Former Astronaut Mae Jemison To Speak in Kalamazoo

Contributed by Tom Vance- Kalamazoo Community Foundation

KALAMAZOO (MICH.)– Mae Jemison, M.D., the first woman of color in space, is the keynote speaker at Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s 2017 Community Meeting on March 23, 7 p.m., at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium.

Jemison_MaeJPGSponsored by PNC Bank, the Community Meeting is also part of University Center for the Humanities at WMU’s 2016-2017 speaker series: Science and the Human Endeavor. Registration is free and open to the public; however, the Community Foundation requests that attendees register at Parking at the Miller Auditorium ramp will be free.

Jemison, who trained as an engineer and then became a physician before joining NASA, was a mission specialist on Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. In her talk – titled “Exploring the Frontiers of Science and Human Potential” – she will speak about her dreams of becoming an astronaut while growing up on the south side of Chicago and the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. She will also talk about the need for increased participation of women and minorities in science and technology.

“This will be a unique family event that can add to conversations about how we can make our community a place where every person can reach full potential,” says Carrie Pickett-Erway, president/CEO, Kalamazoo Community Foundation. “Dr. Jemison’s inspirational story illustrates the barriers she had to overcome simply because of her race and gender and how those barriers unfortunately still exist. We’re hopeful her visit will inspire our youth and the community-at-large.”

Jemison was a Peace Corps doctor serving in Sierra Leone and Liberia before spending six years as a NASA astronaut. She founded the international science camp, The Earth We Share, and is currently leading the 100 Year Starship, an initiative for human interstellar flight within the next 100 years. She is the founder of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, named in honor of her mother and dedicated to improving student science achievement. She also founded The Jemison Group, a technology consulting firm, and BioSentient Corporation, a medical technology devices and services company.

Her memoir, Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life, is geared for teenage readers, and she is the author of four books for students, third-grade through middle school: The 100 Year Starship, Exploring Our Sun, Journey Through Our Solar System, and Discovering New Planets.

Jemison, who lives in Houston, is an inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, National Medical Association Hall of Fame and Texas Science Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of the National Organization for Women’s Intrepid Award and the Kilby Science Award. She also serves as national advocate for Bayer Corporation’s “Making Science Make Sense” program. She earned undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and African and Afro-American Studies at Stanford University, her medical degree from Cornell University, is on the faculty at Dartmouth College, and previously served as a professor-at-large at Cornell University.

Jemison is at the forefront of integrating physical and social sciences with art and culture to solve problems and foster innovation. She is using her experience to build global initiatives and advocacy to generate radical leaps in knowledge and social responsibility. More information is available at her website:

Kalamazoo Community Foundation, established in 1925, has the mission to make life better for all through leadership and stewardship of resources that last forever, with the vision of a community where every person can reach full potential. Learn more at