To build the best program, start with the best team.
The success of the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program is built on the contributions of countless current and future leaders in aerospace. From the companies that employee our Fellows to the executives, astronauts, and pioneers who mentor them to the Fellows themselves. And, of course, our Founding team still draws on a deep and personal connection with our namesake, Brooke Owens, every day.
The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program was founded by three close friends of Brooke: Lori Garver, Cassie Kloberdanz Lee, and William Pomerantz. Lori, Cassie, and Will each hold senior positions in the aerospace industry, and each had the chance to know Brooke as both a friend and as a colleague.
The three still run our program as unpaid volunteers, and are responsible for everything from spreading the word to potential applicants, running the selection committee, matching Fellows and Hosts, hand-picking Mentors for each Fellow, and coordinating our annual Brooke Owens Summit. Lori, Cassie, and Will take a personal interest in fostering the future success of each and every Fellow.
The Honorable Lori Garver is General Manager of the Air Line Pilots Association Int'l, the largest airline pilot union in the world. Before joining ALPA, Lori was the Deputy Administrator of NASA - serving its third longest tenure in the position. Prior to her Senate confirmation, she headed the NASA transition team and was the lead space policy advisor to Senator Clinton and Mr. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Lori's other senior positions have included Vice President of Avascent and Executive Director of the National Space Society. She is the founder of Capitol Space and AstroMom – which led her to Star City where she trained and received her medical certification for a spaceflight on a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station.
Lori serves on the Board of Directors and Chairs the Governance Committee at Maxar Technologies, a global space communications, robotics and geospatial intelligence company. She is on the Board of Advisors of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and former President of Women in Aerospace and the American Astronautical Society. Lori has served as an appointed special government employee and member of the NASA Advisory Council and the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Council. She has received numerous awards including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Alumni Distinguished Service Award from GWU and an Honorary Doctorate from Colorado College.
Lori earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from Colorado College and a master’s degree in Science, Technology and Public Policy from George Washington University.
Cassie Kloberdanz Lee is the Head of Space Programs at Vulcan Inc. where she leads the development of innovative space solutions in support of Paul G. Allen’s Impact initiatives such as improving ocean health, addressing climate change and using data to save species at risk of extinction. Lee also serves as a representative for Vulcan and the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies to international bodies such as the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), UN Women and the Group on Earth Observation (GEO).
Prior to her work at Vulcan, Lee served as the Business Development Manager for Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems where she also held a variety of engineering roles on the Dream Chaser orbital vehicle program and co-founded the advanced development program. Lee has led Media and Public Relations for SpaceX and began her career as a Propulsion Engineer for NASA at both the Kennedy Space Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Lee is a graduate of the University of Iowa and the University of Colorado Boulder, where she designed and taught a graduate-level course in Aerospace Engineering Sciences, and has served on the Embry Riddle University Commercial Space Operations Advisory Board.
William Pomerantz is Vice President for Special Projects at Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, the innovative launch company for small satellites. Working with in the same role at Virgin Galactic from 2011 - 2017, he helped start Virgin Orbit, as part of his remit to extend Virgin Galactic's efforts beyond space tourism.
Will also serves as the Chair of the Board of Advisors of SEDS-USA, the world's largest student space organization. He is a member of the Editorial Board of ROOM, a Space Journal, among other activities.
Will is a graduate of Harvard, the NASA Academy, and the International Space University. From 2005 - 2011, he worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, serving as the primary author and manager of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE. He has also worked at Brown University, the Futron Corporation, and the United Nations, among others. In 2004, Will co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of SpaceAlumni.com, an early social network for space professionals. He served on two US Federal Advisory Committees: the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee and the National Academies of Science and Engineering’s Committee on Building a Better NASA Workforce.
Will is a working father, and the proud husband of Diana Trujillo, a Mission Lead and the Deputy Project Systems Engineer for the Mars Curiosity Mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Every applicant selected into the Brooke Owens Fellowship Program is paired with two mentors: one at their host institution and another from elsewhere in industry. These mentors help guide our Fellows to ensure they get the most out of the Fellowship--and stay connected with their Fellow in the months after the program ends, to officer advice and counsel as our Fellows complete their education and enter the workforce.
Our mentor pool includes the following senior leaders in the aerospace community.
Who was Dawn Brooke Owens?
Brooke was a beloved friend and colleague to many in the aerospace industry. Coming from humble beginnings in a small mining company town (population: ~2,750) just outside of Death Valley National Park, Brooke managed to make a lasting impact on the industry through talent, character, and sheer determination.
Always an excellent student—she was valedictorian of her high school class… of two people, as she liked to point out—Brooke was an alumna of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the International Space University. Professionally, she worked at the NASA's Johnson Space Center’, the non-profit XPRIZE Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Brooke also committed herself to whole-hearted service. Supporting organizations such as AidChild and Mercy’s Village International, Brooke was passionate about making her world a better place by supporting children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS crisis, ending human trafficking, fighting poverty, and empowering girls and women.
Outside of work and her philanthropic efforts, Brooke was a caring, warm, and adventurous spirit. She was an accomplished pilot, and spent many of her happiest moments flying. She found time to go kayaking, run triathlons, become a party DJ, perform at spoken word events, and a million other things.
Brooke was the sort of person for whom no amount of time on this Earth would have been enough to do all that she wanted to do. Thankfully, she was also the sort of person who lived life to its fullest, and found joy in every moment.
She is dearly missed by an international community of friends, colleagues, mentors, mentees, and loved ones.
What Brooke Meant to Us
Cassie Kloberdanz Lee on Brooke:
My friendship with Brooke was an adventure that spanned three continents and almost 10 years. Brooke’s influence made a positive impact on my career and an even bigger impact on my life. It is an honor to celebrate the energy and spirit that she brought to the industry and into the lives of those lucky enough to have called her a friend.
The Honorable Lori B. Garver on Brooke:
Brooke’s work at the White House and OMB was absolutely critical to the progress made during transition and in the early years of the Obama Administration. Her expertise, tenacity and innovative approach as a budget analyst helped craft the programs that are transforming NASA into a 21st century space agency.
When I shared with Brooke that I was considering leaving NASA for the Air Line Pilots Association, she said I should go for it and reminded me that she was a pilot and that her career goals included running an airport. When the ALPA pilots put me in the Boeing 777 simulator to test their new GM, it was Brooke who coached me through it ("small moves Garver, small moves"). Neither Brooke nor myself have ever been known for “small moves” – but she knew just what to say and kept me from embarrassing myself.
My goal in helping establish the Brooke Owens Fellowship is to create opportunities for more young women like Brooke to have careers in aviation and space, while at the same time assuring our community benefits from their involvement.
I have two wonderful sons who adored Brooke – one wrote a song for her called “From Up Here.” I love Brooke Owens like a daughter and our family will never be the same without her. I’m looking forward to mentoring other amazing women through the Fellowship – I always wanted a big family.
Rebecca Spyke Keiser, PhD on Brooke:
Brooke and I worked together when I was at NASA and Brooke was at the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. At NASA I was charged with helping to implement the Administration’s space policy. Brooke was an incredible colleague. She was serious about her role and responsibility as part of the White House and believed strongly in the need to carry out the President’s space policy. And, she often spoke candidly and worked with me as a partner to make sure we were successful. Brooke and I shared a passion for space, both public and commercial efforts, and we wanted to see both the government and the private sector space activities succeed. We worked together to develop the National Space Transportation Policy to assist in these efforts. Brooke always demonstrated intelligence, a sense of humor, and dedication to the task at hand for the greater good.
Serina Diniega, PhD on Brooke:
Brooke was a classmate and a dear friend at the International Space University, where we shared deep passions for space, adventures, and dark chocolate. Brooke was always striving for more in life, from taking a small chance to making the world a better place -- and her actions inspired me and helped me strive for more and better as well. It was with Brooke that I could talk about the deficiencies I felt as I was building my dream career in space exploration, but not be sufficiently in touch with the world and its people. It was Brooke who helped me find ways to include both my social activist interests and my STEM passions, and thus not lose sight of what really matters, over both the short- and long-term.
Will Pomerantz on Brooke:
Brooke was a dear friend, a talented classmate, a trusted co-worker, a wonderful housemate, an always-willing co-conspirator, and an adventurous international travel partner. She was our inspiration and our comic relief. She was an idea-a-minute, bonafide innovator who pushed all of us to do more and to do better. I feel immeasurably lucky to have known her.