very October since 1995, Women of Color magazine readers, honorees and their winning organizations have come together at Women of Color STEM conferences to celebrate outstanding achievers and initiatives that directly improve results.
Below is a portrait of the top winners – 18 Women of Color Technologists of the Year. Get to know these mathematicians, engineers, computer scientists, financial accountants, and lawyers, whose innovations have paid off for their employers, some of WOC STEM Conference’s highly committed partners.
Sherry F. Bellamy, the first Women of Color (WOC) Technologist of the Year, was also the first black woman to serve as operating officer with a key unit of Bell Atlantic Corp. She was named president and CEO of Bell Atlantic-Maryland, Inc. in 1997. Bellamy went on to serve as vice president and counsel for Verizon, overseeing state regulatory matters for states on the East Coast.
1998 Technologist of the Year, Stephanie Manuel Bailey, earned WOC’s award for her role in developing a management system for the United Nations, while she was a partner at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Bailey also built the billion-dollar management services division at PwC.
Taiwanese-born Chon-in Tsai was recognized for her outstanding contributions to industry in 1999. One of her pivotal research studies was the “vortex breakdown” mechanism, which is critical to honing jet flight control, and alleviating hazards caused by strong wakes of aircrafts such as the Boeing 747, a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport aircraft.
As a teenager, Margarita “Maggie” N. Dominguez used to watch the lights that shone from Florida, which lay 90 miles across the ocean. Little did she know then she would help keep them on someday. In 2000, when she was nominated WOC Technologist of the Year, Dominguez was vice president of energy services, providing support for the parts of Tampa Electric that directly served customers.
In 2001, Sherita T. Ceasar joined Comcast Corp. and was recognized for shaping technologies in the telecommunications industry. Ceasar, onetime national president for the Society of Women Engineers, oversees the engineering of new products and services for Comcast markets.
Similarly, 2002 winner Duy-Loan T. Le’s contributions helped keep Texas Instruments (TI) competitive in the world of technology. Vietnamese born Duy-Loan was the first woman to be elected Senor Fellow in TI’s history.
The demands of digital business brought finance and accounting manager Vallerie Parrish-Porter into information technology. She honed her skills in mergers such as that between Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, Nextel and Sprint before leading the largest local exchange carrier in the United States.
Jonas Salk’s vaccine ended America’s polio epidemics during the mid-1950s, but progress was slower in other parts of the world. Beset with the mobility-arresting repercussions of contracting polio at age two, IBM Global Services Dr. Asha Goyal engineered ways to facilitate movement.
At the Indian Institute for Technology in Kanpur, she developed her own wheeled transport, first trying a bicycle, then an auto rickshaw, contraptions made out of hospital equipment, and finally a moped she called Luna. Years later, computer scientist Goyal led an initiative to build an Indian counterpart to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, serving national and local police.
2005 Technologist of the Year winner Nancy Stewart was a master at harnessing computer power to manage the problems of inventory control, accounting, and progress reporting. Stewart ran Wal-Mart Corporation’s large system operations as chief technology officer, after serving as the first African American woman executive at IBM global network computing, and at General Motors.
Back in 1969, Lina Echeverria became the first woman to be accepted into the geological engineering program in Colombia’s largest public university. Over 25 years, Dr. Echeverria was one of the foremost researchers in ceramics and other applications for glass at Corning Inc. In 2006, she ran a research center where 75 percent of the products were new, developing technology that would change the way the chemical industry works.
Atop 2007’s pantheon of 37 WOC Award winners was Chineta Davis. That January she was appointed vice president and general manager of operations in Northrop Grumman‘s Electronic Systems sector, the only organization that boasts two WOC technologists of the year.
Davis joined Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in the late 1970’s, and Northrop Grumman in 1996, when NG bought the group. The Johns-Hopkins University trained mechanical engineer was said to be one of the first women of color to hold this title at a Fortune 100 Defense company.
Over her career, Irene Hernandez Roberts, an IBM Master Inventor credited with more than 70 patents, earned recognition for developing mentoring programs to help connect Hispanic employees. In 2008, she was active in integrating the IBM Academic Initiative program, Computing Alliance for Hispanic-serving institutions and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.
Ten Boeing women were honored at the 14th annual Women of Color Awards Conference, held Oct. 29-31, 2009 in Dallas. Norma Clayton, Boeing vice president of Learning, Training and Development, received the most prestigious award, Technologist of the Year.
2010 Technologist of the Year was promoted rear admiral the same year. Filipino-American Eleanor Valentin was the first woman to reach flag rank in the Navy’s Medical Service Corpsand the first minority officer to lead the Medical Support Command. Two of the scientists under her command discovered the H1N1 Flu virus, identifying the first two cases in the United States.
Thirteen AT&T women were recognized for their achievements in technology at the 16th Women of Color STEM Conference held in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 2011. Sarita Rao, then vice president, program management Office-Network Sourcing, received top honors as the Technologist of the Year. The other 12 honorees won awards for Career Achievement, and in the Special Recognition, Technology All Star and Technology Rising Star categories.
Prior to joining General Dynamics, 2012 winner Sonya F. Sepahban built aircraft as well as manned and unmanned space systems. She made her mark at Northrop Grumman, the NASA Johnson Space Center, Lockheed Martin Corp. and she now drives technology at a General Dynamics Land Systems Detroit-based center that speeds design and construction of military land vehicles.
Camille D’Annunzio is the second Technologist of the Year from Northrop Grumman’sElectronic Systems sector. She earned a Ph.D. in applied mathematics despite limiting attitudes toward women in math. After her doctorate, she did data analysis for an experiment on a NASA satellite. The satellite was the first to measure composition of a comet and D’Annunzio showed the composition of solar wind. Over 35 years, she did an exemplary job motivating staff to develop algorithms a step-by-step procedure for calculations in data processing. She served as a leader and advisor for a Girl Scout troop from 1997 to 2013, as her last girl scout graduated and headed off to college.
At 45, Alicia Boler-Davis, the 2014 Technologist of the Year, is one of the highest-ranking executive women at General Motors. Her job is to keep enhancing the automaker’s customer experience to a level that keeps its customers coming back to company brands such as Chevrolet, Chrysler, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and advancing the global quality of those brands into the future.
To do that, Davis, like all other STEM professionals and the 13 employers in this portrait, need to find and retain talented people as they have done for the last 20 years. Scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians with bold new approaches so the future can be better than the past.
We look forward to seeing you in Detroit October 2015 to mark the 20th Women of Color STEM Awards for diverse women in science, technology, engineering and math career fields. Until then, help a girl bridge the gap in STEM education and opportunity in the community you serve.