2014 Causey Award Winner – Dr. Linda M. Jensen

Dr. Linda M. Jensen
Human Resources Specialist
HR Development
NASA Ames Research Center

Dr. Linda M. Jensen was honored with a Causey Award for shifting the culture at NASA Ames Research Center and improving its workforce capabilities.

Read what the nominators had to say about Linda Jensen.

Judges’ Comments:

  • Being able to develop leadership programs at Ames Research Center, which are being used to build a nationwide NASA framework, delivers for NASA.
  • Her work to get leaders in the organization more engaged in employee issues is noteworthy, as is her work as a coach.
  • Solid impact and measurable results from what appears to be an almost superhuman effort to improve front-line leadership, and consequently engagement.

Listen to our full interview with Linda Jensen:


Federal News Radio asked each Causey Award Winner to answer 10 questions about him or herself so that we could learn a little bit more about them. Here’s what Linda Jensen had to say:

  1. What is the most surprising thing about your job?

    How fundamentally human we all are. It is often easy to forget, especially at NASA when we are in the throes of trying to accomplish great things. People begin to see and experience our colleagues as nothing more than the organization or task they are trying to move forward. I am fortunate in my work; I often get to see the real person underneath that armor — a more vulnerable person with basic wants and desires for acceptance, connection and a need to know that they are a valuable person. It is the sweetest part of my work and what draws me to it over and over again.

  2. What is the best piece of advice you most often give to your protégés?

    Becoming a valued organizational and leadership development practitioner is a position best obtained through an apprenticeship of practice and working closely with an experienced colleague. All of the schooling and book knowledge in the world will not make you a valued expert in this field. Not that education isn’t valuable — it’s just that there is nothing like the experience of actually working to develop a team or a leader — making mistakes, learning from them and then getting back out there and trying again.

  3. What is the worst piece of advice you have ever received?

    This is a tough question because I value feedback so much. I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced any one person’s suggestions to me as awful or bad. In general, any advice that suggests that I be anything but honest doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not perfect in this, but I do strive to be as truthful and authentic as possible in every situation even if that means what I have to share might be contentious or uncomfortable for others to hear.

  4. Who has been your biggest role model and why?

    I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with so many brilliant and amazing colleagues and leaders over the years that it is really hard to pinpoint just one. The organization and leadership development community at NASA is phenomenal! A number of individuals in and around that community have been pivotal to inspiring my ongoing growth and development as a professional and as a human being. Notably, Sukie Stanley, Jan Moore, Lynn Morgan, Erica Bovaird, Lauren Leo, Deb Duarte, Sarita Chawla, a number of amazing senior leaders and many others have nurtured my growth in many ways.

  5. If you didn’t work for the federal government, what would be your dream job?

    I think I have my dream job! There are many, many days that I say, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” Not that there aren’t aspects that are challenging and/or distasteful at times, but overall I get to work with some of the smartest people in the world whose passion and commitment to greatness and a willingness to learn make this such a wonderful environment for professional and organizational development.

  6. What hidden talent do you have that most of your coworkers don’t know about? Or, what’s one thing most of your coworkers don’t know about you?

    I am a musician — or at least I was. I played flute for many, many years and really enjoy performing. I stopped playing regularly about 10 years ago when the combination of a full-time job, young children and a dissertation became overwhelming. I hope to get back to playing again soon.

  7. If you could ask one person in history any question, who would it be, what would be the question and why?

    Abraham Lincoln. I am so impressed with him as a leader. In retrospect, he was amazingly powerful and I would like to explore with him what it was like to be President and to implement the changes that he did. So often, we look back at a success story like this and attribute leadership and certain behaviors to the success that may or may not have been part of the equation. I’m interested in finding out what the experience was like from the inside. He was a complex persona and there is much to learn from individuals like that about how to lead and have an impact.

  8. Who would you most like to have a business lunch with?

    Honestly, some of my favorite leaders at NASA. They really are an amazing bunch! So often, when I meet with them, there is some action or crisis that needs working and we quickly get on with that. I relish the moments I get with these incredible leaders to just sit and reflect on what is inspiring them, what has been most impactful, what big things they are tackling and how, and what is happening in their lives outside of NASA. These leaders embrace all of the essential aspects of being a great human being (integrity, authenticity, technical competence, sensitivity, etc.) and they are fabulous leaders too! An hour with any of them is truly inspirational for me.

  9. Your alarm clock rings at 5 a.m. on a Monday workday. What’s the first thing on your mind?

    Will my schedule allow me to go for a run before work? Running is a great way for me to settle in and start my day. During my runs, I do a lot of reflecting on all aspects of my life and it is a great way to ground myself before I head into the chaos of work. A good run in the morning will carry me all the way through my day.

  10. What is the last book you read?

    Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. Gregory Boyle writes about his experiences working with gang members in Los Angeles. This is a great read about compassion, connection and our larger purpose on this planet as human beings. My daughter recommended it after she read it for one of her classes. Absolutely inspirational!!

Federal News Radio awarded four individuals with a 2014 Causey Award. Read more about each of the recipients.