NASA Administrator Names Neal M. to be Special Assistant to the Administrator and acting Chief of Strategic Communications

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, July 1, 2004

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today named Dr. Neal M. Burns to be Special Assistant to the Administrator and acting Chief of Strategic Communications, effective immediately. Burns is Director of the Center for Brand Research at the University of Texas at Austin.

Burns' chief responsibility will be to develop agency-wide communications strategies, by assessing NASA capabilities and resources and refocusing them throughout the agency, to better communicate the Vision for Space Exploration for both internal and external audiences.

"I am excited about the addition of Neal to our team and look forward to the perspectives and insight his background brings," said Administrator O'Keefe. "His long-standing involvement with NASA and the combination of theory and practice he represents gives us a jump-start on delivering our communications more effectively."

Burns' relationship with NASA dates back to 1959, when he directed studies on aviation safety and survival and tested cockpit designs and astronaut mobility for the Mercury and Apollo astronauts. Throughout the agency's history, he has provided valuable assistance and counsel on a variety of systems and research projects.

Burns also has spent nearly four decades in senior leadership and management positions in the field of corporate communications. At the University of Texas, home to one of the top communications and advertising programs in the nation, he directed the development of the Account Planning Specialty in the Graduate School and serves as a professor of advanced courses at the undergraduate level.

From 1986 to 1997, he was Senior Partner, Director of Research and Account Planning, Carmichael Lynch, Inc., Minneapolis, which provided communications and advertising services to such well-known companies as Harley Davidson, Northwest Airlines and Porsche.

He founded and managed The Burns Group, Inc. from 1974 to 1986 in Minneapolis. The company focused on marketing and advertising needs in the high technology marketplace and was known for its strong creative and well-articulated research and marketing plans. In July 1986, Carmichael Lynch acquired the company.

Burns has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Physiology from the University of Illinois and a master's degree and a doctorate from McGill University.

The day-to-day communications activities of the agency will be conducted by the assistant administrators for Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs and External Relations. Burns will coordinate the strategy of these day-to-day activities in his new role in accord with the transformation agenda outlined last week.

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