From NASA to Nonprofits

Barbara on location in Amman, Jordan

I’m the crazy kid who spent my childhood playing astronaut in converted refrigerator boxes in my backyard. These “space missions” consisted largely of reading comic books, eating space food sticks and drinking Tang.

The occasional meteor shower, aka my brothers tossing rocks at the refrigerator box, never dissuaded this intrepid imaginary explorer.

As my “space missions” grew more elaborate, I would enlist my friends to play Mission Control. They’d sit at rows of refrigerator boxes with computer consoles drawn on them, while eating their own tasty snacks.

I would keep in touch with “Mission Control” via walkie-talkies, never mind the fact that I could have just yelled across the yard and been heard just fine.

Missions lasted as long as the potato chips and sodas held out, or until everyone had to go home for dinner.

An early interest in filmmaking and storytelling

I’m the daughter of a career Kodak man. He was the one who taught me how to load and use a movie camera. And as luck would have it, my dad’s job as a chemical engineer secured him free film and processing for life!

With an endless supply of film at hand, I would write little scripts and then gather all of my friends together to make movies. These movies covered such weighty topics as the life and times of Rasputin, Russian spies in San Francisco, a rehash of the Wizard of Oz, and a bicycle safety film.

Sometime during high school, I discovered I could actually get a degree in filmmaking. After studying at Denver University for two years (and taking advantage of its close proximity to world class skiing) I transferred to USC and their School of Cinema/Television.

I loved the film program at USC and the faculty and students I worked with, but I I confess I never developed an affinity for Los Angeles.

After graduation, I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and forged a career in corporate video production. This is where I got hands-on experience in all aspects of video production.

As I worked for various high tech companies, I also honed my skills as a scriptwriter and storyteller. Before long I became an award-winning writer and producer.

Although I never became an astronaut I did end up working for NASA at their Ames Research Center in Mountain View, landing a job with their video group. Working with the in-house video crew, I made videos about Space Shuttle Payloads, flight simulators, the Next Generation Air Space and a multitude of other leading edge topics.

Soft at heart

Coupled with my active imagination, I also have a soft heart. As a young girl, I was banned from the local pound after wandering one day among the cages, sobbing uncontrollably because of all the lost and homeless pets.

Not surprisingly, today I live with my husband and two energetic rescue dogs from Kauai.

I’ve also like to slip some money to people down on their luck, or buy them a meal at McDonalds, or to help out in other ways which I hope will make a difference in their lives.

Putting it all together

After 25 years working in the corporate video world, I now work as a freelance writer and videographer specializing in copywriting, video productions and marketing for the nonprofit niche.

I have to say, working in the nonprofit niche has resulted in some of the most satisfying work I’ve ever done. By helping a nonprofit grow and be successful means they’ll be able to continue to do their critical work in the community.

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