Meet the New White House Space Buff Who Won’t Shy Away From a Challenge

Courtesy of Jenn Gustetic

OSTP can now boast the addition of another accomplished woman -- this time, an aerospace engineer from NASA.

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy can now boast the addition of another accomplished woman -- this time, an aerospace engineer from NASA.

Last Monday, Jenn Gustetic, formerly in charge of NASA’s prizes and challenges program, stepped into her new role as OSTP’s assistant director for open innovation in the office’s technology and innovation division.

During her one-year detail with OSTP, Jenn will focus on getting more agencies on board the prize and challenge bandwagon, continuing a portfolio of work previously staffed by Cristin Dorgelo and Robynn Sturm Steffen.

“The Obama administration has taken important steps to make prizes a standard tool for open innovation in every federal agency’s toolbox,” Jenn told Nextgov. “Being offered the opportunity to help scale these tools is something compelling to me both from a personal and professional perspective and I’m excited for the next year.”

The new gig won’t be all that different from Jenn’s recent work. For the past three years at NASA, her mission has been to promote open innovation tools to advance the space agency’s mission. One of those efforts includes the Asteroid Grand Challenge, which aims -- with the help of citizen engagement -- to find and characterize all asteroid threats and how to deal with them.

NASA was a natural fit with Jenn's degree in aerospace from the University of Florida (she’s an avid Florida Gators fan) and a master’s degree in technology policy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And space has always fascinated her, she told me last year when she showed me around NASA HQ. That engineering interest? Both her grandfathers were engineers, so that runs in the family.

At OSTP, Jenn said she’ll focus on raising the visibility and impact of open innovation tools, such as prizes and challenges, at all levels of government -- including federal, state and local.

“I am excited by the potential in front of me to harness American ingenuity and meaningfully engage the public to address some of our nation’s most pressing challenges,” she said.

Jenn’s hiring comes on the heels of another high-profile addition to OSTP: Megan Smith took the reins just three weeks ago as the new federal chief technology officer, replacing Todd Park who’s moving to Silicon Valley to help recruit tech talent into government.

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