The Washington Aerospace Scholars Foundation

Mission Statement

Washington Aerospace Scholars aims to increase the number of students seeking degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields through academic study, project-based learning, and experimentation with an emphasis on critical thinking and self-evaluation.

2023 Board of Directors

Jovonia (Jo) Taylor-Thibert - WASF President

Jovonia (Jo) Taylor-Thibert is currently Director of Engineering at Amazon. In 2005, she successfully completed dual Bachelors degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music from The University of Tulsa. The following year, she obtained a Masters in Electrical Engineering in 2006. While working full time, she completed a Masterâs in Business Administration, graduating in June 2012. Jovonia worked for the Boeing Company for 16 years before joining Amazon as a lead engineer on drone programming. In the beginning of her career, Jovonia worked as an engineer on the JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) production team and later worked as a hardware engineer for F-18 Avionics. Jovonia has also worked in many capacities within the 787 Electrical Team including Wire Design, Wire Installation, Project Manager for the 787 Electrical Value Stream Team. She also worked as a SKU (Sight Key User) expert, as the 787 program set-up their Customer Introduction Processes and Tools. Jovonia was one of lead project engineers on the 787 airplane level integration project for wiring changes that were to be incorporated into the flight test airplanes. She also works with high school students that are preparing themselves for college or other life training. She tutors in math, science, spends time at their school sporting events or serves as a talent show judge. Outside of work, Jovonia is able to use her degree in music by singing Jazz, R&B, and Gospel at different venues. She has also performed at sporting events the United States National Anthem and the Canadian National Anthem.

Marisa Herrera - WASF Vice President & Treasurer

In her past roles, both as an education administrator, consultant and small business owner, Marisa leverages her knowledge of inclusive practices, human resource management, marketing, operations management, budgeting and systems architecture in order to increase efficiencies in the areas of diversity engagement as a consultant for companies and non-profit organizations. In her most recent role as a Vice President for Shoreline Community College and as the Executive Director for Community Building and Inclusion at the University of Washington, she has managed a diverse portfolio of organizations dedicated to equity.

Her personal experiences working alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu, extensive travel experience circumnavigating the world in 2010, and expertise in the globalization of business, add to her orientation towards being a leader in the creation of inclusive space and organizations committed to inclusion. She has served as a Commissioner on the City of Seattle Human Rights Commission, as a Commissioner to the Washington State Student Services Commission for Career and Technical Colleges, as well as on several national advisory boards including the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, College Board Native American Student Advocacy Institute, the Washington State Coalition for Undocumented Students, and Girl Scouts. She holds a Doctorate from the University of Southern California, a M.S. degree in Business Management from NAU and B.S. in Agribusiness from ASU. She is originally from a small town in Arizona, but calls Whatcom County home.

Brian Douglas - WASF Secretary

Brian Douglas is a control systems engineer and systems engineering manager with experience building a team from scratch, working all phases of a development program from pre-concept through operation, and removing confusion in an otherwise chaotic environment. His domain expertise is in spacecraft attitude determination and control and was the lead ADCS architect for two different successful spacecraft missions. After completing a BS in Aerospace Engineering, Brian went on to complete his MS at University of Southern California, with a focus on Dynamics and controls. He worked at the Boeing Company on multiple on multiple projects including Boeing Nanosatellite Manufacturing and Guidance, Navigation and Control with the 737Max and 747-8 aircraft. From 2013-2018, Brian worked at Planetary Resources on the Arkyd-6 6U cubesat as the Attitude Determination and Control System lead and as the Director of Systems Engineering. He currently is the founder of Engineering Media LLC and serves as a consultant for Mathworks and Pluto VR and makes educational videos, solves general engineering problems, and gives onsite training and workshops. He is also the founder and content creator for Control System Lectures, an educational YouTube channel dedicated to providing a simple and intuitive understanding of control systems.

Matt Hayes - President/CEO - The Museum of Flight
Board Member

Matt Hayes joined the Museum of Flight in March 2006. Since then Hayes has held many posts, from B-17 restoration volunteer, to Vice President of Finance and Administration, and Chief Financial Officer from 2006 to 2017. In his current role as President/CEO, Hayes is responsible for directing the museum's long-term strategic planning process and ensuring that the Museum reaches its goal of becoming the foremost educational air and space museum in the world.

From 2002 to 2006, Hayes worked as the CFO for Alliance for Education in Seattle as an Audit Senior Manager, where he played a key role in driving the organizationâs strategic planning process. Hayes introduced business modeling to the organization, which resulted in making operating processes more cohesive and effective. He worked with Deloitte & Touche LLP at the Philadelphia office from 1993 to 1995, and then took a position in Seattle from 1995 to 2002. Hayes grew up in the rural western New York town of Byron and moved to Seattle in 1995.

He attended Villanova University where he earned a B.S. in Accounting magna cum laude and passed the CPA exam in November 1994. Hayes has served on multiple non-profit boards and is active in the community. As a pilot, Hayes has Commercial, Instrument and Seaplane ratings.

Lucia Blackwell- WASF Director

Lucia Blackwell is a Software Engineer at First Mode in Seattle, writing embedded software for industrial decarbonization applications. She kicked off her software career supporting the Arkyd-6 satellite at Redmond-based asteroid mining startup Planetary Resources. Having changed careers in her mid-20s, she has a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Biological Sciences from the University of Delaware, as well as a B.S. in Computer Science from Oregon State University. Due in large part to the support she received during her own career change, Lucia has a passion for mentorship and other on-the-job educational support. She revamped First Modeâs companywide engineering internship program in 2022 and continues to look for everyday opportunities to help others enrich their own careers.

Lucy Casale - WASF Director

Lucy Casale is the Program Director for Capacity Building Initiatives at the College Success Foundation. For over 25 years, she has taught, directed, designed and managed programs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) educational administration and student access at community colleges and universities in California and Washington. She adheres to a firm commitment to incorporate diversity, equity and inclusion in any position. Her leadership style is collaborative, cooperative and deeply thoughtful whether in a statewide leadership position, as a community college dean or as a director of capacity building serving small community-based organizations. Her connections and collaborations include the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (WA), Get Schooled, Washington Association for Better Schools, Choose 180, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and more.

Alfonso Gonzalez - WASF Director

Alfonso Gonzalez (2014 WAS Alumni) is currently a Guidance, Navigation and Control Engineer at SpaceX working on constellation design. Previously he worked at Nabla Zero Labs in South Pasadena on deep space mission design. He graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2020 with a BS in Aerospace Engineering (Astronautics concentration). During college he had three internships at Planetary Resources (astrodynamics and test engineering) and one internship each at GOMSpace Luxembourg (astrodynamics), CACI (software engineering), and Inspired Flight Technologies (test engineering). He also makes educational videos on astrodynamics with Python and has the Space Engineering Podcast, both on YouTube.

Shawna Ryan - WASF Director

Shawna Ryan is a Rocket Test Engineer and Project Manager at Blue Origin. She has her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering with a concentration in Astronautics from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She has previous worked on CubeSat programs both at Cal Poly and Space Micro, unmanned aerial vehicle ground control stations at General Atomics Aeronautical, and high energy lasers at Lockheed Martin. Shawna is a 2010 WAS alumna and later returned as an assistant mentor and mentor in 2012 and 2022. The WAS summer residency program ignited her passion for space exploration and she loves seeing the impact the program still has today.

Darci Snowden - WASF Director

Darci Snowden is an Associate Professor of Physics at Central Washington University (CWU), where she has taught courses in physics, astronomy, instrumentation, planetary science, computational physics, and electromagnetism. Her research focuses on developing numerical models to interpret spacecraft data from planetary magnetospheres and atmospheres. She has mentored over 30 undergraduate research projects, including diverse teams of students participating in the NASA Eclipse Balloon Project and NASA Student Launch.

Darci Snowden is also the Director of the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pathways (NESSP), one of NASA's Science Activation Programs. NESSP provides students and educators in the northwest with authentic STEM experiences based on NASA science and engineering. She is the developer and lead instructor for the Explore Mars Academy and High Altitude Balloon Academy, which are NESSP-supported residential summer camps at CWU.

Darci Snowden grew up in Missoula, MT. She received a B.S. in Physics from Harvey Mudd College and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Washington. She was a postdoc for over two years at the Lunar Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona before joining CWU. In her free time, you can find her skiing, mountain biking, or hiking in the mountains near her home in Roslyn, WA.

Trip Switzer - VP of Development - The Museum of Flight
Board Member

Trip Switzer is the Vice President of Development for The Museum of Flight.. Moving to Seattle from New York in the mid-1990s to pursue a career in education, Trip served as annual fund director at Lakeside School, where he also taught and coached the rowing team for six years. From there, he moved to Seattle University, spending two years as a major gifts officer. Most recently, he launched the West Coast fundraising program at Conservation International where he spent seven years as a regional director, helping to place fundraising staff in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He also served for six years as a board member with Northwest Development Officers Association - the regionâs largest professional training and networking association for fundraisers - where he has been board president for the past year. Prior to his time in the non-profit sector, Trip worked in advertising sales for Parade and Readerâs Digest magazines in New York City. A cum laude graduate of Harvard University with a degree in history, he lives in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle with his wife, Ann, his eight-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, where he is active at Wedgwood School and in the local community.

Scott Walston - WASF Director

Scott Walston is the vice president and chief engineer of Enterprise Technology for The Boeing Company. He also serves as managing director of the Enterprise Technology Council (ETC) where he partners with business, technology, and finance leaders across the company to drive our enterprise technology strategy, and develop and execute technology roadmaps. Scott previously served as director of Engineering for the 737; and director of the 747 and 767 airplane teams. In those roles, he oversaw the programâs engineering performance and execution. Prior to those roles, he was director of Propulsion Engineering at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Walston previously worked at GE Aviation, including roles leading the CF6 and CFM56 Engine Engineering teams. His early GE experience involved development of turbine blade alloys and coatings, and creating strategic roadmaps for future aviation materials. He also served as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt working on Global Engineering opportunities. Walston has a bachelorâs degree in Materials Science and Engineering from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in the same field from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, he has an Executive MBA from Ohio State University and holds more than 30 U.S. patents.


Ardell J. Anderson
Board Member from 2008-2014

Ardell Anderson retired in 2001 after 37 years in the Commercial Airplane and Engine Business, having served in leadership roles in engineering, product development, marketing management, sales, customer service and quality improvement.

Ardell spent 29 years with the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group in Seattle, Washington, and then served 8 years with Pratt & Whitney's Commercial Engine Business in Hartford, Connecticut. Raised in Pennsylvania, and making his first trip west of Pittsburgh, he began his career with Boeing in Seattle in 1964 as a member of the aerodynamics technology staff, participating in the design development and certification of the 737 and 747 jetliners. As director of 747&767 product development and marketing management he led the efforts to develop the 747-400 and 767-300ER models. After being appointed director of new product development for the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and spearheading efforts with NASA to develop a high speed civil transport, Ardell served in leadership roles for 737, 757, and 777 product development and as director of Commercial Airplane Group's Continuous Quality improvement.

He was named Senior Vice President, Asia/Pacific, for Pratt & Whitney's Commercial Engine business unit in November 1993. He was responsible for new engine and overhaul / repair sales for regional airline customers, and then later served as head of worldwide customer service for Pratt & Whitney. Mr. Anderson holds a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering, a BA degree in Arts & Letters from the Pennsylvania State University, and an MBA in Marketing from Seattle University. In 1995 Penn State honored him as an Outstanding Engineering Alumnus of the University.

Nikhil K. Rao
Board Member from 2010-2016

Nikhil is the Senior Manager for 747 Production System Efficiencies and Cost Initiatives. His experience spans noise-engineering at Pratt & Whitney; and Product Development Technologies, 787 and KC-46 Programs, 767 and 747 manufacturing operations at Boeing. Nikhil is a third generation engineer. He received his B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from University of Texas at Austin and his M.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California.

WAS Board Founding Directors

Bonnie J. Dunbar, PhD

Bonnie J. Dunbar served as President and CEO of The Museum of Flight for five years and was formerly the Executive Director of "Wings Over Washington," which is an affiliate of The Museum of Flight in Seattle. She retired from the NASA Johnson Space Center where she was Associate Director, Technology Integration and Risk Management for the Space Life Sciences Directorate. A NASA Mission Specialist astronaut and veteran of 5 space flights, Dunbar has logged more than 50 days in space. She has served as the Payload Commander on two flights, including the first Space Shuttle docking mission to the Russian Space Station Mir. Dunbar holds BS and MS degrees in Ceramic Engineering from the University of Washington, and a PhD in Mechanical/Biomedical Engineering from the University of Houston.

Dr. Dunbar is a member of the American Ceramic Society (Fellow), the National Institute of Ceramic Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA Fellow). She has been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Dr. Dunbar is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and, in 2002, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering

William J. Rex

William J. Rex was a Managing Director with Wachovia Securities, Inc. Originally from Illinois, Rex earned a Bachelorâs Degree in education from Grinnell College before serving in the U.S. Air Force as a Captain. Throughout his career he has served as President of Foster & Marshall Realty and Mortgage Company, and Picnic Point Development Company, Ltd. He served as Senior Executive Vice President at Foster and Marshall, Inc.; Executive Vice President of Shearson Lehman Brothers, Inc., and Vice President of John Nuveen & Company, and Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith.

Mr. Rex has served on numerous boards, including the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Boyâs & Girlâs Club of King County, Washington Athletic Club, Leukemia Society of America, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, and the Northwestern Trust Company. He has served in advisory capacity for Barclay Dean Interiors Board, and Board of Commerce Bank of Seattle. He is currently a board member of the Museum of Flight, and has served as chair of three gala events for the Museum.

Harold E. Carr

AHarold E. Carr retired from The Boeing Company in 1997 after serving as Vice President of Public Relations and Advertising for eleven years. Carr is a graduate of the University of Washington. His career at Boeing began in 1962 when he joined their public relations organization. In the 1960s he served in the companyâs defense and space organization with public relations responsibility for the Minuteman missile program, advanced strategic missiles, and the Apollo/Saturn Moon-landing programs. In the early 1980s, Carr coordinated four international sales tours for the then-new 767 and 757 jet transports, and the first appearance of the airplanes at the Paris and Farnborough air shows. He has also served on a number of not-for-profit boards in Seattle, including Goodwill Industries, the Fifth Avenue Theater, Seattle-King County Sports Council, Downtown Seattle Association, the Henry Art Gallery, and PONCHO. Since the late 1980s, Carr has served on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Flight, including a two-term as president in the late 1990s.