Who are the women disrupting, innovating and shaping the future of the UAS industry?

Announcing our 2017 Women to Watch in UAS List!

Who are the women disrupting, innovating and shaping the future of the UAS industry? Who, thanks to smarts, energy and tenacity, is making a difference in the UAS field and helping other women do the same?

Women And Drones and Drone360 received 110 nominations from seven countries and selected nine individuals to be honored on our inaugural Women to Watch in UAS List. Meet these trailblazers, innovators, mentors and business leaders, and prepare to be inspired.

Meet these trailblazers, innovators, mentors, and business leaders, and prepare to be inspired.

Business

Holly Kasun

COO/CMO and Cofounder of Flybrix

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Holly Kasun

COO/CMO and Cofounder of Flybrix

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

Kasun is inspiring the next generation of drone users with Flybrix, a crash-friendly, rebuildable drone made from LEGO bricks. The company’s global launch in September 2016 generated $1.7 million in revenue in just 45 days. Flybrix is being used in over 500 schools around the world – but it’s great for grown-up kids, too.

Background: Kasun’s grandfather was an aeronautical engineer, so a passion for flight is in her DNA. Her father also ran an electronics business, which she helped with from a young age. When these two fields converged in the world of drones, she was ready to embrace the new technology. 

Quote: “What I want to accomplish is really about breaking down barriers to allow the greatest number of people to engage with drones.”

Connect:
Facebook
flybrix.com

Champion

Mary Wohnrade

Part 107 Operator and President/Owner of Wohnrade Civil Engineers

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Mary Wohnrade

Part 107 Operator and President/Owner of Wohnrade Civil Engineers

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

Wohnrade champions the use of UAS in civil engineering. She’s a passionate sharer of knowledge who is active in a cross-discipline Colorado community that’s openly exchanging ideas. She has developed a proprietary workflow to incorporate UAS and engineering while working on other ways to expand the possibilities of both fields.

Background: Wohnrade has held a private pilot certification since she was 22 years old. She says drones were “a natural extension of my love of aviation.” She invested in her first drone in 2015 to capture aerial shots of her company’s large engineering projects. “It wasn’t long before I realized the incredible potential UAS technology has to offer, and the many benefits it could bring to the civil engineering and surveying professions.”

Quote: “I have a true passion and unending dedication to advancing UAS technology for the betterment of society.”

Connect:
Facebook
LinkedIn

Education

Karen Joyce

Scientist and Senior Lecturer at James Cook University, Co-founder of She Flies

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Karen Joyce

Scientist and Senior Lecturer at James Cook University, Co-founder of She Flies

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

After visiting schools to talk about drones, Joyce noticed how few girls were participating in science and technology activities. So she cofounded She Flies, whose mission is to engage more girls and women with science and technology through the world of drones. She Flies hopes to expand its camps and educational programs beyond Australia soon.

Background: While pursuing her Ph.D. and studying the Great Barrier Reef, Joyce combined snorkeling observations with satellite imagery to create maps. However, she longed for a middle ground between these two methods of data acquisition. Joyce was first introduced to drones through her work as a geomatic engineer in the Australian Army. In 2013, she spent three months in the U.S., including time with the NASA Ames Research Center to learn how it used drones for wildfire monitoring.

Quote: “We truly believe that gender equality and experience in STEM is everyone’s challenge.”

Connect:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Emerging

Lexie Janson

FPV drone racer, software developer, drone certification teacher

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Lexie Janson

FPV drone racer, software developer, drone certification teacher

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

As a young woman breaking into the FPV community, Janson pushed past the doubters telling her to “get back to the kitchen.” Through her tenacity and her sheer love of flying, she’s become a high-profile racer – dubbed “The First Lady of FPV in Poland” after a TV interview about drone technology – and is working to raise the profile of drone racing. She travels the world to race, and actively encourages others to explore the sport.

Background: As a self-described lifelong gamer and nerd, Janson has always enjoyed gadgets and tech. Once she was exposed to drones, she immediately knew she wanted to pursue the technology. The hope of setting a positive example for other women in the drone industry informs her activism. “I love what I do, even when my first steps in the industry were full of sexism and hopelessness. I tried to be strong,” she says. “Not only for me, but also for other girls who may come after me.”

Quote: “Every girl who says that I am the one who made her start flying – I feel like I won a lottery.”

Connect:
Facebook
Instagram
YouTube

Entertainment & Culture

Natalie Cheung

General Manager of Drone Light Shows in the UAV Group at Intel

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Natalie Cheung

General Manager of Drone Light Shows in the UAV Group at Intel

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

Cheung is establishing a new form of entertainment. Drone light shows are a promising business opportunity for Intel, and she’s the one tasked with growing it. The challenges of creating a product that can be used commercially are daunting — but the payoff could potentially put fireworks out of business.

Background: Cheung’s first-ever UAS was a crowdfunded drone, which she assembled herself. She still remembers the feeling of flying her first drone: “That excitement and thrill is something that I still feel each time a drone launches – but this is just a side benefit.”

Quote: “When people see a drone light show, they think that it’s lasers or projection mapping. They are blown away when they hear that it’s all drones in the sky.”

Connect:
Twitter
YouTube

Global Trailblazer

Catherine Ball

Co-founder of World of Drones Congress, Co-founder and Publisher of Gumption Trigger

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Catherine Ball

Co-founder of World of Drones Congress, Co-founder and Publisher of Gumption Trigger

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

A big thinker with big ambitions, Ball is a startup specialist working hard to build bridges, convene the UAS community, and advance innovative solutions in the UAS environment. The World of Drones Congress, which debuted in Brisbane this August, is the first major drone event to focus on the Asia-Pacific region. She Flies, which Ball cofounded, works to bring UAS and STEM learning to girls and women.

Background: Ball cofounded She Flies after realizing that less than 0.5% of the members of the drone industry she was working with were women. She also runs four other startups, ranging from research areas in Australia to a book project aiming to highlight empowering Australian businesswomen.

Quote: “I decided to start up on my own to make more of an impact.”

Connect:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
drcatherineball.com
sheflies.com.au

Humanitarian

Helena Samsioe

Founder and CEO of GLOBHE

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Helena Samsioe

Founder and CEO of GLOBHE

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

As the top boss of a humanitarian drone services company, Samsioe is leveraging drone capabilities to solve global problems, in particular public health. She has worked on a UNICEF initiative to develop a humanitarian air corridor to deliver medical supplies in Malawi, and collaborates with other organizations to help heal through UAS tech.

Background: While working in Africa, Samsioe realized there was a large potential for medical cargo delivery by drone. She strives to continue her work in developing drones for humanitarian and environmental services.

Quote: “Every life saved is a huge accomplishment.”

Connect:
Instagram
LinkedIn
Twitter

Influencer

Gretchen West

Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Co-Executive Director at the Commercial Drone Alliance, Cofounder of Women of Commercial Drones

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Gretchen West

Senior Advisor at Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP, Co-Executive Director at the Commercial Drone Alliance, Cofounder of Women of Commercial Drones

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

West is a high-profile, highly respected, high-impact
advocate for UAS technology, and a familiar face to anyone who’s working on federal policy or commercial advancements. Through the Commercial Drone Alliance, she helps commercial drone end users understand the value of drones by reducing barriers through advocacy and education.

Background: West’s career began in nonprofit management, eventually leading her to work at AUVSI. “At the time, I knew very little about unmanned systems, but came to love the potential of this technology for so many industries.” After 10 years, West moved to California to be closer to the heart of drone development.

Quote: “Drones are everywhere, but we need better public support for commercial uses and more positive public acceptance.”

Connect:
LinkedIn
Twitter

Technology

Leah LaSalla

Technical Founder and CEO at Astral AR

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Leah LaSalla

Technical Founder and CEO at Astral AR

Why a Woman to Watch in Business?

LaSalla’s startup is developing drones that can be controlled with the mind, “no joystick/tablet required.” Intrigued with the combination of technologies that can deliver this experience, she started patenting and envisioning new ideas. She plans to apply this technology to wide-area search-and-rescue, disaster management, environmental remediation, public safety, and other drones-for-good applications. An added bonus: Five of her company’s eight executives are women.

Background: LaSalla’s father was an aviation engineer at Northrop Grumman who later started a super-precision tool-and-die job shop where LaSalla worked during high school. She went on to study computer-aided design in college and taught herself nine coding languages — she describes herself as a self-taught polyglot. LaSalla spent over a decade as a software engineer while raising her daughter. “Through these experiences, I also discovered I have a passion for mentoring disadvantaged females in technology.”

Quote: “I really love the autonomy and accountability required in programming and entrepreneurialism, as well as the nerdery of flying neuromechanical drones.”

Connect:
Twitter
astralar.com

About the Women to Watch in UAS List

The Women to Watch in UAS List is cosponsored by Women And Drones, an online community of women who are passionate about drones, and Drone360, which delivers news, features, and product reviews for UAS consumers and commercial users. In creating this list, both organizations aim to raise the profile of women doing amazing work, to encourage more women to embrace UAS technology, and to support a group that remains underrepresented in the industry.

How We Made Our Selections

During a two-month nomination period, individuals were permitted to nominate themselves or others. Nominations were also submitted by members of the Women And Drones and Drone360 teams. Based on the nominating letters, three finalists were chosen for each of nine categories. All finalists were invited to submit additional information about themselves, their work, and their goals. Final selections were made by a group of seven judges.

 

We considered the following qualities as we reviewed submissions:

  • Dedicated to delivering innovations and solutions that create value for others in the industry.
  • Distinguish themselves by leading people and companies, and investing time and money to enable drone technology to benefit the world.
  • Positively shape the public perception of drones.
  • Advocate for and empower more women to enter the industry and pursue high-level roles.

Meet Our Judges

Wendy Erikson

A Part 107-certified remote pilot and Emmy Award-winning journalist. She hosts the Women And Drones Podcast while also contributing to social media and STEM initiatives for the Women And Drones multi-media platform.

Sally French

Creator of the blog The Drone Girl. Her work has been published in outlets including The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and the Orange County Register. She has been a featured speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW) and Harvard Business School, and was named one of Fortune Magazine’s “4 top women shaping the drone industry.”

Susan Talbot

Co-founder of Skytango, an online marketplace connecting drone pilots with the people who hire them. She is an Emmy Award winner with more than 25 years experience in film and TV production. After stints as a freelance editor and adjunct professor of digital media in St. Paul, MN, she founded Skytango with her partner and drone pilot, Steven Flynn.

Other Judges

Sharon Rossmark, Founder/CEO, Women And Drones
Tim Kidwell, Editor in Chief, Drone360
Diane Bacha, Editorial Director, Drone360
Sara Dumford, Events Manager, Drone360

Support this important initiative: Sponsor our 2018 list!

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