, “felt like the capstone to a fantastic first decade in federal service. It means that people who work hard behind the scenes to make this country a better place to live really do get recognized and appreciated sometimes."

Early inspiration

The credit goes to her mother and father, Xenofos said. Her father was a lawyer for 35 years until his death in 2010, just a few months before she received this award, first as a state criminal prosecutor and then in private practice as defense counsel. He was a police officer prior to that.

Her mother was always heavily involved in volunteer activities with the community and public service while holding down a full-time job and raising two children.

“So I get the idea of being a lawyer from my dad, my work ethic from my mom, and my desire to be in public service from both of them,” Xenofos said. “NASA was a dream from when I was a kid with a telescope, and it was such an amazing set of circumstances that let me combine all these interests into one perfect career.”

What the future holds

Xenofos said she sets her sights high and will see how far she can reach. Her goal is to become general counsel of NASA someday.

“I’ll let you know in about 20 years how close I came,” Xenofos said. “I cannot see myself leaving this agency that has so much potential and promise to inspire people to do great things.”

Outside of her duties at JSC, Xenofos is the mother of a 15-month-old girl who, she said, literally keeps her running in circles.

“It is an enormous challenge, but I love every minute of it,” Xenofos said.

Xenofos was also featured as the Spotlight in the December 2010 edition of the Roundup. Check it out by clicking the following link - http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/roundup/online/2010.html. (Go to 2010, December, page 10.)

Neesha Hosein
Johnson Space Center, Houston

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