Jeanne Holm – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Jeanne Holm

Chief Knowledge Architect
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Behind the public face of NASA's missions is a galaxy of data that drives the space agency's decisions and supports scientists, engineers and specialists around the world. Bringing architectural discipline to that data is the job of Jeanne Holm, chief knowledge architect at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Holm's efforts have helped shape NASA's public portal; led to pioneering knowledge architectures and collaborative technologies within the Department of Defense; and fostered research concepts for data visualization and gaming scenarios for predicting national security threats.

While Holm works primarily from Pasadena, California, her ideas have left an indelible imprint throughout Washington, most recently as lead evangelist for and the White House's efforts to make government data open and machine readable to spur civic and commercial innovations.

The idea of being something so much bigger than one person … that was a huge impetus for me.

Holm attributes her attraction to public service to the moment when men landed on the moon. “I saw that on TV when I was a little child and said, 'That's what I want to be part of.' And the idea of being something so much bigger than one person, and that seems impossible, yet we make it happen – that was a huge impetus for me," she said.

After 31 years at NASA, Holm has learned just how hard it is to get people into space. She also appreciates that “women are naturally in the minority," at NASA, “so the challenge … is to do our job as well as we can and look to open the door for other women and underrepresented minorities to have a chance to shine."

It's part of a greater challenge to bring a greater diversity of ideas to NASA. One avenue that Holm is excited to be a part of is the International Space Apps Challenge. It is “this idea of creating some boot camps and mentorships that encourages women and girls to step in in ways where they weren't really welcome before."

Holm, who also teaches civic innovation and knowledge management at University of California in Los Angeles, said she still draws her greatest inspiration from being surrounded by people who are “trying to do their best and working hard to accomplish the impossible together each day."

– Wyatt Kash

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.