April 15, 2024
ATS Central May 2022
"Kids think there is only one opportunity in space and that's being an astronaut. We're making space for everyone," says Sharon Hagle of the non-profit SpaceKids Global.
ATS Central May 2022
Andrea Guzman - UCF's first vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, will lead the Ginsburg Center for INclusion and Community Engagement.
ATS Central May 2022
Derek Lewis, Orlando-based president of PepsiCo's south division, and a 34-year veteran of the company, will become the soft drink giant's first president of multicultural business and equity development.
ATS Central May 2022
Orlando-headquartered SeaWorld Entertainment reported record revenue of $1.5 billion in 2021 as attendance improved from 13.8 million visitors in 2020 to 20.2 million last year.

Central Florida Roundup

SpaceKids Global aims to steer kids into space careers

Amy Keller | 5/31/2022


Making Space for Kids

Sharon Hagle’s non-profit aims to put kids on a path to outer space.

Sharon Hagle caught the space bug in 2007, when she and husband Marc took a zero-gravity flight at Kennedy Space Center to celebrate their wedding anniversary. A sales team from Virgin Galactic happened to be on the same flight and sold the Hagles on another experience — two tickets aboard one of Virgin’s future suborbital space flights.

The Hagles are still waiting to make that trip — but recently took a 10 minute journey into space aboard Blue Origin New Shepard.

Sharon has also been working to inspire future generations of astronauts through a non-profit called SpaceKids Global that she founded in 2015. Last summer, the Winter Park-based group teamed up with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council to sponsor a national science competition called Making Space for Girls. Entrants were challenged to design a Girl Scout space mission patch, write an essay about future space travel or come up with an idea for a science experiment in space.

Hagle is now looking to connect with other companies on hands-on projects that will entice elementary school students to enter STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) fields. “We want to bring the possibility of space to as many kids as we can,” Hagle says.


  • Alliance Residential, a multifamily developer based in Scottsdale, Ariz., will build a 300-unit apartment building in south Winter Garden called Prose Horizon Village. Alliance owns eight properties throughout Central Florida, with three under construction and five scheduled to break ground this year.
  • Adelon Capital, a development company based out of Hollywood in South Florida, and Crystal Lagoons plan to develop an artificial, public access lagoon in Brevard County. The companies have several more lagoon projects in the works in inland parts of Central Florida, including Orlando.


  • In an effort to minimize student debt and reduce financial barriers for low-income, historically underrepresented populations, Stetson University in DeLand will cover all costs above what families can afford for students who qualify as Presidential Scholars beginning with those enrolling in fall 2022. The awards — worth up to $31,000 a year — are based on high school records, standardized test scores and community service.
  • Orlando-based AdventHealth University has launched a degree program in medical laboratory science. The program — which will start with 20 students and grow to 60 — will create five faculty jobs.


  • GenH2 — a liquid hydrogen fuel company that’s building a $35-million, global headquarters in Titusville — has acquired Pratt Plastics, a nearby plastic fabrication and manufacturing company. GenH2 says the move will enable it to produce “mass quantities of components and finished products” in-house, without supply chain-related delays.


  • Dominique Greco, former nighttime economy manager for the city of Orlando, has launched the Orlando Hospitality Alliance, a non-profit that will serve and advocate on behalf of hospitality establishments in Central Florida.


  • Space Perspective, a Titusville-based space tourism company that will fly people to the edge of the atmosphere in its Spaceship Neptune balloon beginning in 2024, is now accepting cryptocurrency as payment for future flights. A ticket costs $100,000 and requires a $1,000 deposit.
  • The University of Central Florida is leading a $10-million NASA project to develop carbon emission-free jet engines fueled by liquid ammonia. UCF is collaborating with Georgia Tech, Purdue, Boeing, General Electric, ANSYS, the Southwest Research Institute and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority to evaluate the concept.


  • The Orlando Economic Partnership is working with San Francisco-based software developer Unity to create a “digital twin” technology platform to assist with urban planning. The 3-D, interactive technology will allow companies, local government and non-profits to map out different scenarios across 800 square miles of Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties to see how their plans will impact the region.


  • Disney has named Gail Evans executive vice president, chief digital and technology officer of its parks, experiences and products division, which is moving to Lake Nona. Evans most recently served as chief digital officer for asset management firm Mercer and previously held senior positions at Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Bank of America.


  • The Ginsburg Family Foundation, based in Winter Park, made three grants totaling $40 million to three Central Florida groups. Nemours Children’s Health received $25 million to launch the Ginsburg Institute for Health Equity at Nemours Children’s Health — an initiative designed to advance health equity for children in underserved communities. The Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity received $10 million for a 40,000-sq.-ft. museum it plans to build in downtown Orlando, and the University of Central Florida received $5 million to create the Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community Engagement. Andrea Guzman (pictured) — UCF’s first vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion — will lead the center.

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