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Attributes of Successful Government Leadership

During this presentation, Lt. General Jefferson Davis Howell, shares his “Lessons in Leadership.” Taken from his long career in the United States Marines and also as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Howell had only been in the job at NASA seven months when the Space Shuttle Columbia and its crew were lost during their return to earth.

Moderated by John Gilroy, host of Fed News Radio, Lt General Howell discusses the leadership lessons from his long career and shares what has become known as “Beak’s Rules of Leadership.”

About the speaker


Lt. General Jefferson “Beak” Howell

Adjunt Professor of LBJ School of Public Affairs, Retired US Marine Corp, & Former Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center

Jefferson Davis Howell, Jr., who served as director of NASA's Johnson Space Center until October 2005, joined the LBJ School faculty in December 2005.

A retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general, Howell had served as director of the Johnson Space Center since April 2002. In that post he was responsible for planning and directing all of the center's programs, including the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. He also held responsibility for such areas as spacecraft engineering and design, flight crew training, space and life sciences research, and mission operations.

As Johnson Space Center director, Howell received numerous awards, including the 2003 Gold Knight of Management Award from the National Management Association, NASA's Outstanding Leadership Award (2003), and NASA's Distinguished Service Medal (2005). Last year, the UT Austin Graduate School presented him with its Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award.

Before joining the Space Center, Howell was a senior vice president with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and served as the program manager for the company's safety, reliability and quality assurance contract with the Space Center.

Prior to 1998, Howell served with distinction in the U.S. Marine Corps. His military assignments include serving as a naval aviator in Vietnam, where he flew more than 300 combat missions. He has held various staff positions at the U.S. Naval Academy, the Headquarters Marine Corps and the Pentagon. In 1995 he was promoted to lieutenant general and assigned as commander, Marine Forces Pacific, and commander, Marine Corps Bases, Pacific. As part of this assignment, he was designated commander of U.S. Marine Forces, Korea, and commander of U.S. Marine Forces, Central Command.

Howell is the recipient of numerous military decorations and awards, including the Department of Navy's Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V". In 1980 he received the John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership from the Navy League of the United States.

A native of Victoria, Texas, Howell has a B.A. in political science and an M.A. in economics from UT Austin.

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