Faculty Spotlight: Lisa Malone

Lisa Malone - NASA Resized

If you’ve watched a space shuttle launch in the past 30 years, you’ve probably heard the voice of Lisa Malone, the former director of Public Affairs for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), counting down the seconds until liftoff.

Now you can expect to hear – and see – Malone at the Nicholson School of Communication (NSC), as she is the official NASA Kennedy Space Center liaison to the NSC and serves on the Board of visitors (BOV).

Malone joined the BOV and began her assignment at the Nicholson School of Communication in the Fall of 2014 and will serve as the KSC liaison through 2016. As a 30-year NASA veteran, she has worked at KSC since she was a student intern. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication, at the University of Alabama, and has a master’s degree in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.

She is currently teaching SPC 1603C, Fundamentals of Technical Presentations. She teaches students about communication theory and its application to preparing and delivering technical information in public speaking situations. One of the courses she taught last fall was to prepare senior level Public Relations students to take the examination in Principles of Public Relations. Malone said, “It is a competitive market and achieving this certification shows potential employers that candidates are serious about the profession, and it gives students an impressive edge.”

During her career, she has been in charge of media events and activities, overseen internal and external communication, education, legislative affairs, guest operations, and the KSC Visitor Complex. For 15 years, she also served as the launch commentator, which s0he said was one of the favorite parts of her job. “I served as launch commentator when John Glenn flew into space for the second time in 1998,” Malone said. “That was a huge launch. We had about 2,700 media on-site and I was responsible for them, all media activities and doing the commentary.”

Malone has worked with numerous film and documentary crews that filmed onsite at KSC. Crews she has worked with include: Michael Bay on “Armageddon” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” and with Clint Eastwood on “Space Cowboys.” Malone said that while it seems glamorous, it takes a lot of hard work to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Malone spoke at the NSC-sponsored, 2015 International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference in March, which included a special planned event at the Kennedy Space Center.

During her two-year tenure, she plans to work with students in a variety of capacities, including lecturing and continuing education programs, such as UCF’S Camp Connect. “I enjoy the opportunity to inspire students to go into a STEM career, teach students how to communicate STEM topics and translate technical information to the public in a way that’s engaging.” Malone said.

Malone shares more about her time at the Kennedy Space Center, her successful career, and gives advice to public affairs students in the spotlight responses below.


What attracted you to come teach at UCF?

Many employees at the space center have UCF degrees and this university has always been a feeder for employees who work in our nation’s the space program. The space program has many exciting programs planned for the future such as a crewed mission to Mars and there is a need for lots of UCF graduates to step into exciting careers. The Nicholson School of Communication has many outstanding faculty and students who want to influence and change the future and that is exciting! It is stimulating to be around so many Communication experts at the NSC.

What advice do you have for students?

Get an internship or several internships. In addition to your degree, getting on-the-job experience while still in college is essential in today’s market. When hiring graduates, the first thing I look for on resumes is their internships and job experiences. An internship with any degree is so valuable for the student and employer. Students get a good look at the organization, the team members, duties and expectations on the job and if this is where they would like to work upon graduation. Likewise, the employer gets a good look at the student’s capabilities, attitude and potential as a full-time employee.

Can you tell us about your job at NASA?

NASA’s Florida launch site has uniquely served as the nation’s only gateway to space for humans since Alan Shepard’s historic flight in 1961. In addition, many historic planetary, deep space, and Earth-observing missions were launched from Kennedy. I’ve managed all aspects of Public Affairs and Outreach including comprehensive NASA communications in print, broadcast, imagery, web, social media, live NASA Television, Legislative Affairs, Education, community relations, Visitor Complex, speaker’s bureau, exhibits, Freedom of Information, VIP tours and launch guest operations, special events, protocol, public inquiries, internal communications, and news and information.

We made extensive use of all communication vehicles and channels which resulted in multiple millions around the world learning about NASA’s programs. Each launch brought the opportunity for NASA to walk on the world’s stage and my team ensured tens of thousands of world-wide media, stakeholders, and the public had front row seats. Just as the thunder of launch brings increasingly intense pounding of sound and shock waves, the public became more enamored with NASA’s programs of doing the impossible.

 What motivates you?

New challenges, always learning, inspiring and encouraging students into their future, helping senior citizens, and meeting interesting people.

What do you do for fun?

Spending time with family and friends, staying fit, travel, being outdoors and doing new things.

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