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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Darlene Koenig receives prestigious Debus award

Darlene Koenig, Delaware North’s vice president of business development and partnerships for Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, has received the 2019 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award from the National Space Club Florida Committee.

The prestigious award, named for the first director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, recognizes significant achievements and contributions made in Florida to American aerospace efforts. Koenig joins Rick Abramson, Delaware North’s chief customer officer, as a recipient of the Debus Award, which he received in 2002 after serving as chief operating officer of the visitor complex for eight years.

Koenig was presented with the award April 26 during a dinner party hosted underneath space shuttle Atlantis at the visitor complex.

“Darlene’s passion for the operation and for people really make her a phenomenal leader,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of the visitor complex, which Delaware North has operated for NASA since 1995. “The Debus award is about inspiration, and Darlene has brought that to me and so many others. Her dedication to educating the public about the NASA story is evident in all that she does.”

In 2016, Koenig created the visitor complex’s first naming rights sponsorship with The Boeing Co. becoming the title sponsor for Heroes and Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, presented by Boeing. Most recently, she secured Lockheed Martin’s sponsorship of the new Astronaut Training Experience and also helped create NASA Now, a display of current spacecraft and programs, by partnering with Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Space X and other space-related companies.

Koenig has worked for Delaware North at the visitor complex for the last 13 years in several vice president positions, including support services, performance management quality assurance and now in her current position. From 1995 to 2003, she served as general manager for the visitor complex under Johnson Controls World Services Inc., which handled maintenance and some aspects of the operation for Delaware North.