Social Entrepreneur

Beth Beck with YWCA middle school girls learning about data and tech at Space Apps Toronto 2014.

Brief Bio

A few highlights...

Beth retired from NASA in May 2018 after serving the majority of her 33-year federal career in Washington D.C. She is a non-linear, disruptive thinker with a proven history of creating innovative solutions to complex problems. As an outcome-based social scientist and career civil servant, Beth is fascinated by organizational dynamics and governance processes, and believes non-traditional collaborative partnerships offer unexpected and untapped ways to resolve intractable issues facing society. 

Before leaving NASA, Beth juggled multiple positions in the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). For a season, she served as the Acting Deputy Associate CIO for Technology and Innovation, where she helped guide NASA’s data strategy, technology infusion, strategic investment decisions, and identification of emerging IT push-technologies. As Acting Information Management Program Executive, Beth created an Agency-level information architecture to enhance secure and appropriate access to NASA’s high value data and information assets to enable information-centric decisions. As Open Innovation Program Manager, Beth led the award-winning International Space Apps Challenge for three years, attracting over 15,000 participants at 161 global locations in 61 countries. She developed new initiatives to identify and support Women in Data, and spur innovation in local communities through citizen engagement with NASA's Open Data, including NASA's award-winning Datanaut initiative, which selected the fifth class of data explorers in January 2018; the Project Acceleration Toolkit for local communities to incubate promising data innovation projects; and NASA's Data Bootcamp, a one-day introduction to data, code, and problem-solving. 

Before joining the CIO’s Office, Beth served as the Human Spaceflight Outreach Manager. She adopted Twitter early in 2007 as one of the first NASA users. She coordinated development of NASA's first official Facebook page, and planned and supported Tweetups for Space Shuttle and Space Station missions. Beth co-founded the award-winning program to connect with sustainability-minded audiences to demonstrate relevance between scarce resources on Earth and life in the extremely hostile environment of space. She created NASA's web-based 3-D multimedia collection for easy public access to models and tools created by NASA designers. 

Beth received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal for innovative public outreach programs and the Women in Aerospace Public Awareness Award, and was recognized by FedScoop as one of DC's Top Women in Tech. In May 2018, the UK Data Leaders Awards honored Beth as the Global Leaders Winner/Best in Class, and the Judges Choice Award for her efforts to equip citizens around the world to problem-solve using NASA data and tools. 

In her life after NASA, Beth serves on the Collin County Culture of Innovation Committee and the Volunteer McKinney Board of Directors, and  works with the YMCA Texas as a Youth in Government Advisor at McKinney Boyd High School. 

Beth, a Phi Beta Kappa, received both graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in government and public affairs, and holds a PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her research focuses on the rise and fall of ideas within collaborative practice, and identifies group conflict as a common catalyst for innovative outcomes.