2020 Women To Watch awards gets bigger than ever this year, and here’s why

The annual Women to Watch awards, hosted by online drone community Women and Drones, is usually devoted to honoring up-and-coming females in the drone industry. But the 2020 Women To Watch awards have grown to include not just those awards, but an entire week of new awards honoring innovative companies that also foster a culture of female inclusiveness.

Thus new for 2020, Woman and Drones introduced two new co-ed, team awards in the Humanitarian and Innovation categories to “acknowledge organizations/companies that, in their pursuit of excellence, embrace diversity and have a culture of inclusiveness where women are engaged in key roles on their team and/or in leadership positions.” That makes the 2020 Women to Watch awards just one component of the broader Women and Drones Global Awards.

With that, there are four “Women to Watch” winners, as well as three other companies or organizations that have received awards.

Here are all the winners of the 2020 Women and Drones Global Awards:

2020 Women To Watch in UAS Global Awards winners

The 2020 nomination process resulted in nominations of women from eleven countries. The final four winners are:

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Raquel Molina: Entrepreneurship – Brazil

Raquel Molina is founder and CEO of Futuriste Tecnologia Drones, one of Brazil’s largest drone training companies. She also developed the “Drone Without Barriers” program, which provides free training for physically disabled people to operate drones.

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Denise Soesilo: Leadership – Switzerland

Denise Soesilo is cofounder of Outsight International, which works on cargo drone operations in Africa, coordinating between regulators, UTM providers and nine drone companies to enable their flying operations.

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Kaye North: Education – Australia

Kaye North teaches drones to school children, shares drone curriculum with schools, and provides professional development to the teachers who want to teach drones.  Her work involves directing science students to design and code drones capable of delivering survival packages during disasters or creating opportunities for high school girls to develop drone pilot license programs for local primary students.

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Susan Minne: Public Safety/Service – U.S.A.

Susan Minne’ serves as a volunteer and lead pilot for the Cedar Park, Texas office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. She responds to calls for drone assistance from police and fire units, as well as assists in the administration of the citywide Public Safety sUAS training program.

2020 Fox Piloting Innovation Award winner UPS Flight Forward

2020 Fox Piloting Innovation Award winner: UPS Flight Forward

One of the new categories in the broader Women and Drones Global Awards is the 2020 Fox Piloting Innovation Award. Among the criteria for companies to win such an award: companies needed to have an established drone education program available to all employees, a demonstrated culture where female colleagues are encouraged to become certified drone pilots as well as the overall inclusion of women in the total number of certified drone pilots across the organization.

This year’s winner is UPS Flight Forward, the drone delivery arm of the multinational package delivery giant. Especially as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the need for contactless deliveries, UPS Flight Forward has seen rapid growth this year.

Its projects include transporting healthcare equipment around WakeMed’s campus in Raleigh, North Carolina and partnering with CVS to deliver prescriptions to a retirement community in Central Florida.

2020 Global Ambassador Award winner WeRobotics

2020 Global Ambassador Award winner: WeRobotics

The Global Ambassador Award category was designed to acknowledge an organization dedicated to “drones for good” advocacy and outreach that also fosters a culture of female inclusiveness. Women and Drones said they selected WeRobotics as the winner not only for the company’s use of drones for the good of humanity, but because “the organization counts on a core team of females to keep their mission on track,” including CEO and Co-Founder Sonja Betschart, HR Head Joyce Monsees, Finance Head Wee Kheng Yuen, among many others.

2020 Humanitarian Team Award winner Kenya Flying Labs

2020 Humanitarian Team Award winner: Kenya Flying Labs

The winner in this category, Kenya Flying Labs, is a registered non-profit using drones to improve healthcare in African communities. Since it was founded two years ago, the organization has developed partnerships with the Kenya Red Cross to develop a cholera surveillance system that combines aerial imagery and predictive analysis to predict outbreaks; is working to enhance cellular connectivity in one of the largest refugee camps in Africa using tethered drones; and offers precision agriculture services to small scale pineapple and sugarcane farmers, helping them better manage their farms and increase their crop yield.

A history of the Women to Watch in UAS awards

The first-ever Women to Watch awards were celebrated four years ago. Here’s a complete list of 2019’s winners2018’s winners, and 2017’s (the inaugural year).

As far as the 2020 Women to Watch awards, they were originally scheduled as an in-person awards ceremony as part of the Interdrone 2020 conference, which was originally set for August 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Interdrone 2020 was then postponed to December 2020 before the in-person event was cancelled completely and revamped to become a virtual event (to be held in December 2020).

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