Meet the Team

The AFRL STEM Workforce Development Program Portfolio is administered by Universities Space Research Association (USRA). USRA’s team is dedicated to ensuring quality programs are offered at all supported sites and that scholars and mentors have a fulfilling, worthwhile experience that promotes interest and career development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

USRA Program Administration Team

Dr. Amanda Smith-Hackler
Dr. Amanda Smith-Hackler is USRA’s Director of Education and also serves as Principal Investigator (PI) for the AFRL STEM Workforce Program Portfolio. She manages USRA’s team to ensure milestones are achieved and that the portfolio continues to exceed expectations.

Denisse Garza
Denisse Garza serves as Senior Program Manager and oversees financials and business operations of the AFRL STEM Workforce Program Portfolio. She works cohesively with AFRL management, and the USRA Director of Education to manage AFRL priorities and maximize productivity.

Samantha Mason, PMP
Samantha Mason, Intern Program Manager, is the team lead for the AFRL Scholars Program coordinators across all AFRL sites. Samantha is responsible for managing the AFRL Scholars Program’s strategic planning and priorities, assessment and reporting, marketing and promotion, as well as maintaining policies and processes. Prior to joining USRA, she spent four years as a Program Specialist and Review Coordinator for the NASA Postdoctoral Program.

Carolyn Hansen, MS
Carolyn Hansen is the Program Specialist for AFRL Scholars Professionals (SPs) and the University Research and Engagement Program (UREP). She is responsible for implementation of all programmatic elements and supports the success of each program. Prior to this role, she was the NASA Lead Internship Program Coordinator for seven years.

Kathy Steen
Kathy Steen, Internship Program Coordinator, is the primary point of contact for the AFRL Scholars Program at Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and AMOS in Maui, Hawaii. Kathy is accountable for the sustained, successful, and timely execution of the AFRL Scholars Program, including intern onboarding, outreach and recruitment, engagement and enrichment activities, intern oversight, and program communication. Prior to her role at Kirtland AFB, Kathy was the Sr. Program Manager for the Hyperspace Challenge, a partnership accelerator where she assisted the AFRL NM Tech Engagement office with technology scouting for AFRL and USSF.

Stacey Abercrombie
Stacey Abercrombie, Internship Program Coordinator, is the primary point of contact for the AFRL Scholars Program at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. Stacey is responsible for the successful execution of all program elements, phases, and events in support of the AFRL Scholars Program. These responsibilities include but are not limited to recruitment, education outreach, diversity implementation, intern oversight, budgeting, and general communication. Prior to her role at Wright-Patterson AFB, Stacey served as the Internship Program Coordinator at Eglin AFB. Prior to, Stacey served in the United States Navy on board the John C. Stennis aircraft carrier.

Jennifer Kiel
Jennifer Kiel, Internship Program Coordinator, serves as a key liaison for the AFRL Scholars Program at Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, and Joint Staff J-7, Pentagon internships. Jen's diverse background spans various industries, including educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. Jen oversees all program elements, phases, and events to ensure the successful execution of the AFRL Scholars Program.

Sandra McNeely
Sandra McNeely, Internship Program Coordinator, Business Operations, is responsible for administering stipend payment processing and scholar travel support for all program participants of the AFRL STEM Workforce Development Program Portfolio. Prior to her current role she supported Finance and Business Operations for the NASA Postdoctoral Program.