Who we are:

Our common bonds are many. We met in the Civil Air Patrol. We still do work there, too.But Starbird is the thing we want to use to boldly go where people aren’t going yet, and we want to get them onboard.

Other fun stuff about the three of us:

  • We like Star Wars. And Star Trek. Don’t ask us to choose.
  • Picard or Kirk? We are hard core team Picard.
  • We’ve never all three of us been the same grade in CAP. Maybe someday, we’ll all be Majors together.

Mary Albright, President

Hi. I’m Mary. Inventive problem solving is my super power. I studied Geological Engineering at the University of Minnesota, but I’ve been a multi-passionate entrepreneur for over 20 years.

So why am I here?

I’ve always been an aviation, aerospace and science enthusiast. Growing up, the Space Shuttle program captivated all of us. When I was 7, we lived in Texas and that year, the Space Shuttle was being ferried on a 747 from California to Florida, and it made a stop in Texas. My dad loaded us all up in the family station wagon, we drove down and parked on the side of the highway near the Air Force Base where it had made a stop. I’ll never forget that day.

In my business life, I own a small boutique consulting business with clients in business operations and communications consulting. In my service life, I found the Civil Air Patrol, the auxiliary to the United States Air Force. I lead the largest cadet program in the Minnesota Wing and the North Central Region. What I’ve found is that I love leading this cadet program and creating innovative programming to help our cadets become the next leaders of the world. And because I have that passion for STEM personally, we excel in these areas.

I want more of our youth to explore STEM careers, to hopefully find one that excites them, to fill gaps as older workers retire, or fill positions we don’t even know we need yet. Encouraging them the be technically curious, to figure out what’s out there and what’s ahead…that’s exciting to me.

Fun facts about Mary:

  • I have self-diagnosed O.D.D. ~ Obsessive Disney Disorder. There’s no 12 step program. The magic is real.
  • I’m a not-so-closet Star Wars Fan. And Star Trek. Pretty much anything do to with space.
  • Finalist for 2019 NASA Solar System Ambassador Program
  • One of my favorite phrases: Work Like a Captain. Play Like a Pirate
  • Cooking is one of my laboratories
  • I like purple pens, Perrier Citron and Lindor truffles
  • Alumna, The Disney Institute Approach to Business Excellence Program

Ellen Quist, Vice President & Treasurer

Hi! I’m Ellen.

My story: I have a BA in Biochemistry from Vassar College, where I played on the rugby team, learned Russian, and studied abroad in Denmark. Somewhere along that journey, I discovered I really, really like flying.

My yen for aviation started in middle school when my friend Andy invited me to come check out this thing he was in called Civil Air Patrol. I came, I saw, I was hooked. I went through the cadet program and had some great leadership opportunities and experiences, but my true passion in CAP was flight line marshalling at air shows.  There’s just something about getting to play with airplanes up close and personal that I just love! I’ve been on the flight line at Discover Aviation Days for the last 6 years and now additionally serve as a member of the airshow committee.

When I came back to Minnesota after college, I decided that the career I truly wanted was to be a corporate or charter pilot. I’m currently in the final stages of completing my private pilot rating. I look forward to diving into my instrument and commercial ratings shortly thereafter, but I’ll also be taking plenty of time to fly my family and friends around for fun!

Why I want to be a pilot:
Because it’s really cool. And I really love to fly. There’s no better view than from an airplane.

Favorite “functional” airplane: Gulfstream G650

Favorite “fun” airplane: anything aerobatic

What are you most excited about by Starbird?
I have a STEM background, so I know how important STEM and STEM education is. And being a pilot is definitely a technical career. The aviation world is already experiencing job shortages, so there’s a definite need for people across a range of specific jobs. I want us to succeed, and in particular, I would really love to see more women and girls get involved in the field.

Caitlin Albright, Vice President & Secretary

I’m Caitlin Albright. I’m a bit of a maverick. I couldn’t find a major I really loved at college, so I created an individual program. I have a BIS in Astrophysics, Earth Science & Leadership from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Pretty cool, right? It was the closest I could get to what I thought Planetary Science and Exploration might look like.

I have always loved science and technology. I’m quite technically curious.There’s so much coolness about STEM and I think everyone should know about everything in that world.  My ultimate career goal is to be a Science Communicator with an emphasis in writing.

I do my best work in the written word. Regardless, I want to communicate the awesomeness of all things science to the world.

What are you most excited about by Starbird:
I’m excited most to advocate for Minnesota as the next hub for the space industry. The space industry isn’t here – and there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be.

Minnesota winters are beautiful and the summer is awesome. Not to mention…Have you ever seen the winter sky here?

More fun facts about Minnesota:

  • We don’t have earthquakes or crazy wildfires.
  • We have more coastline than California.
  • And did you know…Duluth International Airport was an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.

What’s your favorite constellation:
Pleiades because the mythology surrounding it is fascinating. It’s a highly visible star cluster than you can see with the naked eye. Stars are frick’n cool.

Caitlin fun facts:

I’m sneakily comedic. My sense of humor kinda sneaks up on you.