Latonia Kirksey

Growing up on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, I always had a desire to live my life as an opportunity to make a difference in the world. I was fortunate to have a loving family and the chance to grow up in a small and friendly community where everyone knew each other. I continually received encouragement from my family, friends and members of my church which motivated me to try to make the most out of my life.

My mother has always been my role model and from my childhood she encouraged me to always do my best in school and continue my education and strive to earn a college degree. As I was growing up, I remember my mother working very hard for the federal government. She started her federal career in a housekeeping position at Keesler Air Force Base and was promoted several times until she achieved the position of Executive Housekeeper and had responsibility for managing over 150 employees.

My mother also influenced me to be the woman that I am today. She advised me to do my best at whatever I do in life or not to do it at all. My mother dedicated herself to helping others and I have inherited this trait from her and am proud to have a personality similar to that of my mother. From my mother I learned several valuable life lessons; to be myself, respect others, and know that every day provides a new opportunity to be better than the day before and lastly that one must always act with integrity.

After I married my husband, who was on active duty in the Navy, I gave up my dream of being a military officer and worked in several contracting positions until I was selected for my first job in the federal government. Since we moved every 3 to 4 years to a new duty station, it was difficult for me to advance in a position because as soon as I proved my worth in a position, it was time to move again. When we returned to the United States, I remembered how much I had enjoyed working in Human Resources and returned to a Navy HR position. After receiving 3 promotions within the next 2 years I was encouraged by a coworker to apply for a position at the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC). When I first considered applying for the position at the NSSC, I became a little apprehensive because I felt that I had already been blessed to be a Staffing Specialist. However, I proceeded with the application process and felt that my prayers had been answered when I received a call that I had been selected for the position. I really enjoy the work I do; I don’t see the position as a job. It is my career and a career that I enjoy. I enjoy coming to work and each day brings new challenges that I love to tackle and overcome.

My life is indeed different from what I imagined. I would have never thought I would be working for NASA. However, I know without a doubt that I am where I belong and that every HR position I held previously prepared me for the position that I hold today. I strive to be a hardworking, devoted, strong, caring, reliable, honest, respectful and kind individual. I truly believe that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where you are going in life”.

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Latonia Kirksey serves as a Senior Human Resources Specialist in the HR Services Division at the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC). She provides oversight for several programs including Personnel Action Processing, Payroll, In-Processing, Drug Testing and Financial Disclosure. She is also the technical expert and spokesperson for guidance and policy interpretation for several HR programs. She keeps the HR Division well-informed by interpreting new regulations and providing guidance regarding changes that impact HR programs. Additionally, Latonia is involved in launching a portion of the Suitability Program to be managed at the NSSC. She is recognized as a subject matter expert for interpreting Office of Personnel Management (OPM) personnel and payroll guidance and is also an expert regarding the Department of Interior (DOI) Interior Business Center (IBC) Federal Personnel and Payroll System (FPPS) Datamart reporting system. In addition, she assists NSSC personnel in gaining access to the Federal Personnel Payroll System’s (FPPS) and Datamart. In a recent situation she successfully found a solution to an issue with FPPS which had prevented the user from gaining access to FPPS/Datamart for over 8 months. Latonia holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a MBA in Human Resources Management. She has been married for 25 years and she and her husband, a retired Navy Chief, have three sons. Her oldest son is a college graduate from Louisiana State University, her middle son is in the US Air Force and her youngest son is in Junior High and aspires to be a history teacher.