Dr. Beth Beck recently retired from NASA after serving the majority of her 33-year federal career in Washington D.C. She fell in love with McKinney nearly two decades ago when her sister and family moved to Collin County. She returned to her Texas roots in 2017, and is the proud steward of a century-old River Rock Craftsman, just blocks from Town Square. Three generations now live in McKinney: Beth’s Mother, Ann; sister Aimee, who owns and operates her photography business, Aimee Louise, out of her studio in the historic Cotton Mill; and nephews, Stephen and Nathan, who are McKinney Boyd Mustangs. Beth enjoys time with family in Texas, but also looks forward to visits from her two daughters. Carol lives in DC and keeps the international skies safe at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), while Steph lives in South Africa, serving disadvantaged children through her nonprofit, Abba’s Pride.
Beth is a non-linear, disruptive design thinker with a proven history of creating innovative solutions to complex problems. As NASA’s Open Innovation Program Manager, she developed new initiatives to identify and support Women in Data, and spur innovation in local communities through citizen engagement with NASA’s Open Data, including NASA’s award-winning Datanaut initiative. She led the award-winning International Space Apps Challenge for three years, attracting over 15,000 participants at 161 global locations in 61 countries. As NASA’s Human Spaceflight Outreach Program Manager, Beth co-founded the award-winning international LAUNCH.org initiative to identify and accelerate game-changing sustainability technologies. She adopted Twitter early in 2007 as one of the first NASA users. She coordinated development of NASA’s first official Facebook page, planned and supported Tweetups for Space Shuttle and Space Station missions; and created NASA’s web-based 3-D multimedia collection for easy public access to models and tools created by NASA designers. She received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal for innovative public outreach programs, and was recognized by FedScoop as one of DC’s Top 50 Women in Tech. Prior to leaving NASA in May 2018, Beth received the UK Data Leaders ‘Global Leader’ Award for her efforts to equip citizens around the world to problem-solve using NASA data and tools. Closer to home, Beth is the proud recipient of the San Marcos High School Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Beth, a Phi Beta Kappa, received both graduate and undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in government and public affairs, and holds a PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her research focuses on the rise and fall of ideas within collaborative practice, and identifies group conflict as a common catalyst for innovative outcomes. As an outcome-based social scientist, Beth loves the practice of organizational dynamics, governmental processes, and collaborative partnerships. Volunteer McKinney is a good fit for Beth, with over 160 partnerships with nonprofits and local groups that contribute to McKinney’s reputation as one of the nation’s best places to live. She is a member of the Collin County Innovation Collaborative, a group of community leaders who came together to foster an environment that supports innovation through creative partnerships, policies, and resources; and serves as a YMCA Youth and Government Advisor for McKinney Boyd.