Promise & Mentor Awards
Every year, during its Future Leaders Celebration, SSPI honors three space and satellite professionals with its Promise Award, recognizing outstanding achievement and the potential to play an even greater leadership role in the industry. Promise Award winners are the top 3 members of each year’s 20 Under 35 cohort. They are employees or entrepreneurs who have demonstrated initiative, creativity and problem-solving skills that created new capabilities, overcame major challenges, and ensured excellence in technology and service.
At the Dinner, SSPI also names its Mentor of the Year - an individual who has gone above and beyond the usual to attract young talent to the industry and help turn the promise of individual ability into careers with vital purpose for the world.
Nominations are Open
Nominations are now open for the 2023 “20 Under 35” cohort and the 2023 Mentor of the Year! You can fill out an online nomination form or download a Word-based nomination form and submit it via email. Nominations are due by July 17, 2023.
2023 “20 Under 35” Nomination Form
Access the Online Nomination Form | Download the Nomination Form
023 Mentor of the Year Nomination Form
Access the Online Nomination Form | Download the Nomination Form
Chiara Cocchiara is a Systems Operations Engineer for the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). In her current role at EUMETSAT, she is responsible for operations preparation for future satellite missions with a particular focus on Earth Observation. Chiara manages the mission Reference Operations Plan and Handover Plan to Operations as part of this work. Since joining EUMETSAT, Chiara has held many different roles, each of which gained increased responsibilities over the previous role. She acted as the Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP) Service Manager for the launch of Metop-C satellites, a position in which she also needed to cover the work for a missing role in her team. Chiara initiated and led procurement of an improved solution for electronic logbooks for the Mission Control Center by writing up the requirements and analyzing the proposals from external contractors to determine the best fit technically and financially.
Donya Naz Divsaler is the co-founder and CEO of Caidin Biotechnologies, a startup that aims to improve human health and performance in extreme environments, such as outer space, through biomedical advancements. Under her leadership, Caidin Biotechnologies was accepted into Canada’s First Lunar Payload Accelerator for a product that monitors and improves astronaut health on long-term spaceflight missions. Donya also serves the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as a Canadian Space Ambassador and also as a consultant for the Science and Technology Expertise Development in Academia (STEDIA) group. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Health Sciences from Simon Fraser University (SFU) after attending Debrecen Medical School in Hungary and is currently working on her Master of Science in the Aerospace Physiology Laboratory at SFU. Her graduate studies focus on examining the effects of microgravity on physiological responses in the human body. Also as part of her studies, Donya was the lead for an ESA project looking at centrifugation-induced artificial gravity as a mitigation tool for the physiological downsides of long-term spaceflight.
Dr. Anthony Yuen is a Specialist Consultant at McKinsey & Company in the Boston office and Chair of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). Until recently, he was a practicing physician and Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. Throughout his 10+ years medical career, he has advocated passionately for the use of space technology to benefit health on Earth, including the use of satellite technology for telemedicine, satellite imagery for disaster response and Earth observation data to inform public and population health. Some of Anthony’s recent healthcare work includes a research project on the use of satellite and ground-based pollution data to predict COVID-19 caseloads using machine learning. He also performed a systematic review with the NASA Exploration Medical Capability Group on the impact of elevated ambient carbon dioxide levels in spacecraft on the stability of medications in space. Anthony served as Co-Director of the Weill Cornel – OweF Tele-Simulation Day, in which tele-simulation was used to train analogue astronauts and their medical ground crews to respond to simulated real-life emergencies during an analogue mission. He is a member of the Working Group on Space and Global Health at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
2022 Mentor of the Year
Steve Bates, Director of Systems Engineering, Maxar. Steve is Director of Systems Engineering at Maxar Technologies, a position he has held since September 2021. In his current role, he is responsible for managing a team of systems engineers and developing the safety roadmap for Maxar. Steve draws on his deep experience in aviation safety from a long and impressive career in the industry to help Maxar ensure that the company meets the demanding safety requirements for a crewed NASA spacecraft as part of the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for Gateway, a vital part of NASA’s Artemis program. Throughout his more-than-35-year career, Steve has consistently served as a mentor not only to the engineers but also the leaders around him. Steve is known for his kind, wise and supportive mentoring style as well as his ability to illustrate difficult points with stories to better help new engineers find their footing on challenging projects. He maintains constant coolness under pressure and helps those around him do the same, especially during times of change and instability at work.
Kelsey Doerksen, Space Systems Engineer in Satellite Operations, Planet Labs Inc. Kelsey joined Planet in February 2020 after completing a series of internships at the Paris Observatory and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. In her current role at Planet, she is responsible for identifying, triaging, root causing and resolving satellite anomalies and performing fleet-wide health check-ins for the largest Earth Observation satellite constellation in the world. Kelsey also has extensive experience in using Python to develop tools for autonomous satellite operations and in creating and aggregating performance metrics to provide insight into constellation health and productivity. While working at Planet, Kelsey also serves as a Paris Observatory Researcher and Summer School Lecturer, a position she has held since 2018. She is enrolled to begin her Ph.D. in Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems at the University of Oxford in October 2021.
Sydney Hamilton, Structures Stress Engineering Manager, The Boeing Company. Sydney began her career at Boeing in 2014 as a Structural Design Engineer, a role in which she supported projects like the 777 Automated Floor Drilling Equipment Elimination & Floor Redesign project and the 777X Folding Wing-Tip Mock-Up. She also worked in the Commercial Aircraft Operations Center as a Service Engineer before moving on to become a Mechanical Systems Engineer designing, analyzing and managing projects for additively manufactured parts for space and launch systems. Sydney next took on the position of Responsible Engineering Authority (REA) for satellite reflectors, in which she led a cross-functional team to develop reflectors for multiple commercial and government programs, demonstrating rapid problem-solving skills and the ability to consistently meet aggressive deadlines and cost targets. In her current role of Structures Stress Engineering Manager, she leads a high-performing team of 18 engineers that perform critical technical analyses for all 3 major Boeing Divisions: Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) and Boeing Global Services (BGS).
Raven Moreland, Spacecraft Power Systems Engineer, Ball Aerospace. Raven joined Ball Aerospace in early 2020 as a Systems Engineer and currently serves as lead for the Electrical Power Distribution Subsystem (EPDS) on NASA’s SPHEREx program, which will conduct the first near-infrared all-sky spectral survey to study the cosmic origins of the universe and galaxies. Her contributions to the EPDS on the SPHEREx program have already proven invaluable in her 14 months spent on the project. In her first 6 months on the project, She was responsible for researching and procuring the solar array technology that will power the SPHEREx spacecraft and quickly realized that the original design exceeded the system’s mass allocation. Raven discovered a novel technology that is more efficient, smaller, lighter and more powerful for less cost than the established baseline, thereby getting the project back on track seamlessly and with added benefits. She consistently provides valuable feedback for deliverables, researches options for spacecraft components and contributes design ideas.
2021 Mentor of the Year
Donna Potter, Senior Executive Director of Research and Development, Maxar (retired). Until her retirement in 2019, Donna Potter served as Senior Executive Director of Research and Development at Maxar, after she originally took on the position at Space Systems/Loral (SSL) in 2011. She managed the research and development portfolio for SSL and later Maxar, furthering the technologies the company needed to remain competitive in the GEO communication satellite market. Donna’s responsibilities included crafting strategy for new technology development and driving progress and productivity on a wide array of technical projects. Along the way, she also helped employees develop critical project management and technical leadership skills, which resulted in multiple researchers publishing technical papers and earning patents under her leadership. Donna has served as a role model for many women seeking to improve their leadership skills and rise through the ranks and went the extra mile with several mentees to help them adopt strategies to be taken more seriously in positions of authority.
Future Leaders Celebration
The Promise and Mentor Awards winners are honored each year at the Future Leaders Celebration. Click here to learn more!