2021 JETC Keynote Speakers
Shannon Huffman Polson
One of the first U.S. Army Women Apache Helicopter
Captains and Pilots
Author, The Grit Factor: Courage, Resilience and Leadership in the most Male Dominated Industry in the World Author, North of Hope
Session Sponsored by:
Shannon is a woman of many firsts. Among those high points: She is one of the first women to fly Apache combat helicopters in the U.S. Armed Forces, where she served on three continents and led two flight platoons and a line company. After nearly a decade as an Army officer and attack aviation leader, and later as a leader and manager in the corporate sector at Guidant and Microsoft, Shannon turned her attention to storytelling, in part through her Grit Project blog and in her newest book. In The Grit Factor: Courage, Resilience and Leadership in the most Male Dominated Industry in the World (2020), Shannon shares her own critical leadership lessons along with candid stories of remarkable female leaders and trailblazers. Drawing on a distinguished military and corporate career, she reveals her lessons learned and leadership strategies to help you harness your own inner strength, move beyond resistance, and attain your goals. With an emphasis on grit – which she describes as “a dogged determination in the face of difficult circumstances” – she demonstrates how to tap into that passion and resolve so you can face your limitations, own your sense of purpose, and become a leader of greatness.
Leader & Chief Engineer
NASA Mars 2020 Mission, Rover Perseverance
Session Sponsored by:
An aspiring rock star turned Ph.D. rocket scientist, Adam Steltzner is praised as a cutting-edge innovator and a leader who literally brings out the very best in his teams. Adam serves has Chief Engineer of the current Mars 2020 Mission & Rover Perseverance that has ultimate objective of determining if life has existed on Mars. A mission ten years in the making, Mars 2020 was plunged into uncertainty at a crucial juncture by the global pandemic. Preparing a mission for Mars and not making any mistakes is immensely difficult under the best conditions. Suddenly, Steltzner and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team of 6,000+ was forced to operate remotely. The collaborative teams pressed on and remarkably maintained all of the original assembly and launch timetables. After a 6-month journey through space, history was made on February 18th when the Rover Perseverance spectacularly landed on the Martian surface, more than 200,000,000 miles from Earth. Adam earlier led a breakthrough team that created the ingenious “sky crane” landing system for the Rover Curiosity that landed on Mars in 2012. The achievement prompted leadership guru Simon Sinek to state, “[Steltzner] shows us that doing what others think is impossible takes more than grit and courage. It takes the ability to inspire people . . . It takes leadership.” Steltzner was also honored with the “American Ingenuity” Award from Smithsonian Institute. Adam is the author of The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership and High Stakes Innovation, that was named a “best leadership book of the year” by the Washington Post. CEO READ picked the book as “Editor’s Choice” for its unique strategies and perspectives.
Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour
America’s First Black Female Combat Pilot, Former Marine & Cop
Author, Zero to Breakthrough; and Consultant to Business
Session Sponsored by:
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour has been tested her whole life. A gutsy trailblazer, her resume is an impressive collection of “firsts” including America’s first Black woman combat pilot. She served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine. She was also a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon for Headquarters Marine Corps. After her military service, FlyGirl revved up her career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, consultant to business, and author of Zero to Breakthrough, The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. As a speaker, FlyGirl unleashes hard-hitting advice and amazing anecdotes from her adventures on the battlefield and in business. She helps individuals and organizations Get Gutsy and build a sustainable inner force and conviction, that results in accomplishing significant goals.