ATCA global conference & expo

Women in Aviation Breakfast

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 7:30-9:00 AM ET | Marriott Marquis Washington, DC

Across aviation's many sectors, women contribute to the success and innovation of the world's airspace each and every day. We're excited to host the ATCA Global Women in Aviation Breakfast again in person, to continue providing a nurturing and inclusive environment for women in aviation and ATM to network and share their successes. 


The Women in Aviation Breakfast’s Goals:

  • Make new connections
  • Re-connect with old friends and colleagues
  • Learn from experts in the community
  • Have tangible takeaways that you can apply to career development


This event is open to everyone in all levels of the air traffic community, including military and civilian government, private industry, and academia. Subject matter experts may represent cyber security, engineering, UAS/drones, commercial space, and change management.


The $20 fee for this event is donated to ATCA’s Scholarship Fund. We hope you'll join us! 




Women in Aviation Breakfast Keynote Panelists

Panel Moderator: ELLESSE KRALL

Principal, Evans Consulting

Ellesse Krall is a Principal at Evans Consulting supporting clients in communication and outreach. Before joining Evans, she has served in numerous communication and event planning roles as a contractor and a public affairs officer. In her spare time, Ellesse enjoys listening to podcasts and all types of music, traveling, and supporting her daughters school activities. Ellesse has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Mary Baldwin College and a Masters Degree in Strategic Public Relations from the George Washington University.


Department of the Air Force Chief of Safety, U.S. Air Force 

Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt is the Department of the Air Force Chief of Safety, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, Virginia, and Commander, Air Force Safety Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. She develops, executes and evaluates all Air and Space Forces aviation, ground, weapons, space and system mishap prevention and nuclear surety programs to preserve combat capability. Additionally, she directs research to promote safety awareness and mishap prevention, oversees mishap investigations, evaluates corrective actions and ensures implementation. Finally, she manages, develops and directs all safety and risk management courses. Maj. Gen. Leavitt entered the Air Force in 1992 after earning her bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas and her masters degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. She earned her commission as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. Maj. Gen. Leavitt has served in a variety of flying, staff and command assignments, and has commanded at the flight, squadron and wing level. She is a graduate and former instructor of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and is a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours. Her operational experiences include operations Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Prior to her current assignment, the general served as Director of Operations and Communications, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, where she was responsible for the world's largest training organization, providing initial skills, undergraduate flying, post graduate combat crew and supplemental training for more than 300,000 Air Force, joint and international personnel at 65 Air Force and Department of Defense locations. 


VP of Operations, Scythe

Elizabeth (Liz) is VP of Operations at SCYTHE where she serves as a strategic advisor for the CEO and leadership team, building and maintaining cross-department relationships, crafting external initiatives, and driving day-to-day projects and tasks. She brings to SCYTHE over a decade of legal, policy, and business experience within the information security field. Prior to joining SCYTHE she served as VP Operations and Strategy for a third-party risk threat intelligence platform startup, scaling the company from 5 to 25+ employees and successfully completing a $10m Series A funding round.  Previously she was the Senior Assistant City Attorney with the City of Atlanta responsible for advising Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on technology policy and projects – including the airport’s “first of its kind” safety risk assessment and integration of drones into airfield operations at the “World’s Busiest Airport.” She also served on the immediate incident response team for the City of Atlanta’s ransomware incident.The former host of the “Buzz Off with Lawyer Liz” tech-focused radio show and podcast, Liz is a frequent podcast guest and speaker on risk mitigation and regulatory policy on IoT, drone, and aviation cybersecurity issues at conferences including SXSW, ShmooCon, Hack the Capitol, the Talos Threat Research Summit (Cisco Live!), and the GSMA Global Innovation Forum.  She serves on various national technology and information security regulatory working groups, including the Business Executives for National Security’s Tech and Innovation Council, and is a mentor for startup accelerators.  She received her J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law and her B.A. from Virginia Tech. 


Director, FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center

Shelley J. Yak is the Director of the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, within the NextGen Organization. Ms. Yak serves as principal advisor and is responsible for managing, operating, and maintaining world class aviation laboratories; planning and coordinating FAA’s research and development program; conducting applied research and development; testing, evaluating, verifying, and validating current national airspace system and future next generation air transportation systems; providing facility maintenance, engineering support, support services for all properties located at the William J. Hughes Technical Center. Ms. Yak has extensive operational experience in leading organizations through change, building cross-organizational teams, leveraging strong project management and leadership capabilities to build effective business processes and deliver technology solutions. Her prior positions within the FAA included Deputy Director of the Technical Center, supporting the previous director in making the Technical Center the nation’s premier aviation and air traffic management federal laboratory. Ms. Yak was also the Division Manager of the Center Operations team where she was responsible for the operation, maintenance, and sustainment of the Technical Center facilities, which provide support and technical services. During her tenure in this position, she also acted in the position of Director of NextGen Performance and Reporting and was responsible for defining and establishing this newly formed organization and Director of Operational Evolution Partnership Planning.



Table Captain Title Table Topic Table Number
Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt Department of the Air Force Chief of Safety, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and Commander, Air Force Safety Center Breaking Barriers  1
Elizabeth Wharton VP of Operations, SCYTHE The Cyber Squirrel: A threat to the aviation landscape  2
Shelley Yak Director, William J. Hughes Technical Center, FAA How Innovation thrives through Partnership and Collaboration  3
Sabrina Saunders Director, UAS Integration Research, Engineering, & Analysis, FAA  4
Luci Holemans Air Traffic Organization Cybersecurity Manager, FAA Impacts of Digital Transformation  5
Abigail Smith  Deputy Executive Director, UAS Integration Office, FAA How can we encourage more women to pursue an aviation STEM career?  6
Kim Coplen Program Manager, ERAM, FAA Technical career progression - women talking about their technical career progression to date and discuss where they want to go and brainstorm how to get there – together  7
Shivanjli Sharma ATM-X Deputy Project Manager, NASA Ames Research Center  8
Kathleen McCaffery Senior Fire Liaison (Ret. Battalion Chief, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Dept.; National Counterterrorism Center), Global Tesla First Session: From steal-toes to stilettos: Pushing your comfort zone. Second Session: There's a place in hell for women who don't support women  9
Jeanne Yu Sky for All Chief Strategist, NASA Aeronautics Research Institute Sustainability and Women in Leadership  10
Kristin Cropf Program Manager, System Wide Information Management, FAA Invite yourself to the table: Self-promotion skills  11
Jessica Zucal Senior Principal in Change and Transformation, Evans Consulting As women leaders in Aviation, what are our unique gifts - how are we helping our industry to succeed and what might we need to amplify in the future?   12
Huy Tran Director of Aeronautics at Ames Research Center, NASA  13
Laura Adams Vice President of Enterprise Services, LST Get Involved: Maximize Your Experience and Visibility  14
Jeri Groce Group Manager, Weather and Aeronautical Services, FAA What's your super power? How showing up in your authentic self impacts those around you  15
Dr. Emily Stelzer Dr. Buckley - / Dr. S - Managing Director, National Airspace System (NAS) Evolution and Systems Engineering, MITRE The Human Experience in an Increasingly Digital Age  16
Nicole Gates VP, Transportation Account, SAIC Building Partnerships: Factors for Success  17
Rakhi Sharma Founder, President, CEO, Rigil How women can empower each other in the workplace?  18
Paula Nouragas Manager, Air Traffic Systems Test & Evaluation Services Division, FAA  First Session: Sharing experiences through mentorship; Second Session: Building a culture of innovation  19
Dr. Kerry Buckley VP, Center for Advanced Aviation System Development, MITRE Moving from Great Ideas to Reality  20