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Discussion on successful career strategies and challenges with a panel of women bringing to the table a myriad of federal, corporate, and academic executive experiences.
GS 14/15 DoD women are eligible to participate

Registration Required

Next Event January 18, 2018 - 1:00PM - 2:00PM ET

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This video will be archived for later viewing within 24 hours.

Welcome to the Women in the Executive Suite Webcast Series

Women in the Executive Suite Webcast Series
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Women in the Executive Suite Webcast Series

January 18 2018



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Dr. Shanel Lu

Dr. Shanel Lu, DBA is often referenced as energetic, vibrant, a strategic business-minded consultant, and an expert storyteller with extensive knowledge in Human Capital Planning, Leadership and Professional Development, Strategic Workforce Planning, Diversity & Inclusion Data Analytics, Organizational Effectiveness and Personal/Career Development coaching/training.

Dr. Lu's motivational speaking career began with the Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. She is passionate about developing a platform that engages women around hot topics of real beauty, increasing self-confidence and positive self-esteem. Dr. Lu is an advocate for women empowerment, and promoting and celebrating diversity within the workplace. Today, Dr. Lu continues to promote diversity through her volunteer work as a BOD Member with the Asian American Government Executive Network (AAGEN), and Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC). She also extends her time through Junior Achievement USA that inspires and encourages youth entrepreneurs.

Dr. Lu is a human capital consultant with experience managing HR service delivery goals that deploys HR system-based integration projects She is a dedicated HR business partner with key stakeholders to determine areas of opportunity within process optimization; developing solutions to continuously improve and streamline processes and to develop value added enhancements. While she continues to provide strategic and executive consultation, she supports and contributes to the HR Strategic Planning process by recommending process improvement, and change management techniques to ensure managers and employees are equipped to meet the organization’s business goals and mission.

Cynthia W. Simmons

Cynthia Simmons serves as the Chief of the Instrument Systems & Technology Division in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Applied Engineering & Technology Directorate where she leads more than 220 engineers and technicians. She has a diverse careerin spaceflight work from service in the Air Force to becoming a NASA engineer. From 2000 to 2009, she provided thermal design and systems engineering support as a NASA contractor for several instrument and spacecraft projects including the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Global Precipitation Measurement and Curiosity’s Sample Analysis atMars. Prior to NASA, she worked classified spacecraft programs for the Department of Defense and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She was then Director of Engineering for Edge Space Systems, Inc. until March 2010, when she was recruited into civil service to lead Goddard in-house instrument teams as an Instrument Project Manager where she has managed teams of up to 250 memberswith budgets up to $450 million.

Ms. Simmons remembers her fascination with space started early in life watching TV shows like Star Trek. Watching the first moon landing gave her more reason to dream of designing spaceships like the Starship Enterprise where she imagined traveling in space spending a lifetime exploring. Yet, she had no knowledge of NASA or any idea of how to ‘get there’ until she attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. She began her aerospace engineering career in 1982 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force after graduating in the 3rd class with women. She was distinguished with the Air Force Commendation and Meritorious Service Medalswith formal recognition by the Under Secretary of the Air Force. In 1987, she received an Honorable Discharge, and continued work on classified payload designs for Unisys Corp until 1989 when she took time out to become a ‘stay-at-home’ mom. Still dreaming of space, she resumed her career in 1996 working in the commercial space industryfor the Iridium Program, and supported 15 launches that placed 76 satellites into orbit within one year. She designed and implemented a new technique for on-orbit assessment of subsystem performance in a Low Earth Orbit, multi-satellite, cross-linked constellation with 24/7continuous real-time downlinked data.

Ms. Simmons has supported 21 launches for NASA, DoD, and commercial space flight missions. She received several prestigious awards and honors for her contributions throughout her career. She is also a Women@NASA Honoree and NASA Goddard Senior Fellow.  She has a Bachelor of Science from the Academy and a Master of Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park.

Ariane Whittemore
Director Public Sector Practice of Grant Thornton’s Alexandria office


Ms. Whittemore brings 35 years of Department of Defense (DOD) experience, and over 20 as a Senior Executive to Grant Thornton. She has substantial experience in Strategic Planning, Financial Management, Logistics, Change Management, Executive Talent Management and Leadership. She served as the Senior Civilian Executive for Program and Resource Management for the U. S. Marine Corps, Senior Civilian in U. S. Pacific Command, Chief of Naval Operations representative for Base Re-Alignment and Closure (BRAC) development, and Senior Civilian for Navy Fleet Readiness and Logistics in both Peace time and War (Operation Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom). Ms. Whittemore currently provides executive leadership for the Security & Defense Strategic Business Unit with responsibility for service delivery, operational execution, and business development across the Department of Defense.

Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Ms. Whittemore was the Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Programs and Resources. She served ten years with the Marine Corps, 20 years with the Navy, and five years in various Joint positions.


Ms. Whittemore leads Grant Thornton participation in the American Society of Military Comptrollers (past Washington Chapter President), Navy League of the United States and Military Order of the Carabao.


Ms. Whittemore earnedher Bachelor of Arts, Phi Betta Kappa and Magna Cum Laud in International Relations from Dickenson College and completed Masters of Arts Studies in Public Financial Management at American University.



February 15, 2018


February 28, 2018