Enterprising Women Summer 2021

Celeste Ford STELLAR SOLUTIONS Reaching for the stars—in the aerospace industry C eleste Ford’s trailblazing career has launched satellites into space along with the careers of numerous other female aerospace engineers. She recalls being the only woman in a control center more than 25 years ago, “Although it was a thrilling challenge, I knew that my voice stood out in the crowd on the console and any mistake would not only impact the mission but my future career and that of the women who would follow me. It focused me on being the best I could be.” That ambition propelled her to found Stellar Solutions in 1995 with the vision of delivering high-impact customer solutions while realizing her employees’ dream jobs. That early focus on job satisfaction earned the long-time loyalty of talented scientists, engineers and innovators in the multi-billion dollar aerospace engineering services marketplace. Many have grown with the company and today, Stellar Solutions is exemplary for its hiring and promotion of women: three of its six vice presidents are women. Celeste also championed the concept of “crossing boundaries” across the company’s lines of business to spur innovation and deliver deeper thought leadership to clients. This pursuit of excellence earned Stellar Solutions the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2017; and this year Celeste received the 2021 E. David Spong Lifetime Achievement Award, for her extraordinary service in changing the world, and inspiring others to do the same. A winner of the 2020 Enterprising Women of the Year Award, Celeste has always mentored young women in STEM and continues her legacy in empowering women to reach for the stars. CELESTE FORD is board chair and founder of Stellar Solutions. Learn more and connect at www.stellarsolutions.com. She is a member of the Enterprising Women Advisory Board. TRAILBLAZERS Leslie Atkins LA COMMUNICATIONS, LLC Blazing a trail as an expert storyteller for women entrepreneurs W hile there are different kinds of writers and editors, Leslie Atkins is especially adept at editing and ghostwriting for entrepreneurs. Whether it’s a milestone year in business, a unique approach to management, or a particular way with words, Leslie enables CEOs and other executives to express themselves effectively and movingly in books, speeches, and on blogs. A trailblazer creates a trail to guide others, and that’s exactly what Leslie does. Celebrities often employ ghostwriters, but business owners tend to believe they can write their own books. Many times this fallacy leads to production of a less-than- desirable manuscript, which frequently fails to find its way into print. By cajoling, reasoning, and applying her proven methodology to each project, Leslie ensures her entrepreneur clients produce stellar books. These books advance her clients’ careers by enhancing branding, initiating speaking opportunities, and sparking positive attention. Leslie’s skill at interviewing allows her to identify and communicate what makes her clients tick, how they think, and what they believe. Her talent for capturing personalities on paper, for illuminating difficult concepts to make them understandable, and for moving readers to laugh, cry, take action, and become inspired, are all part of her successful trailblazing. Leslie uses her intelligence and creativity to advance and promote fellow entrepreneurs. The vital role she plays is done from behind-the-scenes, combining mentoring with superb editorial expertise. Leslie Atkins is a previous recipient of the Enterprising Women of the Year Award, a frequent contributor to Enterprising Women , and a long-time member of the Enterprising Women Advisory Board. Connect with her at www.corporatestorytellers.com. Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com Phonlamai Photo / Shutterstock.com 40 enterprising Women