I grew up in rural Madison County, Alabama. My parents owned a dry cleaning business, Lacy’s & Son, in downtown Huntsville, Alabama. It was one of few successful Black-owned businesses there in the sixties. As a child, I saw my parents and siblings work hard to serve the community, provide excellent customer service, and earn a reputation for quality work. After school and during the summer, I worked there and learned many valuable lessons and experience.
My father was a pastor. He moved us to Nashville, Tennessee, where he attended college while still pastoring a church in Huntsville. We burned a lot of rubber on the road while he burned the midnight oil to earn his Bachelor of Theology. My father’s dream became our journey. Those years of sacrifice built character and determination in me. I’ll always remember when church members traveled from Huntsville to celebrate his graduation with our family. The excitement and sense of pride I felt in my father’s achievement sparked a dream that one day I, too, would earn a college degree.
I lost my mother early in life. She developed colon cancer and passed away during my first year of high school. My mother was our rock. We closed the business when she died. Through this strife, I maintained focus on my studies.
While in high school, I attended the Upward Bound Program at Alabama A&M University and earned college credits. I also worked as a Pacesetter at Parisian’s Department Store. As a result, I excelled academically and socially.
After high school, I pursued my academic dreams and immediately started college one week after high school graduation. At that time, my goal was to become an Accountant, but my plans changed to include marriage, the birth our first child, and a new role as caregiver for my father, who became bedridden. I put my college career put on hold and joined the workforce to help provide for our new family.
After years of laboring in the retail and food service industries, a conversation with my daughter inspired me to follow my dreams. She told me that she was not planning to go to college because I didn’t go to college. It broke my heart, but it also reminded me that I had dreams and the self-determination to change all of our lives. I started taking classes, never looking back. Even though I was working full-time at Marshall and taking glasses on nights and weekends, I felt blessed by the birth of our son in 2001. I wanted to show him, too, that determination and perseverance makes dreams come true. I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Business with a focus on Office Systems Management at Alabama A&M University in 2003. My achievement became source of inspiration for my own children.
One of my most difficult experiences happened in 2004. I worried I would never make it back to my family or career. I endured the removal of my colon and a second major reconstructive surgery.
When I returned to work, six months later, I supported the lead Administrative Officer until she retired and assumed the role until Shuttle Program retirement in 2011. I was instrumental in transitioning employees, assisting in retirements, and integrating personnel into a new program.
Today, I serve as the lead point of contact for Space Launch System (SLS) Program administrative functions. In this position, I liaise with the Office of Human Capital to initiate and process position descriptions, personnel actions, training requests, promotions, reassignments, and awards for the SLS Program and element offices.
I’m passionate about my work, committed to excellence, and lead by example. I continued learning as a member of NASA Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success & Teamwork (FIRST) Program, a leadership development program for engineers, scientists, and administrative professionals. I was appointed to serve as a member of the Center’s Administrative Excellence Steering Team (AEST), honored as a Space Flight Awareness Honoree, and awarded Agency and Center Certificates of Appreciation.
I have been married for 25 years to a wonderful, supportive husband. We have one son, one daughter, and one son-in-law that reside in Huntsville. And I’m still dreaming. I hope to earn a master’s degree in Human Resources in the near future.
Stephanie Lacy-Conerly serves as the Lead Point of Contact for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program, performing as the senior administrative officer and working in liaison with the Office of Human Capital. Located at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., the SLS Program is responsible for delivering America’s next human-rated heavy-lift launch vehicle for exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. Some of Ms. Lacy-Conerly’s duties involve coordinating action responses, handling personnel data, and organizing business documentation. Her extensive experience includes supporting other high-profile organizations, such as the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office, the Engineering Directorate, and the Procurement Office. Ms. Lacy-Conerly’s many honors include Certificates of Appreciation from the Agency and Marshall, as well as Group Achievement Awards, Space Flight Awareness Honoree, and a Special Service Award. She is active in communication and outreach activities such as “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math” sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Girls, Inc., in Huntsville. She is a member of Marshall’s select Administrative Excellence Steering team, providing guidance to standardize and continually improve the services provided by Marshall’s Management Support Assistants. Her professional development includes the NASA Foundations of Influence, Relationships, Success, and Teamwork (FIRST) Program, Foundations of Leadership series, and the Empowerment Strategies for Women seminar. Ms. Lacy-Conerly graduated Magna Cum Laude from Alabama A&M University with a B.S. in Business Administration.