Women in Aviation Conference Returns to Long Beach for 2023

The three-day event hosts professional development, networking, and education sessions for aviation career paths.

In its 34th year, the Women in Aviation International Conference continues to expand its outreach across the aerospace industry.

The three-day event this week in Long Beach, California, hosts professional development, networking, and education sessions for aviation career paths, while a handful of special tours take place on Wednesday, February 22, before the main event begins and runs from February 23 to 25.

Last year’s conference, in Nashville, hosted more than 4,500 attendees from around the world and more than 170 exhibitors.

Industry Briefings

The primary value of the conference to many attendees has traditionally been its role in helping match candidates with jobs at leading companies in the aerospace industry. While developed to assist women with attaining their career goals, these opportunities have been open to those of all genders who are members of Women in Aviation International.

The exhibit hall at the WAI 2023 Conference will include more than 170 exhibitors, based on past attendance. [Credit: Julie Boatman]

The 2023 conference industry briefings start on Thursday, February 23, featuring Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air, UPS, Airbus, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, PSA Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Frontier Airlines, The Boeing Company, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, with additional sessions from governmental organizations such as the FAA, and Customs/Border Patrol. Opportunities continue on Friday and Saturday, coupled with hiring events.

General Sessions

On Friday, the first general session features keynote speakers Dr. Michelle Parker, vice president and deputy general manager for the space and launch division of Boeing Defense, Space & Security; Col. Merryl Tengesdal (USAF Ret.), the first and only Black woman to pilot the Lockheed U-2S Dragon Lady; and Dr. Susan Ying, senior vice president of global operations for Ampaire. For Saturday’s general session, keynote speakers include Maya Ghazal, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and Syrian pilot; Sherrexcia “Rexy” Rolle, vice president of operations and general counsel for Western Air; Huy Kim Tran, director of aeronautics at the NASA Ames Research Center; and Paige Stanton Wilson, chief operating officer for Acubed.

Education Sessions

A variety of topic streams are featured at this year’s conference, including lean manufacturing, airspace in the modern age, and mental health in both pilot and maintenance careers. Longer sessions take place on Thursday, with additional one-hour presentations on Friday and Saturday beginning after the general sessions each day. These cover tracks such as personal development, career, maintenance/tech ops, military, history, and innovation.

Girls in Aviation Day takes place on Saturday, inviting girls to participate in hands-on sessions from various sponsors. [Credit: Julie Boatman]

The closing banquet on Saturday night announces the last of the scholarship winners for the year—with a value of $889,140 for the taking—and hosts the induction of the 2023 members to the Pioneer Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include Martha and John King, Nancy Bird, and Col. Merryl Tengesdal.

Girls in Aviation Day on Saturday

Just like last year, WAI will bring in girls from ages 8 to 18 from around the region on Saturday, February 25, to take part in Girls in Aviation Day, part of the organization’s events throughout the year that culminate in GIAD 2023 on September 23.

For the Saturday portion of the conference, activities run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Throughout the day, hands-on activities lead participants through a broad range of aerospace touchpoints and concepts. A luncheon features Stephanie Chung, global ambassador for Wheels Up, and a career panel will introduce the girls to a variety of career paths. Preregistration is required.


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