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SSPI-WISE is proud to present 2024 Q1 Member of the Quarter!

SSPI-WISE relies on the contributions of its members to innovate, evolve, and grow.  Every quarter, SSPI-WISE pays tribute to one of the most active volunteers by announcing them as Member of the Quarter.

This quarter’s awardee is Jennifer Dawson!

Meet Jennifer Dawson

Dr. Jennifer Dawson is Director at Critical Reach, a nonprofit working to protect schools from gun violence.  In prior roles, Jen led Maxar’s Systems Engineering organization with more than 100 engineers who are responsible for defining the requirements and verification and validation steps to ensure successful space missions.  Other previous roles at Maxar include Senior Systems Engineer, Product Assurance Program Manager, Director of Marketing and Sales, and Technical Director.  In 2016, Jen was awarded the SSPI Promise Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement and leadership potential in the space and satellite industry.  She was also awarded a Stevie Award for Women in Business for Best New Consumer Service and the Otto Hamburg award for her research on pyroshock failures of space hardware.

After graduating from Bucknell University in Mechanical Engineering in 2003, Jennifer went on to earn a Masters and Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.  Her graduate research included working on two spacecraft programs: Gravity Probe B and Satellite Test of the Equivalence Principle.

Jennifer’s role as part of the Mentorship team:

I volunteer with the Mentoring Working Group.  Led by some incredibly dedicated and caring women, including Wendy Newman, Silvia Borges, and Andrea Maleter, I get to help SSPI-WISE connect mentees with powerhouse mentors.  As a woman engineer, mentoring has been absolutely essential in my career.  I would have left engineering long ago if I didn’t have an army of mentors providing validation, insight, and encouragement.  The SSPI-WISE mentoring program is an opportunity for me to give back and I am so pleased to be able to help as many people as possible participate in the program and build productive mentoring relationships.

Jennifer, share with us your reaction to receiving the nomination:

I was totally shocked to receive this recognition because I see the impactful work done by many passionate and dedicated SSPI-WISE leaders.  I left an aerospace company three months ago to make a significant career pivot to work in a passion area - gun violence prevention with a focus on protecting schools.  But I am an engineer today because space was my first technical love.  SSPI-WISE is giving me an opportunity to stay connected with the space sector, even as my current role is more tangentially related to space.  I know I will find my way back into a space job down the line and I am so grateful to have the SSPI community as a way to stay connected and current in the field.

Any tips for those considering to join SSPI-WISE?

My favorite part of SSPI-WISE is that it is a relatively small and very welcoming community.  Compared to other major international professional groups, SSPI-WISE makes it easy to meet people and get involved.  I also love that SSPI-WISE is diverse, with members from all over the world, who have taken many different career paths in aerospace.  It’s a powerhouse group of exceptionally talented professionals - don’t miss out!

Please share a special quote you feel guided by, or how would you motivate others to stay focused on their goals?

As a recovering perfectionist / imposter, I need to be reminded to take risks, embrace failure, and learn from critique.  However, more than once I have been in work situations where the critique and criticism has been toxic, overwhelming, and not grounded in reality.  Brene Brown has a great quote that helps me bolster my self-worth and distinguish between between what Kim Scott calls “Radical Candor” and “Obnoxious Aggression”:


“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their own lives, but will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgment at those of us trying to dare greatly…If you're criticizing from a place where you're not also putting yourself on the line, I'm not interested in your feedback.”

-Brene Brown


Stay strong and resilient as you work toward your goals by listening to critique from those who are striving, owning their own failures, and invested in seeing you succeed.

MoQ Overview

Read about eligibility, deadlines, etc here.

Past Awardees