A former NASA communications official who also is an astronaut’s wife will be Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s new chief spokeswoman, the governor’s office announced Wednesday.
Brownback’s office said Eileen Hawley will join his staff June 24 as communications director and press secretary. Hawley will replace Sherriene Jones-Sontag, who will become deputy director of the Kansas Lottery next month.
Before moving to Kansas in 2008, Hawley directed communications for the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She also served as an adviser to senior NASA officials and was the center’s voice for dozens of space shuttle missions.
Brownback noted in a statement that Hawley has worked in corporate and government communications for more than 25 years and called her “a great fit” for his administration.
She is married to Steve Hawley, a Kansas native who flew five space shuttle missions and logged more than 32 days in space after joining the shuttle program in 1978. He’s now a professor of physics and astronomy at Kansas University and has been director of its engineering physics program since 2010.
Eileen Hawley is vice president of operations for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has announced that Jean Milstead will join the staff as interim director of operations.
Jones-Sontag has been the most visible member of Brownback’s staff and his chief spokeswoman since he took office in January 2011. She had the same role in his successful campaign for governor in 2009 and 2010.