Women of Innovation 2011 Event Recap





The Story


The Jana Moak Scholarship


The 2011 Category Award Winners  The 2011 Finalists


Official Press Releases


Great Event Pictures


2011 Planning CommitteeGirls of Innovation

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Fifty six innovative, outstanding women from across Connecticut were honored March 31 during the

WOI-gala

Click here to read the profiles on all 56 Finalists

Click here to see the category winners Click here to view the program for the event (.pdf)

Click here to see the event pictures Click here to learn more about the Women of Innovation Program

Click here to view the press release about this event

“Many of Connecticut’s most extraordinary and talented women working in technology are in attendance tonight,” said Matthew Nemerson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council. “As each year, this awards event allows us to recognize these exceptional innovators and leaders, while also introducing them to a professional network of peers who are equally accomplished.”

The 2011 keynoter was Ella Edmondson Bell, Ph.D., the founder and president of ASCENT‐Leading Multicultural Women to the Top, as well as an Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Dr. Bell is considered by industry to be one of the leading experts in the management of race, gender, and class in the workplace. 

2011 Women of Innovation Awards Gala – The Keynote Speech by Ella L.J.Edmondson Bell Ph.D. from Connecticut Technology Council on Vimeo.

In attendance were the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Catherine Smith who will begin her position as the State's Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner on 4/1.  As master of ceremonies, TV personality Diane Smith energized the crowd and spoke of the importance of strong networks.

Press Releases

2011 Women of Innovation Announcement, Finalists named 2011 Event Press Release, Category Winners named

The Jana Moak Scholarship

Paul Hermes, CTO, Covedien presented Jana Moak Scholarships of $500 to three of the finalists. These awards were provided by the Connecticut Technology Council and were in honor of Jana Moak, a former Board Member and herself a Women of Innovation winner who passed away in 2007.

The Jana Moak Scholarship 2011 winners were Joan Kim of Amity Regional High School; Guste Urbonaite of Newington High School and the Greater Hartford Academy of Math and Sciences; and Rachel Winsor of Stamford High School.

The 2011 Women of Innovation Winners by Category

Academic Innovation and Leadership Award

Rachel O'Neill, Assistant Professor of Molecular & Cell Biology University of Connecticut Prof. O’Neill graduated with a BA in Zoology with Honors from the University of Texas and completed her PhD in Genetics at La Trobe University, Australia. After completing postdoctoral work at the University of Melbourne, Princeton University and Rutgers University, she entered a faculty position at the University of Connecticut. She is Director of the Microarray and Next Generation Sequencing Facility, Center for Applied Genetics and Technology, and co-Director of the iPSCell and Chromosome Core.


Collegian Innovation and Leadership Award

Jacquelynn Garofano, Doctoral Student, University of Connecticut & EO Coordinator, CRISP (Yale/SCSU)

Jacquelynn (Jackie) was accepted to the UConn MSE program (Ph.D. track) in 2006 after graduating from Southern CT State University with Honors in Physics (BS). In 2009, she received her MS degree in MSE under the advisement of Dr.Mark Aindow for research on electron microscopy characterization of laser-processed Ni-based superalloys. That same year, Jackie was the recipient of the Outstanding Woman Scholar Academic Achievement Award for the Graduate School at UConn. Also in 2009, Jackie was appointed EO Coordinator for CRISP, an NSF Center for Research Excellence at Yale/SCSU. Jackie plans to finish her Ph.D. in 2011. Her doctoral research focuses on advanced materials characterization to study the microstructural evolution of magnesia/yttria nanocomposites for optical components. Most recently, Jackie has been selected as the 2010 Outstanding Graduate Student for the MSE program at UConn.


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Community Innovation and Leadership Award Nadia Glucksberg, Hydrogeolist Haley & Aldrich

Nadia has been a member of Engineers Without Borders since 2007 and has successfully designed and constructed potable water systems in rural villages in India, Guatemala and Ghana. Women in these villages are the primary caretakers and spend much of their time collecting water for their families. These projects are designed to not only increase public heath, but allow the women and girls time for education and become more self reliant. It also shows the US students how engineering can signifiancly improve public heath and how it goes beyond classrooms and calculations.


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Community Innovation and Leadership Award Sharon Killian, Accounting Associate Pratt & Whitney Sharon Killian holds an Accounting Analyst position and is a devoted humanitarian. She leads by example in helping the homeless. Sharon worked with United Way promoting a skills empowerment program for homeless veterans and supported legislation for state funding. She remains in contact with area shelters and has led countless donation drives. She is a Steering Committee member of the Operation Santa program. She was recognized as "Volunteer of the Year" by CRT and by Finance senior management for her volunteering efforts.


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Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership Award Leonora Valvo, CEO and Founder etouches Ask life-long entrepreneur Leonora Valvo, CEO and Founder of etouches, her pet peeves and she might tell you: sleep, primetime television, and people reluctant to embrace technology that can make their lives easier and more productive. If she's not skydiving at 30,000 feet or learning to sail, she's probably creating a new company. She has launched four successful ones in the travel industry, the most recent being etouches, which provides online event management software. The Financial Times named Valvo as one of the industry's "Women at the Top," and Trade Show News Network named etouches Top Event Technology Innovator for 2010.


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Large Business Innovation and Leadership Award Deborah Orosz, AMS Manager, Operating Effectiveness

Hamilton Sundstrand Deb Orosz has over 12 years experience in aerospace. She holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Connecticut, and a M.S. in Management of Technology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As Operating Effectiveness Manager, Deb leads strategies to implement lean processes to optimize the company’s ability to meet customer and company commitments. In her role leading the company's global Green Products program, she focused on compliance with product chemical restrictions and reducing the environmental impact of HS products.


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Large Business Innovation and Leadership Award

Agnes Klucha, program manager, Engineering Innovation Center Pratt & Whitney Agnes formed a group to bring new innovations to life through prototyping, design and validation using an integrated approach. In her 16 years at Pratt & Whitney, Agnes has held various roles including Flight Test Engineer, Test Planning Manager, and leadership of Tiger Teams to resolve top technical issues. Agnes received her BASc in Engineering Science – Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto and a MBA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a member of WAI, AOPA, a tutor at Power to Read and a mentor to Athena's Warriors


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Research Innovation and Leadership Award

Lisa Pfefferle, Professor of Engineering Yale University Lisa Pfefferle is an engineering professor at Yale University. Her research is focused on chemical reaction engineering to direct the structure of nanomaterials.  She has contributed to fundamental understanding of combustion chemistry and sooting.  Recent work has developed controlled property carbon single walled nanotubes (SWNT), the first boron SWNT, and other inorganic nanotubes, including means for assembling them into devices for medical, solar cell and superconductivity applications.  Lisa collaborates widely, leads a team ranging from research associates to high school students, has 150 peer-reviewed papers that are highly cited, and holds four U.S. patents.  Lisa has a 13 year old daughter, Gillian.


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Small Business Innovation and Leadership Award Laura Dietz, vice president Sonalysts, Inc. Laura Dietz has been working with training technology at Sonalysts, Inc. for over 11 years. Her extensive experience has been applied to Air Force, Navy, and Army training domains. Ms. Dietz is also the mother of two boys, and enjoys hiking, running, and horseback riding.


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Youth Innovation and Leadership Award Jenny Liu, High School Student Amity Regional High School Jenny Jiaqi Liu, a senior at Amity High School, is currently studying human-robot interaction at the Yale University Social Robotics Lab. Recently, she was selected as one of 40 Finalists of the Intel Science Talent Search and will travel to Washington D.C. in March to represent Connecticut. An award-winning violinist, she has performed at Carnegie Hall. In her free time, Jenny likes to read, play with her dog, and sleep!


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The 2011 Finalists:

We also honor the full class of 2011 finalists, each and every one is an outstanding woman working in Science and technology.

Academic Innovation and Leadership

Antonella Bona, Teacher Farmington High School Antonella Bona is a science teacher at Farmington High School. After sixteen years of being a researcher in endocrinology, she decided to communicate her passion for science to the next generation of scientists. She has developed unique and highly creative lessons that reflect her former science background. She has been the High School and District Teacher of the Year in Windam, as well as being a finalist for the Connecticut State Teacher of the Year. She has been awarded the Exceptional Science Teaching Award by the Connecticut Science Teachers Association. Antonella has also won awards at the national level, winning the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching personally receiving the award from President Clinton. Most recently she won the Siemens Award which is given yearly to the best AP math or science teacher in Connecticut.


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Academic Innovation and Leadership

Deborah Day, Science Research Instructor

Amity Regional High School

Deborah Day is currently in her 12th year of teaching at Amity Senior High School, teaching classes in Chemistry and Science Research. She has enthusiastically established collaboration with local schools, including Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University where both she and her students have conducted research. She has introduced innovative approaches to curriculum development, developed strong research abilities, particularly in nano materials and has been recognized for her mentorship and outstanding leadership. Deborah is also the Co-Chair of the Amity Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Committee; a member of Amity's Game Based Learning Committee; Amity's Curriculum Steering Committee; SCSEF and CT JSHS Executive Committees; Fellow of the CT Academy for Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, Inc. Deborah has a B.A. (Biology and Chemistry) and a M.S. (Chemistry). Deborah is currently training to complete her 12th marathon.


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Academic Innovation and Leadership Donna Jean Fredeen, Dean of Arts and Sciences

Southern Connecticut State University During her 13 years as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Southern Connecticut State Univeristy, DonnaJean Fredeen has worked to increase the number of women faculty and students in the sciences, to improve the infrastructure needed to support faculty scientific research, and improve the overall teaching of science. Her research focuses on the leadership needed to facilitate innovation and creativity in teaching. She is actively involved in SENCER and serves as co-director for the New England SENCER Center for Innovation and as a leadership fellow. Her interest in science education began during her tenure as a chemistry faculty member and is illustrated with her best selling study guide to accompany the General Chemistry text by McMurry and Fay.


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Academic Innovation and Leadership Amanda Harper-Leatherman, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Fairfield University

Amanda Harper-Leatherman has been Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Fairfield University since 2006. Prior to this position, she was a National Research Council Research Associate at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C. She earned her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004, and her bachelor’s in Chemistry from St. Olaf College in 1999. Her research on the properties of proteins encapsulated within porous, solid aerogels has the potential to help improve biosensors or biofuel cells, and is currently funded by a Cottrell College Science Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.


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Academic Innovation and Leadership Rachel O'Neill, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology University of Connecticut

Rachel O’Neill is Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut. She is Director of the Microarray and Next Generation Sequencing Facility Center for Applied Genetics and Technology. In 2010, Rachel received the CLAS Excellence in Teaching Award in the Life Sciences at UConn. She has secured $6,364,258 in grant support over the last five years and has received peer recognition for her leadership and innovation. She is recruited nationally and internationally as an important and valued colleague in a wide variety of genome sequencing projects. She graduated with a BA in Zoology with Honors from the University of Texas and completed her Ph.D in Genetics at La Trobe University, Australia.


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Collegian Innovation and Leadership Jacquelynn Garofano, Doctoral Student, University of Connecticut & EO Coordinator, CRISP (Yale/SCSU) Jacquelynn (Jackie) Garofano is a UConn graduate student and doctoral candidate. She was accepted to the UConn MSE program (Ph.D. track) in 2006 after graduating from Southern CT State University with Honors in Physics (BS). In 2009, she received her MS degree in MSE under the advisement of Dr.Mark Aindow for research on electron microscopy characterization of laser-processed Ni-based superalloys. That same year, Jackie was the recipient of the Outstanding Woman Scholar Academic Achievement Award for the Graduate School at UConn. Also in 2009, Jackie was appointed EO Coordinator for CRISP, an NSF Center for Research Excellence at Yale/SCSU. Jackie plans to finish her Ph.D. in 2011. Her doctoral research focuses on advanced materials characterization to study the microstructural evolution of magnesia/yttria nanocomposites for optical components. Most recently, Jackie has been selected as the 2010 Outstanding Graduate Student for the MSE program at UConn.


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Collegian Innovation and Leadership Elisa Jorgensen, Medical Student Yale University Elisa Jorgensen is a second-year medical student at Yale University. She began doing research at 16, and currently studies the long-term effects of environmental exposures during pregnancy on epigenetic regulation in the offspring. She is co-president of the Women in Medicine student group at Yale, and mentors three undergraduates in her laboratory. Elisa grew up in Connecticut, and received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Michigan in 2007.


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Collegian Innovation and Leadership Anuradha Kodali, Doctoral Student University of Connecticut Anuradha Kodali is presently a Ph.D student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Connecticut. She received her B.E. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Andhra University, India in 2006. Her research interests include data mining, pattern recognition, fault detection and diagnosis and optimization theory. She also received national-level merit certificate in mathematics from the Central Board of Secondary Education, India.


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Collegian Innovation and Leadership Junxia Ma, Doctoral Student University of Connecticut Junxia Ma recently received her Ph.D from the University of Connecticut. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Beihang University, Beijing, China in 2003, and a Masters of Science degree from the University of Macau, Macao, China in 2006. She worked at Cadence Design Systems, Inc.’s Beijing R&D Center from 2006 to 2007. She was a Ph.D student at the University of Connecticut from 2007 to 2010 during which she had internships at (1) Texas Instruments, Dallas, Texas (2) Freescale Semiconductor, Austin, Texas, and (3) Qualcomm Corporation, San Diego, California. She graduated on December 2010 and has since joined LSI Corporation in Milpitas, California, as a Test Methodology Engineer.


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Community Innovation and Leadership Nadia Glucksberg, Hydrogeologist Haley & Aldrich Currently the Vice President of Operations and CTO at Imaging Solutions, Wynne Cerone provides leadership and direction to a staff that is responsible for pre and post sales support in addition to the management, development, and implementation of ECM, data capture and workflow systems. She has managed enterprise-wide projects that involved the coordination, integration and implementation of products and systems from multiple vendors. Wynne began her career in the imaging industry when she joined DataImage, Inc. in 1987, later moving to the Plexus Software Division of Recognition International and then joining Imaging Solutions in 1994. Wynne is very knowledgeable in many of the imaging, workflow, OCR, ICR, full text retrieval, and document management software products in the market. She is certified in Kofax Capture and AnyDoc Software products.


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Community Innovation and Leadership Sharon Killian, Accounting Associate Pratt & Whitney

Sharon Killian holds an Accounting Analyst position at Pratt & Whitney. She is also a devoted humanitarian. She leads by example in helping the homeless. Sharon worked with the United Way to promote a skills empowerment program for homeless veterans and supported legislation for state funding. She remains in contact with area shelters and has led countless donation drives. She is a Steering Committee member of the Operation Santa program. She was recognized as "Volunteer of the Year" by CRT and by Pratt & Whitney senior management for her volunteering efforts.

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Community Innovation and Leadership Elizabeth Peterson, Nuclear Engineer

Dominion/Millstone Power Station Elizabeth Petersen is a nuclear Engineer at Dominion/Millstone Power Station For several decades, she has been turning ideas into reality in manufacturing, construction, operations, and sales. Outside of work, she enjoys coaching high school and middle school FIRST robotics teams, teaching engineering K-12 workshops, and mentoring college students. Elizabeth earned dual B.S. Degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Connecticut and an M.B.A. from the University of New Haven.


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Community Innovation and Leadership Theresa Riggs, Senior Engineering Analyst Pratt & Whitney

Thersa Riggs is a Sr. Analyst, Engineering at Pratt and Whitney. Terrie’s real passion is people. She mentored a local student from grade 3 through high school graduation, volunteers at the Hole in the Wall Camp, founded the Connecticut Chapter of Women in Aviation, raises funds for the Chapter’s scholarship, the United Way Campaign and FIRST Robotics Team #3182. She is a proud mentor for Athena’s Warriors, the first all girl robotics team to win the “Rookie Inspiration Award”.

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Community Innovation and Leadership Madeline Sola, Structural Engineer Pratt and Whitney

Madeline Sola joined Pratt & Whitney in 2004 as a Structural Engineer, a position she holds today in the Fatigue & Fracture Mechanics Group. She is currently working on unified fatigue life models as part of the Advanced Rotor Life System for the Next Generation Product Family. Madeline has been an active member of the Birds of Prey FIRST Robotics Team in Hartford since 2004, serving as co-lead and engineering mentor.


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Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership Phoebe Browning, COO YourNurseIsOn.com

Phoebe Browning is the COO of an award winning technology company whose bi-directional communications platform, YourNurseIsOn.Com, is utilized in health care organizations around the world. Phoebe was a very early technology adopter, programming her first Tandy computer in the early 1980’s. Still a technology enthusiast, Phoebe mentors women in business and girls in science/technology/math. She currently resides in New Haven on an organic, urban farm with her family.

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Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership Award Jill Lawrence, Principal J Lawrence LLC Jill Lawrence is founder and principal of a consulting practice with the mission to help companies use participation (from employees, customers, and suppliers) to spark innovation and accelerate decisions and results. Previously, Jill was the Director of Accelerated Innovation at Pitney Bowes, where she led a CEO-sponsored global innovation program to source ideas from employees and driving collaboration across business units. She has 10 years of experience working with multidisciplinary teams in design and innovation. She studied anthropology at Smith College and New York University and her work as an anthropologist has been covered in USA TODAY. Most recently, she was featured in Diversity Journal’s Women Worth Watching in 2011.


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Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership Lakshmi Nair, Senior Founding Scientist Soft Tissue Regeneration, Inc.

Lakshmi Nair is a Scientist in the field of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering at Soft Tissue Regeneration, Inc. She is recognized nationally and internationally for her contributions in Biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. She is also one of the senior, founding scientists of her New Haven based company which is developing breakthrough technologies for soft tissue regeneration of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee and an augmentation device for rotator cuff injuries.


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Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership Leonora Valvo, CEO and Founder etouches

Leonora Valvo, a lifelong entrepreneur, is the CEO and Founder of etouches, a software company which provides online event management. If she's not skydiving at 30,000 feet or learning to sail, she's probably creating a new company. She has launched four successful ones in the travel industry, the most recent being etouches. The Financial Times named Leonora as one of the industry's "Women at the Top," and Trade Show News Network named etouches the “Top Event Technology Innovator” for 2010.


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Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership Nancy Westcott, President GoatThroat Pumps

Nancy Westcott is President of GoatThroat Pumps, a company committed to bringing environmentally preferable solutions for handling chemical products to the industrial, manufacturing and landscape marketplaces. Nancy’s industrial pump company is a successful sales and product development company for her unique pumps whose operation makes it safe for handling the transfer and dispensing of more than 950 liquids ranging from beer and wine to hazardous pesticides and aggressive industrial chemicals. A B.S. graduate of Tufts University with an M.Ed. from Columbia University's Teachers College, she is a lifetime member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and created and launched the Institute’s Sustainability Youth Council in 2005.


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Large Business Innovation and Leadership Theresa Christy, fellow Otis Elevator Co.

Theresa Christy is a highly-respected expert and Fellow at Otis Elevator Company. During her 25 year career at Otis, she has used her technical and leadership skills to help design vertical transportation configurations for some of the most outstanding structures and landmark buildings worldwide. Theresa frequently travels to high-profile building sites around the world to develop and explain customized elevator solutions for building owners and managers. Her enthusiasm and innovative approach in her work has earned her numerous awards, and she is a named inventor on 14 patents. Theresa earned a BA in Mathematics from Wellesley College, an MBA from Babson College and an MS in Mathematics from Central Connecticut State University.