A desire to understand the practical application of economic theory led Jon Montgomery to enroll at the La Follette Institute of Public Affairs — and to build a career with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and U.S. Department of Commerce.
Above: Jon Montgomery checks out the cockpit of a C-17 military cargo aircraft at the 2007 Paris Air Show. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife and two children.
Below: Montgomery's son points to a blended wing body airplane research test model hanging from the ceiling at the Smithsonian Air &Space Museum during the 2009 opening of the exhibit "How Things Fly" supported by Montgomery's office.
Montgomery is a member of the senior executive service at NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. As director of mission support operations for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, the 1993 alum handles budget planning and execution, strategic planning, outreach and education.
Prior to this position, he spent more than 15 years with the Commerce Department, most recently as a senior aerospace industry analyst at the International Trade Administration. He also served as a policy advisor to the assistant secretary for trade development and deputy assistant secretary for transportation and machinery.
While at the La Follette Institute, Montgomery applied his analytical skills as a research assistant to a project that assessed the financial impact of a gas tax on people in different income groups. He won a scholarship that placed him with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
"I saw firsthand how the U.S. government helps companies to build partnerships with businesses in other countries, and how the federal government funds technical and policy exchanges with foreign government officials to share best practices and govern more effectively. I was hooked."
As for his federal-sector career path, Montgomery started his career at the Department of Commerce in 1993 as a presidential management intern, providing export counseling to U.S. companies.
He served on U.S. delegations to international negotiations on trade finance and environmental standards for aviation. He organized and developed policy recommendations as a staff member of the Presidential Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. He co-developed an integrated plan for modernizing the nation's air transportation system in partnership with executives from the White House, seven other federal agencies and industry.
"My success in each endeavor has been based on the solid foundation of education and experience gained during my time at the University of Wisconsin–Madison," Montgomery says. "At La Follette, I learned that I have a unique responsibility as a federal employee to provide help to those who need it, to speak for those who don't have a voice, and to be an effective steward of public money and public trust."
NASA Model Flies at Air and Space, March 19, 2009, NASA