PALMDALE — The City Council nominated a Lockheed Martin engineer to represent the city on the Board of The Palmdale Aerospace Academy.
Ellen McIsaac, an aeronautical engineering associate manager, was selected from among the three applications for the positions received. The vote was 4-0, with Councilman Juan Carrillo absent.
The nomination was prompted to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Anthony Gagliardo. The term expires July 31, 2021.
The Council praised all the applicants and said their choice was not to reflect adversely on those not selected.
“Any one of them would be a good pick. I think that right now though we need to fill that spot with an aerospace person,” Mayor Steve Hofbauer said.
Councilwoman Laura Bettencourt, who served previously as the city’s representative to the academy Board, said it is heavy with members with educational backgrounds.
“I think the students deserve to have somebody within the field that they are learning, somebody that reflects what their goals and ambitions are and someone that can mentor them in a way that a person who doesn’t have aerospace experience would not be able to help them with,” she said.
Having worked previously at Northrop Grumman, Bettencourt said she is familiar with the difficulties women face in the field and that having a woman engineer on the board would be beneficial.
In addition to her position with Lockheed, where she is the technical intern program manager, McIsaac is also involved in area science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs through the Aerospace Valley Robotics organization and other robotics efforts with the FIRST program, as well as the Society of Women Engineers, where she is currently president of the Antelope Valley Section.
“Supporting STEM education is my passion, and I have been leading and volunteering for a variety of STEM-focused non-profit organizations for over a decade,” she wrote in her application for the board position.
“It’s really tough, because we’ve got some really qualified people here,” Mayor Pro Tem Austin Bishop said.
He initially backed nominating John Porter, the assistant superintendent of special education/student services for Palmdale School District, who is retiring in July.
Bishop recommended Porter for his background in education, which he felt would be valuable for the board.
The third applicant was Joseph Parisio, a teacher in the Palmdale School District with 15 years’ experience.
“It’s an aerospace school, we need to have some aerospace representation there,” Bettencourt said.
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