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Finalists Named for 16th Annual Women of Innovation® Awards

50 Exceptional Leaders in STEM Recognized for Achievements

The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) and the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) today announced the 50 women who have been selected as Women of Innovation® Finalists for the 16th Annual Women of Innovation® awards. (full list of finalists below)

This program celebrates and adds to a growing network of women leading Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) throughout Connecticut. Finalists are the scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians who create tomorrow’s advancements through their efforts in Connecticut today.

Women of Innovation® Finalists are nominated by their peers, coworkers, and mentors, and are selected based on their professional experience, history of innovation, ability to think creatively and solve problems, and demonstration of leadership. The finalists were selected from more than 150 women nominated earlier this year, one of the strongest fields in the 16 years of Women of Innovation®.

This year’s 50 Finalists include researchers, educators, engineers, managers, students, and entrepreneurs who work in or study biotech, pharmaceuticals, software, computer hardware, advanced materials, medical devices, IT, and associated fields.

High school, undergraduate and graduate students who have exhibited extraordinary and unique achievements in their technology disciplines are also among the finalists. Students are judged on inventiveness, STEM accomplishments, independent research, community service, and academic performance.

“Women of Innovation® brings together leaders and innovators from across Connecticut – reflecting the expertise and ground-breaking work being done in our state,” said Ron Angelo, President and CEO at CCAT, which this year partnered with the CTC in coordinating the honors. “Women are still under-represented in the STEM fields, which is why it is so important to applaud their contributions, and redouble our collective efforts to open STEM to their full participation and leadership.”

The Innovation & Leadership categories for Women of Innovation® Finalists include: Research, Community, Entrepreneurial, Small/Medium Business, Large Business, Youth, Collegian, Secondary Academic, and Postsecondary Academic. An award will also be given for Inspiring STEM Equitability, presented to an individual for promoting equality and diversity in STEM.

Winners in each of the 10 categories will be announced later this year. The program for this year has been redesigned to virtually celebrate the achievements of 50 remarkable women who lead Connecticut’s future in STEM and pave the way for tomorrow’s breakthroughs.m

“I can honestly say that Women of Innovation® changed my life,” explained Severine Zygmont, President of Oxford Performance Materials and Board Chair of CTC. “I first learned about the Connecticut Technology Council when I was nominated for this award. I met so many amazing people along the way and found opportunities to grow our profession. It is a privilege to honor outstanding women in the technology fields, and to grow the network of women leading the future of STEM.”

All nominees were required to meet minimum requirements as well as those specific to the awards for which they were nominated. Nominees had to be currently working or studying in the State of Connecticut, demonstrating strong leadership abilities, and serving (or previously served) as a mentor in some capacity – short- or long-term, life mentor, career mentor, or peer mentor.

The 2020 Women of Innovation® by category, with their affiliated organizations:

Youth Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Ananya Aggarwal, Glastonbury High School

  2. Mina Kim, Amity Regional High School

  3. Lola Kovalski, Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy

  4. Audrey Larson, Wallingford Public Schools

  5. Meghan Ogrinz, Joel Barlow High School

  6. Sophia Wang, Amity Regional High School

  7. Melissa Woo, Greenwich High School

Collegian Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Leila Daneshmandi, PhD Candidate | UConn School of Engineering

  2. Wanjiku (Wawa) Gatheru, Undergraduate Student | University of Connecticut

  3. Maya Geradi, Undergraduate Student | Yale University

Secondary Academic Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Karen Amaker, Founding Director | P-TECH Norwalk

  2. Susan Dougherty, STEM and Special Education Teacher | Stamford High School

  3. Beth Furnari, Acting Principal | Information Technology and Software Engineering High School, Fairchild Wheeler Interdistrict Magnet Campus

  4. Diane Pintavalle, Science Teacher | Glastonbury High School

  5. Catherine Piscitelli, Science Research Program Director | Amity Regional High School

  6. Rosemary Riber, Transition Coordinator | Joel Barlow High School

Post-Secondary Academic Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Rebecca Andrews, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine | UConn Health Center

  2. Maria Chrysochoou, Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering | UConn School of Engineering

  3. Faye Rogers, Associate Professor of Therapeutic Radiology; Associate Director, MD-PhD Program; Director, Yale BioMed Amgen Scholars Program | Yale School of Medicine

Community Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Aundrya Montgomery, Research Assistant | University of Connecticut

  2. Rachel Petro, Mechanical Design Engineer | Pratt & Whitney

  3. Maranda Wong, Commercial Engines Deputy CIPT, MPE | Pratt & Whitney

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Jessica Bailey, CEO | Greenworks Lending

  2. Virginia Juliano, Founder and CEO | CobbleCord

  3. Donna Lecky, Co-Founder and CFO | HealthVenture & HealthHavenHub

  4. Colleen McGuire, Founder and CEO | Silver Fern Healthcare

  5. Shana Schlossberg, Founder and CEO | Upward

  6. Erika Smith, CEO | ReNetX Bio

Research Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Elizabeth Contini, Principal Biomedical Engineer | Medtronic

  2. Darcy Ronan, Assistant Professor | Sacred Heart University

  3. Beiyan Zhou, Associate Professor of Immunology | UConn Health Center

Small/Medium Business Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Angela Cacace, Vice President, Neuroscience | Arvinas, Inc.

  2. Antonia Ciaverella, Architectural Designer | Tecton Architects

  3. Ann Flynn, Founder and CEO | IQ Telecom (IQT)

  4. Michelle Johnson, Chief Operating Officer | Metrum Research Group

  5. Carrie McCusker, Technical Lead | Sonalysts

  6. Melissa Petruska, Senior Research Scientist | Sonata Scientific LLC

Large Business Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  1. Jennifer Gaffney, Senior Project Manager | Walt Disney Company

  2. Jacquelynn Garofano, PhD, Margaret Ingels Engineering Development Program Manager | Raytheon Technologies

  3. Amy Grace, Director, Advanced Sustainment | Pratt & Whitney

  4. Leslie Hawley, Executive Director | Pfizer

  5. Christine Seymour, Director Global CMC | Pfizer

  6. Sheri Shamblin, Director | Pfizer

  7. Sarah Wojiski, Director of Education and External Programs | The Jackson Laboratory

Inspiring STEM Equitability Award FINALISTS

  1. Kayla Cloutier, Principal R&D Engineer | Medtronic

  2. Katherine Coyner, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery | UConn Health

  3. Ellen Last, Experience Design Consultant | Slalom Consulting

  4. Carla Lopez, Global Supply Chain COE Specialist | Pratt & Whitney

  5. Sonya Richmond, Boardmember | Connecticut Invention Convention

  6. Niasia Williams, Mechanical Systems Engineer | Pratt & Whitney

About the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology

The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc. (CCAT) validates, demonstrates, and encourages the adoption of leading-edge technologies into global industrial companies and the advanced manufacturing supply chain, while also providing the training and education necessary to utilize the capability of these advancements and drive efficiency. CCAT, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, assists businesses in executing their continuous improvement strategies and collaborates with state, regional, and national partners in manufacturing, academia, government, and non-profit organizations in order to define and strengthen the future of the supply chain in the areas of advanced manufacturing, incumbent worker training, STEM awareness, and energy solutions. Learn more at

About the Connecticut Technology Council

The Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide association of technology-oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership in areas of policy advocacy, community building, and support for growing companies. The mission of the Connecticut Technology Council is to spark innovation, cultivate tech talent, foster business growth, advocate for industry-beneficial law and policy, expand the scope of industry networking and professional development, and celebrate industry achievements in the state. The CTC seeks to serve Connecticut’s technology ecosystem by providing leadership, support, mentoring, and advocacy to companies across every industry and at every stage of growth. For more information, visit

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