Spotlight On... Anousheh Ansari
Anousheh Ansari brings more than two decades as a successful serial entrepreneur to Prodea Systems, where she serves as chairman. Anousheh captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer. She earned a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space, and the first astronaut of Iranian descent.
An active proponent of world-changing technologies, Anousheh has dreamed of space exploration since childhood. Her family provided the title sponsorship for the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million cash award for the first non-governmental organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. This feat was accomplished in 2004 by legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan in 2004.
Prior to founding Prodea Systems, Anousheh served as co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Telecom Technologies, Inc. After earning three key U.S. patents and growing the company to 250 employees with 100 percent sequential growth year over year since inception, the company successfully merged with Sonus Networks, Inc., a provider of IP-based voice infrastructure products.
A living example of the American dream, Anousheh emigrated to the United States as a teenager who did not speak English. She immersed herself in education, earning a bachelor's degree in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, followed by a master's degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University. She is currently working toward a master's degree in astronomy from Swinburne University.
Anousheh is a member of the XPRIZE Foundation's Vision Circle, as well as its Board of Trustees. She has received multiple honors, including the Working Woman's National Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, George Mason University's Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, George Washington University's Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Southwest Region. While under her leadership, Telecom Technologies earned recognition as one of Inc. Magazine's 500 fastest-growing companies and Deloitte & Touche's Fast 500 technology companies.
In addition to her business achievements, Anousheh actively pursues ways to enable social entrepreneurs to bring about radical change globally. She has served on the boards of directors for Make-a-Wish Foundation of North Texas and Collin County Children's Advocacy Center. She works with a number of other non-profit organizations, including the Ashoka Foundation in its support of social entrepreneurs.