Roundup Reads
twitter facebook instagram pintrest reddit snapchat tumbler

Roundup Presents: The Directors Series (AH)

Noah J. Michelsohn |
June 24, 2019

All About the People

Usually traffic impedes people from getting to work, but had it not been for a bottleneck at a government career fair, Anne Roemer would have never made it to NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“I had two degrees in international studies with a focus on Africa—NASA was never on my radar,” Roemer said. “I got stuck in a traffic jam next to the NASA table and, 19 years later, I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

Roemer paved a unique path at Johnson, turning her background in international studies into a career as the director of the Human Resources (HR) Directorate. While it may seem like an unusual pairing, international studies taught Roemer the importance of fostering a strong culture, something she brings to the workplace by providing Johnson team members the support and services to succeed at work.

“My job is to take care of NASA’s people so that they can take care of the mission,” Roemer said.

Before HR can take care of the team, the first step is to ensure that Johnson is bringing new members on board that will help to complete the broad scope of NASA’s missions.

To ensure the workforce has the skillsets to achieve these evolving missions, Roemer has explored new hiring strategies that allow NASA the flexibility to quickly identify and hire for specialized skills, improving the speed of hiring and the ability to complete projects.

“We want to remain on the cutting edge by envisioning what capabilities we are going to need to achieve future missions to the Moon and Mars, and making sure we hire for those skills and disciplines,” Roemer said.

Roemer experienced the necessity of looking toward future missions as the manager of astronaut selection in 2017, when she led the agency’s astronaut-selection effort and chose 12 astronaut candidates with daring destinations to the International Space Station, Moon and even Mars in mind.

Whether selecting a team member as an astronaut candidate or a Pathways internship program student, hiring is critical; but that is just the beginning of the job for HR. Once employees are at Johnson, Roemer and her team ensure that they have adequate training and support to progress in their career.

“We want to always be preparing employees at all levels of their careers to take their next step, whether that is moving into a leadership role or pursuing a primarily technical path,” Roemer said.

Another goal at the forefront of the organization is improving quality of life at work and helping the entire Johnson workforce unite as a team. Roemer has explored innovative strategies for improving work-life balance by implementing flexible work schedules, expanding telework opportunities and using NASA’s Starport Exchange to focus on health and wellness.

“As the mom of twin daughters, I understand the challenges of balancing being home and being at work,” Roemer said. “Workplace flexibility has really boosted morale throughout my career, so I constantly survey industry trends to see what we can do to keep the team engaged and motivated.”

Workplace flexibility can offer major benefits for balancing work and family, and this goes hand in hand with the health and wellness efforts that HR implements by managing Starport. Starport offers on-site food services, gift shops and discounted tickets, and focuses on employee wellness with the Gilruth fitness center and intramural sports.

Starport is unique in that it functions as an on-site business, which allows it to use its resources to host events and unite the workforce with celebrating milestone events.

“An important component of Dare. Unite. Explore. is not only achieving a mission tempo, but also celebrating those missions along the way,” Roemer said. “It is important to reflect along the way to say, ‘Wow, we really accomplished something huge.’"

To celebrate upcoming milestones, Johnson Director Mark Geyer developed a center wide team led by HR and the External Relations Office to plan celebration opportunities. These events will include a watch party for Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 test, a 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo missions and future events focused on Commercial Crew Program launches and 20 years of space station habitation.

While this is an exciting time with an accelerating mission tempo and a multitude of programs and missions being led from Johnson, Roemer wants to make sure to always keep the focus on the people that make it all possible. With such a motivated and inspired workforce, her job gets a little bit easier.

“It is great to work somewhere where people love their jobs,” Roemer said. “From an HR standpoint, it’s a dream.”

Noah J. Michelsohn, Johnson Space Center

Anne Roemer is director of the Human Resources directorate at the Johnson Space Center.This story is part seven of The Directors Series, highlighting Johnson’s mission of Dare. Unite. Explore. Stay tuned for stories from each directorate and find  previous stories on the directors website.

Anne Roemer, Director of Human Resources for NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Anne Roemer, Director of Human Resources for NASA's Johnson Space Center.