Alessandra Vernile

Alessandra is a young professional with a background in International Relations, Intelligence, and Space Policy. Alessandra took her first steps in the space sector in 2015, joining the European Space Agency (ESA) Strategy Department in Paris with a focus on Member States’ space policy developments. In 2016, Alessandra was the recipient of the ASI-SIOI fellowship, bringing her to Vienna to work at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI). There she investigated the role of private actors in the space sector and had the opportunity of learning more about the contribution of space technology to SDGs. Between 2017 and 2023, Alessandra worked full time at Eurisy facilitating the uptake of satellite-based solutions by societal actors. Currently, she works at the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in the International Relations Department, as part of the team managing the relations with the European Space Agency.

Alessandra has been a member of the IAF EO Technical Committee and is Co-Chair of the IAF Launchpad Mentorship Initiative. Within the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), Alessandra served as Project Groups Coordinator between 2018 and 2022 and as SGC Deputy Manager for 2023 in Baku. She is now the Space Generation Congress 2024 Manager.

History with SGAC

My commitment in SGAC dates back to 2017 when I joined the Organising team of the Space Generation Forum 2.0. In this role, I’ve supported the organisation of the second event in its kind to celebrate the origins of SGAC. It gathered SGAC founders to retrace the origins of the Organisation and discuss its future. The WGs organised during the event touched upon key topics as sustainability and SDGs, the role of space and the applications in different domains, such as medicine. As lead of the programming team I was pleased to see how the WG dedicated to medicine set the stage for the creation of the Space Medicine and Life Sciences Project Group.

After such a fulfilling opportunity, I became SGAC Project Groups Coordinator- a position that I held for two terms (2018-2022). In this capacity I led the very first call for new Project Groups in SGAC since its setting up. The selection lasted about 8 months and resulted in the foundation of four new PGs: Space Medicine and Life Sciences PG, Space and Cybersecurity PG, Ethics and Human Rights PG, and Space Technology for Earth Applications PG. The rationale behind their creation was to provide SGAC members with a broad picture of the multidisciplinary aspects of the space industry. 

As part of my first term, I have developed a new strategy to facilitate the work of the PGs and allow a more agile work organisation. Since then, PGs have a solid structure with defined role besides the PG Co-leads (eg. communication manager, partnership manager, etc). The objective was to furtherly stimulate the engagement of the members and attract new ones and give them active roles/recognition. During this phase, I also supported the transformation of Our Giant Leap initiative into a new PG. The outcome of more than 6-months negotiation with the leaders of the initiative is the Diversity and Gender Equality PG, that covers not only the gender equality aspect but more inclusively it looks at the different aspects of diversity in the space sector.

Once selected for a second term as PG Coordinator, together with my co-coordinator, we developed the current strategy for PGs. This keeps into consideration the exponential growth of the Project Groups both in terms of members and posture. The objective is to make the PGs as a sort of think-tanks within SGAC. Besides this, the strategy also covered a renewal of the PGs’ leadership structure with new roles as Partnership Lead, Media and Communications Lead and Logistics Lead. The rationale is to adapt the leadership structure to the PGs’ growth and make the PG Coordinators more efficient.

Aside from the PG Coordination, in 2019 I had the opportunity of joining the first SGAC Action Team working dedicated to the definition of the first SGAC Harassment Policy and the design of the dedicated quiz for the members.

After concluding my second and last term as PG Coordinator, I got selected as Deputy Manager of the Space Generation Congress 2023- the SGAC flagship event. This year it took place in Baku on September 28th-30th, the weekend before the kick-off of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). It was a successful event, despite the multiple challenges the organising team, the manager and myself had to go through, always backed by the SGAC Leadership. Together with SGC Manager, I co-led 4 teams and involved multiple sponsors to deliver a high level event for our delegates. The feedback received was positive both from SGAC Management, the delegates and sponsors and it was a reason to do more and better in the future.

On the occasion of the closing dinner of SGC23, I have been promoted to the position of SGC24 Manager. I am so looking forward to organizing the Space Generation Congress in Milan- in my home country- and contributing to the growth of SGAC and its community.

While receiving this award, Alessandra, said:

I am honoured and humbled to receive the Pioneer Award. It is a great achievement for my involvement and dedication supporting bright minds in building the voice of the next generation of space leaders. Since I joined SGAC, I have always tried to be actively engaged, embracing its values and missions and sharing those with the others. Being part of this community is an important element in my career and it helped shape the professional I am now, by gaining new skills and becoming aware of my capabilities and dream big! Seeing my efforts being recognised is encouraging and pushes me to do more in the future in SGAC and beyond.

I would like to express my gratitude to all SGAC peers I have worked with over the past years and the selection committee for considering my nomination.