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Nancy Searby, program manager for NASA’s Earth Science Applied Sciences Capacity Building program area, received a 2020 Individual Excellence Award from the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). GEO recognized Searby for demonstrating exceptional personal commitment to the GEO mission, announcing the awardees as part of GEO Week 2020.

woman smiling in front of desk and computer
Nancy Searby at work from home in 2020. Credits: NASA/Nancy Searby

GEO is an intergovernmental partnership that aims to improve the availability, access and use of Earth observations for a sustainable planet. The annual awards are presented to individuals whose work have had a tangible impact on these goals.

Searby is dedicated to advancing opportunity and diversity for everyone to use Earth observations for better decisions and actions, working with intergovernmental organizations like the Central American Integration System (SICA) to increase access to NASA and others’ satellite data for decision making.

Searby “has done an extremely commendable job in terms of supporting not just Central America, but the Americas on a whole,” said Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo, secretary general of SICA, in a nomination letter on the organization’s behalf. “Dr. Searby is an exemplary woman scientist in a leadership position, and as representation does matter, her example is inspiring to other aspiring scientists… [she] is very deserving of being recognized for her contributions.”

In addition to SICA, Searby’s colleagues in NASA’s Earth Applied Sciences Program nominated her for her connection building, diplomacy and caring leadership.

“Nancy’s leadership has crossed organizations and geographic boundaries,” said Lawrence Friedl, director of the Applied Sciences Program. “Her work on gender issues is especially inspiring, and her boundless energy to bring Earth observations to new audiences truly embodies GEO’s and NASA’s objectives to benefit humanity.”

“Nancy has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about GEO’s work, underscoring the importance of strengthening GEO and forging productive partnerships to amplify its reach and impact,” said Karen St. Germain, division director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. “She has continually made impactful contributions to advance GEO’s capacity development objectives, and I’ve likewise come to appreciate her expertise and deep commitment.”

For Searby, this award is a special honor coming from an organization whose work and community she has admired for years. “I still remember my first GEO meeting many years ago. I was struck by the people – everyone wanted to help each other use Earth observations for societal benefit,” Searby said. “I am so honored and proud to be a part of the GEO family.”

large group of people posing for picture in front of building
Nancy Searby (second row, eighth from left) with the SERVIR team at the 2020 SERVIR Annual Global Exchange, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Credits: NASA/Paula Link

The full Individual Excellence Awards ceremony, held in November 2020, can be viewed on GEO’s YouTube channel. More information on the awards can be found in the Applied Sciences post Announcing the GEO 2020 Sustainable Development Goal Awards.

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