CHICAGO, IL, September 12, 2023 – Women and Drones proudly announces the distinguished list of inductees being named to the Women in Emerging Aviation Technologies Hall of Fame. They will be honored at the 7th Annual Women in Emerging Aviation Technologies Awards ceremony taking place at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. on Wednesday October 25, 2023. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the Hall of Fame inductees at the ceremony.
The Hall of Fame Award recognizes highly experienced and accomplished businesswomen. The inductees represent a cross-section of professionals in Uncrewed Aerial Systems and Advanced Air Mobility industry-enabling career fields. Sabrewing Aircraft Company is once again sponsoring the awards. Sabrewing CEO Ed De Reyes says, “We value the opportunity to recognize women who embody the spirit of innovation and perseverance while paving the way for others. Their contributions fuel innovation, creativity, and growth in our industry.”
The Co-Chairs and hosts for the Women in Emerging Aviation Technologies Awards are Hall of Fame inductees from last year. Miriam McNabb is editor of DRONELIFE.com and Marilyn Pearson is CAE’s Global Regulatory Affairs Lead for AAM/eVTOL/UAS. “This is a very exciting and transformational time in aviation, with new technologies not seen since the advent of the jet engine.” says Pearson. “The women being recognized and honored by Women in Emerging Technologies are the future of aviation and will inspire and drive our workforce toward scientific advancements and innovative technologies that will transform aviation modalities.” Adds McNabb, “I am so very excited to welcome this new cadre of industry leaders to Washington DC and to the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor to host these women and see their names and careers celebrated as drone industry pioneers.”
From the impressive nominations received from around the world, a panel of judges has chosen these eleven outstanding women as 2023 Hall of Fame inductees:
Loretta Alkalay – Aviation attorney and Adjunct Professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology. Alkalay holds an FAA remote pilot certificate with sUAS rating and also serves as a regulatory consultant, specializing in issues related to compliance with federal aviation regulations including drone rules.
Barbara Bollard – Professor Bollard is a professor of Remote Sensing at the University of Wollongong and a leader in the field of drone remote sensing, renowned for her pioneering research in both Antarctica and extreme desert environments. Her groundbreaking achievements have significantly advanced the capabilities of drone technology, transforming data collection and analysis in these challenging terrains.
Jackie Dujmovic – Founder and CEO of Hover UAV in Australia. As a commercial UAS Pilot and accomplished Chief Remote Pilot, Dujmovic’s expertise is establishing robust communication and procedural frameworks with regulators across local, national, and international spheres. Her ultimate mission is the seamless integration of drone systems into everyday life, commitments to safety, compliance, and navigating intricate operational approvals.
Desiree Ekstein – Founder of On The Go Video and accomplished figure in the UAS industry. Ekstein is dedicated to promoting safety and education as a Lead FAASTeam Representative and AUVSI TOP Level 3 pilot. She is also involved in the “Girls Take Flight” initiative which encourages young women to explore careers in the science and technology fields.
Laurie Grindle – Deputy Center Director, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. Grindle assists in the management of the NASA field center, focusing on strategy, business processes, and institutional management. She has also served in multiple leadership roles overseeing Unmanned Air Vehicles and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew vehicle abort test booster.
Sonet Kock – Director of Drone Policy & Regulatory Development. Sonet is Founder and Managing Director of AviComply (Pty) Ltd, a leading South African consulting firm specializing in Aviation Compliance Solutions. She is known for her expertise and extensive experience in Aviation Regulatory Compliance and has dedicated her efforts to ensuring quality and safety assurance for both crewed and uncrewed flight operations.
Mercy Makau – President and Founder of the Young Aviator Club of Africa as well as Chairperson of Drone Club Kenya. Makau is considered a passionate change maker, deeply committed to empowering youth and promoting gender equity in Africa’s aviation and aerospace industry.
Jenn Player – Senior Director of Global Aviation Regulatory Affairs at Skydio. Jenn collaborates with customers, regulators, and standards development organizations to advance autonomy and unlock safe and effective docked drone operations. Jenn’s early work to integrate drones into the National Airspace System led to the first long-range BVLOS civil flight in the continental United States.
Dr. Debbie Saunders – Founder, CEO and Chief Remote Pilot of Wildlife Drones. The Australian company is transforming biodiversity conservation by developing innovative technological solutions, including the world’s most advanced drone-based radio-telemetry sensor that empowers endangered and invasive species managers globally to simultaneously track the movements of many animals from a drone in real-time.
Annalisa Russell-Smith – Chief Strategy Officer, Flyby Technology. The company flew the COVID virus between laboratories and chemotherapy to isolated communities and Russell-Smith was the first civilian female in the United Kingdom to become a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) pilot.
Abigail Smith – Executive Director (A), of the FAA’s UAS Security Office, which serves as the focal point for all matters related to drone and air mobility (AAM) security in U.S. airspace. Within this role Smith leads the FAA’s efforts to safely integrate detection and mitigation systems for drones and AAM operations into the National Airspace System.
About the Women in Emerging Aviation Technologies Awards
Since 2017 Women and Drones has recognized the trailblazers, innovators, mentors, and business leaders who are making significant contributions to the UAS/AAM industry. Each year the company runs a global search for the women and organizations who are inspiring innovations and solutions, positively shaping the public perceptions of UAS/AAM technology, empowering more women to enter the industry as well as advocating for more inclusive practices in STEM and aviation. The individual awards are designed to acknowledge and inspire women who are driving change and leading the emerging aviation industry closer to gender parity. The company awards acknowledge organizations that in their pursuit of excellence, have a culture of inclusiveness where women are engaged in key roles leadership positions of the organization.