Dr. Barnhart became the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in December 2010. The Center is the official Visitor Information Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, and the showcase for Redstone Arsenal and defense programs, including energy. Home to the world renowned U.S. Space Camp®, U.S. Space Academy®, Aviation Challenge®, and Robotics Camp, the Center is Alabama’s leading tourist attraction.
Dr. Barnhart’s career spans three decades of service in commercial industry, government, aerospace and defense. A retired Navy Captain (0-6), she was one of the first ten women assigned to duty aboard ships and commanded five units in her 26 year career.
Dr. Barnhart currently serves as Governor Robert Bentley’s appointee to the Alabama Space Authority Task Force. She also serves on the University of Alabama in Huntsville Foundation Board of Trustees and was elected to serve on the Air Force Museum Foundation Board of Managers in 2013. She recently received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Award in July 2013, which is the highest form of recognition awarded by NASA to a non-government individual.
Dr. Barnhart earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt University, holds degrees from the University of Maryland, the University of Alabama Huntsville, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was a Sloan Fellow. She resides in Huntsville, Alabama and Clearwater Beach, Florida.