The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program was founded by three close friends of Brooke—Lori Garver, Cassie Kloberdanz Lee, and William Pomerantz— who each hold senior positions in the aerospace industry. The program was grown and nurtured with the input, assistance, guidance, and encouragement from countless more aerospace leaders whose lives were improved by knowing Brooke.
Shortly after Brooke passed away in 2017, Cassie, Lori, and Will worked together to develop a new program to carry on her legacy. Like Brooke, it was to be something unique and purpose-driven, designed to tackle a complex, high-stakes challenge. Fueled by passion and by Brooke’s legacy, we prototyped, deployed, implemented, and iterated through two classes of Fellows. Across the board, our Fellows have reported feeling both more driven and better prepared for successful careers in aerospace as a result of their experiences in our program.
Three times now, we have been able to identify, recruit, and place more than one hundred extraordinary undergraduate women into meaningful jobs at phenomenal institutions. Our Fellows have helped conduct launches; built flight hardware for launch vehicles, aircraft, and satellites; educated and inspired an even younger generation; prepared reports that inform federal policy and industry standards; and have helped their Host companies raise money, impress customers, and deliver on inspiring missions. They have formed one-on-one relationships with mentors that include astronauts, CEOs, a self-made billionaire, and celebrated scientists and engineers. They’ve gotten to learn directly from industry leaders who span the entire political spectrum, from Congresswoman McSally (R-AZ) to Senator Murray (D-WA), and who occupy the most critical offices in our industry, from National Space Council Executive Secretary Scott Pace to Lt. Gen. John Thompson, the Commander of the US Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center.
We are honored that, new as it is, our Fellowship program has already been honored with the Patti Grace Smith Award from the American Astronautical Society and the Stakeholder Expansion Award from the Space Frontier Foundation. But our favorite accomplishments to date are the those of the seventy-six incredible women who call themselves “Brookies”—so many of whom are now beginning their careers with full-time jobs at our Host institutions, armed with a network of top-tier mentors and a cohort of like-minded, similarly extraordinary young women set up for long term success.
None of this would have happened without an incredible community of individuals and organizations that share our purpose. Had we not found willing partners at incredible companies and non-profits across so many different sectors of aerospace; or if these firms had not stepped up to show a shared commitment to increasing gender equality in our industry and to recruiting, training, and retaining the best talent available, this program would be nothing more than a name and a dream. From our inspiring Host companies to our beloved Mentors, and from our friends at The Future Space Leaders Foundation – who hosted as a program before we earned our own legal status a tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit – to every individual who has ever spread the word about the program or made a donation, we have succeeded due to the generosity, dedication, and creativity of our friends and peers.
We are a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. The program is still run by our three founders, with the help of a network of volunteer coordinators and mentors – including our alumnae. All donations we receive go directly to recruiting and supporting our Fellows, and are tax deductible to the legal limit as allowed by the IRS.