Young Leaders Alumni Spotlight: Newton Campbell (US YL 2020)

February 28, 2024

The French-American Foundation–United States is excited to introduce our new Young Leaders Alumni Spotlight series! Stay tuned for interviews with Young Leaders from our extraordinary alumni network to learn about their backgrounds, accomplishments and unique perspectives, as well as their experiences in the Young Leaders program.

The Foundation is excited to make our first alumni spotlight in honor of Black History Month, shining a light on the work and achievements of Black Young Leaders and amplifying the voices that will inspire future generations of Black change-makers across all sectors. We are honored to spotlight Newton Campbell (US Young Leader 2020), Director of Space Programs at AROSE. A leading expert in space, climate change, and artificial intelligence, Dr. Campbell has previously worked for the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA.


What motivated you to apply to the Young Leaders program, and what is something meaningful, big or small, that you have gained from it? Would you recommend others apply and, if so, why?

The Young Leaders network was appealing to me both because of my love of France and the amazing people that were already a part of the network that I met through other channels. I joined based on a reference from another Young Leader, as it seemed to be a program that pulled high-achieving and impactful individuals from diverse sectors together to have important discussions and level-up leaders through regular engagement. I have not only gained from it a few business interactions that have worked towards my goals, but a stronger sense, as a leader, that I can do more for the world through this alliance.

As a Young Leader alum, how are you hoping to benefit from the program in the future?

I am hoping to leverage this incredible network to work with other changemakers, addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as climate change, technology ethics, and the future of Space exploration. I am honored to have had conversations with some of these changemakers already and am looking forward to creating projects of high impact with them in coming years.

From your perspective, why is it important that French and American leaders have a platform to connect, exchange and build friendships?

The importance of providing this platform is its recognition of the value of international collaboration and diplomacy in addressing global challenges. Many of today’s most pressing issues—ranging from climate change and cybersecurity to space exploration and artificial intelligence—transcend national borders and require a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach. This platform is a practical out-of-band channel for enhancing diplomatic and cultural ties, collaborative innovation, opening up educational and economic opportunities, and strengthening security alliances. At the end of the day, building strong, interpersonal relationships between French and American leaders serves as a foundation for addressing shared challenges and advancing common goals.

Can you tell us about your work in STEM, and something you enjoy most about it?

My approach to STEM outreach is about creating connections and sparking interest where it’s least expected. Beyond the traditional channels like conferences and academic gatherings, I’ve dedicated significant efforts to bringing STEM, particularly through space, to broader audiences. This includes guest lectures and science days across a wide educational spectrum—from elementary schools to universities and law schools. By stepping into diverse educational settings, I aim to demystify STEM subjects, making them accessible and relevant to all students, irrespective of their primary field of study or level of education. This broad-based approach aims to cultivate a universal appreciation for science and technology, encouraging curiosity and innovation across all segments of society.

As the Director of Space Programs at the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE), my work is fundamentally about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in space exploration while ensuring that we bring everyone along on this journey. My involvement in the Trailblazer project, where we are collaborating with NASA on a Lunar Rover, is a cornerstone of this mission. This project isn’t just about technological achievement; it’s a platform for educational outreach, aiming to inspire students and communities with the tangible outcomes of STEM education and space research. My role in shaping the National curriculum for STEM outreach within this project is about creating a bridge between cutting-edge science and broader societal engagement. We’re not just teaching students about the science and engineering behind space exploration; we’re showing them how they can be part of it.

What excites me most about STEM outreach is the opportunity to introduce the passion, beauty, and joy of this work to those who might not even know such fields exist. It’s about bridging gaps, not just in knowledge but in imagination. The true power of human exchange in this context lies in the mutual discovery—watching someone’s eyes light up as they grasp a concept previously beyond their reach. This process of enlightenment, where basic knowledge transforms into a profound understanding, is deeply gratifying. It reaffirms the importance of sharing our scientific journeys beyond traditional audiences, to truly make an impact.

Your career spans significant contributions to aerospace, STEM research, and technology policy. You’ve also demonstrated a commitment to STEM outreach and mentorship activities among students. Can you describe some of the unique talent you see among the next generation of young Black leaders who aim to break into this industry? From your perspective, why is it imperative that minority and underrepresented talents are given equitable opportunities and a place of belonging in the STEM workforce?

The next generation of young Black leaders in STEM brings a wealth of unique talents, characterized by innovative thinking, resilience, and a deep commitment to community and diversity. While some of that can be said of previous generations, it’s been most apparent from the generations that are coming up. They showcase a remarkable departure from dogmatic thinking in our own community, embracing a more innovative and inclusive approach to problem-solving. This shift is not only liberating for the Black community but also transformative for the industry at large. Their ability to challenge conventional norms and introduce diverse perspectives is instrumental in driving forward-thinking solutions and fostering a more equitable environment in STEM fields, paving the way for a more inclusive future.

Thank you, Newton, for taking the time to answer our questions, and for your in-depth and thoughtful answers. We are grateful to have you as part of our alumni network!