November 30, 2016 – On November 29, University of Colorado Boulder alumnus Christopher Shank (Aero MS ’96), became President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointment to the NASA transition landing team.
The president-elect appoints a transition team, or landing party, during the campaign to ensure a smooth transfer of power following the presidential inauguration. Teams are generally formed for each federal department and agency to identify critical issues that need to be addressed by the new administration. They may also provide counsel on what they perceive as wasteful programs or expenses.
Landing teams are traditionally made up of several members, but Trump has been slow to name people to his NASA transition team. The space community has been especially curious to see Trump’s selections because of his stance on climate change and expected cuts in Earth science programs at NASA.
The transition team generally works with the President elect until the inauguration, but may be asked to join the respective agency’s staff after that time.
Shank most recently served as the policy and coalitions director for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and was formerly deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). He has previous experience at Honeywell Aerospace and served as NASA’s director of strategic investments and chief of strategic communications under President George W. Bush.
Shank has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado and a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame. He also served in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years, working at the Pentagon, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and Air Force Space Command.