The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Professionals honored Northrop Grumman and electronics engineering manager Jessica Donaldson on Nov. 17 during its Evening of Distinction 30th Anniversary and Scholarship Gala in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The event, keynoted by Donaldson, celebrated 30 years of NSBE Professionals who continue to excel academically and professionally, creating a positive impact in their community.

Northrop Grumman and Donaldson were honored for their continued support of NSBE Professionals and partnership with the organization.

On stage, Donaldson reflected on the NSBE’s history, starting as the dream of two young men at Purdue University and growing to its current 17,000 members and more than 500 chapters in the U.S. and abroad.

Donaldson shared her story, which included growing up as one of twelve siblings raised by a single mother in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, after her parents divorced. She also talked about the tragic death of her brother, Robert, and the violence within her community. Despite significant hardships, all of her siblings grew up to become doctors, business professionals and entrepreneurs. In her speech, Donaldson implored the audience to heed their internal call to follow their dreams.

“You could have lived at any moment in history, but you exist right now,” Donaldson said. “Your dreams, whatever they are, have been planted inside of you to sprout at this very moment. So no matter what stage you are in life, how old you are, what you have or have not accomplished, embedded in you are dreams.”

During her 11-year career at Northrop Grumman, Donaldson has effectively led multiple efforts to implement more efficient business practices and organizational structure, earning internal accolades.

She also lends time and energy to several philanthropic organizations, including Minority Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, NSBE, the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids programs, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education and more. Donaldson holds a Ph. D. in systems engineering from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Proceeds from the event benefitted the Edward E. Barnette Jr. Community Impact Scholarship and the scholarships of local NSBE Professionals chapters.

NSBE, founded in 1975, supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology.