Anousheh Ansari earned a place in history in 2006 as the fourth private explorer, the first woman private explorer, and the first astronaut of Iranian descent to visit space. Back on Earth, Anousheh returned to her job as co-founder and chairman of Prodea Systems, a company that hopes to dramatically alter and simplify consumers' digital living experience.
Prior to founding Prodea Systems, Anousheh served as co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for telecom technologies, inc. The company successfully merged with Sonus Networks, Inc., a provider of IP-based voice infrastructure products in a deal worth approximately $750M.
To help drive commercialization of the space industry, Anousheh and her family provided title sponsorship for the Ansari X Prize, 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.
A living example of the American dream, Anousheh immigrated 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 has an honorary doctorate from the International Space University which she was honored with while she was on board the International Space Station. She is currently working toward a master's degree in astronomy from Swinburne University.
Anousheh is a member of the Association of Space Explorers and is on the advisory board of the Teachers in Space project. She has received multiple honors, including the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, DFW International Community Alliance Hall of Fame award, 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.
She currently works to enable social entrepreneurs to bring about radical change globally, with organizations such as X Prize, ASHOKA and the PARSA Community Foundation.