Tuesday, July 30

9:05 am - 9:45 am

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is known for having some of the most talented individuals in the industry—engineers, scientists, and astronauts, working on some of the most complex engineering and science projects in the world.  For the 9th year in a row, NASA has ranked #1 in Innovation and Employee Engagement.  While recruiting is important, it’s only the first step in the process.  The biggest challenge is how does an organization keep employees engaged and motivated to do their best, each and every day?  When employees are engaged, they are motivated to offer creative ideas and solutions to complex problems.

This presentation will focus on how NASA’s Johnson Space Center addresses engagement and the link to developing a creative and innovative culture.  Specific strategies will be discussed including the importance of having clear vision and mission objectives, first line supervisor involvement, employee resource groups, training related to inclusion and innovation, and barriers to innovation.  Specific measures from the annual Employee Viewpoint Survey, administered across all federal government employees, will be discussed throughout the presentation.

What you’ll learn from this presentation:

  • Proven strategies on how to create an innovative culture
  • Current methods NASA uses to engages their employees
  • Simple and accurate ways to measure engagement

Natalie Saiz

Special Assistant to the Center Director for Organizational Change
NASA Johnson Space Center

About Natalie Saiz

Natalie serves as a senior advisor to the Center Director for organizational change efforts. Formerly the Director of NASA JSC’s Human Resources Office for 11 years and currently on the Center Director’s staff, Natalie is known for partnering across disciplines to produce effective outcomes. Her expertise includes leadership, organizational change and culture, employee engagement, and building collaborative relationships.

Here are some of her career achievements:

  • Served as an internal consultant in the Safety Mission Assurance Office focused on organizational change, competency development, and improved customer/program relationships
  • Led the development of a 3-5 year strategy to integrate products and services between Center infrastructure organizations (Information Resources and Center Operations Directorates)
  • Led a strategic initiative to outline roles and responsibilities between Procurement and CFO focused on “common ground” and opportunities for integration and collaboration. Purpose was to provide integrated business management services to Center customers
  • Led a team of division-level leaders to integrate the newly formed Exploration Science and Integration Directorate, focused on building one organization and one team; conducted an organizational assessment and recommended specific changes to the organizational structure
  • Led JSC’s Shuttle Workforce Transition focused on both the civil service and contractor workforce
  • Developed the Agency-level Program/Project Development Program for high potential NASA leaders focused on large scale engineering development efforts (Ran 3 classes; 94 participants—2 Center Directors, 5 Deputy AA’s, 8 Program Managers/Deputies, 21 Directors/Deputies)
  • Significant driver of Inclusion and Innovation at JSC. Co-led a significant culture change effort focused on employee engagement, creativity, and innovation
  • Post-Columbia accident, a primary driver in the establishment of a Joint Leadership Team (JLT) comprised of contractor and senior leaders to focus on effective communication and resolving conflicts throughout a 15,000+ workforce; co-led the development of “JSC’s Expected Behaviors” (still in use today)
  • Served on two Astronaut Selection Boards, 2009 and 2013
  • Executive coach for key leaders at Johnson Space Center

Special Honors and Awards: 

  • NASA Exceptional Service Medal
  • University of Houston-Clear Lake, Distinguished Alumna
  • NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
  • Awarded the Santiago Rodriguez Diversity Award presented by Great Minds in STEM
  • Presidential Rank Award


  • Master of Arts- Human Resources, University of Houston – Clear Lake
  • Bachelor of Business Administration, University of New Mexico