For transforming a fascination with space into a thriving career; for nurturing and inspiring the next generation of women engineers; and for representing SWE advocacy at its best.
Lori Kahn is a systems engineering manager at Lockheed Martin Space, where she has supported advanced technical programs for 27 years. In her current role in Special Programs Remote Sensing, she leads and manages cost and schedule for a team of systems integrators deployed to spacecraft product teams. Kahn has held a variety of systems engineering and leadership roles within the company’s civil commercial space and national security space programs, which includes space hardware and ground software.
As a teen, Kahn was enthralled with all things space, prompting her to attend the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, three times. That experience led her to volunteer for the Challenger Center at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where strong women role models motivated her to study astronomy and pursue work in the space industry.
She then earned a B.A. in physics and astronomy at Smith College and an M.S. in physics at Arizona State University. After joining Lockheed Martin as a systems engineer, Kahn completed a certificate program in spacecraft design and operation proficiency from Stanford University. She holds a Six Sigma green belt and Scrum Master certification.
Kahn is driven to promote women’s success in engineering and inclusion in the workplace. Inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she formed a Lean In Circle as part of Lockheed Martin’s Women’s Impact Network (WIN). This initiative led to broader discussion topics on unconscious bias and engaging men as allies. Kahn represented WIN at the company’s space inclusion council, where she was recognized with a Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2016. She became the first Space WIN chair, serving from 2016 to 2018, and later served as a deputy chair on WIN’s corporate leadership council, leading five business-area WIN chairs to improve communication and collaboration. Aligning with the Society of Women Engineer’s mission, she helped WIN receive bronze, silver, and gold SWE Mission Awards from 2017 to 2020 and advocated for WIN to start its own awards program in 2020.
In 2022, Kahn was honored with the WIN Mission Award for her continued efforts to recruit, retain, and advance women in the workplace. In 2023, she received the SWE WE Local Engaged Advocate Award.
Outside of work, Kahn is an enthusiastic volunteer for FIRST and SWE. As co-lead mentor and SWENext club counselor for FIRST Robotics Competition Team 2813, she guides students as they prepare their outreach and awards submissions. Kahn actively encourages female participation, which increased to 35% in 2023. Nominated by the students in 2022, she received the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award, a mentor award named for the FIRST co-founder to recognize excellence in communication.
Within SWE, Kahn has given presentations at numerous conferences on inclusion and gender bias, outreach, and systems thinking. Along with the SWE outreach committee, she led the “Invent It. Build It.” middle school room at WE22, where 200 students worked with 60 role models who had been trained in the Role Models Matter modules that her focus group produced in 2021.
Kahn resides in San Jose, California, with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. She enjoys travel and theater shows. She volunteers for the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life and the U.S. Department of State’s TechWomen program as an impact coach for emerging leaders from Central Asia and Africa.