Nurturing the careers of young space professionals doesn’t have much near-term industry impact, but obviously can make all the difference in the world to the beneficiaries. And to the extent that some of these individuals go on to become movers and shakers in space — as opposed to some other field — the long-term impact can indeed be far reaching.
Clay Mowry has practically made a second career of mentoring the next generation of space leaders. It’s a role that seems to come naturally, perhaps aided by the example of Mowry’s own rapid rise in the industry. Mowry was a space industry analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce before being tapped in 1995 to serve as the founding executive director of the Satellite Industry Association (SIA). Six years later, he catapulted himself to president of the U.S. subsidiary of Arianespace, the European launch services consortium.
As anyone in the space industry will attest, running Arianespace Inc. is a full-time job, and then some. But Mowry has nonetheless managed to continue making himself available to up-and-comers seeking his advice and counsel, working closely with groups including the SIA, the Society of Satellite Professionals International and the Space Generation Advisory Council.
In 2012 Mowry founded the Future Space Leaders Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young space professionals and graduate students advance their careers, primarily by providing networking opportunities. Specifically, the organization makes direct grants to cover the travel and registration expenses for these people to attend space and satellite industry conferences.
The organization’s signature event and primary fundraising tool is the annual Future Space conference in Washington, which features space policy primers given by government and industry officials and draws a diverse audience that skews young.
For a growing number of young people pursuing careers in space, Mowry is already making an important difference, one that could reverberate in a big way should some of these individuals go on to make important contributions to the industry, or become mentors themselves.