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Young Alumnus Award winner's work knows no boundaries

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Growing up in the Great Plains, it shouldn’t be surprising that Newton native Kate Becker, Bethel College’s Young Alumnus awardee for 2017, ended up working with weather.

She’s at about the highest level there is – organizationally as well as literally.

Becker, who now lives in Washington, D.C., is a program and policy adviser in the Satellite and Information Service (known as NESDIS) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Among her responsibilities in that position are to advise NESDIS leadership on U.S. space-based weather observation policy and programs; to lead NESDIS commercial space policy development, and implementation of a commercial weather data procurement pilot program; to ensure the most effective use of all sources of space-based weather observation; and to manage NOAA and NESDIS interactions with the National Research Council (NRC) as a sponsor of the NRC’s 2017 Earth Science and Applications from Space Decadal Survey, which will set national Earth observation priorities for the next decade.

Becker assumed her current position in 2014 but has worked for NOAA almost non-stop since 2011, when she served a student internship while in a master’s degree program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

As an international relations assistant, among her tasks was to coordinated drafting of the NOAA/NASA Global Precipitation Measurement mission’s Memorandum of Understanding, to facilitate NOAA access to precipitation data that supported NOAA’s forecasting requirements.

Following that, she served a year as NESDIS program coordinator within the Office of the NOAA Administrator, before moving to the White House Office of Management and Budget, Science and Space Branch, as a program examiner for a year.

As such, she looked at the programs for five NASA accounts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She reviewed NASA legislative documents on behalf of the Executive Office of the President.

She was part of interagency conversations on improving space weather research and forecasting coordination across the U.S. government, which led to the formation of an interagency space weather task force to design and implement improved processes.

She also contributed to briefing papers for Administration leadership that contained analyses of key space policy issues facing the United States, such as domestic launch capability and space traffic management.

Becker than spent a year as an international and interagency affairs specialist at NOAA before taking her current job there.

She represented NOAA in U.S. interagency space policy discussions, which included serving on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, providing expertise in the Long-Term Sustainability of Space Activities Working Group.

Becker graduated from Bethel College in 2004 with a B.A. in physics and mathematics, then went to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, where she completed an M.A. in theological studies.

Following graduation from AMBS in 2007, Becker worked for three years at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson as a camp programs manager and space science educator.

She graduated from GWU’s Elliott School in 2012 with an M.A. in international science and technology policy, concentration in space policy.

In addition to the internship with NOAA as an international relations assistant, Becker was a staff assistant for the Space Policy Institute at GWU and a visiting researcher at the European Space Policy Institute in Vienna during the time she was completing her master’s degree.

In and around all those things, she earned a private pilot’s license and became SCUBA open-water certified.

When she’s not working, Becker enjoys playing Ultimate® Frisbee®, running the occasional half-marathon, playing in D.C.’s Different Drummers, a community marching band, and tutoring kids in math at a local organization called For Love of Children.

The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association names one or more Young Alumnus Award winners each year. The Young Alumnus Award recognizes character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, and honors and recognition received.

The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and present a convocation program for Bethel students, faculty and staff, which Becker will do in the fall 2017 semester.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016'17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.