WOI | 2014 Recap

WOI | 2014 Recap


Women of Innovation awards ceremony 2014

The Aqua Turf Club was buzzing as attendees for the 10th anniversary Women of Innovation awards dinner filtered into the networking lobby. More than 500 attendees made up of Women of Innovation, past and present, and their incredibly supportive friends and family, created an atmosphere of awe and excitement as they intermingled during cocktail hour. Many of the women were first time attendees and event veterans were quick to reach out and take them under their wing. For women who arrived alone, ambassadors from the Connecticut Technology Council were ready to integrate them into the culture of Women of Innovation.

Once everyone found their table, and the salads, bread baskets, and other appetizers had been devoured, retired Air Force Major General Suzanne Vautrinot kicked the night off with a meaningful and heartfelt keynote presentation.

“You are the people who imagine and what you imagine is changing a nation. You are imagination and tonight you are my heroes.”

Suzanne discussed not only the rewards of innovation but the importance of its diversity. That some of the Women of Innovation in the room would or have already develop extraordinary technologies, some of which would save lives while others would pave the way for business growth and job creation. “You are scientists, engineers, teachers, mothers, sisters… all very different but with so much in common. First and foremost, you are all innovators, and second, you are all very real,” she said.

Suzanne reminded us that being a leader is tough but being innovative enables you to take new steps in order to figure your way around. She expressed the importance of setting integrity before self and having excellence in all you do, that not every decision can be your own but when it is you have the opportunity to blaze a trail that is completely unique.


Top Category Winners. (From left) Oei, Cox, Smith, Odess, Cappello, Pagliaro, Xia

The excitement and words of encouragement did not end when Suzanne Vautrinot left the podium. Each top category winner graced the stage with her inspiring words of gratitude and encouragement.

The first category winner was Youth Innovation and Leadership recipient Bridget Oei, high school student at East Catholic High School. “One of my goals in life is to always surround myself with brilliant minds. There is something that is so beautiful in the things I do, the research I’ve done, the innovative people I’ve met. I’m so honored to be recognized for seeing beauty and I see beauty in all of you.”

Elaine Pagliaro, Assistant Executive Director at Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, University of New Haven, was the recipient of the Academic Innovation and Leadership award. Pagliaro inspired us to stay innovative no matter what profession or stage of life we are in. “Be curious; think about everything, not just science. We live in a world, not just a lab. You need to be excited and emotional.”

Every acceptance speech successfully tugged at the heart strings but just to make sure there was no dry eye or expressionless face in the audience, the Connecticut Technology Council rolled out a compilation video of previous year acceptance clips.

Program cover screen shot

Click to view event program


Pfizer Inc. shows their support for Women of Innovation.

The last award recipient, Laura Smith, winner of the Large Business Innovation and Leadership award, hit the nail on the head when she acknowledged the strong competition for such a prestigious award. “I’ve always thought I have the coolest job in the world,” she said. “But after hearing everyone tonight I may have to revisit that!”

The Connecticut Technology Council would like to congratulate each and every one of this year’s Women of Innovation. We are very proud of the top category winners for their hard work, determination and continued passion in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Each and every one of these 59 ladies is deserving of the title “Woman of Innovation.” Connecticut will look to them to be game changers, job creators, passion infusers, mentors, teachers and leaders. We are honored that they call Connecticut home.



2014 Women of Innovation Top Category Winners:

Youth Innovation and Leadership: Bridget Oei, High School Student, East Catholic High School

Academic Innovation and Leadership: Elaine Pagliaro, Assistant Executive Director, University of New Haven

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership: Ilana Odess, CEO & Founder, Woven Orthopedic Technologies, LLC

Large Business Innovation and Leadership: Laura Smith, Director of Engineering, General Dynamics Electric Boat

Small Business Innovation and Leadership: Manon Cox, President & CEO, Protein Sciences Corporation

Community Innovation and Leadership: Nancy Cappello, Executive Director & Founder, Are You Dense, Inc.

Collegian Innovation and Leadership: Zengmin Xia, Graduate Student, University of Connecticut

Research Innovation and Leadership: Robin Chazdon, Professor, University of Connecticut (not pictured)

WOI collage


2014 Women of Innovation


Eeman Abbasi
High School Student
Amity Regional High School

Michelle Addington
Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design
Yale School of Architecture

Nasreen Ali
Director of Engineering

Biree Andemariam
Physician Researcher
University of Connecticut Health Center

Kathy Ayers
Director of Research
Proton OnSite

Nancy Cappello
Executive Director and Founder
Are You Dense Inc.

Robin Chazdon
Professor; Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut

Lia Cirelli
High School Student
Joel Barlow High School

Penelope Cloft
Senior Fellow/Discipline Lead; Systems Engineering
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Amy Comer
Manager; Mechanical Systems & Externals Engineering Manager
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Manon Cox
President & CEO
Protein Sciences Corporation

Pamela Curbelo
Partner and Co-chair; Chemical, Material, and Life Sciences Department
Cantor Colburn LLP

Theresa Devins
Associate Director; Clinical Trial Management
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Emma Dinh
High School Student
Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science

Julie Dorsey
Professor; Computer Science
Yale University

Shelton Duelm
Senior Design Engineer
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Beverly Elliott
Director; Project Management
Comcast Cable

Kate Emery
President & CEO
The Walker Group

Mary Kay Fenton
EVP & Chief Financial Officer
Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Magdalena Fincham
Partner & Co-founder
Fincham Downs, LLC

Holly Fitch
Professor; Department of Psychology
University of Connecticut

Yvette Fobian
Senior Director; Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry, Head of Synthesis, Biotherapeutics Research
Pfizer, Inc.

Elizabeth Gerber
Undergraduate Student; Dept. of Engineering
Trinity College

Jennifer Good
President & CEO
Trevi Therapeutics, Inc.

Lu Han
Graduate Student; Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Connecticut

Lynne Handanyan
VP; Chemical Research & Development
Pfizer, Inc.

Brittany Horton
High School Student
Glastonbury High School

Candice Hughes
CEO & Founder
AdapTac Games LLC

Zeenat Hussain
High School Student
Farmington High School

Andreanne Johnson
Principal Consultant, Information Technology
Sikorsky Aircraft (UTC)

Renee Jurek
Engineer; Turbine Aerodynamics
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Andrea Kadilak
Graduate Student; Dept. of Chemical Engineering
University of Connecticut

Paula Kavathas
Professor; Depts. of Laboratory Medicine and of Immunobiology
Yale University

Yvonne Kielhorn
CEO & Founder
Why Science LLC

Nuriye Elif Kongar-Bahtiyar
Associate Professor; Technology Management & Mechanical Engineering
University of Bridgeport

Leila Ladani
Associate Professor; Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
University of Connecticut

Jan Lin
Senior Engineer, IPT Leader
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Yixin Liu
Graduate Student; Dept. of Chemical Engineering
University of Connecticut

Lynn Madden
President & CEO
APT Foundation Inc.

Dr. Paige Mahaney
VP; Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery Support
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Radenka Maric
Professor; Sustainable Energy
CT Clean Energy Fund, Professor of Sustainable Energy,University of Connecticut

Elizabeth Mitchell
Deputy CIPT Leader; AEP Exhaust Nozzles
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Ilana Odess
CEO & Founder
Woven Orthopedic Technologies, LLC

Bridget Oei
High School Student
East Catholic High School

Elaine Pagliaro
Assistant Executive Director
Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science
University of New Haven

Diane Corcoran Pintavalle
Science Teacher
Glastonbury High School

Katherine Pitz
Undergraduate Student; School of Engineering
Fairfield University

Emily Roto
Graduate Student; Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
University of Connecticut

Amalia Rusu
Associate Professor; Software Engineering
Fairfield University

Laura Smith
Director of Engineering; Combat and Weapon Systems
General Dynamics – Electric Boat

Lisa Starkey
Next Generation Product Family Engine Repair Manager
Pratt & Whitney (UTC)

Ellen Sun
Group Leader; Advanced Materials
United Technologies Research Center

Carolyn Teschke
Professor; Dept. of Molecular & Cell Biology
University of Connecticut

Marija Trcka
Senior Research Scientist
United Technologies Research Center

Allison Tuttle
Senior Director of Animal Care & Veterinary Services
Mystic Aquarium (a division of Sea Research Foundation)

Jennifer Moriatis Wolf
Associate Professor; Department of Orthopedic Surgery
University of Connecticut Health Center; New England Musculoskeletal Institute

Zengmin Xia
Graduate Student; Materials Science & Engineering
University of Connecticut

Mengjie Zhu
High School Student
Farmington High School

Severine Zygmont
Chief Operating Officer & Co-founder
Oxford Performance Materials, LLC.

Event Photos | 2014 Event Press Kit
Learn more about WOI | Learn more about the 2014 Women of Innovation | Press Releases

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