You are currently viewing Honored as “Empowered Woman of the Year 2023” by the International Association of Top Professionals!


I am a little shy (yes it is true!) when it comes to sharing my own personal experiences. Because I am humbled and grateful, I want to share what this experience has meant to me.

Last year, I was reached out to by these amazing women, Carissa Peretti and Stephanie Cirami of the International Association of Top Professionals. In essence they said, “We see you and all that you are doing, we want to celebrate you!” Tears are welling up even as I write this because I am so used to be in service to others whether it be family, friends, work, brand, creatives, etc. much of the time without acknowledgement. They awarded me “Top Inspirational Pilot of the Year 2022” and we celebrated spectacularly at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada last December. (see a previous article).

This year, they said essentially, “Captain Laura, we feel that you are truly an empowered woman who so many people look up to (literally and figuratively lol). You inspire and represent so many people and we want to award you!” A vast press release went out to hundreds of media outlets and I was sent a second award statue which has a glass world globe at the top. When I spoke in July at the Eu Palm in West Palm Beach, Florida for them, I teared up explaining why that was so significant to me. (see speech in article Summer Soiree). I headed off to New York, New York for this past weekend’s red carpet award gala!


Even though I fly large jets, I never get tired of cruising over the world! I was able to ride in style on the incredible Boeing 777 ¬†(and the B787 back) to the event. My favorite of course is seat “0-L” because I get to be in control and have 230 degree views! The window seat in the cabin is my next best for the nesting factor along with the sights of the skies and the tapestry down below. The weather was perfect and we got to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Off to the Rockefeller Center to see the huge ornate Christmas tree, the fun ice skating, and the spirited FAO Schwartz toy store!


New York Times Square Billboard and Meet and Greet:

I left the hotel with 40 minutes to arrive 10 blocks away. After having probably been in over 50 successful Uber and Lyft rides along with a million layover transporters, I managed this day to be with the one, you know, the one, who had to demean me, argue with me, and generally disregard me as a person. Showing him on my own phone, yes there is a corner of 43rd and Broadway, where I need to be at 10:00 for the billboard display and photo shoot, he insisted there was no such place. Captain Laura had to kick in at that point and I strongly directed him on how to drive. Calling another award recipient friend, I said, “Please tell them I am coming and am almost there!” With two minutes to spare, I jumped out of the car and flung off my coat just as my picture displayed above the thousands of perusing people around NY Times Square. “Click” went the camera and the photographer got the shot of a lifetime!

The displays rotated a few more times for all of us to see and I was able to be in joy with some of the other award recipients. Then, off to The Harvard Club we went to meet with several others. Pure joy I felt in speaking with many people I had met at previous events along with meeting several new people as well. We were served amazing hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and good times!

Red Carpet Award Gala:

The black tie and evening gown attire was perfectly appropriate for the beautiful grand ballroom at The Plaza Hotel and what seemed to be about 250+ people. As the cocktail hour began, we had pictures taken, spoke on podcasts, and mingled together as we celebrated everyone. The incredible part of this experience is that the people chosen for these awards are top industry professionals making the world a better place with who they are and all they are achieving. Yet, everyone is so very respectful, kind, connecting, and humble – it is as if this is part of the vetting process by the IAOTP Board. The collaborations, the synergy, the speak, is something that I have never experienced before.

My dynamic brain fired on all cylinders listening and learning about these extraordinary leaders – people who as examples are: a top cardiologist setting up heart clinics in lower economic areas so more people can be helped, a chief of police who has saved thousands of lives of lost Alzheimer’s patients and millions of dollars in manpower across the nation, entrepreneurs whose life coaching programs have improved the lives of thousands and who are making millions, Miss Universe who has worked endlessly to bring tourism to Namibia, South Africa in order to better serve the country, a dancing couple whose performances drop your jaw and have performed on Dancing with the Stars and Cirque du Soleil, oncologists who help thousands while researching and advocating for new treatments, a publisher whose streaming series will now air soon on Apple TV, owners of professional sports teams who do incredible charity work in the local areas, and the list goes on and on.

Then there is little ol’ me, who to be sincerely honest, had not felt very “empowered” several times throughout this year due to a few significant challenges I had to face. I remembered that I am an ambassador, a representative of my industry, and I want those people to be proud of me and how I represent them. The ¬†general public and my own friends and family, I hoped would also be pleased about all I have done to share myself in the best ways I can. As my name was called, my bio read, and my picture flashed on the large screens, I went up on stage doing a little dance along the way really feeling this life moment. I was greeted on stage with open arms by these incredible women of IAOTP who were presenting the awards. It felt like being home, with my IAOTP family, once again!

As I came off stage, there was a young boy standing there in a tuxedo looking as handsome as he could be. He firmly held out his hand and exclaimed, “Hi! I am Erin Carsten (sp) and I am going to be a future pilot!” and he shook my hand confidently. I wanted to just wrap my arms around him as I felt my motherly instincts kick in. I told him that I am very happy to meet him and that I would love it if he and his parent would join me at my table in a few minutes. He was excited and soon after brought over his father and little sister.

Personal message from the Captain:

If you are still reading to this point, I want to give you a heart felt and sincere THANK YOU!! I would not be here without you and I truly appreciate you being on this literal and figurative journey with me! There is sooo much more I want to do and share, I hope that you will stay with me, in formation, along with me for the entire ride! Life cannot be done solo. As much as I have resisted this a few times in my life, I know that it truly takes a full dedicated crew, people who are truly onboard with you, in order to get you anywhere you want to go. It is not about the destination, it is about the journey, and from the depths of my soul and the heights of my spirit, I am sincerely grateful!

Wishing you Blue Skies and Smooth Flights,

Captain Laura