Barbara “BJ” Smith was awarded the Leadership Award by the Women in Aerospace foundation. Smith is one of five winners among the 2018 Women in Aerospace (WIA) awards.
Smith is currently the senior program manager for SAIC’s Air Traffic Controller (ATC) contract leading a staff of more than 500. She and her staff help to prepare the next generation of air traffic controllers and oversee training operations for approximately 1,600 aspiring air traffic controllers annually.
“BJ is a trailblazer in the ATC profession, not only as a woman, but also as an African-American,” said Colleen Oresky, senior vice president and head of Business Development. “She began her career in aerospace as an air traffic controller in a time when few women were considered and even fewer secured these positions. She was always aware of that and has taken every opportunity to help other women in the field meet and exceed the standards set for them.”
Smith has over 42 years of aviation-related experience, including 33 years with the FAA, during which she spent 24 years gaining tower and terminal radar experience as an air traffic controller, supervisor, and manager. Throughout her FAA career, she has held numerous positions of responsibility including supervisory, management and senior executive positions with a broad range of experience in mentoring and developing personnel, air traffic control, airspace assessment, air traffic evaluations and traffic management. Through these positions, she has been responsible for successfully managing budgets, people and programs.
“I am incredibly honored to be the recipient of the WIA Leadership Award. I set my mind to accomplishing greater things than anyone else said I could and learning from every experience,” said Smith. “I am excited to continue to make a difference in the aerospace community and hope to help other women to push through a glass ceiling for women in the ATC field.”
Smith is one of five women being recognized by WIA this year, including Sandy Magnus, a former astronaut and former executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. Others are: NASA’s Jessica Koehne for the Achievement Award for her work in developing nano-bio sensors for space applications and mentoring next generation scientists and engineers; and Accion Systems’s Natalya Bailey for the Initiative, Inspiration, Impact Award for her work in developing innovative propulsion technology and her passion for being an advocate and mentor for youth in STEM education.
The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony on November 1 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.