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Athena Pinnacle Awards co-chairs: Inspiring the next generation of women

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This spring, Kathy Hedges, Deirdre Stewart and Christie Vail look forward to honoring outstanding women with the Athena Pinnacle Awards. As co-chairs of the Pinnacle Steering Committee, these three women have a key role in supporting and directing the Athena vision. They are part of a growing tradition of women in San Diego seeking to expand opportunities, promote diversity, and inspire the next generation of women.

Kathy Hedges ALIGN=right

Pinnacle Awards co-chair Kathy Hedges serves as corporate vice president for Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC). She has oversight and policy responsibility for project management and controls for the corporation. She was instrumental in establishing the project management and controls organization at SAIC and in expanding that function to the line organizations over the past 11 years. Hedges is a member of the corporate risk review team, and her organization provides project management and controls troubleshooting throughout the corporation. She has authored many project management courses and the SAIC Common Approach to Project Controls. "I am involved in the Pinnacle Awards because of my commitment to encourage young women to explore opportunities and pursue careers in the fields of science and technology," Hedges said. "I was inspired by my fifth grade teacher to explore the fields of science and mathematics. Her enthusiasm and encouragement broadened my interests and shaped my career pursuits. I am grateful for her inspiration." Hedges has 20 years' experience in project management in the areas of nuclear weapons targeting, alternative energy systems, information technology, aerospace, proton accelerator medical treatment, range systems and transportation. She has been involved in the due diligence processes for acquisitions and has led negotiation teams. Prior to joining SAIC in 1980, Hedges was on the research staff at the Rand Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif. Hedges graduated as class valedictorian summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University and a master's degree in business administration from George Mason University.

Deirdre Stewart ALIGN=right

Pinnacle Awards co-chair Deirdre Stewart is vice president of strategic clinical initiatives at ResMed Corp. She has a strategic role in assessing and developing new areas that impact sleep disordered breathing. Stewart has been with ResMed for 10 years, initially in Sydney, Australia, and then in San Diego for the last eight years. "I am involved in the Pinnacle Awards because it is such a worthwhile cause," Stewart said. "Not only do we provide scholarships for young women to pursue education in science and technology, but we also recognize those in our community who support the Athena mission." Prior to joining ResMed, Stewart worked with Professor Colin Sullivan at Sydney University. Sullivan is known internationally as the inventor of nasal continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, for the treatment of SDB. Stewart holds a Ph.D. from the University of Sydney, Department of Medicine, where she studied breathing control in patients with sleep disordered breathing. In addition to serving on the board of UCSD Athena, Stewart is a delegate for the local American Heart Association. She also does volunteer work for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Christie Vail ALIGN=right

Pinnacle Awards co-chair Christie Vail is a shareholder with the law firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP. Vail joined Heller Ehrman in 1996 and practices corporate and securities law. She has experience representing both private and public technology companies in a variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, private financings and technology licensing. Vail's practice also includes general corporate and securities law counseling. "The Pinnacle Awards honor such amazing young women," Vail said. "Every year it is an inspiration to see how much our talented scholarship recipients have achieved. It's gratifying to be part of making their educational dreams come true." Vail holds a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University and a J.D. summa cum laude from Santa Clara University School of Law. Like the nominees for this year's Pinnacle Awards, Kathy, Deirdre and Christie embody the qualities of leadership, inclusion and commitment that make Athena's mission great. They are a testament to the accomplishments of women in the San Diego business community, and they proudly honor those who advance Athena's vision. The Pinnacle Awards recognize women and men who support the Athena vision: To foster personal and professional change through inclusion, risk taking, education, recognition and diversity of thought thereby enhancing competitiveness and opportunity in the San Diego business community. Awards are presented to the individual or company/organization who, through the development and promotion of skilled and talented women, has had a significant impact within the San Diego technology sector and those who support the sector. To find out more about Athena and the Pinnacle Awards, please visit the organization's Web site at www.athena.ucsd.edu.

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