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Cherish McNamara

  • Former US Air Force Pilot on STEM, leadership and responding to challenges.
  • STEM in aviation; women in STEM; women in leadership; and responding to challenges talks and workshops.
  • Cherish shares her unique world perspective to inspire the next generation of STEM practitioners and leaders.
  • Please contact Nudge Productions directly for bookings or enquires about Cherish’s talks and workshops.

Former US Air Force Pilot on STEM, leadership and responding to challenges

STEM in aviation; women in STEM; women in leadership; and responding to challenges talks and by Cherish McNamara. Perth based – available to deliver her talks and workshops both in person and online.

Prospective audience:

Year 7  to year 12 students and teachers (professional development).

About Cherish:

“STEM is infused right across aviation. Every part of STEM is part of being a pilot.”

Cherish has a unique mix of skills, perspective, experience and knowledge. She spent 10 years in the US Air Force as an officer and pilot. Following a move to Australia, Cherish has over 10 years’ experience in the Australian civilian sector, working for companies such as Jacobs Australia, CAE and IDAT (International Defence and Aerospace Training), Australian Training Management and Western Power.

Her broad education experience as an Instructor Pilot, training designer and developer, and RePL (drone) trainer/assessor has allowed her to amass a multitude of teaching/delivery experience.

Years of military experience, combined with her civil employment has allowed her to accumulate significant skills that include leadership in a wartime environment, project management and highly-effective communication skills, including public speaking. Cherish is an experienced lecturer with a demonstrated history of working in the professional training and coaching industry.

“I encourage students to follow their hearts and dreams. Focus on what they love and work hard to achieve their goals.”

Cherish delivers workshops and presentations on STEM in aviation; women in STEM; women in leadership; and responding to challenges.

Workshop / presentation topics:

Cherish will work with you to customise her workshops and presentations to suit each school’s needs.  She is experienced delivering on the following areas:


Cherish looks at each element of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and how they apply to the different disciplines and phases of aviation.  This includes aircraft design, testing and manufacture; flight preparation; support crew roles; flight; and, post-flight analysis (review and improvement opportunities).  She describes her own personal experiences of how STEM applied in her own role and how developing technologies and improved scientific understanding has changed aviation.  Cherish encourages students to think about how STEM influences their lives and to identify and discuss developments in STEM that they have observed.

Students will develop an appreciation of the diversity and reach of STEM and how important it is in a specific field like aviation, and in the broader context of our daily lives.


This school workshop on women in STEM is similar to the “STEM in Aviation” presentation, but specifically designed for a female audience.  Cherish focusses on her own experiences as a woman in STEM focussed industries, starting with her experiences at school and comparing this to what she observes at schools today. She discusses how she was the only female in her class at military school, how this influenced her approach and what she learnt from the experience. Cherish also talks about her life after military and, specifically the changes that she has observed for women in STEM over her career, and across the three continents she has worked in.  Finally, Cherish inspires and motivates girls and young women to embrace STEM in their studies and future careers, and to follow their hearts and dreams!

Students will be inspired about the possibilities of being involved in a STEM-related career and have a better understanding of how STEM subjects and theories can be applied.


Why is it important to develop leadership skills? What are the ways to do it?  Students will learn that leadership isn’t restricted to those who have been given a particular title, or who have people underneath them on an organisational chart. Cherish uses her own experiences to demonstrate that Leadership is a core life skill that needs to be developed and nurtured. Women continue to be under-represented in leadership roles and Cherish encourages young women to embrace a leadership mindset in their schools, communities and in their future careers.


How does leading in a wartime environment prepare you to face challenges? What lessons can be taken from the military and applied to civilian life? Cherish answers these questions and more in an insightful presentation on responding to challenges. She shares stories of some of the significant challenges she has faced and how her life experiences and military training shaped her response. Building resilience from within and learning from both success and failures are two key themes of this topic.

Students will be shown that there are lessons to be learnt from both positive and negative experiences, and that growth and resilience are potentially positive outcomes from the latter. They will also learn that resilience and perseverance are developed over time, through both their own individual experiences and through shared experiences with others.


Please contact Nudge Productions directly to discuss your needs. You can email, or call Greg Cumming on 0406 317 801.


The following are a range of testimonials about Cherish:

“Cherish was invited to address Western Power’s Forrestfield depot as part of International Women’s Day. Cherish provided an entertaining and engaging talk on her experience being a US Army pilot in a very male dominated industry. Cherish’s talk covered some key themes such as resilience, respect, team work, safety, accountability and parenting. Some great takeaways with my favourite being gender is not an excuse for not pursuing and not accepting accountability. Great feedback from the team who enjoyed hearing a story from a different background. Hoping we can get Cherish back to another of our Depots next year.”
Michael Thornton – AMI Business Lead at Western Power, June 12, 2019

“With her passion for and extensive experience in aviation, Cherish has engaged both primary and secondary students in her real-world knowledge. She has mentored students, allowing them to understand what it takes to be a pilot and the diverse field of aviation, while sharing her personal journey. As a keynote speaker, she has inspired many students to take an interest in aviation, as well as STEM fields. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her delivery has been thoroughly enjoyed by students and adults alike.”
Leisa Aitken – Department of Education, October 28, 2019

“Cherish presented the keynote at our Flight focussed STEM Girls Day Camp today and we were blown away by her presentation. She is engaging, personable and knowledgeable. Her speech was tailored wonderfully to suit our audience of Year 4-6 students. It was also thoroughly enjoyed by the adult mentors and staff in attendance, many of whom commented to me afterward what a wonderful job Cherish had done. Cherish motivated our students to ask lots of questions and inspired them to consider a career in STEM fields. She encouraged communication, resilience, and perseverance through the stories she shared. I would highly recommend Cherish as a presenter who is easily able to connect with her audience (adults and children alike) and is highly knowledgeable with an inspirational story.”
Debbie Yates – Program Coordinator STEM at Ashdale Secondary College, June 8, 2019


Watch this video about Cherish by Women in Technology WA.


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