To commemorate International Women’s Day, Via Satellite is celebrating women who have made a difference for the greater satellite and space industry, and in the lives of their colleagues. More than 40 people wrote about their mentors, friends, and bosses — women that drive the industry forward through engineering, business development, regulatory policy, sales, and more.
Here are some of those commendations.
Aarti Holla Maini, Secretary General of GSOA
As secretary-general of GSOA (formerly ESOA), Aarti leads the only CEO-led satellite industry representative association. She has a huge responsibility to the members and the industry at large to advocate for a regulatory environment that is inclusive of the needs of our industry. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is tireless in her drive to champion her members' greatest interests, even while having to manage, cajole, and influence her way through sometimes divergent opinions within the membership. I have learned a lot about diplomacy, keeping the end goal in sight, and of course, spectrum issues, from working with her. — Andrew Faiola, iDirect
Sara Spangelo, CEO of Swarm
Sara has quietly led Swarm from its founding through the development and deployment of more than 100 satellites serving IoT applications in a broad range of markets. I have been impressed with the progress of this very small and lean team, doing this with about 25 people and $25 million. I believe we are in the very early stages in figuring out how to apply IoT, and I compare it to 20 years ago when we were learning about GPS. Now, GPS is ubiquitous, and integrated into things that we use every hour of every day. Not surprisingly, Swarm was acquired by SpaceX in 2021. I can’t wait to see how Sara and her scrappy team help SpaceX grow to even higher highs. — Rob Meyerson, Delalune Space
“The Satellite Ladies”
A group of women – successful executives, entrepreneurs, and pioneers in the satellite industry – started an informal and organic social club, coming together over cocktails to share stories and solidify friendships. These women turned a social outing into a strong network of women that supported one another and many industry newcomers who were welcomed into the support of their circle.
Never formalized and always evolving over two decades, the group became known as the Satellite Ladies. They have held executive leadership positions at Intelsat, Comsat, Lockheed Martin, Hughes, SSL, DirecTV, SiriusXM, Arrowhead, Telenor, ICO Global, Globecast, ABC, SBS, AT&T, L-3 Communications, GECapital, International Launch Services, Arianespace, Iridium, and Momentus. Others among them founded and ran influential satellite industry consulting firms, and they were influential in the founding and early development of legacy industry advocacy groups.
I was fortunate to enter the industry as a direct report of one of the founding members, Andrea Maléter. Not only did Andrea mentor, teach, introduce, and support me but, every one of the Satellite Ladies took me into their fold. Walk into an event with a sea of unfamiliar faces and one of the Satellite Ladies would be there to welcome you. Having worked in a handful of other industries, I can say without a doubt that this group of women played a big role in my professional success, and created a sense of community.
Many are retired now, but the Satellite Ladies — Mary Ann Elliott, Mary Frost , Deborah Gilman, Dawn Harms, Britt Horncastle, Susan Irwin, Betsy Kulick, Penelope Longbottom, Joan Mancuso, Michelle Lyle, Andrea Maléter, Laurie Sherman, Jacqueline Schenkel, Peggy Slye, and Andy Steinem — remain friends and allies and continue to meet monthly, though virtual for now. Their common bond is the industry they love and the pride they feel in having played a role in the early and continued growth of the global satellite communications business. — Janice Starzyk, Virgin Orbit
Tina Ghataore, CCO of Mynaric
The passion and dedication for the space industry that I have seen in Tina cannot be taught. Tina is always looking for new ways to do things, which is the DNA of our high-tech industry. The industry needs more people like her — people who are driven by making change and always seeking positive disruption in their environment. Personally, I am blessed to have spent time working with her, which has greatly impacted me on both personal and professional levels. — Salim Alalawi, Yahsat
Mindel De La Torre, Chief Regulatory and International Strategy Officer of Omnispace
Mindel De La Torre has mentored me for the past 20 years in the area of international spectrum management and global regulatory processes in the telecommunications/satellite industry. As the chief regulatory and international strategy officer at Omnispace, she leads regulatory and international market entry matters. She previously served as the head of the International Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission, where she led the agency’s international efforts. She has held leadership positions on delegations to International Telecommunication Union global conferences. Mindel speaks Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Italian and throughout her career has consistently mentored girls and women with the goals of both encouraging more women in STEM careers and women in leadership positions. — Molly Gavin, Omnispace
Carol Craig, CEO of Sidus Space
Carol is an incredible human who has blazed a trail in space through hard work, passion, and care for her community, colleagues, the next generation of STEMists, and the pursuit of spaceflight. She never ceases to amaze me with her insights in this industry and her willingness to go boldly in new directions. She's shaping the future of aerospace not just on Florida’s Space Coast, where she is located, but across the globe. I feel so fortunate to call Carol my friend and mentor. As an "astropreneur" she is so generous with her time to mentor and share with those in the industry, and with those not in the industry who want to better understand. — Michelle Lucas, Higher Orbits
Dr. Lilac Muller, VP of Product for Kymeta
Dr. Lilac Muller is a dedicated professional who has a passion for the technology industry. As the daughter of an engineer working on the early development of software, Lilac grew up loving math and science and ultimately would follow her father’s footsteps in engineering. She joined Kymeta in 2018 where she oversees product strategy, and she has been instrumental in the productization of the Kymeta u8 platform.
Lilac believes that while experience matters, diversity in experience often brings better solutions. She has shared her advice to many women pursuing careers in technology that though life will undoubtedly throw many curve balls at you, there is no right career path, rather there are many different paths that lead to individual success. I have been fortunate to work alongside Lilac at Kymeta. We collaborate on projects that promote thought leadership within the industry with special focus on empowering women in this space. She interacts with customers with ease and relates their requirements back to engineering that support our business strategies and align with our development goals. I am honored to call Lilac a colleague and friend. — Brenda Kuhns, Kymeta
Dr. Natalya Bailey, Co-founder of Accion Systems
I, like most people, was in awe of Dr. Natalya Bailey when I met her. MIT PhD, space startup CEO, super mom – she is literally doing it all. When the opportunity to work for her came up, I jumped at the chance and moved from a career in the energy industry to the space industry without knowing much about it at all.
Almost four years later, I am still hooked. Working for Dr. Bailey and joining her vision of increasing access to space for everyone has been an awesome adventure. Not only is space the coolest, but I’ve also had the opportunity to watch a female leader take on and excel in a male-dominated industry, which gives me confidence to take similar small steps every day. — Elizabeth Barno, Accion Systems
Erika Rossetto, Flight Dynamics Team Leader for Star One, and Standard Member Director for the Space Data Association
Erika recently re-joined the board of directors for the Space Data Association (SDA) and it was instantly obvious that she is knowledgeable and passionate about making space a safer place for all. She is working to increase engagement between flight dynamics teams and encourage discussion around current challenges and solutions. Erika often presents at industry conferences, both in her role as flight dynamics team leader at Star One, and on behalf of the SDA. She is also always willing to help other women in this industry, lending her time and support where it is needed. — Pascal Wauthier, SES, Space Data Association
Carie Lemack, Advisor and Co-Founder of the Zed Factor Fellowship
Carie has been an instrumental advisor for Kayhan Space from year one. She has helped us make critical strategic decisions about our company's direction, supported us in building a fair and diverse company, and assisted us in expanding our professional network. We met Carie during Techstars Allied Space program in 2020, where she was a mentor.
We had a great conversation with her and since then, she has been an active member of our advisory board. We have met investors, customers, talent, and partners through her. When she is not advising young companies, she is busy volunteering and mentoring under-represented young talent. She co-founded the Zed Factor Fellowship for this purpose. She is a visionary, caring, and talented leader in the space industry who has helped many individuals and companies grow and flourish. — Araz Feyzi, Kayhan Space
Salit Even Shoam, EVP of Products and Projects at Ayecka Communication Systems
Salit has been in the satellite industry since 1998, from the pioneering days of Shiron Satellite Communications, where she started as technical support for the first generation of VSAT networks for internet connectivity, ensuring people in Africa, Australia, Latin America, and other evolving markets had internet connectivity.
Later at Elbit Systems, she was among the first people in the industry to adopt VSAT networks for homeland security applications, helping democracies protect their civilians. At Ayecka, Salit is now leading the revolution of IoT terminals for LEO constellations and leading the company into the New Space era. Salit is the kind of person that is full of passion for her work, and manages the programs in a professional, realistic manner, overcoming the greatest technological and commercial challenges. — Jerome Fink, Ayecka Communication Systems
Emmeliah Obiri, Senior Manager of Talent Advisory for Maxar Technologies
Emmeliah Obiri is an influential presence at Maxar’s manufacturing facility in Palo Alto, California. She started as a thermal manufacturing engineer in 2015, and held a number of manufacturing and engineering leadership roles. She now co-leads our Talent Advisory team, anticipating talent needs for critical technologies for future space exploration, science and commercial missions, and nurturing these capabilities in Maxar team members.
Working with the next generation of Maxar engineers, she guides and coaches and encourages positive energy in those around her. Emmeliah brings her passions to other activities too, such as spearheading Maxar’s efforts to manufacture face shields at the start of the pandemic, organizing a Diversity Day recruiting event, and leading several book club discussions for the Maxar Women’s Network Book Club. She truly serves as an inspiration to those around her. — Jennifer Cordero, Maxar Technologies
Blake Bullock, VP of Communication Systems at Northrop Grumman
I worked for Blake Bullock during her time running the National Security Systems Business Unit where she positioned our business and our people for success and growth. As an astrophysicist, Blake has spent her career seeking to understand the universe, developing the technologies that help us further understand our place inside the universe. Our team, partners, and customers respect Blake for her knowledge, experience, mission focus, partnership, and her open communication.
Blake has held roles at Northrop Grumman in systems engineering, strategic planning, business development, and program management for key technologies that included the creation and launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Blake is driving conversations among the space community, asking what more we can all do to break down barriers and bring the best talent together to solve our hardest problems. — Bill Jones, Northrop Grumman
Lisa Callahan, VP and GM of Commercial Civil Space at Lockheed Martin
Lisa Callahan is a force both internally and externally to Lockheed Martin. As my leader, I see her demonstrate empathy, emotional intelligence, camaraderie, and critical decision-making skills in every interaction. This, coupled with her strong business acumen and ability to articulate a clear strategy across an extremely diverse space portfolio, makes her a role model for so many women across the satellite industry. In the past year alone, Lisa has led her team through several non-traditional growth opportunities in the space industry, including: partnering with General Motors on the Lunar Mobility Vehicle (LMV) for sustained presence on the Moon, and partnering with Nanoracks and Voyager Space to develop a commercial LEO space station called Starlab.
In addition to her business successes, Lisa has provided insight to thousands of women on how to succeed in business, how to effectively balance work demands with personal/family needs and how the space business impacts our daily lives. Through her personal stories, Lisa inspires women to take chances, find mentors, focus on their families and make decisions that will positively impact their careers. — Anjani Ladhar, Lockheed Martin
Rachel Villain, Principal Advisor at Euroconsult
Rachel Villain is retiring this year after nearly four decades at Euroconsult. She co-founded the company in 1983 when the firm was focused on science and aerospace. Rachel was the chief editor of the flagship report, “Satellites to be Built & Launched,” for more than 20 years. She has been following the trends in the industry for 30 years and has an exhaustive knowledge of the industry. The newer generation at Euroconsult goes to her with questions, and she has passed down her knowledge. Rachel is also someone that will listen to everyone, and she believes she can learn from anyone.
She loves to keep up and read articles about the satellite industry, and her desk is covered with a pile of printed articles, annotated with her own notes and questions. She constantly sends me the names of new people and companies in the industry. Rachel is the person you turn to when you want to understand where the industry has come from, and where the industry is headed. Although she is retiring, thankfully she is staying on a freelance basis so we can still learn from her. This is the perfect time to say we love you, and you will be missed. — Emeline Bardoux, Euroconsult
Hollie Aguilera, Senior Program Manager for Viasat
Hollie Aguilera joined Viasat in 2003, and she was responsible for the schedule and budget of various satellite connectivity-based programs. Her talent and expertise were recognized by leadership which led to the creation of a new role where she led the Certification Development Team that certified and installed over 500 aircraft for American Airlines. Hollie’s attention to detail and expertise during the project launched the path for multiple airlines around the world to choose Viasat as their in-flight connectivity provider. Today, Viasat has over 2,000 aircraft flying under certifications that Hollie and her team are directly responsible for obtaining.
She takes care of her people, by creating a team culture that is filled with collaboration, support, and team spirit. Multiple airlines have provided feedback that the professionalism, partnership, and successful delivery of Hollie's team to attain satellite IFEC certification on their aircraft is some of the best they had ever encountered. It’s not an understatement to say that Hollie’s leadership, expertise and contributions are not only a model at Viasat, but the entire industry-at-large. — Michelle Munoz-Talcott, Viasat
Kristen Kloster, Vice President of Marketing of NSR
Kristen is instrumental in leading all marketing activities at NSR and building NSR's brand and presence worldwide. From the time of her joining to now, Kristen has implemented multi-faceted marketing plans across all platforms and increased our audience and reach each month.
She is a true leader for her marketing team and mentors her colleagues on actionable, strategic marketing activities that position NSR well in all segments. Kristen is a true thought leader, mentor, friend and colleague. — Christopher Baugh, NSR
Carolyn MacGowan, Junior Electrical Test & EGSE Support and Kate Borrelli, Maintenance Technician for Airbus OneWeb Satellites
After graduating from local area high schools, these two bright young women entered our apprenticeship program in 2019, working part-time at our factory while attending Eastern Florida State College. Both Carolyn and Kate have made a huge impact in our company, already having worked over 1,800 hours at our factory and completed nearly 70 learning objectives. Using their knowledge of our satellite systems and processes, they, along with the other three apprentices, created a presentation that explains the satellite components and how each functions. They are passionate about the space industry and have a genuine desire to know how things work so they can understand the bigger picture.
Even though they may be new to space, both Carolyn and Kate step forward into the unknown and help in any way they can – from special assignments to donating time for Meals on Wheels to supporting our onsite Cookies with Santa event with over 15 employees’ children. This willingness to help shows others that everyone has the skills to contribute to make a positive effect on the team culture. They have a very bright future with us and in the satellite industry. — James Hinds, Airbus OneWeb Satellites
Via Satellite will share more of these commendations in an additional article to be published in March. VS