Women Of Innovation | Event Recap 2009

Women of Innovation 2009 LogoThe Story

The Jana Moak Scholarship
The 2009 Women of Innovation Finalists

Official Press Releases

Great Event Pictures

NEW: Girls of Innovation

2009 Women of Innovation
Finalists & Category Award Winners

Click here to read the Press Release announcing
the finalists

The Connecticut Technology Council held its fifth
annual Women of Innovation Awards Dinner and Program on Thursday, January 29th 2009 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. This occasion celebrates and honors the energy, creativity and remarkable capabilities of 52 women working in Connecticut’s science, engineering and technology community. This event salutes all the nominees and finalists – women who are innovators, role models and leaders. Students at both the high school and college level are also recognized. This year’s list of 52 finalists includes researchers, educators, managers, business owners and service providers who work in biotech, pharmaceuticals, telecom, software, computer hardware, electronics, alternative energy, nanotech, medical devices and IT.

“After five years, we now have an alumni group of over 250 finalists.  By gathering together this accomplished community, we hope to support and encourage women and girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, and foster a collaborative network,” said Matthew Nemerson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council. “Connecticut has an extraordinary pool of talent at its technology companies.  We are proud to provide them with a professional network of other women who strive for excellence.”

The Jana Moak Scholarship

The Youth Innovation and Leadership Award winner is awarded a $1,500 Jana Moak Scholarship, in honor of the 2006 Women of Innovation award winner and member of the Connecticut Technology Council Board of Directors who passed away in 2007.

This year’s winner is Oluwadamilola “Dami” Oni-Orisan, Student, of the Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science and New Britain High School. Dami was selected from a group of six outstanding women interviewed for this scholarship by a subcommittee of the Women of Innovation Planning Committee. Four criteria were considered: Academic achievement, innovation and creativity, leadership and a decision to pursue a career in a science or technology profession. All finalists are deserving of the scholarship, and each will likely go on to excel in their collegiate and professional careers.

The 2009 Women of Innovation Winners by Category

Academic Innovation and Leadership

Liisa Kuhn, Assistant Professor, Department of Reconstructive Sciences

University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington

Liisa Kuhn’s laboratory investigates bone repair and cancer therapy. She mentors a diverse team of students from various disciplines. Liisa was Director of Development for a small orthopedics company, ETEX Corporation in Boston. Prior to joining the Health Center, and co-owner of her own start-up company prior to that. Her Ph.D. is from US-Santa Barbara in Materials Engineering, Liisa lives in West Hartford with her two children.

Collegian Innovation and Leadership
Zoe Cournia, Postdoctoral Fellow

Yale University, New Haven
Zoe Cournia is presently a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, working on the discovery of novel anti-cancer agents, and a lecturer at Yale College, teaching “Computer Modeling of Biomolecules.” She studied Chemistry at the National University of Athens, Greece, and holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In 2007-2008, as the Co-President of the Yale Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Society (YBPS), she promoted constructive interaction among numerous biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, professors, students, and postdocs. She also serves on the board of the Postdoctoral Advisory committee at Yale, where she helped develop the “Postdoctoral Travel Fund”, which was launched in the Fall of 2008.

Community Innovation and Leadership
Joy Wulke, Founder and Creative Director

Projects for a New Millenium, Branford
Joy Wulke is a nationally recognized sculptor whose work bridges visual art and architecture through technology and ecology. Since receiving her Masters of Environmental Design degree from Yale, she has had exhibitions around the world, received numerous awards, been widely published, and is in museum collections. Her commissions focus on making natural elements visible. As founder of Project 2k she has initiated collaborative multi-media projects and educational programs across the country.

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership

Bala Krishnamurthy, CEO

Aoelean, Inc. , Danbury

Bala Krishnamurthy is a pioneer in the robotics industry. She has held various engineering and management positions and was recently honored as the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Engelberger Robotics Award. At Aeolean, Inc., she has personally led teams that designed robotic vision systems, work-cell transfer robots, an RFID/Biometrics based asset tracking system for the U.S. Navy, and a safety system for a nuclear power plant.


Large Business Innovation and Leadership (two 2009 Winners)

Diane Drew, Manager, Thermo/Aerodynamics
UTC/Hamilton Sundstrand, Windsor Locks
Diane Drew has over 31 years of experience in System Thermodynamic Design. She has a B.S. in Humanities & Technology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She holds a number of patents in aircraft system technology and is currently responsible for the design of complex aircraft thermal management systems. She has two children and enjoys outdoor activities and country line dancing. She likes to participate in as many volunteer opportunities as time allows.

Large Business Innovation and Leadership
Georgia Papathomas, Senior Vice President and CIO

Boehringer Ingelheim USA, Ridgefield

Georgia Papathomas is responsible for the long-term IT strategy of Boehringer Ingelheim and overseeing all its IT operations. Georgia started her career as a researcher at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories where she performed basic and applied research in microelectronics, quantum dynamics, computer communications, signal processing and acoustics. While at AT&T, Georgia was given increasing roles of responsibility, including leading the Navy’s Active Acoustics Surveillance Research Program, directing Global Operations of Data Services and leading Architecture Design and Planning. Dr. Papathomas holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an M.S. in engineering mechanics as a Sloan Fellow, and a Ph.D. in engineering science from Columbia University.
Research Innovation and Leadership
Mingjun Huang, Senior Director of Virology
Achillion Pharmaceuticals, New Haven
After graduating from medical school in China, Dr. Mingjun Huang earned her Ph.D in the United States. She has studied human pathogenic viruses for over 25 years. In 2001, she joined Achillion Pharmaceuticals. She has been in charge of an antiviral drug discovery team and applied her insights from research toward the discovery and development of antiviral pharmaceuticals to treat viral diseases.
Small Business Innovation and Leadership

Sally Cohn, Executive Vice President, Client Services
RecoveryPlanner.com, Inc., Shelton
Sally Cohn is a veteran of the Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Planning and Management (DR/BCP) industry and has performed a variety of entrepreneurial and leadership functions to drive company growth for RecoveryPlanner.com, Inc. She has acted as a manager and technical leader in development of important software technology to assist consultants and managers to deal with their technology and engineering continuity planning more efficiently since RecoveryPlanner.com’s inception in 2000. With her technical and leadership skills, RecoveryPlanner has grown steadily into a world leader in the DR/BCP software market.

Youth Innovation and Leadership
Oluwadamilola “Dami” Oni-Orisan, Student
Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science and New Britain High School
Oluwadamilola Oni-Orisan is a senior at the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science and New Britain High School. Her favorite extracurricular activities have been Youth & Government, sports, and the Algal Biodiesel Program. She also attends the UConn Health Center’s Doctors Academy. Last summer Oluwadamilola studied in South Africa with UConn students and professors. Oluwadamilola loves traveling and learning languages and enjoys reading, photography, sports, volunteering, and music in her spare time.
Public Sector Innovation and Leadership
Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz
The Women of Innovation Planning Committee 2009 presented a special award to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz

First elected in 1998, and then re-elected in 2002 and 2006, Secretary Bysiewicz is the chief elections official and business registrar for the State of Connecticut.  She is an ardent advocate for election integrity, job creation, and saving taxpayer dollars.  She has transformed her office through the innovative use of technology. Among her accomplishments, she has led the nation in implementing the CONCORD system to allow for searches on the more than 340,000 companies registered in Connecticut.  She also created the Connecticut Voter Registration System to streamline registration, protect voter rights, and prevent voter fraud.

The 2009 finalists:

We also honor the full class of 2009 finalists, each and every one is an outstanding woman working in Science and technology.

Laura Baker
Student, Central Connecticut State University
Collegian Innovation and Leadership
Laura Baker is a senior at Central Connecticut State University majoring in Technology and Engineering Education. A Dean’s List student, Laura’s strong academic work complements her commitment to extracurricular activities related to her field. As President of the CCSU chapter of the Technology Education Collegiate Association, Laura works tirelessly to coordinate its events including the regional conference and associated student competitions, as well as the Electrathon, an electric vehicle design competition for high schoolers. As a future educator, Laura hopes to pass along her love of science and technology to the next generation. Laura is also a member of the women’s volleyball team and an award-winning vocalist.
Nancy Beckwith
Manager of Supplier Quality, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Large Business Innovation and Leadership
Nancy Beckwith presently directs the efforts of two Engineering Supervisors and thirty-five team members who are responsible for the quality and certification of approximately $750 million dollars (per annum) of vendor procured components and raw material. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, graduating Summa Cum Laude, from the University of New Haven in 1984 and a Masters of Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1986.
Robin Bray
Pilot, Flight Operations, United Technologies Corporation
Large Business Innovation and Leadership
One day, while boxing watches at Timex, Robin Bray’s friend, Joyce Clark, asked a probing question: “What the hell are you doing here?” Now a corporate pilot for United Technologies, flying the company’s Gulfstream GIV jet and a Sikorsky S76 helicopter, she continues to ‘pay-it-forward,’ by serving as a mentor and advocate for future aviation professionals. Robin’s most recent initiative is the creation of UTFlight’s unique, nationally recognized Corporate Flight Department Internship.
Patricia Compagnone-Post
Associate Professor, Albertus Magnus College
Academic Innovation and Leadership
Patricia Compagnone-Post grew-up in Massachusetts and attended Emmanuel College, established as a woman’s institution. She obtained a M.S. from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Following post-doctoral training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Patricia became a research scientist at the Yale School of Medicine. In 2003 Patricia began teaching at Albertus Magnus College, where she spearheaded an undergraduate research program.
Jun-Hong Cui
Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, Computer Science & Engineering Department
Research Innovation and Leadership
Jun-Hong Cui received her Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from UCLA in 2003. Her research interests cover the design, modeling, and performance evaluation of networks and distributed systems. Recently, her research mainly focuses on underwater wireless networked sensing. She co-founded the first ACM International Workshop on UnderWater Networks (WUWNet’06), and she is now serving as the WUWNet steering committee chair. Jun-Hong received the 2007 NSF CAREER Award and the 2008 ONR Young Investigator Award (nominated for Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She also received the United Technologies Corporation Professorship in Engineering Innovation award at UConn in 2008.
Diane Curtis
Academic Developer Evangelist, Microsoft
Community Innovation and Leadership
Diane Curtis works on the Academic Developer Evangelism team at Microsoft, specifically with online and national student evangelism. She focuses her efforts on fostering student technology communities, as well as designing and executing programs to bridge the gap between students and technology.
Donna Cyr
Director of Technology Licensing, University of Connecticut
Large Business Innovation and Leadership
Donna Cyr received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Yale University. After a post-doc at Columbia University, Donna joined Rohm and Haas where she worked for five years as a Group Leader in Agricultural Delivery Systems. Donna is responsible for handling UConn inventions in the physical sciences, including chemistry, some engineering, and material science.
Betsy Didan
Assistant Vice President, Document Processing, COCC
Small Business Innovation and Leadership
Betsy Didan spearheaded major changes in the check processing industry by developing a comprehensive approach to image payment processing. Betsy built a first class implementation team, and kept them focused and inspired as they outpaced the competition. Her efforts earned national attention for COCC and doubled the company’s check processing business, making COCC the largest independent check processor in New England.
Heidi Douglas
President, MysticMD Inc.
Small Business Innovation and Leadership
As president and CEO of MysticMD Inc., Heidi Douglas has been critical in developing the company’s business model. She has developed the relationship with its first licensee, Nanomix and negotiated that license. Previously a principal with Deloitte, Heidi managed some of the firm’s largest technology projects. She began her career at Pfizer and holds a B.S. in biology, an M.S. in computer science and an M.B.A. Heidi is a UNH trustee and UConn SoE Advisory Board member.
Jennifer Hanson
CEO, Realsight, LLC
Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership
Jennifer Hanson founded Realsight in 2006 after spending 12 years leading innovation strategies and solutions for companies like Kraft Foods and PepsiCo. Jen’s frustrationswith the decreasing quality of traditional consumer research methods drove her to satisfyan unmet corporate need by creating Realsight’s patent-pending technology system to help companies increase profitability. She earned an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and graduated from Mount Holyoke College.
Amy Howell
Professor, University of Connecticut
Academic Innovation and Leadership
Amy Howell came to the University of Connecticut in 1994 after working at Glaxo Group Inc. in the United Kingdom. Along with a research program exploring strained heterocycles and glycolipids that modulate the immune system, Prof. Howell has worked broadly on issues of workforce development, including running workshops on “Effective Job Searching for Chemists,” serving on multiple committees dedicated to the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the STEM disciplines, and developing a pilot Master of Science program with Boehringer Ingelheim.
Julia Hutchinson
Manager, Engine Center Cost Reduction, Pratt & Whitney
Large Business Innovation and Leadership
Originally from England, Julia Hutchinson moved to Connecticut in 1991 to begin her career as a Manufacturing Engineer. Since joining Pratt & Whitney in 1999, she has held various positions of increasing responsibility in both engineering and operations. Currently Julia manages a diverse portfolio of projects ranging from lean transformation of engine assembly to reduction of green house gas emissions during engine tests. She is founder and chair of the Middletown Campus Women’s Forum, which focuses on empowering women in the workforce by providing career development, networking, mentoring, social and work related activities. Julia resides in Essex with her husband and three children.
Brenda Lisitano
Student, Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science & Southington High School
Youth Innovation and Leadership
Brenda Lisitano is a senior at the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science and Southington High School, where she participates in Project Lead the Way. Brenda was Project Manager for the FIRST Robotics Team 195 and interned at Pratt and Whitney. She is involved in GHAMAS’s NASA microgravity project. Brenda’s hobbies include photography, amateur radio, scuba diving, and swimming. She has volunteered with the New England District of Key Clubs serving as Chaplain/Historian, and currently serves as Public Relations Chair.
Patricia Lombardo
Engineering Specialist, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Large Business Innovation and Leadership
Patricia Lombardo has been involved in components engineering in maintaining and supporting U.S. Navy submarine air revitalization and ventilation components for the last 14 of 22 years at General Dynamics Electric Boat. These components are essential in maintaining the health and safety of the submarine’s crew. She is recognized as a technical leader in this field by the Navy. Patricia was responsible for working with the Navy and UTC’s Hamilton Sundstrand in the design, qualification, installation, logistics, operation and support of the newest state of the art oxygen generator, the Integrated Low Pressure Electrolyzer, installed on the Virginia Class Submarines.
Pamela MacKenzie

Area Vice President, Hartford-Springfield Area, Comcast

Large Business Innovation and Leadership
Pamela Mackenzie demonstrates the hard-working, entrepreneurial, and inspirational qualities that make Comcast the company people look to first for the communications products and services that connect them to what is important in their lives. Pamela is responsible for ensuring that Comcast’s 345,0000 customers in Northern Connecticut and Western Massachusetts receive superior products, service and support, whether it be through programming negotiations or technical operations advancements. Pam oversees a 500-person team that includes Technical Operations, Finance, Human Resources and Commercial and Residential Sales.

Susan Masino
Associate Professor, Trinity College

Community Innovation and Leadership

Susan Masino heads a funded research laboratory focused on stroke and epilepsy and works with several environmental organizations. She received the Volunteer-of-the-Year award from the Farmington River Watershed Association in 2007 and is a leader in the grassroots organization “Keep the Woods” and its efforts to preserve the Ethel Walker Woods of Simsbury. In 2008 Dr. Masino received the Annette and Kingsbury Browne Conservation Volunteer of the Year Award from the Trust for Public Land. In addition to her neuroscience research, she continues to work on environmental education and health and on improving policies that impact drinking water, recycling and public transportation.

Danielle Merrick
Senior Engineer, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Research Innovation and Leadership
Danielle Merrick started her career at Electric Boat in 2003 as an engineer in the Weapons and Mechanical Systems Group. From 2005 to 2006, Danielle showcased her technical and leadership abilities by overseeing a team that designed, analyzed, manufactured and tested various first-of-a-kind mechanisms on an aggressive schedule. Danielle has since expanded her leadership role beyond Electric Boat and is currently leading a multi-company team of engineers and Navy operators in the research and development of innovative submarine capabilities.
Emily Neumann
Student and Program Assistant, University of Connecticut
Collegian Innovation and Leadership
Emily Neumann became interested in technology as a teenager. She was an active member of her high school technology club and built her first computer at 15. She received a B.A. in English and Journalism at the University of Connecticut in 2008. In addition to her work with the Center for 21st Century Skills, she is a freelance writer for a national blog and maintains a number of websites.
Margaret O’Hara
Group Vice President, Marketing & Product Management

Small Business Innovation and Leadership

A graduate of Hamilton College, Maggie O’Hara has a passion for solving problems. She is ideally suited to her responsibilities for developing and delivering customer-focused solutions that are easy to use and address real-world challenges. Leveraging her strong customer knowledge, Maggie also provides marketing leadership in building and communicating the strength of IVANS capabilities to the marketplace. Prior to her current position, Maggie was Divisional Vice President of Offering Management, where she developed and managed innovative network solutions for the insurance and healthcare industries. Before joining IVANS in 1997, Maggie worked for American Insurance Services Group and the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company.

Jani Macari Pallis
Associate Professor, University of Bridgeport
Academic Innovation and Leadership

Jani Macari Pallis always wanted to be an aerospace engineer – although many engineering college catalogs stated, “Women may not obtain degrees from this department.” While still a graduate student, her Ph.D. advisor passed away and Jani incorporated a small engineering firm. Two months later NASA awarded her company $1.1 million and hired her fellow grad students. Now an associate professor at the University of Bridgeport, she tells students she knows they can be engineering entrepreneurs.

Sanjana Patel
Student, Greater Hartford Academy of Mathematics and Science & Newington High School

Youth Innovation and Leadership

Sanjana Patel is currently a senior at Newington High School and the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science. In college, she plans on majoring in biochemistry or moecular biology while participating in undergraduate research. Sanjana hopes to pursue a career in pharmaceutical research while teaching at a university or college in the future. In her free time, Sanjana loves to spend time with her family and friends. She also loves to play basketball and paint with her two younger brothers.

Teresa Piliouras
President, Albright Associates, Inc.
Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership

Teresa Piliouras has an extensive managerial and technical career developing advanced Information Technology systems. She holds a B.S. from the University of Illinois, an MBA from Iona College, and a Ph.D. in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Polytechnic University. Dr. Piliouras has authored numerous scholarly books and publications. She is an adjunct professor at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, where she teaches graduate courses in computer science and management of technology.

Priya Ranade
Student, East Lyme High School
Youth Innovation and Leadership
Priya Ranade is a senior at East Lyme High School. She is the founder of the Yoga Club, President of the Key Club and Treasurer of the Student Senate. She has a national ranking in United States Tennis Association (USTA) tennis. She is an AP scholar and an All-State tennis player. Priya’s research at Harvard Medical School (Massachusetts General Hospital) on modeling melanoma metastasis provides a scientific basis for designing a preventive melanoma screening program.
Sarah Raskin
Associate Professor, Trinity College

Academic Innovation and Leadership

Sarah Raskin, Ph.D., is a Board Certified Clinical Neuropsychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Trinity College. She has published numerous articles investigating neuropsychological functions and cognitive rehabilitation for a variety of disorders, including brain injury. She is co-author of Neuropsychological Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, published by Oxford University Press and is the editor of the forthcoming Neuroplasticity and Neurorehabilitation, published by Guilford Press.

Lynne Regan
Professor, Yale University

Research Innovation and Leadership

Lynne Regan received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry (First Class Honors), from Oxford University and her Ph.D. from MIT. Lynne joined the faculty at Yale in 1990 and is currently Professor of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry. She was recently named Director of the new Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at Yale. She is also Director of the Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology at Yale, which will welcome its first class of students in Fall 2009. Lynne holds two patents and two provisional patents.

Barbara Sahagan
Research Fellow, Pfizer, Inc.

Research Innovation and Leadership
Since joining Pfizer in 1994, Barbara Sahagan has focused on developing novel therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Barbara represents discovery research on the Neuroscience Licensing Leadership team and serves on the scientific review board of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Barbara graduated from Simmons College and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. Active on behalf of women in science throughout her career, Barbara became the founding president of the Pfizer Connecticut Women’s Leadership Network in 2000. She was awarded a PGRD Achievement Award for this work in 2003.

Deborah Santy
SBIR Director, The Connecticut SBIR Office
Small Business Innovation and Leadership

Deb Santy brings over twenty years of executive experience leading startups, business change, technology integration and project management for the largest insurance companies in the U.S. Deb authored a workbook for developing business plans – Business Succe$$ – Plan On It! and used it while teaching at the Florida Institute of Technology. It was later purchased by the Small Business Administration and colleges nationwide. Deb is a graduate of Elmira College and has an MBA from the University of Hartford.

Theodora Saunders
Manager, System Engineering Process Group, Sikorsky Aircraft
Large Business Innovation and Leadership

Theodora Saunders’ work experience spans over 20 years in industry and academia. Her assignments include research, development and testing of systems as well as project, product, and functional management. Her academic experience includes teaching in both Electrical and Industrial Engineering departments. She has two Masters Degrees (Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering), and she is working towards her Ph.D. in Engineering Management. Theodora’s professional interests include mentoring and developing engineering talent to meet the 21st century global challenges. She is married to Arven, and they have a daughter in law school and a son in graduate school.

Rekha Shertukde
President, Diagnostic Devices Inc.
Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership

Rekha Shertukde was born in Mumbai, India, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business from the University of Bombay in 1978 and she earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Hartford in 1996. As owner and president of Diagnostic Devices in Simsbury, she has guided the company in the creation of several products like FDD-EPT and CADSCAN, the latter of which she is a co-inventor.

Merry Smith
Student, Trinity College

Collegian Innovation and Leadership

Merry Smith entered Trinity College three years ago to pursue a major in the performing arts, but she found her place after taking Organic Chemistry as a sophomore. Merry joined Dr. Thomas Mitzel’s research lab, and began her current research in indium chemistry, including researching new protocols that have made Merry’s research more cost effective and efficient. Chemistry research is Merry’s passion, and she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. and career in the industry.

Jean Stimolo
Executive Director, Rideworks, State Department of Transportation
Small Business Innovation and Leadership

Jean Stimolo has been the executive director of Rideworks, a full-service commuter service non-profit company, for the past 25 years, and a program manager of TelecommuteCT since its inception 12 years ago. Rideworks and TelecommuteCT are funded through the Connecticut Department of Transportation, and are partners in Connecticut’s statewide comprehensive Commuter Services Program for the state’s employers and employees. Jean helps Connecticut residents embrace alternatives to driving alone to work, thereby improving air quality and business competitiveness, while they reduce roadway congestion and oil consumption.

Alice Turner Thompson
President & CEO, URISE, Inc.
Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership

After a rich and rewarding career in corporate training, Alice Turner Thompson founded the Urban Reach Institute (also known as URISE, Inc.), a non-profit corporation that develops and implements innovative training programs for urban youth and helps them make a successful transition from school to career. As an educator turned entrepreneur, Alice developed an online training management system known as TRACES, a web-based system that automates the training administration and evaluation process. Alice takes an active role in her community by serving on boards and implementing workforce development programs that benefit women and youth. She proudly serves others by helping them “educate to elevate” using innovative technologies and methodology. Alice holds a master’s degree in education from Boston University.

Subrina Thompson
Graduate Student, University of Bridgeport
Collegian Innovation and Leadership

Subrina Thompson received a B.S degree cum laude in Computer Science from the University of Bridgeport, where she is currently pursuing two Master of Science degrees (Computer Science and Technology Management). A recipient of the university’s Academic Achievement Award in Computer Science in 2007, Subrina has been on the university’s Dean’s List and the President’s List every semester since Fall 2004. In 2007 Subrina was awarded the 2007 Upsilon Pi Epsilon Computing Science Honor Society Scholarship Award. She is a NACME Scholar, and a member of the UPE Honors Society and ACM Programming team.

Leonora Valvo
CEO, The Global Executive

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership

In 2005, recognizing the need for a comprehensive web-based meeting and event solution, Leonora Valvo began developing etouches. Initially focused on event registration and housing management, etouches has evolved into a fully integrated enterprise solution which addresses all aspects of the event lifecycle. etouches has emerged as a leader in the strategic meeting management software space with customers including Volkswagen, Audi, the Financial Times, Google and travel industry analysts PhocusWright.

T. Kyle Vanderlick
Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Professor & Dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Yale University
Academic Innovation and Leadership

Dean T. Kyle Vanderlick received her B.S. (’81) and M.S. (’83) degrees in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and her Ph.D. (’88) from the University of Minnesota. In January 2008, Vanderlick took the helm as Dean of Engineering at Yale University, where she is the Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Professor of Engineering. Dean Vanderlick is noted for her research on adhesion and surface forces. In particular, she has made significant contributions in elucidating how surface properties, such as roughness, affect adhesion between materials. She is also recognized for her work on thin films and lipid membranes.

Jodi Vecchiarelli
Acting Director of Physical Sciences, United Technologies Research Center
Large Business Innovation and Leadership

Jodi Vecchiarelli joined UTRC in 2003 and has lead both the Ceramic Materials and the Chemistry Group. Currently Jodi is the Acting Director of the Physical Sciences Department, working on exciting technologies such as alternative renewable energy platforms and environmentally friendly/cost effective material substitutions in UTC products. Jodi received a B.A. in Chemistry from The College of the Holy Cross, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has held industrial positions at Union Carbide Corporation and Saint-Gobain High Performance Materials.

June Watzl
Scientist, MRI Human Brain Research, Yale School of Medicine
Research Innovation and Leadership

June Watzl received her Ph.D. and Master’s degree in Medical Physics of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) from The Univ. of Sydney, Department of Cancer Medicine, Australia, in December 2001. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Jilin University, China. June specializes in the experimental development of NMR spectroscopic techniques for ex-vivo and in-vivo applications. June’s current study is to diagnose different kinds of brain tumors and diseases in order to produce a faster diagnosis and treatment in a quest to save lives.

Nancy Williams
IT Director, GE Capital – CFS
Large Business Innovation and Leadership

Nancy Williams drives all aspects of management, development, and support for the standard commercial loan servicing platform used across GE Capital. Nancy started with GE while she was still in school, as a Technical Support Specialist, doing pre-and post sales application support as a GE service to Fortune 500 companies. After she was named the CIO for GE Equity, Nancy spearheaded a major overhaul of the core IT applications to better serve the business. Four years later, Nancy assumed her current position. She is a co-leader and mentor through a program sponsored by the GE Women’s Network. Nancy has filed two patent applications for technology innovations.

Fiona Wood
Student, North Haven High School
Youth Innovation and Leadership

Fiona Wood is the valedictorian of her class. Since July 2007, Fiona has been an intern at a Yale neuroscience lab, where she uses computational models to investigate the ability of late spiking neurons to encode time. Last year, Fiona presented her research in the Connecticut Science Fair and won 1st place in the Life Sciences category. She went on to win a 2nd place Grand Award in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Fiona’s experiences at the science fair inspired her to start a Science Fair Club at her school, which she hopes will stimulate interest in scientific research and discussion.

Yuling Wu
Director of Computer Science & Physical Science, Advanced Concepts and Technology, Pitney Bowes, Inc.
Large Business Innovation and Leadership

Yuling Wu is helping create a culture of customer-centered innovation at Pitney Bowes. She has been instrumental in shifting product development from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric approach. Yuling’s team spends considerable time in the field with customers to understand their needs and work practices. Customers co-create product concepts with Yuling’s technical teams. Yuling serves as a key mentor to young women, helping them find their own passion and create their own career paths. Young engineers return to thank Yuling for her critical advice, which has influenced their work life and career opportunities.

Chelsea Yalen
Student, Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Science & Simsbury High School
Youth Innovation and Leadership

Chelsea Yalen’s primary interest is rare and infectious bacterial diseases, and her goal is to work at the Centers for Disease Control someday. Genetics also fascinates Chelsea and her favorite class is currently calculus. Other than science, Chelsea loves outdoors activities such as caving, kayaking, and hiking, and she likes to build things, such as a little man out of disassembled computer parts and a dress made of soda can tabs.

Susanne Yelin
Associate Professor of Physics, University of Connecticut

Research Innovation and Leadership
Susanne Yelin’s love for physics grew out of her love for mathematics when she discovered during an internship after her baccalaureate that there is research in “theoretical physics” – all the fun without the pain! Immediately after getting her degree in Stuttgart, Germany Susanne came to the United States, doing graduate work at Texas A&M and with that got her doctorate degree in Munich, Germany in 1998. In 2002, Susanne started as Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut, where she is now an Associate Professor balancing her own research while trying to pass on her passion for physics to her students.

Li Zhao
President & CEO, Fabric Trends International, LLC
Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership

Li Zhao has spent most of her career developing electric power and distribution in the United States and Asia. A few years ago Li was hired as a consultant to advise “Lean Manufacturing” with a Connecticut textile manufacturing company. After several months of review and discussion Li was offered the opportunity to acquire the company. Having obtained the knowledge necessary to redirect the company’s growth and after careful consideration and planning, Li decided to invest her entire life’s savings and investments to make the acquisition. The company’s new direction involves operating two facilities on two continents to broaden its markets.

The 2009 Planning Committee

Elizabeth Alquist, Partner, Day Pitney LLP

Committee Members

Judith Auslander, Senior Fellow, Pitney Bowes
Lucy Brakoniecki, Gender Equity Specialist, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund
Grace Figureredo, Director, Workforce Diversity, United Technologies Corporation
Eileen Hasson, President, The Computer Company
Diane Jorkasky, Vice President of Global Cinical Research Operations, Pfizer
Sondra Schneider, President, Security University
Yuling Wu Director, Systems Labs, Pitney Bowes
Maria Gigliotti, Director of Clinical Operations Panacos, Pharmaceuticals Inc
Jeanie Houghton, Vice President Network Finance (Retired), AT&T
Diane Goldsmith, Dean of Planning, Research and Assessment, CT Distance Learning Consortium
Karen Vogel, Vice President, Business Development eWayDirect
Mary Norris, Partner, Wiggin and Dana
Deb Santy, SBIR Manager, CCAT
Karen Houseknecht, Vice President, Biology ASDI, Inc
Glennis Orloff, President/CEO, Samara Innovations
Colleen Palma, Managing Director Consulting Services Partner Communications
Sheenah Mische, Director, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals
Paige Rasid, Marketing & Operations Manager, Connecticut Technology Council
Cathy Intravia, Partner, Shipman & Goodwin
Rita Zangari, Executive Director, University of Connecticut Technology Incubation Program

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