Pat Fairley

While growing up in a small town in Mississippi only 35 miles from Stennis Space Center, I never imagined I would one day be the Deputy Chief Financial Officer at a NASA Facility. Growing up, my family had extremely limited resources. Truth be known, we were very poor. At an early age, I worked manual jobs with my siblings and other family members. I realized immediately that this wasn’t what I planned to do for the rest of my life. My dear mother stressed the importance of education to all of her children. I knew early in life that education was paramount to my future.

I worked as a student-trainee with the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) during high school and junior college. This job enabled me to help my family in so many ways. I learned to budget and manage my small paycheck and make it stretch as far as possible. After completing college, I worked for a period of time with USDA and then with the Social Security Administration. Finally, I came to work for NASA at National Space Technology Laboratories (NSTL), which was later renamed John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC).

During my 31 years with NASA, I have worked with an awesome group of people. In my early career, I performed my job by manually recording and posting entries on a long, green ledger sheet. Believe me when I say, we have come a long way with technology since those days. Over the years, there were many late nights and early morning work sessions to meet deadlines, implement new systems or adhere to new requirements. When I reminisce over those late nights and early mornings, the first thing that comes to mind is the joy, laughter and sense of accomplishment when we successfully completed an audit, developed rates, or figured out a problem and balanced the accounts.

Over the years my work family and I have shared ups and downs, highs and lows, accomplishments and defeats, good times and bad. Together we have shed tears of sorrow during the death of my parents and my aunt and uncle. Additionally, we shed tears of joy the day I married my husband, the days I gave birth to my children, when I won awards or reached another milestone and added another birthday under my belt.

And, of course, I felt the joy of the highs and the sorrow of the low points in their lives. But I am grateful for the camaraderie, the mentorship, and the wisdom I have attained.

My daughter is currently a junior in college studying accounting. My son is a junior in high school and plans to major in engineering. Who knows what the future holds – maybe they will work for NASA as an accountant or an engineer. Maybe they will follow the path I walked and aspire to go higher. I can only imagine they are hearing my mother’s voice through me stressing the importance of education and life’s infinite possibilities.

Biography

Patricia Fairley is the Deputy Chief Financial Officer at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center. Prior to this position, she was General Accounting Branch Lead for Finance. Among other accomplishments during her tenure in this position, she actively participated in the successful implementation of the new agency-wide financial system and transition of selected financial operations to the NASA Shared Services Center. Ms. Fairley began her civil service career as a secretary with the United States Department of Agricultural Farmers Home Administration in Poplarville, Mississippi in 1981. She worked there one year before transferring to NASA Stennis. During her many years with NASA, she also served as Audit Liaison, Reimbursable Manager, and Standard General Ledger Accountant. Ms. Fairley has earned numerous awards including the NASA Honor Award in April 2009 for her participation in the transition to the NASA Shared Services Center, NASA Honor Award for System Version Upgrade in 2007, and Space Flight Awareness Honoree in 1996. Ms. Fairley graduated from University of Southern Mississippi in 1980 with a degree in Business Administration. Prior to her graduation, she served as a student trainee at USDA-Farmers Home Administration. Ms. Fairley enjoys singing and time with her family and friends.