SAIC senior program manager Barbara “BJ” Smith, who’s recognized as a trailblazer in the air traffic control field, has been awarded the Leadership Award by the Women in Aerospace Foundation.
Smith spearheads SAIC’s air traffic controller contract, leading a staff of more than 500, helping oversee training operations for about 1,600 aspiring air traffic controllers each year.
“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 at SAIC. “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.”
Overall, Smith has more than 42 years of aviation-related experience and spent a total of 33 years with the Federal Aviation Administration, including as air traffic controller, supervisor and manager.
“I am incredibly honored to be the recipient of the WIA Leadership Award,” Smith said. “I set my mind to accomplishing greater things than anyone else said I could and learning from every experience. 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 honored with an award by WIA this year. The awards were presented at a Nov. 1 gala at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Virginia.