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End Users '20 under 40' 2015—Ronnie Stevens

End Users '20 under 40' 2015—Ronnie Stevens

Ronnie Stevens, 38

Center chief of security, NASA, Johnson Space Center


After joining the Air Force at age 18 and spending six years as a military law enforcement officer with a focus on anti-terrorism and security operations, Ronnie Stevens earned a college degree in Germany in computer science.

After Stevens' discharge, his plan was “to be a special agent,” he said. He started working in physical security for a NASA contractor. “The company liked me. They promoted me and sent me to Moscow,” where, in his late 20s, he supervised about 50 Russian nationals, including those in the Russian space industry.

Today, he is responsible for physical security for all of Johnson Space Center, including the Sonny Carter Training Facility, Ellington Field and the El Paso Forward Operating Location. He develops security policies and programs for 20 facilities, over 70 buildings, 1,600 acres of land and a workforce of over 12,000. He establishes and manages programs to combat terrorist acts, safeguard personnel and property and manages disaster and emergency preparedness. He also assesses security vulnerabilities and designs security systems. And that's all on his short list.

As for his wish list, access control takes the top spot, even though the space center has a “robust controlled access system.” “If we had had an unlimited budget, I would like card readers for all of our doors [to] reduce keys. We have a lot of buildings. So I'd like more preventative control,” he said.

His biggest security challenge now and into the future, he said, is that NASA is required to share some of its activities with the public, and, again, access control comes into play, he said, because there are always visitors showing up for tours. “Being able to manage that access while managing that vulnerability is always a challenge,” Stevens said.

Another future challenge will be funding—“Funding is not going to get any better,” he said.


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