2017 Women of the Year Award Winners Lead the Way
Aerospace kicked off its celebration of Women’s Week on Monday, Aug. 14, by awarding four women with the Women of the Year (WOTY) award, a tradition at the company since 1975.
A number of events are planned to celebrate Women’s Week including a speed mentoring tea in El Segundo on Wednesday, Chantilly speed mentoring on Thursday, and a speaker event with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms being held on Tuesday, Aug. 22. There is also an adult clothing drive all week with donation bins in El Segundo, Chantilly, and Colorado Springs.
This year’s Women’s Week theme, Lead the Way, was chosen to reflect what WOTY winners and other women at Aerospace are doing: serving as positive role models, taking initiative, and doing what’s right in challenging circumstances.
Dr. Anita Polite-Wilson and Jennifer Tanzillo served as co-chairs of the 2017 selection committee. Polite-Wilson, herself a winner of the 2014 WOTY award, spoke to those gathered in El Segundo and those viewing via Skype, about the attributes they consider when selecting winners.
“We faced a challenging task selecting finalists from an outstanding list of nominees,” Polite-Wilson said. The five evaluation areas taken into consideration are job performance; involvement in company activities, clubs, and courses; community involvement; professional, career and academic achievements; and leadership and mentoring roles.
After comments and congratulations from President and CEO Steve Isakowitz, the 2017 winner were presented. A celebratory luncheon for current and previous WOTY winners was also held on Tuesday.
2017 WOTY Winners
Kristine Ferrone has found great value in education, earning multiple degrees and serving in a variety of roles throughout her career and in her community. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and astrophysics from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to earn a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in sports medicine, and Master of Science in space architecture. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in medical physics.
Ferrone began her career as a physics associate in particle accelerator operations at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. From 2007 to 2011 she worked as a flight controller for the International Space Station and space shuttle programs at NASA Johnson Space Center. She also served as a lead flight planner for the STS-131 and STS-134 space shuttle missions to the ISS. Additionally, Ferrone was selected as the mission scientist for The Mars Society’s analog Mars mission at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station in Devon Island, Canada in 2009.
Joining Aerospace in 2011 as a senior MTS in the Vehicle Concepts Department in Chantilly, Ferrone went on to serve as project leader for the Civil and Commercial Business Development team before moving back to ETG as the principal investigator for an IR&D project to expand the Concept Design Center’s tools to study human spaceflight. She has served as an officer for the Aerospace Asian Pacific American Association and the Aerospace Women’s Committee. In her community, Ferrone serves as a STEM speaker and is also a firefighter and an air crew member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. She has a private pilot license and has trained as a commercial astronaut with the nonprofit organization she co-founded, Astronauts for Hire.
Jeanna Harkenrider has been with the Aerospace Corporation for 11 years, having started as a summer intern. With an undergraduate degree in liberal studies and a master’s degree in public policy and administration (both from California State University, Long Beach), she began working full time in the business manager’s office of the Facilities Division in 2008 and now serves as business manager for Facilities within the Office of the Chief Velocity Officer.
In 2011, Harkenrider was selected as one of five mentees in the corporation’s first 5-on-5 Mentoring Initiative, a program established to create an environment that allows employees to navigate paths to connect, learn, and grow. She was also one of 14 employees recently invited to have lunch and talk with the Aerospace board of trustees.
Active at both Aerospace and in her community, Harkenrider participates in the Aerospace Armed Forces Day 5k run, was a member and officer of the Aero-scrappers club, and has been a member of the Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair Board of Directors since 2011. She currently serves as chief financial officer of this organization, a nonprofit run by volunteers who coordinate events (without corporate sponsorships) in the city of Manhattan Beach. She also served on the Manhattan Beach Centennial Committee, a volunteer board that planned events and activities to celebrate the city’s centennial anniversary.
Ginni Machamer loves to learn and loves to teach according to her manager, Jennifer Halford, who highlighted Machamer’s accomplishments at the WOTY ceremony. Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems while working full time, Machamer has seized a number of opportunities during her career at Aerospace, which started in 2001. She currently works in EIS Planning and Analysis in the Applications Development Department.
Machamer participated in the Stanford Advanced Project Management program and has been the project leader on two recently completed notable projects, AeroReports and the Vaeros Customer Relationship Management (CRM). According to Halford, both of these projects will change the way Aerospace does business. “The appreciation for her work is reflected in the individual and team achievement awards she has received and the high accolades she receives from her management,” Halford said.
A supporter of Aerospace’s affinity groups, Machamer has served as the national secretary for the Aerospace American Indian Alaskan Native Council and as its national president for the last two years. She will serve as national treasurer for FY17.
Machamer, her husband, and her 17-year old son have volunteered at Westminster Elementary School in Venice since 2005, and she was also a top 100 fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis/MS Walk five years in a row. An artist who specializes in glass artwork and jewelry, Machamer also volunteers with A Window Between Worlds, which raises funds to empower individuals and communities to use art to treat trauma.
A native of Southern California, Senior Project Engineer Rachel Morford was awarded a trustee scholarship to attend the University of Southern California where she earned both her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering. She was also honored with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Woman of the Year Award, was a Viterbi engineering student ambassador, and was a research and teaching assistant. Morford was also an active leader with the USC chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and has been involved with several philanthropic organizations.
After an internship with the Central Intelligence Agency and another at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Morford joined Aerospace in 2008 and has held a number of positions of increasing responsibilities. She began as MTS in the Launch Directorate in the National Systems Group and supported a national security agency’s launch office. In 2014 she transferred to the Systems Integration and Test Office in ETG and joined the Future and International Programs in the MILSATCOM Division two years ago, working closely with international partners. She directly supports the MILSATCOM International Tactical Branch Chief, leading efforts to develop an international agreement with several nations interested in communications in the Arctic.
Morford has been awarded an Aerospace Corporation Team Achievement Award for her role in the development and implementation of a nondestructive inspection technique to exonerate flight hardware and reduce program risk. She also received a corporate “You Hold the Key” award for her contribution to the evaluation of a new launch site ground system, as well as numerous certificates of appreciation from customers.
Continuing her involvement with SWE after her years at USC, Morford became involved in the local Los Angeles section. She has provided strategic direction to ensure section members received professional development and networking opportunities and, in 2013, was recognized by being selected as one of their New Faces in Engineering.