For more than 20 years, Women in Aerospace (WIA) has been dedicated to expanding women’s opportunities for leadership and increasing their visibility in the aerospace community. We have a long tradition of celebrating women’s professional excellence in aerospace. The 24th Annual WIA Awards Ceremony will be held on October 27, 2009, at the National Press Club. I encourage you to honor this tradition by nominating women for WIA’s prestigious awards. Nomination packages are due on July 9.
In 1987, the first recipient of WIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award was Dr. Eilene Galloway, who passed away on May 2, 2009, just two days shy of her 103rd birthday. Eilene embodied everything about WIA’s mission – leadership, partnership, scholarship, and mentorship. She spent the majority of her career pursuing the peaceful uses of outer space and bringing together women and men around the world for common purposes in space. I had the good fortune to spend time with Eilene early in my career (well, 20 years ago may not have seemed so early to her!). She was a tremendous mentor and offered simple, straightforward advice as I pursued work involving international cooperation.
This leads to the second message of my letter. While many of WIA’s activities are in the Washington, DC, area, a key strategic goal is to position ourselves to implement WIA’s mission globally. The first step is hosting networking events at prominent conferences – such as the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado; AIAA Space 2009 in Pasadena, California; and, for the first time, an international event at the Le Bourget Air Show in Paris, France.
The Paris event, held in the European Space Agency pavilion, was the formative step for establishing a WIA presence in Europe. Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of the European Space Agency, officially announced the creation of “WIA-Europe,” WIA’s first sister organization. Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, joined by his wife and former WIA board member Rebecca, spoke on the importance of WIA to the aerospace community. Daryle Lademan, WIA president-elect, shared a perspective on WIA’s origins and experiences. Rounding out the event were remarks by Simonetta di Pippo and Claudia Kessler, WIA-Europe’s first president and board chair, respectively.
Our European friends are passionate about strengthening their network of women, promoting leadership opportunities, and providing role models of successful women. WIA’s mission and goals can do just that. The preliminary interest in WIA-Europe has been fantastic. Networks in other communities are sure to follow.
I must personally thank the other members of the WIA leadership team – Cindy Malawy (board vice chair), Merrie Scott (president), Daryle, and Annette Summers (WIA executive director) – for joining me in the 2-month process leading to WIA-Europe. We are thrilled to move towards ultimately creating a global WIA network to link women together around the world. Eilene would be proud.
Thank you for your support of WIA. I look forward to seeing you at the Awards Ceremony in October. It will be an inspiring evening that you will long remember.
Debra Facktor Lepore
Chair, WIA Board of Directors