Connecting Aerospace Interests


Amanda Simpson 150 2Amanda Simpson, Vice President for Research & Technology - Airbus Americas


Amanda Simpson was named the Vice President for Research and Technology at Airbus Americas in June 2018, responsible for coordinating external research activities for Airbus in the United States.

Ms. Simpson joined Airbus following government assignments in the United States Department of Defense. She was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, responsible for developing the strategy for the utilization of energy for military operational forces worldwide, and was the senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense for all matters pertaining to energy in our military. Prior to accepting that responsibility, she was the Executive Director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, an organization developing large-scale renewable energy projects to bring energy security to Army installations leveraging private sector financing. Previously she was the Special Assistant to the Army Acquisition Executive. In that role she was a principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology) on all matters relating to Army acquisition, procurement, research & development and logistics. In 2010, Ms. Simpson was appointed by President Barack Obama to the position of senior technical adviser to the U.S. Department of Commerce where she advised on policy and export control issues necessary to protect the security of the United States, making her the first openly transgender female presidential appointee in U.S. history.

Prior to her government appointments, Ms. Simpson was the Deputy Director for Force Protection in the Advanced Missiles and Unmanned Systems Product Line at Raytheon Company Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. She held several program management positions on technology development activities for missile systems sensors and development programs. Previous to her tenure in program management, Ms. Simpson was the manager of captive flight test operations for Raytheon Company and Hughes Aircraft Company, which included the duties of mission director and project pilot on numerous developmental test programs.  Her team received the DARPA Award for Significant Technical Achievement in 1999.

Ms. Simpson has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including the 2004 Tucson YWCA Woman on the Move, 2005 Arizona Human Rights Fund Individual Award, the 2015 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders Women of Distinction Award, and was named an Outstanding Alumnus of Harvey Mudd College in 2018. She is a recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service and the Department of Defense Pride Civilian Leadership Award. She is a nationally renowned speaker and has presented at corporations, government agencies, civic organizations, conferences and colleges around the country on gender and diversity.

Ms. Simpson earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Harvey Mudd College, a Master of Science in Engineering from California State University, and a Master in Business Administration from the University of Arizona.  She is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics where she served on the Systems Engineering Technical Committee.

Ms. Simpson holds both an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and a Certified Flight Instructor license, and has logged nearly 3,000 hours of flying in more than 60 different types of aircraft including float planes, flying boats, unmanned drones and multi-engine jets.


Daruish Khaleghi 150Dariush Khaleghi, Consultant - Evergreen State College 

Dariush Khaleghi (DK) has over twenty years of management, HR and leadership experience in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.  He played key leadership roles at Intel Corporation.  He served as the Deputy and Director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission, Chief HR, IS, and Strategic Planning Chief for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Director of Operations for the DSHS Economic Services Administration.  DK was the recipient of the Washington State Prestigious Governor’s Leadership Award.  He currently is a consultant and a leadership, HR and organizational behavior faculty at the Evergreen State College. He teaches diversity and equity at the University of Washington in Tacoma. He holds a MS in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology and a MBA.


Tiffany Final 150Tiffany Nicolow, Sr. People Officer, WA State Department of Natural Resources

Tiffany Nicolow is a Sr. People Officer (HR) that recently left Aerospace and is currently with the Department of Natural Resources. Tiffany’s experience with human resources encompasses executive coaching, employee relations, organizational development and recruiting, and has gained recognition for building effective teams. Ms. Nicolow is a strong proponent of supporting the human aspect of employment in all directions for the purpose of building strong organizations that have the most elegant, efficient and prosperous teams. She actively serves as the Legislative Director for the South Puget Sound SHRM Board.

Ty ReedTy Reed, Business Development - Gardico, Inc.

Ty Reed works in Business Development for Gardico, Inc., a local small business providing gaskets, stripping, pads and seals to the aerospace and marine industries. Ty has built his entire career on delighting clients and treating them with compassion.

In his spare time, he enjoys working out, cooking and karaoke



Ali Shami 150Ali Shami, Founder and CEO, FTD Global - Retired Sr. Manager at Boeing

Ali was born in Beirut, Lebanon and moved to the United States in 1985. Ali held several Boeing leadership roles in Global Engineering, Seats, Services & Support Product Development, Airplane Systems, Airplane Sales & Marketing, Customer Engineering, Operations, Structures Engineering, and Customer Service.

Ali held Boeing representative positions in several countries including South Korea, England, and Italy. Traveled internationally on business and worked closely with various airline customers. Worked for General Motors as an intern during his university studies. Received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alabama. Worked as a research assistant toward his PhD at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ali taught Leadership courses such as Communicating across Cultures, Customer Service Excellence, and Setting and Achieving Goals in addition to presenting at conferences nationally and internationally. He served as the President of Tae Kwon Do club for several years.

Ali enjoys his time with his family in addition to learning languages and playing the Oud. Airline Customers and the company he works for have given him numerous awards, such as the 2003 Diversity Excellence award, the 2004, 2010, and 2011 Global Diversity Change Agent awards, and was among the top 100 Boeing managers who had the highest employee satisfaction scores in 2010.


Lavada 150Lavada Kindle, Job Developer - Orion 

Lavada began her time at Orion as a program participant in August 2008. She quickly moved to a staff role in March 2009 in Orion’s manufacturing division, becoming a mentor in 2011 and promoted to Lead in the Grommet/Debur cell in 2015. Lavada joined the Training and Employment team in 2016 as a Job Developer. She brings an empathy and passion for Orion’s mission and a strong belief in the ability for everyone to succeed in work. Lavada is conversant in ASL with previous sales and customer service experience. Lavada is “excited to use all that I’ve learned in my experiences here at Orion to help others reach their goals!”


Diana ManningDiana Manning, Systems Engineering Advisor - Base2 Solutions

Diana is a systems engineer and technical program manager with a broad array of experiences in airplane development programs, complex aircraft engine/ propulsion systems integration, and team leadership. Diana’s experiences cover all phases of the propulsion life cycle; from concept feasibility analysis, definition/development to powerplant integration, engine/laboratory and flight test, build and fleet support.
Diana is a results-oriented, self-motivated, effective Engineering leader with over 30 years’ professional experience in aero-engineering integration, propulsion and aircraft systems. She has shown to be a dynamic leader with exceptional organizational, planning and coordination skills demonstrated in key areas within the commercial aircraft business.
Her expertise in technical design and integration, project management, certification, feature sales forecasting, and manufacturing improvement allow her to be a strategic leader of integrated and diverse teams able to deliver on time and within budget to exceed customer requirements.

Today, Diana utilizes her many years of aircraft experience as a systems engineer and advisor for Base2 Solutions. Within this role, Diana is able to leverage her systems experience both in aerospace and expand that knowledge for use in other industry applications.


 Cindy Watson 150Cindy Watson, Senior Vice President - Lighthouse for the Blind

On March 8, 2018, Cindy Watson, a known leader in the blindness field, joined the Lighthouse. Ms. Watson has dedicated her 20-year career to a mission of creating opportunities for people who are blind. She has eleven years of AbilityOne Program experience with eight additional years in vocational rehabilitation.

Cindy earned her undergraduate degree and MBA from the University of Houston Clear Lake and a Certificate in Management from the University of Virginia, Darden Graduate School of Business. She was also a fellow at the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and provided teaching, counseling, and employment assistance for the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services — Blind Division. Previous to her work in Texas, Cindy worked at IFB Solutions (formally Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind) as their Director of Contract Services. She also led the American Foundation for the Blind’s (AFB) Center on Vision Loss and Web Programs in Dallas. Prior to accepting the SVP position at the Lighthouse in Washington state, Cindy was the Vice President of Services at Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind.

In her role as a Lighthouse Senior Vice President, she led efforts in strategic planning and positioning, which exposed her to the full range of Lighthouse activities. On April 15, 2019 Cindy accept the position of President and CEO of the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. The Lighthouse is excited for her to assume this role and we are all looking forward to her leadership as the Lighthouse grows in its mission of empowering people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities.

Cindy resides in Seattle area with her husband and two young sons and they are excited to have made the Pacific Northwest their new home.


Felicia Bowen 150Felicia Bowen, Business Operations Manager - Pioneer Industries

ln my role of Business Operations Manager for the non-profit Social Enterprise, Pioneer Human Services, I am responsible for the daily operations and oversight for Production Control, Purchasing/Supply Chain/Inventory, Shipping & Receiving and Administrative Support staff departments within the PHS Enterprises Manufacturing Division, Pioneer Industries. I am a graduate of UW Foster School of Business, Executive Development Program.



Jon EdwardsJon Edwards, President, - HYDRO Systems USA

Jon Edwards was named President of HYDRO Systems USA in October 2018. In this role, Jon leads all aspects of Sales, Operations, Finance and Human Resources for the HYDRO USA subsidiary, a team of 136 people and approximately 55m Revenue. Jon is currently focused on bringing together a high performing team to drive HYDRO USA through its next stage of growth and transformation, including the introduction of lean management.

Prior to this role, Jon served as Vice President Sales for HYDRO Systems USA, where he lead the Sales and Service team, growing the business by over 100% in 4 years.

Before relocating to Washington State from the UK, Jon was responsible for the HYDRO UK business, focused on the Rolls-Royce account, where he lead the delivery of tooling programs to Rolls-Royce for the Trent XWB and Trent 1000 engine development programs.

Prior to joining HYDRO in 2009, Jon spent 10 years in Caterpillar and Land Rover working in new product development, creating a strong foundational understanding of engineering and operations management.

Throughout his career Jon has built great teams. He has a passion to find and engage strong people who are able to bring their talent, potential and experience together to grow and learn.

HYDRO Systems has 50 years as a class leading supplier of Aircraft Maintenance Equipment, including Ground Support Equipment, Licensed Airframe and Engine Maintenance Tooling, Engine transportation stands. The global business is privately German owned, headquartered in Germany, has 15 locations in 9 countries including here in Kent, WA.


Todd Dunnington 150Todd Dunnington, Executive Director - Skills Inc.

Skills Inc. is a self-funding social enterprise organized as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit.  Skills Inc. employs 620 people and has a social mission to train, employ and serve persons with disabilities.  It provides manufactured product and special processing services to the aerospace industry from facilities located in Ballard and Auburn, WA.  Skills Inc. is the 9th largest aerospace supplier in Washington State.

Prior to joining Skills Inc. in 2005, Todd held key management and ownership roles in a number of manufacturing organizations.  He entered Boeing straight out of graduate school and helped design and implement continuous improvement activities at Boeing’s Fabrication Division.  Upon leaving Boeing, he worked within the aerospace supplier community at several privately owned metal fabrication companies prior to joining Skills Inc. 

Todd is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Leadership Program.  He received a Master’s Degree from the University of Washington in Speech Communication where he studied organizational behavior and leadership.  He received his Undergraduate Degree in Psychology and History, also from the University of Washington.






Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance

Mail Stop: 16625 Redmond Way, Ste M #187,
Redmond, WA 98052

Phone: 425-885-0290
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Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes the growth and global competitiveness of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Cluster. Please consider donating to our scholarship fund.