Sunny Norwood Buck is a CrossFit coach, mother of two and a professional space ninja.

While serving on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Buck worked as a command and control systems engineer and satellite vehicle operator. That experience led Booz Allen Hamilton to hire her for her expertise in defensive space control four years ago. Now 37 and an associate with the management consulting firm, she works to protect U.S. GPS signals and prevent adversaries from jamming U.S. spacecraft.

“Her most recent work includes developing training courses for Air Force personnel, to utilize emerging space capabilities in commercial and satellite telecommunications,” said her nominator, John Ward, senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.

After leaving active duty, Buck joined the Air Force Reserves, where she directs operations for the 380 Space Control Squadron.

Buck said sacrificing time with her family to fulfill work responsibilities is difficult.

“Waking up early and leaving my family on the weekends to head to work isn’t ideal,” she said of both jobs. “But what makes it worth it are the great people I work with. They keep me going as a professional.”

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Buck was raised in Albuquerque, N.M. She attended New Mexico State University and earned bachelor’s degrees in athletic training education and French, and a master’s in communication studies. She received a doctorate in organization and management from Capella University while serving on active duty.

“I joined the military because it was familiar to me, coming from a military family, and I desired to be a part of that community again,” she said.

She credits her structured and motivated personality to her upbringing.

“I’ve always been a leader,” she said. “My dad was also in the military and I think he instilled those traits in us kids growing up,” she said. “I hope to be a force in this community and I’m focused on helping other people.”

Buck’s calm temperament, intelligence and active listening skills make her extremely effective in the work environment, Ward said.

“She’s also passionate about physical fitness, gives back to the community and has made a large impact on several circles,” Ward said. “We like her and want to keep her for as long as we can at our company.”

Her other interests and stress-relievers include CrossFit, knitting and crocheting.

— Amber Baillie