Elliot H. Pulham, longtime CEO of the Space Foundation, has left the organization, according to news from the nonprofit headquartered in Colorado Springs.
“We want to thank Elliot for his many years of service to the Space Foundation, and wish him well as he pursues new opportunities,” said a statement from Admiral James O. Ellis Jr., chairman of the foundation’s board of directors. “The Space Foundation team has made many positive strides in recent years; we are proud to be a respected advocate for all sectors of space. As a global leader, the foundation is focused on growing its ability to educate and advocate on behalf of the space industry, and we look forward to finding the next person to propel that mission forward. We are committed to an open and competitive process to select the Foundation’s next leader, and are grateful for the continued support of the space community.”
When asked for comment, Communications Director Carol Hively said the foundation was “not at liberty to discuss details of Elliot’s departure.”
But industry newspaper Space News, reported that Pulham was criticized for crude comments about Hillary Clinton on his Facebook page, as well as for posts that described several flights and experiences while traveling first class for the Space Foundation. The flights were paid for by the foundation in addition to his $270,032 salary.
“We are committed to an open and competitive process to find the foundation’s next leader to propel our mission forward,” she said in an email. “Until then, COO Shelli Brunswick will be serving as the Acting CEO of the Space Foundation. There are no planned changes to our programs or activities and business at the Space Foundation continues as usual.”
Pulham joined the Space Foundation in 1998, after spending a decade with the Boeing Co. as its communications director, according to his website. He worked at Boeing and handled communications in the return to space after the Challenger explosion, and he also served as the spokesman at the Kennedy Space Center for three shuttle-launched interplanetary missions — Galileo to Jupiter and its moons, Magellan to Venus and Ulysses to the sun. He became CEO in 2001, according to his website.
The website lists the following memberships:
- The Army and Navy Club of Washington, D.C.
- The Hawaiian Civic Club of Ka’u
- The Broadmoor Golf & Tennis Club
- The Planetary Society
- The Royal Aeronautical Society, Space Division
- The Royal United Services Institute
- The Jaguar Club of Southern Colorado
- The PADI Sport Divers’ Society
“… Pulham has led the transformation of the 32-year-old foundation into a global non-governmental organization at the heart of space policy, space programs and STEM education (Science, Technology Education and Mathematics),” the website said. “Under his leadership, the Space Foundation has grown from humble trade association beginnings into a diverse operating foundation with integrated enterprises in space public awareness and public outreach; technology authentication and certification; national and international policy; space-related policy, economics and industrial research and analysis; and global education and discovery programs based from the Space Foundation Discovery Center – Colorado’s only dedicated space science and technology museum.”
Foundation COO Lt. Col (Ret.) Shelli Brunswick is the acting CEO, according to the Space Foundation’s website. She joined the foundation in 2015 after a serving as an acquisition and program management professional for the United States Air Force. She finished her active duty career in the Air Force Congressional Liaison office, working in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.
She is the 2016 chairwoman for Women in Aerospace and serves on the board of directors for the National Defense Industrial Association Rocky Mountain chapter. Brunswick graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and later received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix. She is a certified project management professional through the Project Management Institute and was a professor of acquisition management at Defense Acquisition University.
According to information filed with the IRS, the foundation had revenue of $8.1 million in 2015, up from slightly more than $7 million in 2014. Its total expenses were $8.2 million, leaving a deficit of $165,168. In 2014, the foundation had a deficit of $919,333 after expenses grew to $7.9 million that year, according to documents at GuideStar, an organization that provides the 990 forms nonprofits are required to file with the IRS. The paperwork shows that Pulham made $270,032 in 2015 from the foundation and earned $33,041 in other compensation from the foundation and outside organizations.
Pulham was not available for comment. The CSBJ will update this article as more information becomes available.