Alumni Profile: Callista Puchmeyer ’07

Posted 2023-01-25 12:19pm

Callista Puchmeyer, a 2007 Cleveland State University College of Law graduate loves her colleagues, staff and clients and jokes they are “out of this world!” In Callista’s position as Chief Counsel of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, being out of this world can take on a whole different meaning.

Callista joined NASA’s Glenn Research Center attorney advisor in 2011. She later advanced to Deputy Chief Counsel before becoming Chief Counsel in 2018. In her position of Chief Counsel, Callista manages Glenn’s Office of the General Counsel and provides expert legal advice to Glenn’s center director and other senior leaders on a broad spectrum of federal matters including procurement, human capital management, equal employment opportunity, ethics, intellectual property, fiscal, environmental, security and privacy. She is also a member of the executive management team for NASA’s national Office of the General Counsel.

“What drew me to space law was the mission and the passion every employee has for the mission to succeed,” Callista explained. “I really like managing people – it brings me joy to help each member of my staff grow and develop in a way that they find personally satisfying.”

Callista, a journalism major at Ohio University, worked for four years as an attorney at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP before joining NASA. She feels the combination of her legal education and her time at a law firm were the perfect foundation for her ultimate career.

“I feel like my CSU|LAW education prepared me well for this position by having a tough but fair regimen,” said Callista. “My education gave me opportunities to utilize real legal skills in a way that has translated to day-to-day practice. CSU|LAW taught me to work very hard for successful outcomes.”

Callista described the role of NASA attorneys to that of being an in-house lawyer at a large corporation. No two days are the same as her staff tackles a variety of legal areas including litigation, transactional work, intellectual property and real property.

Having now worked at NASA for 11 years, Callista could not imagine being anywhere else. She believes that the environment at NASA has allowed her to be the best version of herself as a person and a lawyer.

“I think my first job at NASA was fate to this day,” Callista said. “This is where I am meant to be. I am so fortunate to have been given the opportunities I have had at NASA to do something I truly love every single day.”

Callista exemplary work has been recognized with awards for the NASA Legal Team Attorney of the Year, as well as Teamwork Awards and multiple Silver Achievement Medals.

While space-bound missions are not in Callista’s future, you would not know it from her impressive fitness regime. She has run a marathon, several half marathons and has competed in CrossFit competitions.  Callista is currently competing in powerlifting competitions, an accomplish all the more impressive considering she and her husband are also raising their five daughters.

In 2017, CSU Law Professor Mark Sundahl founded the nation’s first academic research center dedicated solely to the law of outer space, CSU Law’s Global Space Law Center. The Center is educating the next generation of space lawyers who, like Callista, will continue to impact the growing field of space law.

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