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Judy L. Smith has once again succeeded in making strides on behalf of African American women. The inspiring woman, who became John Hopkins first African American woman to graduate from John Hopkins School of Electrical Engineering in 1979, has recently been appointed to the Women in Aerospace (WIA) Board of Directors.

Although Smith has managed to make it to the top of her field, she recognizes the challenges to black success. “Yes, I think it is true that understanding the intangibles is extremely important,” she said to Black Engineer. “And the way to address that is: Mentor, mentor, mentor. Mentor up…mentor down…mentor across. Mentoring is all about helping others learn the intricacies of the organizational culture; teaching the value of fostering relationships; and improving communication.”

Her inspiration for mentoring draws from one of her favorite quotes by Booker T. Washington. “Mr. Washington said, “There are two ways of exerting strength. One is pushing down. The other is pulling up.” To me, a strong, successful mentoring relationship is about pulling up — together,” she said.

Smith received a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Masters of Business Administration Degree from the University of Baltimore. She has over 30 years working to support agencies within the Department of Defense. In her 30 years she has worked in several capacities in various management, advisory and leadership positions. Currently she works with Exelis, a global aerospace, defense and information solutions company where she researches and identifies business opportunities for the company’s Information Systems division. Previously Smith took on leadership roles at Northrop Grumman, Lockeheed Martin, GTW and Booz Allen Hamilton.

“Judy’s keen understanding of space and defense policy, players and priorities promises to benefit WIA’s important mission in the same way it’s helping support business-growth objectives at Exelis.” Michael R. Wilson, the president of Information Systems tells Black Engineer.

WIA, based in Washington DC, welcomes Smith onto the board this month for a two year appointment.

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