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Conversations with the Inspiring Alicia M Morgan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia M Morgan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Alicia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I first started my career as an Aerospace Engineer working in the commercial aviation and defense industry. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Tuskegee University and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University. I also enjoy creative writing and the visual and performing arts. After spending thirteen years in the engineering field, I was laid off and decided that I wanted to take a more informal path in my career. I did not know about informal education opportunities when I decided to become an advocate for STEM Education yet pursuing the road less traveled continues to be rewarding for me. The best way to describe my journey to becoming the Vice President of Education and Programs at the Frontiers of Flight Museum is owning my uniqueness by finding a way to utilize my always in demand skills with the subject matter expertise I acquired while working in both the for-profit and nonprofit sector.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have been both laid off and fired before. Being laid off was actually harder than being fired. I am naturally an introvert, and truthfully a lot of engineers are. I spent the thirteen years I worked in Corporate America with my head down and thinking if I worked hard as an individual contributor I would be okay. I wasn’t embracing my strengths as a leader or building social capital and understanding how much relationship currency matters long before you are looking for a new job opportunity. I was laid off and guess what I had no network of people to reach. I had to start over and rebuild something I never had, and I did not know where to start. I completed a nonprofit management certification and eventually found my first nonprofit job in education. I was fired ninety days into the position it wasn’t a good fit. However, this time, I reached out to someone I met while taking classes in nonprofit management. I was fired on a Friday and on Monday I had a new job. My TEDx Plano talk is all about my life after failure and how to get over and get on with your journey in the aftermath. I would tell young women starting their journey to find mentors earlier than I did and add value to others as well. If you add value to people regularly, then when you need assistance people will happily be there for you.

What should we know about Frontiers of Flight Museum? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am the Vice President of Education and Programs at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. The Frontiers of Flight museum mission is to educate, motivate and inspire all ages in North Texas by presenting aviation and space flight history and innovation through comprehensive exhibits, collections, programming and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum. We provide a learning laboratory that provides students opportunities to see the practical application of STEM in over 30 aircraft on display and 30,000 unique artifacts in aviation and space flight. I am most proud of my career coming full circle with aviation in the backdrop all of my success occurs from learning from failure and being relentless in my pursuit of continuous improvement. In 2018, my team was awarded the Million Women Mentors® Stand Up for STEM Award at the Texas Women & Girls in STEM Summit. The award the first for our department recognizes our efforts to engage girls in STEM. Our Young Women’s STEM Leadership Initiative reaches over 2100 girls annually through partnerships with girls’ schools in the Dallas area, through spring break girls’ camps and youth volunteer programs that stood out as models important to recognize and share. As a result of these major achievements, I was named by the Dallas Millennial Club as STEM Leader of the Year at their 2018 annual gala. In spring 2019, I will receive the 2019 Society of Women Engineers (SWE) WE Local Engaged Advocate award for mentoring, STEM education leadership and K-12 outreach.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
The biggest barriers today to female leadership, in general, is the perception that women don’t have the emotional intelligence to lead and have minimum room to fail. I thought I wouldn’t be a great leader because I had many setbacks earlier in my career. I didn’t know what I didn’t know or even how to ask for what I was worth or have the foresight to ask for more challenging assignments. In the engineering field, the workplace is very male-dominated, and you have to be able to withstand feeling isolated yet know that advocating for yourself is crucial. You must build relationship currency when you are not able to advocate for yourself; it is essential to have an ally at the table of influence who will speak positively on your behalf. I was my own worst enemy when I kept telling myself I wasn’t good enough yet. Lead from wherever you are and maintain a portfolio of your work don’t wait for a performance evaluation to validate your accomplishments and marketability.

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Image Credit:
Nysde Out- Art By J Taylor, TEDx Plano, Picturing Art- Donna Dunlap Photography, Sweet Tooth Hotel, Stephanie Drenka

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