Janet Sellars

Service has always been my goal and motivation. It’s a sense of purpose passed down to me from my mother.

She instilled in me — as well as in my brother and sister — a strong work ethic. She didn’t have a lot. We weren’t rich. But she taught us how to give and not expect things in return. That has stayed with me.

Today, as Director of Education for NASA’s Langley Research Center I have a chance to give as never before.

In my current role, I am a champion for expanding the demographic diversity in outreach activities from the K-12 through the post-doctoral level, by increasing awareness of Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational and career opportunities. I coordinate educational program efforts for national programs or projects of major impact to the agency’s educational program. I initiate, plan, conduct and participate in national and regional meetings, workshops, seminars, and conferences for the purpose of gaining support for and advancing national and regional objectives in education program/project areas. I build relationships with members of the education community to determine their needs and engage their support for current center and agency initiatives. I represent the center to other NASA centers, NASA Headquarters, and outside academic, political and private sector organizations. I also serve as the focal point for national, regional, state and local educators, educational institutions and professional organizations in order to establish and/or maintain an effective program of educational initiatives.

I lead the center’s Education Council as the coordinating and communication arm for center education programs. I also lead the integration and development of content and activities within the Langley Office of Education to ensure alignment with the Lines of Business and national goals. Ultimately, my role assures that education programs foster interest in STEM education in order to achieve the goal of increasing the national pool of highly qualified and culturally diverse talent.
I believe all of my educational and career pursuits have catapulted me into a position where I can serve the agency in a new and exciting way.

I have had the opportunity to work with the Boys and Girls of the Virginia Peninsula in exposing young children to the STEM areas. I also served on the Board of the Directors for the YWCA of the Virginia Peninsula, which seeks to “eliminate racism and empower women.” I serve as an informal mentor to women in and out of NASA who seek to move beyond their current roles. I make presentations to local churches to women and girls about creating a meaningful effective life. I want to reach out to inner city children, particularly girls, in order to help them to develop and realize their goals.

In my previous job, as Director, Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (OEOP), Langley Research Center, I served as the senior advisor to the center director and center leadership on equal employment opportunity matters, diversity management, inclusion, and employee engagement. I proactively sought opportunities to make significant impacts and achieve demonstrated results in the areas of diversity and inclusion. My efforts went far beyond the scope of my job. I was a determined advocate for employees with disabilities, diversity and inclusion, and EEO education. I worked diligently to ensure the Langley work environment is not only physically accessible, but also conducive to productivity and employment satisfaction for all employees. I was regularly called upon to respond to and provide advice in resolving program issues such as diversity, performance, leadership, and development of strategic and tactical improvement initiatives and cultivation of a creative and innovative culture. My advice and guidance was continually sought to assist in the cultivation of high-performing teams and the retention of a high-caliber, diverse workforce.

My leadership in diversity and inclusion was also recognized at the agency level. My colleagues elected me to chair the Agency EEO/Diversity Director’s Cadre, serving as liaison between center EEO/Diversity communities and the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA headquarters.

I served as consultant to managers and supervisors, effectively guiding them through challenging personnel matters. My proactive approach to managing conflict aided in reaching informal resolution. I bridged communication gaps between supervisors and employees. Senior leadership praised my efforts to unite opposing perspectives, especially when they involved perceived inequities. I am committed to ensuring that employees of all levels understand that the door to opportunity is and should be open to all.

Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, once said: “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege for living on this Earth.” Her words ring so true for me.

Everything I have ever done, from my military service to my work in EEO/civil rights to my current role in education, has been a variation of the same theme: Service to others.

photo of Janet Sellars


Ms. Janet E. Sellars was named Director of Education at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, in 2014. She previously served as NASA Langley’s Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs. Her varied and distinguished career of more than 30 years has also included roles in the military and academia. Ms. Sellars completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology at the University of the State of New York. She earned a master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. She served in the United States Air Force as a paralegal and worked as a college administrator at the graduate level. She also taught paralegal studies at the undergraduate level. In the Department of Education, Ms. Sellars is responsible for coordinating educational program efforts for national programs, building relationships with members of the education community, and representing NASA Langley when engaging with outside academic, political and private sector organizations. She works to develop outreach and collaborative efforts with the broader education community, other agencies and industry. Ms. Sellars’ previous responsibilities as Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Diversity Director included ensuring that employees were empowered to rise to their highest potential and be valuable contributors to the NASA mission by promoting an inclusive work environment, free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. Ms. Sellars is the recipient of NASA’s Honor Award Medal for Equal Employment Opportunity for outstanding leadership in promoting NASA’s EEO, diversity and inclusion efforts. She serves on the Board of Directors for the YWCA of the Virginia Peninsula and is also a 2012 recipient of the Women of Distinction – Government award from the YWCA of the Virginia Peninsula. She currently lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with her husband and son. She is a member of Calvary Chapel, Newport News, where she is active in the church’s outreach and mission efforts. She enjoys reading and writing.