"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 an analyst for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and one of the original members of the development of 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 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.

Despite loving my job I was haunted by a secret doubt. I thought, “They only hired me because they need more women.”

I wasn’t a straight-A student, so I didn’t think it was my transcript that opened the door. Terrified of failing, I worked harder than I thought possible. I believed if people saw my hard work, they wouldn’t notice I didn’t belong.

But with every 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 discover that millions of people suffer this same, self-doubt-fueled fear. It’s called Impostor Syndrome and it is killing creativity and stifling opportunities for individuals and organizations everywhere.

Audiences love her!

When she takes the platform, you’ll be captivated by her inspiring message woven with riveting stories, engaging humor, and challenging ideas. Audiences love her energy and her message. Organizations experience better morale, bigger commitment, and greater engagement in their teams. Productivity goes up as fear goes down. People will want to change – for the better.

In addition to her NASA background, she has experience in direct sales, fitness instruction, interior design and motherhood. Now as a professional speaker and inaugural Licensed Associate of the Impostor Syndrome Institute, she challenges organizations and individuals to ‘push the envelope’ of their own expectations, and propel themselves to peak performance.

Her accomplishments, previous jobs and responsibilities include:

  • 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
  • Founding Licensed Associate of Impostor Syndrome Institute
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"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.”