"Why, yes, I AM a rocket scientist!"

Growing up in New York City, surrounded by bridges, tunnels and tall buildings, I was mesmerized by structures. My dad was a “transportation analyst” for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and one of the original team members for developing the World Trade Center. I can recall seeing blueprints of the Twin Towers when I was barely old enough to read. At the young age of 7, my future was written on my heart: I wanted to be an engineer. 

I was laser-focused on that goal. In my undergraduate years at the University of Notre Dame, I worked a summer internship at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio and fell in love with jet and rocket propulsion. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I was hired by NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland as a project engineer in the Propulsion Systems Laboratory,(PSL) a full-scale jet engine testing facility. It was my dream job, and I was eventually promoted to the Facility Manager of the PSL complex.

Maureen Zappala professional speaker.

I’ve experienced the impostor syndrome firsthand.

I loved my work at NASA. But with every project and promotion that same fear snuck in. “I don’t belong here. I’m not as smart as everyone thinks I am.”

Only years later did I learn about this thing called Impostor Syndrome, which crushes creativity and stifles courage.

I chose to leave NASA when the government was downsizing…perfect timing since I wanted to be home to focus on raising my kids. As they grew older, I discovered I had a skill for captivating audiences with stories, research and inspiring ideas. I knew people needed to hear this message of making peace with their impostor.

But, there again…my impostor voice screamed “Maureen, you are not good enough or experienced enough to be a speaker!”

I had to talk myself out of my own Impostor Syndrome. So, my first audience member was myself. 

Driven by the conviction that people need to hear this message, I took a gigantic leap of faith, coupled with a lot of coaching, mentoring, reading, praying and rehearsing… and I became a speaker.

Bring me in to speak! We’ll have fun!

Audiences love this content! Seriously! It’s meaty, powerful, and useful, wrapped up in riveting stories, topped with a good dose of humor. 

Organizations and teams experience better morale, stronger commitment, and greater engagement. Productivity goes up as fear goes down. People will want to change – for the better. You’ll begin to see changes immediately.

In addition to my NASA background, I’ve had experience in direct sales, fitness instruction, interior design and motherhood. Now as a professional speaker and inaugural Licensed Associate/Coach with the Impostor Syndrome Institute, I invite organizations and individuals to “push the envelope” of their own expectations and propel themselves to peak performance.


More details? Here are some of my accomplishments, previous jobs and responsibilities:

  • Managing NASA’s full scale altitude-simulation jet engine research test facility (Propulsion Systems Laboratory).
  • Speaker with Making It Count (a Monster Inc subsidiary), where she led in-school seminars for high school students to prepare them for a successful college experience.
  • Member of Toastmasters International since 1999, winner of over 50 speech contests.
  • In 2009 and 2020, placed in the top 10 (of over 25,000 contestants) in Toastmaster International’s World Championship of Public Speaking.
  • Active in the National Speakers Association
  • Nearly 20 years teaching junior high girls Sunday School, the toughest (and funnest) audience anywhere!
  • Presentation skills coach
  • Design Associate for LaZBoy, Inc.
  • Inaugural Licensed Associate/Presenter and Coach with the Impostor Syndrome Institute
professional speech bubble
"Maureen's presentations are always polished and relevant. She speaks with a sureness and eloquence which engages the audience's trust. Her story-telling skills and high-energy enthusiasm connect her message to the audience in such a way that people feel she's been talking to them personally."
Jeannine Murray

Ways to Work with Maureen

Impostor Syndrome Programs

Uncover untapped potential.

Courageous Communication Programs

Become an amazing presenter

Books & Other Resources

Dive deeper into overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Want to become a public speaker?

“How did you become a speaker?” Maureen has heard this question many times over the years. Some are simply curious about her circuitous and unlikely path from engineer to speaker, while others dream of becoming speakers and want the ‘inside scoop’ on how to do it. If you’d like a behind-the-scenes look at how Maureen become a professional speaker (and how you can too), click “Read the Story.”