IAWA logo
View mobile navigation

January 2020 President's Message

Leveraging Purpose

The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.

-Mark Twain

Mark Twain was an American humorist and author who is known for his witty sayings and clever anecdotes. As a collector of quotes, this one from Twain is among my favorites. It captures a thoughtful element we can identify with and reflects a deliberateness of life we can appreciate.

What Twain’s quote is largely meant to invoke is ensuring that we are aligned with our purpose. Purpose takes us toward a future that will eventually build into a past we can be proud of. It’s an opportunity to leave something of value that represents our contribution. Discovering and pursuing purpose should be a lifelong journey and a never-ending goal.

Connect. Inspire. Lead.

These elements succinctly describe IAWA’s purpose. The International Aviation Womens Association has existed for nearly 32 years to connect and advance women in the aviation industry globally. IAWA Presidents have written many letters about the scholarships, Connects, Forums, mentoring programs and annual conferences through which IAWA members realize their purpose. We’ve grown and extended our reach every year since IAWA began, all aligned with our desire to connect, inspire, and lead women in our industry. No matter what IAWA accomplishes, we will continue to look for ways to further our impact through unique outreach and partnerships.

One of those new initiatives, under the leadership of IAWA and Korn Ferry and through partnership with ACI, AIA, A4A, IATA, and CANSO, is the ground-breaking global study Soaring Through the Glass Ceiling. This year-long initiative included a survey of 2400+ respondents across 40+ multi-national organizations. The results identify common roadblocks to advancement and cite gender inclusion best practices that are designed to achieve sustainable gender balance in our industry. For more details on the study, click here.

Starting January 1, I not only have the distinct privilege to begin my service as IAWA’s president, but also to work with IAWA’s newly revamped Board of Directors. Over the last 15 months, the IAWA board has been conducting a comprehensive strategy initiative to ensure we are aligned with our stakeholders and are poised to leverage the talents and energies of our membership to follow our purpose. Toward those ends, the IAWA board has been resized to focus the considerable work each board member contributes while providing more infrastructure to support the board.

That infrastructure includes a network of committees which will provide the opportunity of additional leadership positions serving as committee chairs. Volunteers can also sign up to serve on a committee. The work of IAWA cannot be done alone. In the words of Helen Keller, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ Let’s do this together and keep IAWA advancing women in aviation related careers. Click here for more information regarding IAWA’s committees.

Finally, I’d like to welcome our newest Director to the Board – Sophia Ghezai, who goes by Sophie. Sophie is originally from East Africa where, as a young girl, she developed a love of airplanes. She became the first woman ever to join the Ethiopian Airlines’ Flight Academy and Ethiopian Airlines’ first female commercial pilot. After six years as a pilot, Sophie and her family moved to Saudi Arabia and eventually to Washington D.C. where Sophie began flying again and became a licensed pilot in the United States. Currently, Sophie works for Airlines for America in Washington D.C. as the Director of Aviation Safety and Operations. I am excited to have her join the IAWA Board and bring her experiences and knowledge to our mission!

As I mentioned at the outset, purpose is what drives us and what gives us satisfaction. Finding and aligning with our purpose brings joy, fulfillment, and meaning. One of the reasons IAWA members, volunteers, and benefactors are so passionate about supporting IAWA is because we believe in IAWA’s purpose. If you are looking for something more to contribute to our industry or believe you can add to our collective voice, please partner with us by serving on a committee. You will find great satisfaction from your time commitment. And you will bring something to the conversation that is uniquely you, allowing you to pursue your purpose.