By & Large

Stofan goes to space

First woman to lead Air and Space Museum

Ellen Stofan ’83, D.Sc. ’16, P ’10, P ’14, has been named director of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Stofan is the first woman to ever hold this position.

“Ellen’s scientific background, leadership skills, communication acumen and strategic thinking have positioned her superbly to lead the National Air and Space Museum,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton in a press release.

“Her passion for science coupled with her love of education will ensure that the museum will continue to be a global treasure and world leader through its extensive programming, exhibitions and scholarship.”

Stofan was formerly a consulting senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Prior to that she served as NASA’s chief scientist from 2013 to 2016. In that appointment she was the principal adviser to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments. Her broader career includes more than 25 years of space-related experience.

“One of my biggest passions is outreach and communication about science and technology,” Stofan was quoted saying in The Washington Post. “What better place than the Air and Space Museum to engage everyone in the excitement of aviation and exploration.”

“Being the first woman in the post is an added honor because the science and tech fields are lacking in women and people of color,” Stofan said.

At William & Mary, Stofan majored in geology. She has remained connected with the university since her graduation. She currently serves on the For the Bold Campaign Steering Committee and served for 10 years on the William & Mary Foundation Board, including time as chair. She received the university’s highest recognition for alumni — the Alumni Medallion — in February.

Stofan began her role at the museum last month.

Leave a Reply

We welcome feedback and discussion from our readers. All comments are moderated, so your comment may not be published immediately. When commenting, please use your real name and provide your class year. By submitting a comment, you are agreeing that it may be published in the W&M Alumni Magazine along with your name.