Press Release

Brooke Owens Fellowship Evolves Executive Team

By SpaceRef Editor
July 6, 2021
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The Brooke Owens Fellowship – the award-winning, non-profit program that provides paid internships and executive mentorship to exceptional undergraduate  women and other gender minorities in aerospace – is announcing changes to its executive leadership team. After helping develop and lead a program that has now helped nearly 200 young leaders begin their careers in aerospace, Co-Founder Cassie Lee will step back from her day-to-day responsibilities as a member of the five-person Executive Leadership team. To help continue the program’s rapid and impressive development, the Brooke Owens Fellowship has selected Emily Calandrelli as the newest member of its Executive team.

Founded in 2016, the Brooke Owens Fellowship was initially run by its three co-founders: Cassie Lee, head of the Advanced Programs Weather and Earth Science team at Lockheed Martin; Lori Garver, the CEO of Earthrise Alliance and the former Deputy Administrator of NASA (2009 – 2013); and Will Pomerantz, the Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Orbit. Garver stepped back in 2020 and the Fellowship brought in three extraordinary women to build a larger and more inclusive leadership team.  Diana Trujillo, aerospace engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Caroline Juang, Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University; and Kayla Watson, System Reliability Engineer at Amazon Prime Air; joined Pomerantz and Lee to lead the Fellowship for the Class of 2021.

In five years, and through the volunteer efforts of an extraordinary community of Fellows, alumnae, volunteers, and supporters, the program has provided nearly 200 extraordinary undergraduate students with challenging internships at the nation’s leading aerospace institutions, living wages, executive-level mentorship, a supportive community, and more. The growing cohort of “Brookies” is already energizing and adding value to the aerospace industry. 

“I am humbled by the impact that the Brooke Owens Fellowship has made on the aerospace industry.  Built to honor the legacy of D. Brooke Owens, this program and its participants continue to out-pace even the most ambitious goals. There is no end to my gratitude for our Hosts, Mentors and all those who have banded together to support these outstanding early career women and gender minorities as they get a well-earned jump start on leading us into the future. But, most of all, I am in awe of our Brookies. Each one of these incredible young leaders has had a personal influence on my life and I am so proud to be part of this community,” Lee said, reflecting on her time leading the program. 

Joining Will Pomerantz, Diana Trujillo, Caroline Juang, and Kayla Watson on the Executive Team is Emily Calandrelli, aka The Space Gal.

Emily is a science communicator whose work spans across TV, books, social media and public speaking. She is the Co-Executive Producer and Host of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab, an Emmy-nominated Executive Producer and Emmy-nominated host of FOX’s Xploration Outer Space, and a correspondent for Bill Nye on Netflix’s Bill Nye Saves the World. Emily is the author of the science chapter book series the Ada Lace Adventures, which was launched to the ISS through the Story Time from Space program and named by the National Science Teachers Association as one of 2018’s best STEM books. Emily’s latest work, Reach for the Stars, a space-themed picture book, comes out next spring. Emily received bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from West Virginia University and master’s degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as Technology and Policy from MIT. Emily has given three TEDx talks, is a professional public speaker and works to share her love of science and space exploration to her 1M+ followers across TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on her @TheSpaceGal accounts.

Over the course of its first five years, the Fellowship has undergone significant growth in its relentless quest for diversity and inclusion in aerospace by building upon their application selection process with new resources, improving their internal programming for their alumnae community and inspiring the spinoff sister programs the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship Program, the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship, and the Zenith Canada Pathways Foundation. The continued evolution of the Brooke Owens Fellowship Executive Team, with incoming member Calandrelli, will drive the program’s commitment to inspiring, recruiting, including, and promoting underrepresented communities in aerospace. 



The Brooke Owens Fellowship is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to providing career  opportunities and both personal and professional growth for communities that have for too long been dramatically underrepresented in the aerospace industry. The program offers paid, meaningful jobs at the nation’s leading aerospace institutions; executive-level mentorship from astronauts, CEOs, and more; and a community of supportive peers and industry leaders to an annual class of approximately 40 Fellows. Brooke Owens Fellows are selected for their talent, their experience to date, their commitment to service, and their creativity; women and gender-minority undergraduates of all disciplines and from all types of college and university are eligible to apply. Since the program’s founding in 2016 — shortly  after the death of the program’s namesake, beloved aerospace industry professional D.  Brooke Owens — the Brooke Owens Fellowship has been awarded to 199 deserving students representing over six countries. The program is the recipient of the 2017 American Astronautical Society’s Patti Grace Smith Award, the 2018 Space Frontier Foundation’s Stakeholder Expansion Award, and both the Readers’ Choice and the Editors’ Choice for the Unsung Hero of the Year Award from the 2019 SpaceNews Awards for Excellence & Innovation.

SpaceRef staff editor.