Former NASA Administrator and astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. spoke about diversity to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) workforce in a virtual town hall at Westfields as part of the NRO’s ongoing celebration of Black History Month on Feb. 23.
Bolden is a retired Marine Corps Major General. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served in the Vietnam War as a Marine aviator, became a NASA Astronaut, commanded Marine forces in Kuwait, and was NASA Administrator for eight years. He thanked Dr. Christopher Scolese for hosting him at the NRO and spoke fondly of their time serving together at NASA.
Bolden shared his personal experiences growing up in segregated South Carolina. He spoke about how his parents were his role models and sources of constant encouragement throughout his life.
“My mother told me to never be afraid of failure,” said Bolden. “My father told me it was not the size of the dog in the fight, it was the size of the fight in the dog that mattered.”
Bolden’s message to the NRO workforce is that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Facing threats at the U.S. Naval Academy pushed Bolden to never give up while encouragement from his mentors gave him the strength he needed to excel and become the extraordinary leader and role model he is today.
Bolden left the NRO workforce with a challenge to be role models for the next generation.
“Representation: find a way to tell the people in your life that you work in the Intelligence Community for the good of the nation,” Bolden said. “Encourage them to follow in your footsteps.”
During the virtual town hall, NRO personnel were able to submit questions to Bolden. Topics ranged from whether Bolden met the women that the 2016 movie “Hidden Figures” was based on, to diversity and inclusion.
“Your role is important. Tell the story, be the representation, be the ally,” Bolden said.