Johnson Celebrates LGBTQI+ Pride Month: Meet Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler has provided configuration and data management support at Houston’s Johnson Space Center for the last 13 years. After roughly seven years supporting the Exploration Systems Development Division, Chandler transitioned to the Moon to Mars Program Office in 2019. He and his team work to ensure that the baseline for Moon to Mars products, […]

Jun 14, 2024 - 13:00
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Johnson Celebrates LGBTQI+ Pride Month: Meet Michael Chandler
Techatty All-in-1 Publishing
Techatty All-in-1 Publishing

Michael Chandler has provided configuration and data management support at Houston’s Johnson Space Center for the last 13 years. After roughly seven years supporting the Exploration Systems Development Division, Chandler transitioned to the Moon to Mars Program Office in 2019. He and his team work to ensure that the baseline for Moon to Mars products, like agreements and documents, is appropriately controlled and that configuration and data management processes are integrated across the office’s six programs – Orion, Gateway, EHP, Space Launch System, Human Landing system, and Exploration Ground Systems.

“The most rewarding part of my job is not only the magnitude of what I have the privilege of working on every day, returning humans to the surface of the Moon, but also the experience I get in working with such a diverse group of members of the aerospace community,” said Chandler, a contractor with The Aerospace Corporation. “It’s also so rewarding to work as a team on a common goal and to look forward to the work I do every day!”

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A thin white man with thick-rimmed glasses and wearing a light pink polo shirt stands in front of an office building with Johnson Space Center written over the door.
Portrait of Michael Chandler onsite at Johnson Space Center.
NASA/Noah Moran

Chandler has been an active member of the Out & Allied Employee Resource Group (OAERG) since 2018 and says his involvement with the group led to some groundbreaking life events. “I was very shy and reticent about revealing who I was until I got involved with Out & Allied,” he said. “I now believe that being ‘out’ is a way to support and encourage others to be themselves.”

Chandler learned about OAERG while attending a training about how to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community. In his first year with the group, he helped organize a panel discussion on allyship and creating safe workplaces. He then became co-chair of OAERG’s Pride Committee, working with ERG colleagues and others to plan the group’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month events and participation in Houston’s annual Pride Parade. “I had a wonderful experience managing events and bringing everyone together for Pride,” he said – efforts that earned him a Trailblazer Award.

Chandler said he has grown personally and professionally through his involvement with OAERG. “I was very shy and kind of uptight at the first meeting that I went to, but everyone was so kind and accepting, and I slowly started taking on responsibilities and planning events,” he said. “These activities helped me grow as a communicator and a leader in my regular work and personal life.”

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Three men hold a U.S., NASA, and Pride flag as they prepare to march in Houston's annual Pride Parade.
Michael Chandler (left) stands with fellow Out & Allied Employee Resource Group members, waiting for the Houston Pride Parade to begin.
Image courtesy of Michael Chandler

Chandler belongs to other employee resource groups (ERGs) at Johnson to support different communities and find opportunities to collaboratively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the center, and he encourages others to do the same. “Even if you only participate when you have time, it can lead to knowledge and ways to support other communities that have the same challenges in this world,” he said.

Chandler has been impressed with agency and center leadership’s involvement in DEI efforts and support for ERGs to date. He suggested that increased communication around DEI initiatives may help to quell anxieties about the political landscape and developments outside of NASA by reassuring team members that their employer supports them for who they are. He believes that every person at Johnson can help create an inclusive environment by being respectful, listening with an open heart, and joining the fight to ensure that everyone can be themselves.

“The most important thing is that everyone needs to be their true self,” he said. “It’s so rewarding and makes life so much more fun!”

NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.