Press Release

Three Johns Hopkins APL Staff Members Honored at Black Engineers STEM Conference

Three staff members at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, received Black Engineer of the Year Awards honoring their leadership and recognizing their commitment to inspire the next generation of technical professionals.

They were formally recognized at the 2022 BEYA STEM Conference, held Feb. 17-19.

Trena Lilly

Trena Lilly, a systems engineer and operations research analyst, received the John D. Harris Legacy Award. The BEYA legacy awards are prestigious discretionary awards named after a past award winner.

With expertise in systems engineering and operations research for Department of Defense and national security applications, Lilly has led technical teams and supervised technical professionals at APL. She has also collaborated with leaders at the highest levels of the U.S. Navy, serving as a scientific liaison officer for the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.

Lilly is a fellow of the Military Operations Research Society (MORS), of which she was president from 2011 to 2012. Notably, she was the youngest president of MORS and the first Black woman to serve in the role. She also served on the MORS board of directors. She has co-authored several technical articles and received a Black Engineer Special Recognition award in 2009 as well as a Rising Star in Government and Defense Award in 2001.

In tandem with her technical leadership, Lilly has spearheaded several successful initiatives to foster diversity and inclusion at APL. In addition to serving as a member of the Laboratory’s Women and Minorities Advisory Council and the Fostering Unity and Staff Empowerment Employee Resource Group, she led the establishment of APL’s “Light the FUSE” award for excellence in diversity and inclusion, and takes part in community activities through the Laboratory’s STEM Program Management Office.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in engineering mathematics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Lilly holds master’s degrees in systems engineering, from George Washington University, and technical management, from the University of Maryland University College.

Shaleta Handy

Shaleta Handy was selected as a BEYA 2022 Science Spectrum Trailblazer. A computer scientist specializing in military systems cybersecurity, she interned for the Laboratory through the APL Technology Leadership Scholars (ATLAS) program, which develops tomorrow’s technical leaders through partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges and universities.

After completing her internship and graduating from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a master’s degree in computer science, she returned to APL to begin her full-time career. Handy ensures that weapons systems can operate resiliently in hostile cyber environments. She is also a supervisor, project manager and cyber lead for several projects, and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Handy now volunteers for ATLAS, mentoring summer interns and serving as the program’s recruitment and outreach officer. In addition to her master’s degree, she has a bachelor’s in computer science from Jackson State University.

Angelica Lilly

Angelica Lilly was honored as a BEYA 2022 Modern-Day Technology Leader. A systems engineer, supervisor and project manager, she has a proven record of technical excellence and dedication to improving the work environment, including the hiring and retention of diverse staff.

She joined APL in 1994 as a sonar modeler and performance analyst before beginning a path in systems engineering, helping define and design several complex systems for government and military sponsors. One of her key roles at APL was serving as the test lead for the Tomahawk Strike Network, which required significant technical coordination across several organizations in support of critical Tomahawk flight tests. She earned both the prestigious U.S. Navy Tomahawker Award and the National Defense Industrial Association Test Team of the Year Award.

Lilly recently served as the project manager for a major Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program, leading a diverse set of technical, security and financial staff and directly coordinating with the government sponsor. She tutors, volunteers at local schools and STEM competitions, and mentors several students. Lilly graduated with a dual major in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University and went on to earn a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Johns Hopkins University.