NASA Astronaut Stephanie Wilson speaks at Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon

NASA Astronaut Stephanie Wilson speaks at Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon

February 26, Lincoln Laboratory

The theme of the luncheon — fostering strong, moral, and courageous leadership — was inspired by Dr. King’s 1957 “Give Us the Ballot” speech.

Stephanie Wilson

On February 26, Lincoln Laboratory staff gathered to hear NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson speak about her career during the seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon. The luncheon is hosted by the Lincoln Employees' African-American Network (LEAN) each February during Black History Month.

The theme governing this year's luncheon was "Fostering Strong, Moral, and Courageous Leadership." It was inspired by Dr. King's "Give Us the Ballot" speech that he delivered during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C., in 1957. In this speech, Dr. King urged the federal government to ensure voting rights for African Americans, who, although guaranteed the right to vote under the 15th and 19th Amendments, faced discriminatory barriers at the state and local levels that prevented many people from exercising their right.

John Nwagbaraocha, the assistant leader of the Embedded and Open Systems Group and co-chair of LEAN, discussed the theme of leadership in terms of how it can be cultivated at the Laboratory and pointed to employee resource groups (ERGs), such as LEAN, as a key resource for staff to build leadership skills.

"As a new leader at the Laboratory, I understand that sponsor work comes first, but I also see the benefit of staff members supporting ERGs as a way to develop the next generation of leaders here at the Laboratory. There is a lot that goes into running an ERG, including creating a vision for your ERG and motivating people to execute that vision — all basic skills that leaders need, " he said.

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