Distinguished innovation leaders Gwynne Shotwell and Dr. Laurie Leshin named recipients of world’s foremost innovation award
CHICAGO, IL.–October 27, 2023–The Edison AwardsTM, an annual competition honoring excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design, and innovation, announces distinguished innovators Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX, and Dr. Laurie Leshin, Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), as honorees of the 2024 Edison Achievement Award. Founded in 1987, The Edison AwardsTM are named after renowned inventor Thomas Edison, and the Edison Achievement Award honors remarkable leaders who have made a significant and lasting contribution to innovation throughout their careers. Most notably, the accolade celebrates those whose accomplishments serve as an inspiration across all spaces of innovation and intelligence to positively impact the world at large.
“We are thrilled to honor Dr. Laurie Leshin and Gwynne Shotwell for this esteemed honor, as they exemplify not only extraordinary ingenuity and global leadership, but also the ability to drive lasting impact that secures the future of innovation while also shaping a better tomorrow,” said Frank Bonafilia, Executive Director at The Edison AwardsTM. “It is our great honor to award these remarkable leaders as they steward the future of space innovation, ensuring their prestigious work is commemorated and celebrated around the globe.”
The first woman to serve in NASA’s JPL’s Director role, Dr. Laurie Leshin is a distinguished geochemist and space scientist with extensive leadership tenure in academia and government, including senior NASA positions. Leshin was president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 2014 to 2022 and previously served as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science dean. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center from 2005 to 2008, she served as director of science, then deputy director for science and technology, leading strategy, planning, and implementation of more than 50 Earth and space flight projects. In 2010, Leshin became deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, overseeing future human spaceflight. Her numerous honors include NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Meteoritical Society’s Nier Prize for outstanding research by a scientist under the age of 35. The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 4922 Leshin to honor her planetary science contributions. Leshin also advised President George W. Bush on space policy, and President Barack Obama appointed her to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum advisory board.
As President and COO of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations and managing all customer strategic relations to support company growth. Joining SpaceX in 2002 as Vice President of BusinessDevelopment, Shotwell was instrumental in building the Falcon vehicle family manifest, which has grown to more than 270 launches, representing approximately $30 billion in business. Prior to her role at SpaceX, Shotwell spent more than a decade at the Aerospace Corporation, holding positions across Space Systems Engineering, Technology and Project Management. She was also promoted to the role of Chief Engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration on commercial space transportation, and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation. Shotwell received, with honors, her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics, and serves on their Board.
With a commitment to celebrate and champion innovators who represent the powerfully diverse minds of the world, The Edison AwardsTM founded the Lewis Latimer Fellowship Program in April 2021. The program centers around the tenets of technological, behavioral, futuristic, systematic, and design-oriented thinking to transform innovation and combine ideas across cultures, ensuring equity and inclusivity for all futurists alike. Nominations for 2024 The Edison AwardsTM are now open and due November 10, 2023, and may be submitted through TheEdison Awards’ website. Further details including evaluation criteria, pricing, and timeline may also be found through the website at www.edisonawards.com.