IAWA Connect, Inspire and Lead Podcast Series
IAWA Connect, Inspire and Lead Podcast SeriesApr 25, 2023
Lorena Valencia Rosales, Aviation and Corporate Partner at Sabag, Becker & Gerrit Cohen
Lorena Valencia Rosales, Aviation and Corporate Partner at Sabag, Becker & Gerrit Cohen based in Mexico City, Mexico where she has led the firm’s international aviation practice since 2019. She previously worked for BJE Asesores, SC starting as a Junior Lawyer in 2015 and leaving as Partner, a position that she earned in 2018. She previously worked with K1 Speed México, Race of Champion, World Endurance Championship, and Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix in a variety of legal advisory roles and interned with Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil, Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (General Direction of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Communications and Transport.) She is trilingual (Spanish, English, and French) and earned her law degree from Faculdad de Derecho de la Barra Nacional de Abogados; Master degree in Constitutional Law and Amparo, by Faculdad de Derecho de la Barra Nacional de Abogados; Diploma in Aviation Law from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM); Diploma in Legal English, by the Escuela Libre de Derecho; and French Course, by the Sorbonne University, Paris, France.
Lorena is a dynamic thinker who constantly thinks about ways to further her skills and those of others. She left a comfortable practice where she was a Partner to start the Aviation practice of her current firm and cultivate new clientele in the process. She stretches herself intellectually through her work on IAWA’s Marketing & Communications Committee at IAWA and serves as a writer at A21, a Mexican online newspaper that covers news and studies on national and international aviation. On a pro bono basis, she provides legal counseling and social assistance to Trueqmx, a Non-Profit Organization aimed at improving the living situation of vulnerable groups because of their age, sex, disability, and/or low economy, in respect of family, education, health and work.
In our podcast, Lorena speaks about what it means to not just be inspired, but to be motivated to engage and grow. She speaks about being a female leader in Mexico and how important it is to offer support to other women. She speaks about her involvement in IAWA and how it signals that a connection to an association is important to her clients because it highlights loyalty. She further speaks about being inspired by leaders who are younger than her and how she surrounds herself with people who give her feedback and hold her accountable. She also incorporates the ideas, wisdom, and thoughts of those she does not even know in her personal board of directors. When it comes to building diversity, she offers a unique perspective on what is needed: flexibility. This is because when we do things that are difficult, it makes us uncomfortable; however, that allows us to grow and become adaptable.
Elizabeth "Liz" Booker, Literary Aviatrix
Elizabeth "Liz" Booker, Literary Aviatrix on social media, where she works to amplify the voices of authors whose works feature women in aviation . Prior to becoming “Literary Aviatrix” in 2019, her illustrious career included serving as a helicopter pilot for the US Coast Guard, aviation human resource manager for 27 air stations, implementing the strategic initiatives of the organization at a joint interagency task force, and serving as the senior advisor to a US Ambassador on U.S. military partnerships with seven Eastern Caribbean nations. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations/Political Science from American Military University; Master in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She resides in Florida with her family, and in addition to her @literaryaviatrix handle, you can find her on Instagram @bigredandpancho, which highlights the playfulness of her two four-legged children.
Liz exemplifies what it means to “think outside of the box” when it comes to one’s career path. Her career journey was neither planned, nor was it linear, but it was built-step-by-step through her curiosity to willingness to learn and grow. Where she started her career and where she is today highlights her grit and determination. She knows what it means to mentor and build community, particularly with women throughout the aviation industry, and the importance advocating for others who are not being heard when you ascend to the role of leadership. And while her career path might seem to take an unexpected pivot in 2019, it was truly a natural progression towards the next chapter for her that was thoughtfully developed.
In our podcast, we speak about what happens when you know you are on the right path: the universe speaks to you as you build a community of over 1900+ dedicated, likeminded individuals who share their wisdom and empower each other. She shares what it means to listen to your mentors when they see something that perhaps you did not initially and how we can all look to support our peers as well as the people who are coming up behind us. She also speaks about being forced to create connections through her graduate school coursework and what happens when you build that habit. We also speak about the importance of enjoying your job and creating space for down time to re-energize.
Sanila Samuel, Regional Director – Commercial Field Services for GE Aerospace
Sanila Samuel, Regional Director – Commercial Field Services for GE Aerospace in the Middle East, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates where she leads a team of engineers that is responsible for technical product support for an installed base of 850+ commercial aircraft engines flown by all major airlines in the region. During her 15+ years of experience, she has held leadership positions throughout the globe in her homeland of India, China, the US, and the Middle East. She earned her BE In Industrial Engineering and Management from RV College of Engineering and her MBA from Symbiosis International University. She maintains a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and hosts a podcast, Unlimited Seating that highlights the voices of female leaders from many different industries who are located throughout the globe.
Sanila exemplifies what it means to be an Impact Player. She never thought about becoming a leader, but her natural curiosity about others and ensuring their successes gathered the notice of leaders in her companies that engendered trust that led to sponsorship. She not only looks at how to create better processes, she builds collaboration through her curiosity to ensure that she is bringing others with her to realize the greater vision. Not one to rest on her accomplishments, she uses her community and their connections to bring others to table to discuss the challenges and opportunities of being a female leader with guest from diverse backgrounds and challenges that builds trust and empathy.
In our podcast, we speak about how enabling her superpower of curiosity led her on the path to travel the globe and work with a variety of people from different countries. She also shares how the simple act of reaching out to others and asking them to grab a coffee, builds trust and community. She speaks about her personal board of directors and ensuring that it is small, but impactful in who holds her accountable based upon their knowledge of her goals and her journey so far. We further speak about how diversity of background is critical to building a team that builds off of others’ strengths and areas of expertise and that we should all look to bring another woman to the table whenever possible.
Maedeh Ravan - Customer Success Manager for In flight Operations at OpenAirlines
Maedeh Ravan, Customer Success Manager for In flight Operations at OpenAirlines. She was the first (2021) IAWA Scholarship Recipient from our partnership with École Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) in Toulouse, France where she earned her Masters of Science in Aviation/Airway Management. She is originally from Iran where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical Engineering. At the 2022 IAWA Annual Conference in Lisbon, she joined fellow IAWA Scholarship recipients Divya Kamania, Mary E. Smith, and Nadine Duursma on a panel that highlighted what the next generation of leaders in the aviation industry are experiencing so that we can better collaborate Among her many languages, she speaks Persian, English, and is currently learning French.
Maedeh exemplifies what courage, connection, curiosity, collaboration, and confidence mean. Growing up in a country where other countries limit their interaction that could deter one from pursuing their goals, she found ways to identify obstacles and treat them as opportunities from which she could grow. She pursued her vision of becoming a member of the global aviation industry and traveled to France to extend her education and realize her career goals. She believes that the meaning of life is focused on being dynamic – constant growth through learning – rather than being static and resting on one’s achievements.
In our podcast, we speak about how in order to realize a vision, you need to believe in it first and make connections with those who believe in you in order to realize your vision as well as the importance of challenging your beliefs in order to grow. She speaks about how her family supported her by giving words to those actions that crystallized her vision and how IAWA continues to provide her with the additional runway to realize it, including facing her fears. She speaks about how her confidence has grown since becoming an IAWA Member and it reshaped her vision for who she could become and how she can make an impact on others through the leadership opportunities that she now realizes that she can achieve. We further speak about how in order to create diversity within the aviation industry, we must look at the potential that one possesses that is not based solely upon academic skills as grit, determination, and integrity are also invaluable.
Sarah Humpleby, Asset Finance and Aviation Partner at Walkers
Sarah Humpleby, Asset Finance and Aviation Partner at Walkers, located in George Town, Cayman Islands where she works with clients across the aviation (as well as maritime) industry providing financing advise for lessors, financiers, and airlines. Prior to joining Walkers, Sarah served in legal counsel capacities in banking and finance, specializing in the aviation industry while residing in London, UK at DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (including a secondment to Barclays Capital). She frequently writes and co-authors articles on Cayman Island legal issues and aviation finance and speaks at industry events to share her knowledge. Throughout her illustrious career, her industry peers noted her excellence and she was named as a legal rising star by AirFinance Journal (2013) Euromoney Expert Guides (2016 and 2019), and Legal 500 Rising Star (2020.)
Sarah knows what it means to say “yes” to career opportunities. Throughout her career, she accepted new responsibilities that stretched her skills and enabled her to be in a position to grow professionally. Her decision to focus on aviation finance created a pathway in her career that offered mentorship and highlighted her skills, which were noted by the global aviation legal finance community. In 2018, she relocated from the UK to the Cayman Islands, where she ascended to the pivotal role of Partner in 2021. She continues to give back to the aviation industry by both mentoring others and through her involvement in IAWA and 100 Women in Finance.
In our podcast, we speak about how the aviation legal community in the Cayman Islands fosters collaboration and camaraderie amongst competitors. She speaks about her personal board of directors and the need to include those who do not think like you so that they can hold you accountable; we also speak about the need to reevaluate one’s board members so that you continue to obtain the best advice at different stages of your career. Sometimes we need to be kind and tell people what they need, rather than be nice and tell them what they want to hear. We further speak about how diversity can be created by bringing voices that are not being heard to the table so that we do not live in a proverbial echo chamber and she reflects on the impact that diversity of background continues to make on the legal system.
María Eugenia Yábar, Partner at Estudio Olaechea
María Eugenia Yábar, Partner at Estudio Olaechea and based in Peru. With over 30 years of experience in providing specialized legal advice to national and international clients in the airline and equipment industry; she is an expert in the aviation industry; and she is a leading professional in Aeronautical Law in the country and within Latin America. She has been included in the Experts Guide as a leading aviation lawyer in Peru and distinguished by the legal guide Latin Lawyer as one of the 50 most inspiring women in law in the Latin America. She has been a speaker and panelist at various local and international conferences and seminars. Author of articles for legal journals and local press on regulatory issues.
You can hear María Eugenia smile as she speaks and her genuine warmth pulls you into learning more about this intelligent person. She comes from a family of women who know the value of working towards their professional goals and the importance of building a community in the process. As a woman, she started her leadership journey at her university and by becoming the first female attorney and then later, a partner at her law firm. She is quick to point out that she is not the last and credits the community that she continues to invest in towards ensuring that other women join her and that their value is appreciated. She is intentional in building others up and beyond her own status as that is what a leader does.
In our podcast, we speak about being a member of the IAWA’s “Latin American Airforce” that is comprised of Alina Nassar in Costa Rica and Elizabeth Freidenberg in Argentina who worked together to bring IAWA’s 2019 Annual Conference to Peru as a way to highlight the opportunities that exist for the aviation industry in Latin America and how it can be built through the talent and expertise of the global aviation community. Throughout our conversation, she emphasizes the power of belief, curiosity, integrity, and collaboration that is centered on the value that people with different backgrounds bring to the table. Most importantly, as a leader she does not rest on her accomplishments and instead reinvests in herself by building relationships with others who are new to the aviation industry to move them forward on their path to excellence. She reflects on how believing in diversity must always be the first priority in order to realize the value from it.
Carina Manase, 2022 IAWA Scholarship Recipient
Carina Manase, the 2022 IAWA Scholarship Recipient from our partnership with École Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) in Toulouse, France where she is focused on earning her Masters in Aerospace Systems Navigation and Telecommunication. She is originally from Tanzania and it was at the University of Dar es
Salaam that she earned her Bachelor of Science and Communication. In between her academic career, she interned at an engineering firm
and a telecommunications firm in Tanzania and further showcased her leadership skills during her academic career. She is further involved in activities that benefit the members of her community that need her support. Among her many languages, she speaks Swahili, English, and French.
Carina puts you at ease with her gratitude, confidence, and humility. One of the many highlights of her application for the IAWA Scholarship include her leadership experiences; the direction where she is heading in her career; and how she is bringing others with her. She has been focused on joining the
aviation industry since a young age and remains focused on doing so in a way that is intuitive for her. Her CV highlights her desire to participate in it: “Passionate in Aviation and Technology. Its constant growth and mind-blowing innovations not to mention its undeniable achievements are things that inspires me to stretch out my limits to be a part of it.”
In our podcast, we speak about what attracted her to apply for IAWA’s Scholarship and how IAWA’s Scholarship is“life changing” for her beyond the financial support, which reflects her gratitude to the IAWA community and the investment that it makes to build the pipeline of the next generation of leaders. She speaks about how inspiration can take you so far and that we need to be there to connect to and support others so that we in turn remain focused on our goals when we think we cannot continue. She shares how being a part of IAWA changed her idea of what success means and how that changed her idea of leadership to being focused on understanding the entire community and how you can contribute and support others at any stage of your career. We further speak about the opportunities to join the aviation industry in Africa and how we can foster awareness for careers in our global industry.
Ivana Alvares-Marshall, Pilot/Governor of the African Section Ninety Nines Intl Organization of Women Pilots
Among the many impressive hats she wears, she is a pilot for a corporate company based in Malawi; the founder and first Governor of the African Section of Ninety Nines International Organization of Women Pilots (the “99s”); Founder of Girls Wings for Africa Project & STEM; a member of the Department For Transport UK Aviation Ambassadors Group, which is working to build the pipeline of skilled, diverse, and sustainable workforce for the aviation industry; and a Global Goodwill Ambassador.
Ivana is a profound proponent of bringing men AND women into the aviation industry within Africa and is an advocate for both the aviation industry and STEM. She is humble about her accomplishments and her smile and laugh quickly puts people at ease. She dreamed of becoming a pilot since the age of 10 and worked on three continents as a pilot. Unlike the female pilots in North America or Europe, the number of female pilots in Africa is minimal – approximately 1%. While inspired by women in the industry, it was the men who welcomed her and continue to support her career.
In our podcast, we speak about Ivana’s path to leadership that is forged upon letting go of her fears and pushing herself out of her comfort zone. As a child, she was bullied and overcame her concern about being the sole woman in her flight class because the men were supportive. While she was initially hesitant to organize a flying event, doing so enabled her to realize this was a previous untapped skill that caused people in the industry to take notice of her leadership skills. From a work perspective, she let go of a path that was no longer working and through connections, found her current path. She reflects on discomfort being temporary and how it is important to see the situation from a long-term perspective: When one door closes, another opens.
She speaks about sisterhood, particularly in Africa and the unique issues that people face on the Continent that bring everyone together to lift one another up. She speaks about the STEM activities in Malawi as well as the forthcoming women’s pilot conference that will be held in Tanzania during 2024 that includes a safari – If IAWA members want to join or speak, please contact Ivana!
Lauren Kinelski, Vice President of Marketing for Jetcraft
Lauren Kinelski, Vice President of Marketing for Jetcraft where she leads a talented team of global marketeers that generates brand awareness, markets aircraft inventory and builds unique experiences for aircraft owners. She currently resides in London, after relocating in 2018 with the opening of Jetcraft’s new HQ offices A specialist in luxury consumer brands, she previously managed communications for Evian Natural Spring water and the Rémy Cointreau luxury wine and spirits portfolio. She served as Associate Vice President for Marketing Agency French West Vaughan, and held several positions with the global public relations agency, Weber Shandwick. Lauren began her career at Fox News Channel as a Media Relations Coordinator and assistant to the Vice President of Corporate Communications. She earned her BA in Business Marketing from James Madison University.
Lauren never thought of aviation as a career and found her way to it proving that great talent can be cultivated that ultimately benefits the aviation industry. She relies upon her colleagues at work and in the industry and continues to learn and share her joy for the aviation industry with others on her team, particularly those who are new to the industry. She also never saw herself as a leader and advocates for speaking about the cheerleaders in your life who can see your strengths and propel you to assume new roles that grow your experiences. She believes in asking for help and values developing relationships in smaller settings as she expands her network.
In our podcast, we speak about the multi-cultural leadership styles that Lauren values as the 70+ person team at Jetcraft is located throughout the world. We further speak about what it means to work for a leader in the industry and the importance of collaborating with organizations that may be your direct competitors. We further speak about what investing in yourself looks like for Lauren and it includes hiring support to ensure that you grow professionally and personally as some of the hard tasks associated with hiring a career coach and personal trainer ultimately empower you to be the best version of yourself. Lastly, we speak about fostering diversity and what it means to be vocal when we see situations that conflict with our values.
Abby Bried, Vice President and General Counsel for Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Abby current serves on IAWA’s Advisory Board having previously served as President and in many other roles on the Board. Her previous experiences include Partner and Co-Chair of the Aviation and Aerospace practice at Jenner & Block and Associate General Counsel at United Airlines and as Senior International Attorney at Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines prior to their acquisitions by United Airlines. Abby is the Chair-Elect for the American Bar Association’s Air & Space Law Forum.
Abby’s passion for aviation law commenced when she was in high school and while others attempted to discourage her due to a lack of diversity, she believed in herself and pursued her goal. Throughout her illustrious career, she prioritized and intentionally built life-long connections, particularly with women in the industry. She began attending IAWA Conferences in 1998 and always supports her IAWA members from attending the 2018 and 2019 General Aviation Forums and participating in an event that engaged 100 Southern Methodist University Law Students to consider joining the aviation industry due to the diversity within it (four joined as Scholars after the event and many are now pursuing work in the aviation industry.)
In our podcast, we spoke about Abby’s superpower: Meaningful connections. She is able to walk into a room of 200+ people that she does not know and make connections that she thoughtfully builds upon over time. She spoke about how she prepares for conferences and networking events that rely upon her curiosity and allows her to be purposeful. She speaks about how she stands out in a crowd, physically with what she wears and what she does and does not say, that when combined, foster purposeful interactions. She further discusses how her career benefited from her purposeful connections and how she in turn pays it forward. We further discuss the importance of diversity and what each of us can do to attract and retain diverse talent within the aviation industry.
René Banglesdorf, Founder of The Aviation Collective
René is the founder of The Aviation Collective and the Chairman of Charlie Bravo Aviation. She is currently an IAWA Advisory Board member and previously served in several positions on the IAWA Board. She is a podcast host (Leadership in Aviation), a serial entrepreneur, author, keynote speaker, and she was appointed to serve on the FAA’s Women In Aviation Advisory Board (“WIAAB”) where she, along with 29 other impressive women who work in the aviation industry, provided 55 recommendations to the FAA in order to attract and retain women in the aviation industry in the United States.
As a journalism major, she never lets an opportunity to tap into her curiosity and grow pass her by. Although she Co-Founded a successful business aircraft brokerage company, she tapped into her enjoyment of high-performance business coaching and took coursework to develop herself. Through her work on the FAA’s WIAAB, she enhanced her knowledge of diversity and how it impacts workplace culture, specifically in the aviation industry.
Her recent career pivot is focused on developing leaders in aviation and creating a culture of respect and engagement. In early 2022, she compiled a workplace culture survey, and the 350+ participants crossed all continents and generations of people working in our industry. The resulting report highlights the fact that men and women equally value good workplace culture and exposes that business leaders and their employees have differing opinions about how good of a job companies are doing in providing that. In a time of great need for talent pipeline development, a thriving culture is critical—and achievable.
In our podcast, we focused on how to expand our mindset. She divulges that she started her podcast series because it was something that “scared” her; however, being outside of her comfort zone enabled her to “stretch herself” while simultaneously developing community. She spoke about the importance of overcoming “limiting beliefs” and replacing them with “liberating truths” and shares a personal example that highlights how we can all let go of saying “no” and instead just do it. She additionally speaks about what it means to invest in herself and the importance of accountability.
Shaesta Waiz, Founder and President of Dreams Soar
Shaesta was a keynote speaker at IAWA’s first General Aviation Forum in 2018 where she spoke about becoming the world record holder as the youngest woman to solo circumnavigate the globe in 2017. By traveling through five continents on the globe, she met with over 3,000 students and leaned into the joy of aviation as seen from children throughout the world. Upon her return to the US, she partnered with one of her best friends from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (Michael Wildes) to develop AVIATE with Shaesta, which is a media company that highlights the unique voices of women working in the aviation industry. AVIATE is as intentional in its name as it is in its purpose: Acknowledge, Vocalize, Inclusion, Act, Travel, Evolve. She resides in Texas with her family and recently joined IAWA.
Her smile and enthusiasm could power a legion of Teslas, but what makes Shaesta so engaging is that her career – including her path to aviation – is about what happens when you overcome your fears AND about how your actions lead to real impact. Her story and ability to create lasting impact continues to be written. In 2021, she supported the efforts of Zara Rutherford who, at age 17, broke Shaesta’s world record and Shaesta’s actions highlight what happens when women support each other – world records are broken! Before then and while she attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, she created a female ambassador program out of necessity that in a matter of two years, caused female attendance to grow from 12% to 22%. Her AVIATE LinkedIn Lounges attract such prolific and empowering women as Cindy Gallop, Liz Sara (also an IAWA GA Forum speaker), and Carol Parrish that provide a forum for women to consider personal and professional possibilities and sets the foundation for discovery and growth.
In our podcast, Shaesta speaks not only about the overcoming her own fears, but about the importance of resilience through her unending curiosity. She also sees the work on her podcast as a collaboration with other women whose voices should be heard. And most importantly, we speak about how our dreams DO matter and what you can obtain from setting big audacious goals.
Dustin Cordier, Head of Global Sales at OGARAJETS
Dustin Cordier, Head of Global Sales at OGARAJETS and additionally serves on the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)’s Business Aviation Management Committee. Dustin began his career in the military after graduating from the US Air Force Academy and segued into business aviation, serving in leadership roles at Flight Safety International, Cessna (Textron), Embraer, and JetAviva where he served as its Managing Partner prior to joining OGARAJETS earlier this year. He previously served as the NBAA’s Leadership Committee Co-Chair and continues to be dedicated to leadership issues within the business aviation community.
Dustin is effervescent and a natural at meeting and connecting with people. He commanded a room of over 450 people at the NBAA Leadership Conference with his wit and ease and will be participating in the 2022 IAWA Annual Conference workshop regarding moving from Protégé to Mentee. He also founded a leadership coaching firm to further his take on leadership that is simple, yet elegant – Leadership is about how you influence others that ultimately can lead to impact through how you lead. He is true to his values and embodies the concept of “Servant Leadership” that is based on five key activities: You must be AUTHENTIC; You must be VULNERABLE; you must be ACCEPTING; you must be PRESENT; and you must be USEFUL. These are not merely ideals – he reassesses his achievements and areas for growth on a monthly basis.
In our podcast, Dustin speaks about how he was one IAWA’s first Advocates and covers a multitude of leadership issues ranging from the different types of leaders and their importance (Elon Musk vs his fellow US Air Force Academy graduate, Greg Popovich); a leader in business aviation who he holds in high regard (Ed Bolen) given his ability to lead through the turbulent waters created by the global pandemic; the importance of developing your “Who Map” (you will DEFINTELY want to take notes!) as it pertains to developing your personal board of directors; how non-aviation industry groups can play an important part in the development of your leadership; and the importance of showing grace for those who are learning about the importance of diversity.
Lee Brewster, Vice President of Thoroughbred Aviation
Lee is responsible for implementing and managing the planning, business performance, and strategic initiatives that ensure the success and growth of the organization while engaging with the aviation industry as a spokesperson. She commenced working in the aviation industry with a focus on a unique blend of marketing, community engagement, and maintenance and previously worked for both FlightSafety International and FlightDocs, which was acquired by ATP. In her spare time, she co-hosts the podcast, Jet Blast, which highlights people and small businesses that do great work in business aviation. She resides in Texas with her family and recently joined IAWA due to the organization’s focus on developing the next generation of female leaders while simultaneously investing it the growth of its members.
In addition to being able to light up the room with her enthusiasm for life, Lee possesses a growth mindset that is built on the foundation of curiosity. Rather than waiting for others to share their knowledge, she actively sought experts who would share their knowledge on complex maintenance and aviation issues. She, in turn, proved that she was worth the investment of time because she listened and implemented lessons learned so that she could grow and ultimately share that knowledge with others. She also seeks joy so that she can share it with others in the aviation community, which led to the creation of the podcast with her friends.
In our podcast, Lee speaks about the importance of mentorship and how she was never afraid to ask questions as she knew it would help her grow in her career. She also speaks about how the Jet Blast podcast is bringing fresh perspectives to the aviation industry and broadening the table by highlighting small businesses and sharing diverse voices that are not frequently heard. The unscripted collaboration between the co-hosts and the guests is foundational to engaging the aviation industry to think in ways it normally does not. But most importantly, the outcome is impactful as it includes (among many things) thoughtful discussions on mental health issues and why underrepresented communities are worth supporting.
Nina Milo (nee Melissa Zulueta), Director of Operations & Technology, Aeronautical Systems
Nina is a recent Apprentice with IAWA and brings a long history of organization and implementation from education, where she oversaw the development of music curriculum for the State of Florida and transferred it an online forum. Her skills support the growth, efficiency and expansion of the organization's business development that is focused on providing aviation aircraft appraisals in the business aviation community along with expert testimony. And she is sharing her exceptional organizational skills with IAWA as we build our Career Growth Committee programs. She and her father, Joseph Zuleuta, are IAWA’s first Daughter – Father pair.
Nina actively finds ways to create efficiencies through technology while deepening connection in everything that she does. She actively listens to podcasts (We Can Do Hard Things - Glennon Doyle; On Purpose - Jay Shetty; The Asset Insight Podcast; and HBR Women at Work) and reads articles (Entrepreneur - CEO insights and Harvard Business Review - Case Studies) to find new ways to view the world. The apps she recommends that create both efficiency and engagement include: Fellow (for meeting organization); Loom (in screen recording); Spark (BEST EMAIL APP EVER); and BizCarding (digital business cards.) She is also a whiz at Canva and frequently uses this app to build engagement and connection with clients and the aviation community.
In our podcast, Nina shares her thoughts on networking and connections. She believes networking is investing in yourself and the people in the community. Connection is important to build in our careers and it the little things that we do to research and connect with others that develop lasting relationships. She currently curates individualized videos as a way to introduce herself and make a new connection. She further shares the importance of people who have been in the industry for some time to reach out to the next generation. The generosity of our time is what will retain new members to it. As a Latina, she further discusses the need for valuing people from diverse backgrounds and the need to highlight the joy we have for working in the aviation industry to people of pre-college ages.
Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison, Change Management Advisor and Leadership Coach, FAA
Vanessa Blacknall-Jamison, is a Change Management Advisor and Leadership Coach with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); an Adjunct Professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, and Chairwoman to the Board of Advisors of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP.) Vanessa’s expansive career in the aviation industry includes focusing on how people can grow and empower themselves. She commenced her career with United Airlines and segued into her role with the FAA. She consistently contributes to the well-being and growth of her community having held leadership positions with OBAP and the Civil Air Patrol.
Vanessa is known for her grace in addressing the hard things that we MUST do to move ourselves forward and the sound of her soulful voice places you at ease, even when she is sharing difficult news. She spoke at IAWA’s 2020 Annual conference and organized OBAP’s multipart Courageous Conversations as a way to constructively open mindsets on the importance of addressing the need for greater diversity in the aviation industry. Her personal journey, like many of ours, is not linear and it is profoundly relatable. Without formal mentors, sponsors, or champions, her resilience and belief in herself is a reminder to all of us that we cannot grow without self-confidence and belief in ourselves becoming the two cornerstones of our foundation.
In our podcast, Vanessa describes her journey and how being a leader means being an advocate for your people, which involves listening so that you can motivate and engage those who work for you. With that engagement, you can tap into your team’s strengths and support their growth. We speak about the abstract concept of being a visionary leader and what that means in practical terms as well as our mutual appreciation for Ted Lasso (and its real-life inspiration) that recognizes the value in people, which leads to deep wins. We further talk about her intentionality in selecting her personal board members and that sometimes the best self-care we can offer ourselves is the power of “no.” We further talk about taking risks, which is another term for opportunities, and the power of diversity in our ability to make impactful decisions.
Greg Principato, President and CEO, National Aeronautic Association
Greg began his career in politics and segued into law before landing in aviation. He first served as the President of Airports Council International (ACI) – North America. He followed that with time at the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) where he served as President and CEO. Today, Greg is the President and CEO of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). In this role, Greg oversees the mission to highlight the persistence and accomplishments of those who excel in aviation and aerospace.
Greg is naturally charismatic and easily delivers joy to others on the dullest of days. When engaged, he breaks the ice by sharing that he LOVES baseball and has visited 46 major league stadiums (including all 30 in current use). Leaning on what he has learned by experience and absorbing from the impactful leaders on the NAA Board and those influencers around him, Greg does not read management theory books. Rather, he immerses himself in history, with an emphasis on American Presidents. He is not only fond of understanding “what made them tick”, but also where they lived and thrived. Greg enjoys relating to these pivotal leaders to such a degree that he has personally visited all of these leaders’ final resting places. He admires, and is inspired by, people who stood for their beliefs at great personal risk (such as Viola Liuzzo; James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner) when they could easily have stayed on the sidelines.
In our podcast, Greg speaks about what inspired him to become one of the first IAWA Advocates and the importance that women play as mentors in his life, even from the very beginning. He reveals the influence of his mother and relates fondly how she routinely ensured him that anything a boy can do a girl can do too. He speaks about the effect of growing outside of one’s comfort zone. Greg is a champion of DE&I and the importance of casting a wider net. Additionally, Greg calls on leadership to generate a diversity of thought as a way to attain their recruitment and retention goals. From his experience, Greg shares the value, especially for men, of including female mentors in their careers. He further discusses the secrets to a long and active life as found from speaking with other leaders - tapping into your curiosity to expand your mind. Finally, Greg discusses the concept of a “personal board of directors” to help one reach outside of aviation to maintain perspective as well as engage your curiosity and innovation.
Patty Clark, Retired Aviation Executive
Patty Clark is a Retired Aviation Executive who recently served as the Chief Aviation Strategy Officer for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Patty commenced her illustrious career at the age of 17 working for US Senator Daniel Moynihan and intertwined government and nonprofit organizations to achieve results wherever she worked. In her “retirement” she started an aviation advisory firm, PCAA, a business unit of Project Gestalt, Inc. She is dedicated both in her work with PCAA and her volunteer activities, in improving and supporting women and other underrepresented individuals and entities in the aviation industry. She currently serves as a Board Member for Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, which is an IAWA Scholarship Partner. She is currently serving as a Co-Chair for IAWA’s Mentoring Committee.
Patty personifies courage and resilience. She was working on the 65th Floor of One World Trade Center when it was struck on 9/11 and she ushered her colleagues to safety (you can hear her recount her experiences here.) Realizing that our paths are not linear when we attempt to move toward equilibrium after traumatic events, she leaned into her community – which includes IAWA - and incorporated purpose into her work and the importance of finding your own space to recharge, reset, and refresh.
In our podcast, Patty speaks about the importance of mentoring young women AND young men; the gratification that comes from watching people grow and who in turn, empower others; and how IAWA’s Mentoring Program is designed not only to support the needs of the next generation of female leaders in the aviation industry, the program will help IAWA Members become better mentors.
Amanda Applegate, CoFounder and Partner of Soar Aviation Law
Amanda is a business aviation attorney who started her career in aviation law while working for NetJets shortly after she graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1998. Through her work, she rose to the position of Associate General Counsel and Vice President of NetJets Services. She transitioned to Partner at Aerlex Law Group where she worked with a variety of aircraft owners and aviation service firms, most notably representing 25 Avantair fractional owner groups comprised of 300 fractional owners following the grounding of the Avantair fleet. She and fellow IAWA Member, Sarah Northcraft Spann, cofounded Soar Aviation Law in 2022 and are taking their woman owned and led business to new heights in the business aviation industry.
Amanda possesses a mindset that we can all admire in our leaders and her journey to a leadership position is one that we can all follow. She started her career as a true “Impact Player” (see the IAWA Book Club for details) where she found ways to create efficiencies for her teams. Her focus attracted both mentors and sponsors who supported her throughout her career. When she stepped into the role of a leader, she did not hire people for the job they could do today, she looked for how they could grow in the future. While many people she mentored eventually sought opportunities with other employers, they are empowering their teams to be their best. Her impact on the aviation industry is still being written.
In our podcast, Amanda also speaks about the importance of communication and asking for what you need, particularly as women who are seeking work-life balance. She also shares how she tapped into her creativity to share her solutions to complex issues that she observed in the industry, which continues to make an impact on those in business aviation.
Connect, Inspire and Lead
Hello IAWA Members! This is Shelley Svoren, an IAWA Board member who serves as the VP of Leader Development and who supports the Career Growth Committee. I am introducing you to our podcast for members and by members that highlights what Connect, Inspire, and Leads from our Members, Scholars, Apprentices, and Advocates who are located throughout the world.
This podcast series is more than just introducing you to IAWA Members located throughout the globe; you will see hear from women of all generations and our Advocates on how they connect, inspire and lead and how you can take those concepts, apply it to what you do, and empower others to do the same.
One of the best pieces of advice that I received was courtesy of Captain Terry Reinhardt from the 2019 IAWA General Aviation Forum. She said when one of us succeeds, we all succeed so when you see a woman who needs support, you give it to her. This is one of the ways we are providing you with that support, that little nudge to make a subtle or perhaps a larger change in how you approach your career so that you succeed – and bring others with you on your journey.
We hope you enjoy the stories and lessons learned from members who place purpose not only in their lives, they share the growth with others. What they did is a source of inspiration; the connections they made should lead us on our path to becoming better people; and they lay the foundation of what it means to be a member of IAWA.
While the world and even the aviation industry is vast; together we are so much more than an organization, than an association, than a network – we are a community focused on building each other up and empowering each other to be our best. I look forward to hearing your stories and sharing the wisdom that came from listening to our community members.