LOS ANGELES (October 18, 2018) — XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced at their annual Visioneering event today that Anousheh Ansari has been named as chief executive officer. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis will continue in the role of founder and executive chairman.
Ansari, a serial tech entrepreneur and astronaut, is an active proponent of world-changing technologies. No stranger to XPRIZE, Ansari, along with her family, sponsored the organization’s first competition, the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million competition that ignited a new era for commercial spaceflight. Since then, she has served on XPRIZE’s Board of Directors and has closely worked with the foundation. Ansari was asked by Diamandis, and the rest of the board, to help lead the foundation as it extends its reach and impact.
“The XPRIZE model of crowdsourcing innovation is as important as ever, as increased access to exponential technologies is truly democratizing the ability for anyone to solve today’s most pressing issues,” said Diamandis. “I have tremendous confidence in Anousheh to help lead XPRIZE during its next stage of evolution. She is a powerful and inspiring CEO who brings passion, intelligence and tremendous dedication to XPRIZE and I can’t think of a more perfect person to lead our next decade of impact.”
Prior to this role, Ansari served as the CEO of Prodea Systems, a leading Internet of Things (IoT) technology firm she co-founded in 2006, and will continue to serve as the executive chairwoman. She captured headlines around the world when she embarked upon an 11-day space expedition, accomplishing her childhood dream of becoming the first female private space explorer, first astronaut of Iranian descent, first Muslim woman in space, and fourth private explorer to visit space.
“As I take on the helm at XPRIZE, I feel the same exhilaration as I did the day I was sitting in my capsule atop of my Russian Soyuz rocket – waiting impatiently to be launched into the infinity of the universe that I had dreamed about as a child, and in nervous anticipation of the enormous possibilities in front of me,” said Ansari. “I have been a spokesperson, a board member, an advocate, a sponsor, and one of XPRIZE’s biggest fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such a passionate group of individuals dedicated to changing the world for the better.”
Ansari serves on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Future Council and has received numerous honors, including the WEF Young Global Leader, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and STEM Leadership Hall of Fame, among others. She is a UNESCO Good Will Ambassador and serves on the board of Jabil and Peace First, as well as several other not-for-profit organizations focused on STEM education and youth empowerment.
Ansari also co-founded The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, announced earlier this month at the Tri Hita Karana (THK) Forum on Sustainable Development in Bali, Indonesia, with a goal of investing $1 billion in women-founded companies by 2020.
She published her memoir, My Dream of Stars, to share her life story as inspiration for young women around the world.
Ansari holds a BS in electronics and computer engineering from George Mason University, an MS in electrical engineering from George Washington University; and honorary doctorates from George Mason University, Utah Valley University, and International Space University.
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XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10M ANA Avatar XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, and the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org.
Eric Desatnik / Katherine Schelbert