SGAC welcomes a new Deputy Executive Director

After a very thorough selection process, the Selection Committee, composed of SGAC Co-Chairs, Former Executive Director, Chief of Staff, members of the Executive Committee, and members of the Advisory Board, has chosen Nikol Koleva to become the Deputy Executive Director (DED) of SGAC.

A total of 21 candidates (9 female and 12 male) from 13 different countries applied for the position. The selection process entailed several phases with detailed evaluations and analysis by the Selection Committee members, which resulted in the final candidate’s selection by consensus.   

We warmly welcome Nikol to the team!

About Nikol Koleva

Nikol Koleva is a dynamic professional who has established herself as a rising figure in the space industry and space-related research. Nikol has extensive experience in the fields of external relations, communications, strategic management, and space psychology. She has a BA in Psychology with a pathway in counseling and health psychology from City University of London, and she recently graduated with an MA in Psychology with an emphasis in counseling from Webster Vienna Private University.

Nikol has consistently shown an interest in merging psychology and space exploration throughout her academic career. For her Bachelor’s thesis, she researched the Overview Effect among astronauts using a qualitative approach and explored their experiences of this phenomenon. She continued this research for her Master’s thesis, looking into whether or not virtual reality (VR) can be used to replicate the Overview Effect and if it can simulate similar therapeutic benefits as those experienced by astronauts.

Complementing her academic achievements, Nikol’s professional trajectory has solidified her reputation as a young professional in the space industry through her work with the World Space Week Association (WSWA). She started her career there as an intern and eventually moved to the position of Communications and Media Director and later, External Relations Manager. In her work with WSWA, Nikol optimized communication campaigns, supported strategic media partnerships, elevated WSWA’s global reach, and fostered collaborations and engagement with sponsors and partners. She also represented the organization in international forums, including the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) Spring Meetings, where she delivered statements, technical presentations, and attended committee meetings on behalf of WSWA.

“I am deeply honoured and thrilled to step into the role of Deputy Executive Director at SGAC, an organization that epitomizes the future of the space industry. I am committed to leading with passion, innovation, and a profound understanding of the impact that space can have on individuals’ personal and professional journeys. As we unite forces, we will propel the next generation of students and space professionals towards a horizon of innovation, collaboration, and limitless growth.”

Nikol Koleva, SGAC Deputy Executive Director

“I am delighted to welcome Nikol as SGAC’s new Deputy Executive Director. SGAC is the most important student and young professional focussed organisation in the space sector with a presence in over 165 countries. The Executive Director spearheads SGAC’s mission and focuses on the implementation of our Strategic Plan. I am confident that Nikol will take SGAC to new heights and I am excitedly looking forward to working with her.”

Hamza Hameed, SGAC Chair

“I am very excited to welcome Nikol to the SGAC Leadership Team as our new Deputy Executive Director. I am convinced that with her background, skills and motivation, Nikol will play a key role in fostering the sustainable growth of our organization. As Co-Chair, I look forward to working with her and the entire SGAC leadership team to enable and empower the young generation in advancing humanity through the peaceful uses of outer space. Ad Astra!”

Antonino Salmeri, SGAC Co-Chair

“I would like to congratulate Nikol for being selected as the Deputy Executive Director of SGAC. I will do my very best together with Davide Petrillo to ensure Nikol will get great training, hence ensuring a smooth transition in the SGAC Leadership. SGAC’s Executive Director has a lot of responsibilities but countless rewards, and I am happy Nikol, as a young leader, will get to experience and benefit from all of this! I am confident the Leaders of the space sector and SGAC members will benefit from Nikol’s spirit and grow further with her.”

Valentina Luchetti, SGAC Acting Executive Director


The new Deputy Executive Director, Nikol Koleva, will soon start in the new position at the SGAC HQ in Vienna working alongside the Acting Executive Director, Valentina Luchetti, and the Operations Officer, Tatiana Komorná.