Parallel Pathways

Two women in business professional dress and red heels stand, with arms crossed, in front of a Northrop Grumman facility.

By Rachael Tiehel

There’s no doubt about the direction Alisa Joseph and Eboni Fotang prefer to take: it’s always forward, together. Twin sisters and engineering leaders whose careers have run parallel and, at times, intersected, they have been looking to each other for inspiration and strength in their journeys their entire lives. Today, their career journeys have led them to Northrop Grumman.

Smart from the Start

Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, Northrop Grumman was not far from the community that raised the sisters. In a house where mom was a science teacher and dad a math teacher, learning was fun.

“They made us feel like it was cool to be smart,” Alisa said.

Much of their focus was on math, science and problem-solving.

“We used to watch tadpoles develop into frogs and do math problems because we enjoyed it,” said Eboni. “It might sound crazy, but I knew I wanted to be an engineer in elementary school.” Alisa agreed.

“Problem-solving was something we did together and felt the empowerment that came with a successful outcome,” said Alisa.

Stronger Together

With strong family support, Alisa and Eboni set out to blaze a trail in engineering. The sisters said that, as young adults, they didn’t see many women in the engineering field and felt more women engineers were needed.

As they transitioned from high school to college, they relied on each other even more for guidance, inspiration and strength.

“It was important for me to attend a historically Black college or university,” said Eboni. “I applied to Morgan State University and Alisa applied soon after.”

Though Alisa was initially eyeing another local university, this decision made the most sense.

“Being together seemed to be the best fit for us to reach our goals. We were going to be engineers and shape the future narrative,” Alisa said.

Over the next four years of college, they said it felt like they were riding a wave of support, and that goal-focused momentum pushed them forward.

“We knew we were generating a new perspective, passion and determination,” Alisa said. “We stayed true to the path we set out on from day one.”

Building Career Foundations

Shortly after earning their undergraduate degrees from Morgan State University in May 2000, Alisa and Eboni joined Northrop Grumman in Baltimore, Maryland, and began working on their master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, which they earned in 2004.

Each has held multiple roles in the company, citing the wide variety of development opportunities they’ve earned as key to becoming the experienced engineering team leaders they are today.

Prior to her current role in operations, Alisa directed a radar program team that equips the F-35, providing the eyes and ears of the sky for military pilots.

“As engineering professionals, we are passionate about the safety of this country, which is why we ensure the technology we provide is the absolute best,” she said.

Eboni works in quality mission excellence, making sure the company’s products meet the high and strict standards of Northrop Grumman and its customers.

“The products Northrop Grumman makes help bring our service members home,” said Eboni.

Passing the Torch

At a time when even more female engineers are making their mark and thriving, Alisa and Eboni want to further their legacy by empowering their own children to pursue their goals. They also devote time to organizations that encourage women wanting to follow in footsteps like theirs.

“Young people should know no limits when it comes to chasing their dreams,” said Alisa, who has three daughters and a son.

Eboni, mom to her own twin daughters, echoed that sentiment.

“We had incredible support growing up, so we try to convey that same feeling to our kids and their friends,” said Eboni.

Living examples that no dream is out of reach, Eboni and Alisa reinforce that message every day with their children, reminding them of their family mantra: be bold, be brave and be brilliant.

Two women in a manufacturing setting wear safety goggles while reviewing an iPad.

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