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Photo of Dr. Sanders Dr. Patricia Sanders
  • Chair, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel
  • Independent Aerospace Consultant
  • Former Executive Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
  • Former Director, Test, Systems Engineering, and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Former Director of Analysis for the U.S. Space Command

Dr. Patricia Sanders is now an independent aerospace consultant after having been a Senior Executive with the Department of Defense (DOD) and retiring from the Federal Government after 34 years of service with experience in the management of complex technical programs, leadership of large and diverse organizations, and development and execution of policy at the DOD level.

Dr. Sanders retired from Government service in 2008 as the Executive Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). She was the senior civilian in the Agency responsible for its management and operations, safety and quality control, strategic planning, legislative affairs, external communication, and all issues related to worldwide personnel administration and development. Previously, she had been the System Executive Officer and Deputy Director for Integration of MDA, managing program content, schedule, cost, and technical performance for the Agency’s $9 billion per year program of work.

After teaching for Boise State University and the University of Utah, Dr. Sanders began her national security career with the U.S. Army in Germany in 1974. She progressed through a number of challenging positions including management of several Defense acquisition programs; positions with the Air Force Operational Test Center in space system and aircraft avionics testing; Chief Scientist for the Command, Control, and Communications Countermeasures Joint Test Force; and Director of Analysis for the U.S. Space Command.

In 1989, Dr. Sanders moved to the National Capital Area to assume the first of a number of staff positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, culminating with service as the Director of Test, Systems Engineering, and Evaluation. She joined the missile defense community in 1998 and participated in the establishment of the MDA, was responsible for creating its robust test organization, initiated the Sensors Directorate, and accomplished pioneering work in managing integration of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Dr. Sanders has actively supported professional, academic, and civic organizations, serving on numerous executive boards. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and has received three Presidential Rank Awards for executive achievements. She was awarded the Allen R. Matthews Award for significant accomplishments in test and evaluation and the AIAA DeFlorez Award for Modeling and Simulation, which recognizes achievements in its aerospace applications.


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NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Curator: Christopher Brunner
Last Updated: April 25, 2018
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