E.J. Toomey is understandably excited to be working at Stennis Space Center as the site tests the rocket engines and core stage that will return humans to the Moon through NASA’s Artemis Program.
The lunar return will serve as a matching bookend for the lifelong Gulf Coast resident. Toomey’s earliest space-related memory was watching the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Like many others, he still recalls the words spoken by Neil Armstrong as he became the first human to set foot on the Moon – “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Fifty years later, Toomey works as the lead accountant in the Accounting Operations Branch of the Stennis Office of the Chief Financial Officer. In that role, he manages payroll, travel, property, cost accounting and the Standard General Ledger.
The work directly supports NASA’s effort to return humans, including the first woman, to the Moon and establish a sustainable presence. “I support the Artemis program by ensuring the Accounting Operations Branch provides accurate and timely financial information so that project managers are able to readily assess the financial performance of Artemis activities at Stennis,” he said.
Toomey is well acquainted with Stennis and the Gulf Coast area. A Waveland native and Bay St. Louis resident, he began his career at Stennis in 1982 as an accountant for the Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant that once operated on site. “The facility had just begun production and was expanding its accounting workforce,” he recalled.
In 1990, Toomey became an accountant for Johnson Controls World Services on site, then joined the NASA team in 1999. He assumed lead accountant responsibilities in 2007. “I’ve been given excellent learning and career growth opportunities while being mentored by amazing senior leadership at Stennis,” Toomey said.
Toomey relishes his work at the rocket propulsion test site. “I am extremely proud to work for a federal agency that has received eight consecutive years of ‘clean’ (unmodified) audit opinions,” he said.
The record is a significant one. Stennis Space Center is a unique NASA center, operating as a federal city with 5,000-plus employees and more than 50 resident agencies, organizations and companies on site. The center is a vital partner and economic engine for its surrounding areas. Among other duties, Toomey leads in compiling an annual economic impact report analyzing the financial impact of NASA and Stennis on the area. In the most recent fiscal year, the report found that Stennis had a direct global economic impact of $850 million and a direct economic impact of $569 million within a 50-miles radius.
Beyond numbers, Toomey enjoys the Stennis workplace, particularly in the way it has embraced and advanced diversity. “Stennis has a very friendly culture,” he said. “I have seen significant improvement in workplace diversity within my organization and across the center.”
Toomey has been recognized for his work. In 2013, he received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, given to federal employees for sustained performance that embodies multiple contributions which contribute to NASA projects, programs or initiatives. The medal recognized Toomey’s work as lead accountant, noting he has assisted, led and mentored many civil servants and contractors in key areas to ensure the accuracy and integrity of NASA’s financial information.
Now, he is looking forward to what lies ahead for Stennis, particularly as it relates to the return of humans to the Moon with NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Stennis is testing the first flight core stage of the new rocket, as well as the RS-25 engines that will help power all SLS launches.
“I’m excited to support testing of the core stage as NASA prepares to return to the Moon,” Toomey said. “I’m also excited to be a part of the continued growth of Stennis as a federal city.”
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