Andrea Boese discussed diversity initiatives in STEM in New York in 2013. Copyright: Nathalie Schueller for

PARIS—Andrea Boese, the former chief diversity officer at the German Aerospace Center, DLR, and a close confidant of former DLR chief and now European Space Agency Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner, died Aug. 29. Boese, who was 53, in July had assumed similar roles at ESA.

The cause was cancer, which she had battled for eight months – so successfully that, outside of a small circle of colleagues, no one who saw her at the Paris Air Show in mid-June would have guessed that she was ailing.

In addition to her high-visibility role at DLR, Boese was a vice president of the International Astronautical Federation and a director of the Women in Aerospace Europe organization.

At DLR, Boese focused on helping women reconcile the imperatives of their family and professional lives, offering flexible working hours and child-care support.

Boese trained in nutritional science before joining DLR’s Institute for Aerospace Medicine with an expertise in protein biochemistry. In 2007 she joined DLR’s strategy and international relations department, and was detailed to NASA, where she worked at NASA headquarters in Washington, and at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

In his regular blog as ESA director-general, Woerner said Aug. 31 that Boese’s death had “cast a shadow on me personally” in his transition into his new role.

“My close co-worker Andrea Boese lost her battle with illness after months of fighting and hoping,” Woerner said. “She had already supported me at DLR and intended to do the same thing here, with a focus on culture at ESA. In such moments of mourning and sadness, all daily problems lose their weight.”

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.