Jennifer Kunz was named the Kennedy Space Center Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) director on Feb. 25, 2019 and is responsible for providing Kennedy’s final input on risks and range analysis and providing an overall mission assurance endorsement that NASA’s launches will be safe and successful. She is also responsible for the planning and execution of all SMA activities at Kennedy, ensuring the success of NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems, Commercial Crew, Launch Services, Orion and the International Space Station (ISS) programs while protecting the safety of all center personnel and the public. Kunz has nearly 28 years of NASA experience at Kennedy, including significant experience in project management and overall leadership.
Kunz began her impressive career with NASA in 1991 and has made significant impacts to numerous major NASA programs including Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Constellation, and the design and development of the new Ground Systems Development and Operations. As deputy director of the Constellation Project Office in support of the agency's Constellation Program, Kunz’s organization was responsible for the planning and development of the required facilities; ground systems; test and verification; logistics; and prelaunch, launch, and recovery operations for NASA's lunar/Mars human exploration program.
Kunz also served as the deputy director for operations in Kennedy's ISS and Payload Processing Directorate. The directorate's responsibilities included launch site processing, testing and integration of ISS hardware and payloads. While in the ISS and Payload Processing Directorate, she served as the management and past performance committee chair of the Source Evaluation Board for the Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services (CAPPS) contract. After contract award, she led the ISS Integration Branch and served as the initial CAPPS Contracting Officer's Technical Representative and transition manager.
Prior to her current role, Kunz was deputy program manager of the Kennedy's Exploration Ground Systems Program. The program comprised 440 civil service and 1,100 contractor employees responsible for the planning and development of the required facilities; ground systems; test and verification; logistics; and prelaunch, launch, and recovery operations for NASA's Space Launch System/Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as providing multiuse infrastructure to enable commercial and other government spacecraft and launch providers.
Kunz has received numerous honors including an Outstanding Leadership Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, Exceptional Achievement Medal, Center Director's Strategic Leadership Award, seven Center Director Gold Dollar Awards, the Kennedy Certificate of Commendation and numerous Group Achievement Awards. She has participated in several leadership development programs, including the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education, Federal Executive lnstitute's Leadership for a Democratic Society and NASA's Management Education Program.
Kunz graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and received a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering from Auburn University in 1990. In 1994, she earned a Master of Science in engineering management from the University of Central Florida.
Kunz currently resides in Merritt Island with her husband Dean, who also works for NASA at Kennedy, and their two children.