From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Meeks, Willis Gene

(born: 1938) Willis G. Meeks was born in Harlan, KY, the son of Maceo and Thelma Meeks. He was a flight project manager and head of NASA's Ulysses Solar Exploration Project, beginning in 1990. Ulysses was a $750 million joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), a fact-finding mission to assess Earth's total solar environment, with data being transmitted from Ulysses to Earth. The mission was to last five years, but the mission continued for another 15 years. In 2009, the Ulysses Mission Team received the NASA Group Achievement Award; Ulysses was the longest-running ESA-operated spacecraft [see Ulysses website].

Meeks wrote several technical reports about the Ulysses Project; the records for the reports are available on the NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS). After 30 years of service, Meeks retired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), January 29, 1996. He was the first flight project manager at JPL/NASA. Meeks is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and while enlisted earned his A. A. degree in electronics at Allan Hancock College. While employed at JPL and raising four children, Meeks attended college at night and earned his B.S. degree in 1975 and his MBA degrees in 1977, both from California State University.

Among his many awards, he received the Equal Employment Opportunity Medal for exceptional contributions to the JPL Affirmative Action Program in 1984. He also received the Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1992. Willis G. Meeks is the husband of Magalene LeCita Powell, who was systems engineer at JPL/NASA when the couple married in 1991.

For more see R. Dunger, "William M. Meeks - heading NASA's Ulysses Solar Exploration Project," Los Angeles Sentinel, 10/11/1990, p. A4; "Flight Project Manager," Ebony, January 1991, p. 7; "Loving Embrace," Jet, 02/10/1992, p. 30; Who's Who Among Black Americans, 1994/95; and Who's Who Among African Americans, beginning in 1996-97 edition.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Read about Harlan, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Los Angeles sentinel (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Ebony (periodical)
NKAA Source: Jet (periodical)
NKAA Source: Who's who among Black Americans
NKAA Source: Who's who among African Americans

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“Meeks, Willis Gene,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-08-05 16:06:21