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Meet The Team

Dr. Mindy Howard

Dr. Mindy Howard
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
 

Dr. Mindy Howard has set out to passionately achieve her dream of going to space. After her 21-year career in the oil industry, working in 35 different countries as a human factors engineer, diversity & inclusiveness consultant, corporate trainer and senior leader in sustainability, health safety, and environment, Dr. Howard created the first and only mental preparedness training program for commercial astronauts, “Inner Space Training”.  She has appeared on the Discovery and Travel TV Channels, and on radio both in the United States and in Europe. Dr. Howard is also a TEDx and public speaker (“Train your fear away, like an astronaut”). She is author of the book, "Blast Off! Train like an Astronaut for Success on Earth".

A word from the Founder of Cosmic Girls...

"My long-held vision of voyaging to space has taken the “scenic route”. For two decades I have held senior positions at multinational corporations, travelling to exotic international locales with my cosmic dreams ever in tow. However, my space travels will be incomplete without having contributed to that of a Cosmic Girl’s launch, on behalf of the incoming space generation and females in particular. I created this foundation with hopes of exceeding donor & benefactor expectations so as to enable more Cosmic Girls from the far corners like myself to not only flourish … but soar".

Executive Team

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Ada Komemi

Chief Operating Officer

Inspired by a childhood filled with starry ambitions and fueled by her own journey of overcoming obstacles, Ada ignites the potential of young girls to reach for the stars in STEM fields, particularly space exploration. As a first-generation college graduate and MBA holder, Ada understands the transformative power of opportunity and is deeply passionate about ensuring no girl's dream is limited by circumstance.Ada's diverse experience in operations and finance fuels her vision for Cosmic Girls. From leading high-performing teams at Offworld to crafting effective financial strategies at The Keep A Breast Foundation, she has a proven track record of building robust systems for maximum impact. Her goal is to leverage data-driven fundraising, innovative donor engagement strategies, and responsible financial management to empower girls for generations to come.Beyond her professional expertise, Ada embodies the well-roundedness she champions for Cosmic Girls. As a volunteer dance teacher and nature enthusiast, she leads by example, fostering a culture of inclusivity and inspiring girls to dream big and pursue their passions, both on Earth and beyond the stars.

Shelley

Shelley McClain

Chief Technology Officer

Shelley has forged a career spanning over two decades in technology, breaking barriers and inspiring future women in the field. She has a track record of leading high-performing teams in the successful implementation of large-scale information systems, managing complex data projects, and launching new innovative products in the education and healthcare tech sectors. Inspired by family at NASA, her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut fuels her passion to mentor the next generation of female space explorers and STEM leaders.

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Alison Goldwyn

Chief Communications and Creative Officer

As Founder, CEO and edutainment producer, Alison is party planning a multi-continental, interstellar event-spectacular to shift the worldwide emotional climate called  Synchronistory®; a Party for the Planet starring every sentient being in a music-driven celebration about us all – broadcast live worldwide! 

Advisory Board

Janet Ivey

Janet Ivey
President of the Advisory Board

Creator of Janet’s Planet is committed to enriching the lives of children via education and live performances, TV, and online programming. With over 29 years in children’s entertainment and education, Janet has captivated Nashville and beyond with her work. She has received twelve Regional Emmys and five Gracie Awards, for Janet’s Planet, which airs on 140+ public television stations nationwide. Janet is a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador, has won a STEM-FLORIDA Award for "Exploring Microgravity,” an educational video about gravity and microgravity that she wrote and produced for Space Florida. Janet’s Planet is a dynamic and fast-paced series geared to 7-12-year-olds and focuses on science, space, history, and health. The short-form series can be seen on public television stations nationwide as well YouTube, BatteryPop, Minnow, and HighBrow in the UK. Janet is an advocate, educator, communicator, and female role model of STEM/STEAM and is committed to sharing the joy of exploration and discovery with children around the globe. Janet’s mission is to encourage science literacy globally and particularly to embody the role of female science mentor for the next generation of women in space and science.

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Nicole Stott
Astronaut

Nicole Stott is an astronaut, aquanaut, engineer, artist, and author of Back to Earth What Life In Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet – And Our Mission To Protect It; and most importantly a mom. She creatively combines the awe and wonder of her spaceflight experience with her artwork to inspire everyone’s appreciation of our role as crewmates here on Spaceship Earth. Nicole is a veteran NASA Astronaut with two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space as a crewmember on both the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. Personal highlights of her time in space include being the 10th woman to perform a spacewalk, first person to operate the ISS robotic arm to capture a free-flying cargo vehicle, painting the first watercolor in space (on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum), working with her international crew for the benefit of all life on Earth, and of course the life-changing view of our home planet.  Nicole is also a NASA Aquanaut. In preparation for spaceflight, she was a crewmember on an 18-day saturation dive mission at the Aquarius undersea laboratory. Nicole believes that the international model of peaceful and successful cooperation we have experienced in the extreme environments of space and sea holds the key to the same kind of peaceful and successful cooperation for all of humanity here on Earth.   On her post-NASA mission, she is a founding director of the Space for Art Foundation – uniting a planetary community of children through the awe and wonder of space exploration and the healing power of art.

Katya Echazarreta

Katya Echazarreta
Astronaut

Katya is a Mexican electrical engineer, science communicator, and Citizen Astronaut. She worked at NASA, first as an intern during her university undergraduate career, then later as a test lead for the Europa Clipper Ground Support Equipment group. She has contributed to a total of five NASA missions.  Echazarreta was the co-host of Netflix's YouTube series, Netflix IRL, while pursuing a Master's degree in electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins University. She became the first Mexican-born woman in space as part of Space for Humanity's Citizen Astronaut Program, launched June 4, 2022. The Space For Humanity initiative selected Echazarreta out of over 7,000 applicants to fly to space with Blue Origin NS-21 as a Space for Humanity Ambassador

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Shelli Brunswick

Shelli Brunswick, COO of Space Foundation, brings a broad perspective and deep vision of the global space ecosystem — from a distinguished career as a space acquisition and program management leader and congressional liaison for the U.S. Air Force to her current role overseeing Space Foundation's three primary divisions: Center for Innovation and Education, Symposium 365, and Global Alliance.

Glenn King

Glenn King
Astronaut Trainer

Glenn King is the COO and Director of the NASTAR Center, and has been conducting Commercial Space Flight Training for more than 14 years. He is an Aerospace Physiologist and Commercial Pilot.  He obtained the USA’s very first FAA AST Commercial Space Flight Certification that meets the Space Flight Training requirements under 14 CFR § Part 460.5 (Issued Sept. 2012).  He has personally trained all the Commercial Space Pilots, Crew and Space Flight Participants for Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Axiom Space.

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Dr. Deana Weibel

Space Anthropologist

Deana L. Weibel, Ph.D., is a Professor of Anthropology at Grand Valley State University with a joint appointment in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Her research focuses on the cultural, religious, and spiritual dimensions of travel, including pilgrimage, tourism, and scientific expeditions. Weibel has conducted ethnographic fieldwork at diverse sites such as the Black Madonna shrine in Rocamadour, France; Spaceport America; and the Vatican Observatory. She is a member of the American Anthropological Association and a Fellow of the Explorers Club, serving as the chair of its Chicago/Great Lakes Chapter.

Frank White

Frank White

Frank White is an educator, space philosopher, and communications consultant. He has authored or coauthored numerous books on topics ranging from space exploration to artificial intelligence to Zen Buddhism. His best-known work is The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution. https://www.humanspaceprogram.org

Jeska Clark

Jeska Clark

Jeska Clark is a consultant, scientist, and explorer with an MA in Human Systems Engineering from Arizona State University. She specializes in human factors in extreme environments, from the sea to microgravity environments. Her career has centered on optimizing human performance and safety in these challenging conditions, contributing significantly to the field.

Melodie Yashar

Melodie Yashar

Melodie Yashar is a space architect, technologist, and researcher. She is the VP of Building Design & Performance at ICON, a construction technologies company focused on large scale additive manufacturing for Earth and in space. 

Vladimir Pletser

Prof. Vladimir Pletser
Astronaut Trainer

Vladimir Pletser (PhD, MSc, MEng) is currently Director of Space Training Operations at Blue Abyss, a company in UK proposing a new approach for astronaut training. He was previously Visiting Professor and Scientific Adviser from 2016 until 2018 at the Technology and Engineering Centre for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, supporting Chinese Space Station and aircraft parabolic flight microgravity experiments. Astronaut candidate for Belgium, he spent two months in training in 1995 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and was Astronaut Training Instructor for parabolic flights and Spacelab missions.

Gianna Tomiyama

Gianna Tomiyama

Creator of art experiences that are expressed in multidisciplinary ways of art, which she produces alone or in collaboration with other artists, collectives and or organizations. Due to learnings in her life with her own identity, sexuality, mental health/self development, culture(s), equality, creative expression and death - especially in these fields she is eager to find where friction can be explored and share this with others. This in a safe space intended to let this friction, the joy, the awkwardness, the unseen parts of yourself, your source, the true authentic you come together and evoke transformational awe through art. Experiences that she materializes are in the form of an exhibition, a ritual, installation, performance, 2D format or immersive show and have taken place at numerous festivals and events internationally.

Rodney whittenberg

Rodney Whittenberg

Rodney Whittenberg is an Emmy Award winning composer and an Emmy nominated film producer. He is also a multi-instrumentalist, audio engineer, sound designer, music producer, writer, podcast producer, film director, editor, producer, and educator.

Deborah Stern

Deborah Stern

Deborah Stern, PhD.,  is a long-time educator with extensive experience working in underserved communities. She specializes in school design and curriculum, focusing on experiential education. She is an award-winning teacher, school leader, and author of numerous publications. Dr. Stern believes that true learning happens when learners see themselves, their interests, and their experiences reflected in their studies.

Vered Cohen Barlizay

Vered Cohen Barlizay

Vered Cohen Barzilay is the founder and CEO of Out of the Box Aerospace — a social enterprise that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in aerospace worldwide. A passionate advocate for aviation, space, STEAM education, and gender equality, Cohen Barzilay has made significant strides in these fields. Cohen Barzilay has been serving as a mentor for UNOOSA's Space4Women initiative since 2020 and has been a mentor at the Starburst IAI space accelerator since its inception. In 2020, the U.S. Department of State recognized Cohen-Barzilay in their 80 #FacesofExchange initiative, alongside Margaret Thatcher, Jacinda Ardern and Anwar El-Sadat.

Priya Abiram

Priya Abiram

Priya is an aspiring astronaut and entrepreneur pursuing Aerospace Engineering at Cornell Engineering.   She is a Congressional Award Gold Medalist, an internationally awarded innovator, and a published researcher. She is a Citizen Science Astronaut Trainee at the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences trained in spacesuit evaluation, acrobatic flying, and designed and flew payloads on microgravity research flight.

Tim Schlange

Dr. Tim Schlange
International Business Advisor

Tim is a seasoned senior business advisor for international businesses. C-level leadership responsibilities with international companies, founded upon engineering and management degrees Tim´s focus is the commercialization of innovation, particularly in the global life sciences and material sciences industries.

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Michael Termini

With 20+ years of non-profit leadership experience, Michael is the Chief of Staff & COO at the Government Accountability Project in Washington DC. A member of the peak global body for Chiefs of Staff, published author, and mentor, Michael has guided a wide range of non-profits. He holds a Master’s degree in International Law and International Relations from Kent Law School in England, an Executive Leadership certification from Cornell University, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from the Six Sigma Global Institute, and certifications in Strategic Organizational Leadership and Conflict Management from the Management and Strategy Institute. A space enthusiast and father of two little girls -- one of whom dreams of becoming an astronaut -- Michael is passionate about the Cosmic Girls mission.

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Dr. Yarin Eski

Space Criminologist

Dr Yarin Eski is an associate professor in public administration and a criminologist who does research on maritime (port) security and policing, arms dealing, genocide and pioneers in the realm of space criminology. Through ‘realistic speculation’ that is based on, amongst other methods, sci-prototyping, virtual reality and studying analogue astronaut mission, he wants to unravel space crime and its control: from illicit activities in orbital habitats to the intricacies of jurisdiction beyond planetary boundaries, he has a certain vision for a future where space exploration and inhabitation develops itself in tandem with a viable, holistic space criminal justice system to ensure a safe and secure domain that complies with an inclusive and democratic Rule of Law.

Our Board

Eric Noordegraaf

Eric Noordegraaf

CEO of successful international sports coaching business for over 20 years.  Olympic-level water polo athlete, trainer and coach with innate drive to motivate high-potential teams and individuals to excel. Sports entrepreneur and businessman.

Lindsay Uitenbogaard

Lindsay Uittenbogaard

CEO and Founder of Mirror Mirror helping teams and organizations with alignment for performance around the world. Lindsay is a thought-leader and speaker on alignment.

Michael Golombok

Prof. Dr. Michael Golombok

Michael Golombok has a BSc and PhD from the Universities of Glasgow and Toronto respectively. He is a principal researcher at Shell. He is a professor of mechanical engineering at TU Eindhoven, where he holds the chair of oil and gas production technology.

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