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  • Writer's pictureZalli Foundation

Kimberly Washington: Visionary Techpreneur and Space Advocate


Kimberly is a successful serial entrepreneur and philanthropist with over 20+ years of experience in growing international businesses. Specifically focused on technology for good. Kimberly serves as the Executive Vice President of Deep Space Biology, the company behind Yotta™, the first AI platform that bridges space biology data for innovation, Earth R&D, and health discoveries. Selected by Startus Insights as one of the top 10 SpaceTechstartups to watch, 2023. Winner of the Care In Space Challenge, 2022. A Georgia Tech selected CreateX company.

In addition, she is the Founder of Space4Girls, a non-profit organization that supports young women around the world to become innovators in the fields of STEM and future leaders within the growing space industry.

Kimberly is a regular participant in global leadership events. Including the Leaders on Purpose CEO Summit/UNGA and the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

 

Kimberley, it is an honour to have you on The Leaders Show. When I look at your career, I am amazed by the wonderful things you have accomplished. You are, in fact, a very successful serial entrepreneur and philanthropist with over 20 years of experience growing international businesses. I am curious to understand more about how your career in business started. Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

Thank you for having me join The Leaders Show! Yes, absolutely, from a very young age, I've nurtured an unwavering desire to tread the path of an entrepreneur. Growing up amidst a household of five sisters, my parents instilled a remarkable work ethic in us by encouraging independence. By the age of 14, a part-time weekend job was more than a choice – it was a valuable lesson in financial responsibility and self-reliance. I've essentially been on a professional journey from early on, amassing experiences that have enriched my understanding of the world.

My educational journey, which spans across international business, leadership, healthcare data analytics, has fortified my foundation. Fuelled by knowledge and unwavering determination, I transformed my entrepreneurial aspirations into tangible reality at the young age of twenty-four. This marked the inception of my first business venture in the health and wellness sector.

Through this endeavor, I unearthed my true calling – my purpose towards building programs and technology solutions to help guide others towards better health. Driven by this unwavering passion and purpose, I took the leap to establish two other health focused companies, Be Well International and North Star Health.

At the heart of these ventures was the creation of a cutting-edge SaaS (PHR) personal health record technology platform known as Lumina. This ground-breaking platform played a pivotal role in enhancing the well-being of hundreds of thousands of corporate employees. What truly set Lumina apart wasn't solely its technological prowess, but also its distinctive approach to integrating cost contingencies for large-scale companies.

This innovative methodology seamlessly aligned health initiatives with fiscal responsibility, making wellness a strategic advantage. The seamless fusion of technology and purpose enabled us to make a significant impact that reverberated well beyond my initial aspirations, propelling me further into the realms of innovation and transformation. You serve as the Executive Vice President of Deep Space Biology. Can you give us more information about the mission and vision of Deep Space Biology?

Absolutely, it's my pleasure to elaborate on the mission and vision of Deep Space Biology and shed light on our innovative explainable AI platform, Yotta. We are a visionary technology company dedicated to transforming the landscape of biology research, empowering researchers, and scientists, and driving impactful health discoveries that shape the future of humanity.

Our SaaS based AI platform, Yotta uniquely harnesses the power of 20+ years of space microgravity research to push the boundaries of our understanding in the field of biology while establishing an ecosystem that seamlessly integrates unique multi-omics biology data sets with cutting-edge explainable AI algorithms. As an equity owner and Executive Vice President, I'm honored to work with our incredible team towards groundbreaking discoveries that have the potential to transform the future of healthcare.

Yotta for space is an innovative tool that harnesses artificial intelligence to analyze complex biological multi-omics data collected from space missions. Yotta's potential lies not only in predictive health and safe space exploration but also in advancing our understanding of fundamental biological systems here on Earth.

For me, it's not only about leading a team; it's about steering a mission that will shape humanity's future. Deep Space Biology and Yotta reflect my unwavering dedication to making a difference, propelling the frontiers of exploration, and inspiring the next generation of scientists, especially young women, to boldly embrace STEM fields.

What are some of the current projects that you are working on?

That’s a very big question to unpack as I have many different things I’m currently working on and super excited about. At Deep Space Biology, a significant portion of my time is devoted to fundraising as we are currently completing our seed round and building our third generation of our Yotta platform. With the current backing of esteemed entities such as Georgia Tech and Boryung Pharmaceutical, has chartered a promising trajectory ahead. Over the past two years, our collaboration with NASA GeneLab has been dedicated to the meticulous standardization and integration of more than two decades of biological research. Among our ventures, a particularly thrilling project is underway with NASA Genelab which I’m unable to disclose at this time. We’ve successfully completed a pilot with a leading US medical institution, (top in the United States) has yielded major breakthroughs in health research. The prospects are undeniably captivating!

Through my philanthropic efforts with my Space4Girls foundation, we have recently unveiled an international initiative named Stellar Rising Stars. This pioneering program caters to young women aged 17-25 who are embarking on careers within the commercial space industry. At its core, this program offers mentorship and a robust support system, empowering these young women to unearth their purpose within the intricate realm of the space sector. This inaugural trailblazing comprises talented women from eight different countries and a spectrum of fields such as jet propulsion, space science technology, astrobiology, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, global affairs, space craft design, and even aspiring future astronauts! We had our second call today and I’m ecstatic to have these smart and beautiful young women representing our organization throughout the world.

For the past four years I’ve been involved with a global organization based in London, Leaders on Purpose, an independent organization that supports businesses transitioning to become more sustainable and fit for the future. Leaders on Purpose began as a research collaboration between business leaders and experts from Harvard University, Unilever, The World Bank, and The London School of Economics and studies the top multi-national CEO’s who are leading the purpose first economy.

I’ve been spearheading our Space on Purpose coalition with a mission to bring more space companies into alignment with the UN sustainable development goals and aligning with other top multinational companies within our organization. We’re currently focused on our incredible annual Leaders on Purpose CEO Summit, taking place in NYC next month (September) during the United Nations General Assembly.

I’m also preparing to speak in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this October representing the new space economy at a Forum on Fostering Innovation for Collective Impact and Sustainable Development event hosted by The World Economic Forum.

I’ll also be speaking about the vast impact of Space Biology Data and the future of accelerating health research and discoveries at The Economist Space Economy Summit in LA, also in October.

And most importantly, I’m focused on getting my seven-year-old daughter Margaux back in school this week. We spend the afternoon yesterday looking for a new outfit for her first day in second grade. You are also the founder of Space for Girls (S4G), an organisation whose mission is to support young women to become innovators in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and to become the next generation of leaders in the rapidly growing space industry. Why is it so important to have more women and girls in STEM?

Indeed, Space for Girls (S4G) is a cause that's incredibly close to my heart. Our mission to empower young women as innovators in STEM and future leaders in the space industry is deeply rooted in the recognition that diversity is a driving force of progress. The presence of women and girls in STEM and space is not only a matter of equality but a necessity for unlocking untapped potential. Diversity brings a multitude of perspectives, ideas, and approaches to problem-solving. When we include more women and girls in STEM, we harness a broader range of creativity and innovation, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and transformative technologies.

Moreover, representation matters profoundly. When young girls see women thriving in STEM, it shatters stereotypes and paves the way for limitless dreams. By showcasing women as leaders, astronauts, engineers, and scientists, we dismantle barriers and create a future where no aspiration is out of reach.

In the rapidly evolving space industry, diversity is paramount. Complex challenges require multidisciplinary solutions, and diverse teams bring unique strengths to the table. As the founder of S4G, I've witnessed firsthand how mentoring and nurturing young female talents not only shapes their futures but also contributes to building a stronger, more inclusive space sector.

My journey as a female leader in STEM, (specifically technology) has taught me that empowerment is a shared responsibility. By fostering an environment where women and girls can thrive, we're investing in a future that's not only equitable but one that propels humanity forward. Through S4G, I'm dedicated to nurturing the next generation of STEM and space leaders who will not only break barriers but also reach for the stars.

In the course of your outstanding career, when did your interest in space start?

My fascination with space ignited from a young age, fueled by a blend of curiosity and inspiration. Growing up, I was captivated by the mysteries of the cosmos, drawn to the stars and the vastness of the universe. Living for a short period next to NASA, Science fiction stories, movies like Star Wars, and space exploration documentaries ignited my imagination, painting a vivid picture of what lay beyond our planet. As I delved deeper into the subject, my interest evolved into a genuine passion for understanding the intricacies of space, the potential for exploration, and the profound questions about our existence beyond Earth. This curiosity propelled me to seek knowledge about space, astronomy, and space travel, nurturing a desire to contribute to this fascinating realm with a special focus on democratization, making space accessible to everyone.

My journey towards space wasn't always clear-cut, and societal norms at the time didn't offer a straightforward path for young women like me. Nonetheless, my unwavering passion led me to explore fields that aligned with my interests, allowing me to make meaningful contributions in related areas. With the burgeoning opportunities in the commercial space industry, I've now found myself intricately intertwined with the very field that has always captivated my heart and mind.

I’ve defiantly been inspired by my good friend and Astronaut, Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO of Voyager Space and founder of the non-profit Space4Humaity. Dylan’s influence drives much of the innovation and advancement within the commercial space industry and has ignited my deep curiosity.

In essence, my interest in space is a product of childhood wonder, a thirst for knowledge, and an unshakeable fascination with the universe's mysteries. It's a journey that has spanned decades, taking me from awe-struck admiration to an active participant in an industry that holds the promise of unlocking humanity's next great frontier. Top of Form Bottom of Form What are some of the qualities that you have developed as an entrepreneur in your successful career path?


My entrepreneurial journey has been a transformative experience, one that has endowed me with a spectrum of qualities that have been pivotal to my success.

Firstly, resilience has emerged. Navigating the challenges inherent in entrepreneurship has taught me to adapt, pivot, and persevere in the face of adversity. This quality not only helped me weather storms but also inspired my team to maintain steadfast dedication in challenging times.

Adaptability is another hallmark of my entrepreneurial path. The dynamic business landscape demands a willingness to embrace change and harness emerging opportunities. My journey has taught me the value of remaining open to new ideas and strategies, ensuring that I stay agile and responsive to evolving circumstances.

Effective communication has played a pivotal role in nurturing relationships with clients, partners, and team members. The ability to articulate complex concepts, align diverse perspectives, and foster collaboration has been indispensable in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

Innovation is at the foundation of entrepreneurship, and it's a quality I've wholeheartedly embraced. My commitment to innovative thinking has not only allowed me to develop novel solutions but has also cultivated an environment of creativity within my teams, spurring them to think beyond conventional boundaries.

Furthermore, my leadership style centers on empowerment. Recognizing the unique strengths of each team member and providing them with autonomy has fostered a sense of ownership and passion within my teams. This, in turn, has contributed to our collective success.

Ethical decision-making is a non-negotiable principle in my entrepreneurial journey. Upholding integrity in all business dealings has not only garnered trust but has also laid a foundation for sustainable growth and long-lasting partnerships. In essence, my journey as an entrepreneur has bestowed upon me qualities ranging from resilience and adaptability to effective communication, innovation, empowerment, and ethical leadership. These qualities have not only shaped my success but have also been instrumental in realizing my vision of making a positive impact on the world around me.

Lastly, and of utmost significance, I'd like to underscore the critical importance of women supporting women as a pivotal stride towards nurturing empowerment, equality, and progress, both within the business realm and across society at large. When women rally behind each other, a host of profound benefits unfurls.

Here, I've outlined a few key domains where our collective efforts as women can profoundly influence progress and contribute to bridging the global gender gap:

Breaking Stereotypes: By supporting one another, women challenge and break down the stereotypes and biases that have historically held them back. This collective effort helps pave the way for new narratives and expanded opportunities.

Creating Role Models: Women supporting women provide tangible role models for others to look up to. Visible examples of successful women in various fields inspire younger generations to believe in their potential and aim higher.

Strength in Unity: Solidarity among women creates a stronger, united front. Addressing common challenges and advocating for change is more effective when a diverse range of voices comes together.

Mentorship and Guidance: Women who have succeeded in their fields can offer invaluable mentorship and guidance to those still striving. Sharing experiences, insights, and advice can significantly shorten the learning curve and help others avoid potential pitfalls.

Networking and Collaboration: A supportive network of women provides a safe space for collaboration, idea-sharing, and partnership. This network can lead to new opportunities and collaborations that might not have been possible otherwise.

Building Confidence: Encouragement and validation from other women can boost individual and collective self-esteem. Knowing that you have a community behind you can be empowering in pursuing challenging endeavors.

Tackling Systemic Issues: Women's collective efforts can drive change on a broader scale, challenging systemic barriers and advocating for policy changes that promote gender equality.

Dismantling Competition: Rather than viewing each other as competition, supporting women fosters an environment where everyone can thrive. The idea of scarcity is replaced with one of abundance, acknowledging that there's space for everyone's success.

Creating Lasting Change: The ripple effects of women supporting women extend beyond individuals. As women rise collectively, societal norms shift, creating a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse world for future generations.

In essence, supporting women isn't just about individual growth—it's about creating a more inclusive and equitable society for everyone. When women come together to uplift one another, the impact reaches far beyond personal success, driving positive change on a global scale.

What are some challenges that young people who aspire to pursue a career in STEM should take into consideration?


Embarking on a career in STEM is an exhilarating journey, yet it comes with its own set of challenges, especially for young aspirant women. One challenge is the deep gender imbalance that persists in STEM fields. As a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion, I firmly believe that empowering and encouraging young women to overcome these barriers is pivotal. Additionally, the rapid evolution of technology demands constant learning and adaptability. It's essential for young people to cultivate a growth mindset, fostering a hunger for continuous education and innovation.

Mentorship and role models play a crucial role in guiding young minds, and I've personally been committed to providing mentorship through initiatives through my non-profit foundation Space4Girls. Furthermore, a collaborative spirit is indispensable in STEM, given the interdisciplinary nature of many projects. Building effective communication and teamwork skills is crucial, and I've actively promoted teamwork throughout my career especially working in technology.

Lastly, resilience is paramount in the face of setbacks and failures. I've found that embracing failures as opportunities for growth, rather than obstacles, is a testament to one's leadership and strength. As a leader, I've strived to inspire this perspective in my teams, ensuring they view challenges as steppingstones toward success.

Ultimately, the challenges in pursuing a STEM career can be immense, but they are surmountable with the right mindset, support network, and a commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion, innovation, and resilience.

Finally, we'd  like to  send  a  motivational  message  to  all  young  people  who  want to have a successful career but find it difficult .

Absolutely, crafting a motivational message to inspire and uplift young individuals navigating the challenges of building a successful career is crucial. Here's a message to encourage them: Dear determined and aspiring young beautiful minds,

Facing the uphill journey of carving out a successful career, remember, every journey begins with a single step, and every remarkable achievement starts as a dream. It's perfectly normal to encounter difficulties and uncertainties along the way – they're part of the process that molds you into a resilient and capable individual. Embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth, for it's through adversity that your true potential shines. It’s all a part of your personal story.

Stay steadfast in your vision and purpose, even when the path seems unclear. Your passion, purpose and dedication will guide you forward, illuminating the way. Don't be disheartened by setbacks; instead, view them as valuable lessons that propel you closer to your goals. Success is not measured by the absence of obstacles, but by your ability to navigate and overcome them.

Surround yourself with positivity and those who believe in your potential. Stay away from disempowering people! Seek mentors and allies who can provide guidance and wisdom from their own journeys. Remember that you're never alone on this path – countless individuals have faced similar struggles and emerged triumphant.

Believe in your unique abilities and talents. You possess qualities that set you apart – qualities that can contribute to the world in ways you might not yet fully comprehend. The road to success is rarely linear; it's marked by twists, turns, and unexpected opportunities.

Embrace flexibility and adaptability, for they are the tools that allow you to thrive amidst change. Above all, be patient with yourself. Celebrate every achievement, no matter how small, and use them as steppingstones to propel you to greater heights.

In your pursuit of a successful career, remember that challenges are temporary, but your resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit are timeless. Your journey is uniquely yours, and with passion as your compass and perseverance as your guide, you have the power to create a future that far exceeds your dreams.

You've got this. Stay inspired and continue to reach for the stars!

With Love,

Kimberly

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