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Victor McCrary, Ph.D., the 2011 BEYA Scientist of the Year, and Angela Stribling, co-emcee of the Leading Voices event at the annual BEYA Conference, continue to shine a light on STEM programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions. (Archive photo of Dr. McCrary presenting an award at a recent BEYA Gala).

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On Thursday, students and leaders joined in an evening of celebration in Washington D.C.  Each speaker during the two-hour event made an eight-minute presentation on the value of diverse voices in STEM and federally-funded projects. Meet the Leading Voices of 2023., and watch the full event below.

James L. Moore III heads the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) at the National Science Foundation. The EHR supports research that enhances learning and teaching, and broad efforts to achieve excellence in STEM education. Moore served as the first executive director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and is a Distinguished Professor of Urban Education. His research focuses on STEM education, gifted education, multicultural and urban education, and higher education. He has published over 160 publications, received nearly $40 million in funding, and given over 200 presentations and lectures throughout the United States. Moore has received nearly $9 million in funding from the NSF throughout his career. From 2015 to 2017, Moore served as NSF program director for the Broadening Participation in Engineering program and also helped launched NSF INCLUDES, a national broadening participation initiative.

Dr. Shery Welsh is director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), part of the Air Force Research Laboratory, where she heads the Department of the Air Force’s global basic research. She oversees a basic research investment portfolio of nearly $500 million a year to facilitate the transition of resulting discoveries to other components of the Department of the Air Force’s Air Force Research Laboratory, defense industries, and other defense department components. The AFOSR’s annual investment in basic research is distributed among approximately 300 academic institutions worldwide, as well as 100 industry-based contracts and more than 250 internal AFRL research efforts. These efforts work to uncover leading-edge technologies to benefit defense projects and missions.

Craig Gravitz is designing and implementing the commercial strategy for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). This includes identifying gaps and opportunities in the health space, intellectual property, and research protection, desirability testing (minimum viable products), providing experts- & entrepreneurs-in-residence, and building a trusted network of mentors, investors, and beneficiaries. Prior to joining ARPA-H, Craig Gravitz launched and ran a rapid prototype team at the Defense Logistics Agency. His team was responsible to identify emerging problems and then rapidly solve them, typically with novel technology. Mr. Gravitz’s main contribution was to actively incorporate innovation methodologies like human-centered design and lean innovation into the process. Key capabilities the team introduced: digital twin cloud testing and rapid pandemic response: novel N95 respirators & laser cut face shields.

LaTrease E. Garrison is the COO of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She joined ACS in 1992 as a program assistant for Chemical & Engineering News magazine. In 1996 she moved to the Education Division where she held several positions including program manager of undergraduate programs. In 2005 she was appointed special assistant to the director of the Education Division.  Previously, she served as director of the Professional Advancement Team. LaTrease was the executive vice president for education from 2016—2020 and executive vice president for ACS Education, Membership, and Scientific Advancement from 2020-2022.  In her current role, LaTrease provides oversight for the Human Resources function. LaTrease is a co-principal investigator, NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network, where the ACS Bridge Project was established to increase the number of underrepresented students receiving PhDs in the chemical sciences. She is a member of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

Photo by Cheriss May

Lawrence T. Potter, Ph.D. was appointed Chief Academic Officer/Provost at the University of the District of Columbia in February 2019. Prior, he served as Dean twice, at the Dollye M. E. Robinson College of Liberal Arts at Jackson State University and the University of La Verne (a Hispanic-Serving Institution) in Southern California. A leading scholar of race and literary studies, he has published peer-reviewed and scholarly articles on the intersections of race, class, and sexuality.  Dr. Potter developed the Center for Intercultural Advancement and Student Success, the Diversity Scholar-in-Residence, and the Council on Diversity and Equity at Allegheny College. His work on developing diversity models has been used by many colleges and universities, nationally and internationally. He has traveled and lectured extensively in Africa, Asia, and Europe. He is a former Board Member of the American Conference of Academic Deans. Potter graduated magna cum laude with a triple major in English, philosophy, and religion from Stillman College and earned his master’s and Ph.D. in English—with distinction—from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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