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Welcome to Electric Ladies Podcast!

Insights and tips from remarkable women leaders and innovators - from business, policy, science, the arts - who are transforming our world - Energy and sustainability - Career advice too.

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Nov 16, 2018

“If you as an organization, if we as a country, if we don’t ever fail, then we’re not pushing the envelope.” Ellen Stofan on Electric Ladies podcast


When Ellen Stofan stepped off the management track to stay home with her kids and work part-time, she accepted that she was probably derailing her career.  She kept a few toes in the game over the 12 year period, working part-time doing a few interesting research projects that she could do on her own time.

Today, she finds herself the new Director of the famed Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC -- the most visited museum in the United States -- and spearheading its ~$1 billion transformation, as the first woman in this prestigious role. Wait, really?

Listen to this fascinating conversation Dr. Stofan had with host Joan Michelson in person at the museum's Udvar-Hazy location by Dulles airport in Virginia. (This was recorded under our previous name, Green Connections Radio.)

Hear how she landed this job, and:

  • How they design exhibits, choosing between 60,000+ artifacts, 5,500 works of art, 1.75 million photographs, 14,000 videos/films and 12,000+ cubic feet of documents.


  • Redesigning nearly every aspect of the most popular museum – innovating out loud while talking about innovation in aerospace (from WWII pilots being able to see each other, to drones, e.g.). Even doing a Kickstarter campaign.


  • Showing climate change from air and space – how it affects each one of us on the planet -- and is urgent.


  • Why failure is critical to success – "If we don’t ever fail, then we’re not pushing the envelope," Stofan said.


  • Building a STEM career, and advancing, especially as a woman – including how she went from stay-at-home mom to leading the famed museum (and Chief Scientist at NASA before the museum).


  • Career tips that might surprise you, such as,“Think about who you’re going to be and what you’re going to contribute”.

And so much more!

What’s YOUR favorite exhibit at the Air and Space museum? What suggestions do you have for the renovation? Tweet it to us @joanmichelson or post it on our Facebook Page (and ask to join our new private Facebook group)