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2012 Athena Pinnacle Awards Nominees - Life Sciences

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Hazel Aker, J.D.

Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary

Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Hazel has served as CADX's senior vice president, general counsel and secretary since April 2007. From 2006 to 2007, she served as senior vice president for operations and business affairs of Ambrx, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on protein therapeutics. From 2003 to 2006, she served as general counsel of Micromet, Inc., formerly CancerVax Corporation, a biotechnology company focused on the treatment and control of cancer, and served as its general counsel from 2001 to 2003. From 2000 to 2001, Hazel served as general counsel for Alaris Medical, Inc., a manufacturer of intravenous infusion therapy products and patient monitoring systems. From 1999 to 2000, she served as general counsel of Women First HealthCare, Inc. Hazel also serves on the board of USO Council of San Diego, Inc., a nonprofit public benefit corporation. Hazel is a member of the State Bar of California and holds a B.A. from UCSD and J.D. from the USD School of Law.

Hazel has been a stalwart in the biotech legal community for more than a decade, and has worked for some of the most respected companies in town. Her hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed, as evidenced by the fact that the executive team and board from CancerVax/Micromet enlisted her for the job at CADX. CADX really provided a boost to the San Diego life science community when their lead drug candidate, OFIRMEV, was approved by the FDA for commercial use. This approval came with challenges, particularly for CADX's legal department, as Hazel's team has had to deal with patent challenges from competitors, and more recently, a recall of a single batch of their drug due to manufacturing defects. She is a true asset to the San Diego life science community in a role that is typically dominated by men. She is also active in the San Diego military community with her board work for the local USO chapter.

Peggy J. Brooker


ImpediMed, Inc.

Peggy has held various roles as vice president, finance, chief financial officer and chief executive officer. Peggy’s career has been successful and rewarding while raising two children, playing a key role in their lives. Today, she is the COO and CFO of an international medical device company in San Diego.

Peggy designed and implemented a diversity policy at ImpediMed to promote underserved classes with an emphasis on gender equality. Peggy has hired more women as part of her teams than any other department in the company. She provides mentoring and inspiration to all women in the company on an on-going basis.

Peggy is an active member of several San Diego based business and professional organizations. She attends various Association of Bioscience Financial Officers (ABFO), Financial Executives International (FEI), BioCom, Connect and Athena networking and educational programs. She also serves on the board of the BeAware Foundation, a Southern California nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and empowering women to follow the recommended guidelines for early detection of breast care.

Elizabeth Bui, Ph.D., J.D.

Vice President, Intellectual Property


Dr. Liz Bui has contributed significantly to the life science business of San Diego. Liz is vice president of intellectual property (IP) counsel at Viacyte, a stem cell engineering company. As both a scientist and patent attorney, she was recruited from a major law firm (DLA Piper) to join Viacyte five years ago to create a legal department with a functionality to develop and execute strategy to protect the scientific discoveries being developed by the world’s leading scientists in the emerging field of cellular therapy for diabetes.

Liz’s skills were instrumental in closing the recently announced research and development collaborations with Pfizer, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Nestle Health Sciences and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Liz is an inspiration to all young women in business. At the age of five, Liz found herself escaping Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, as U.S. troops pulled out of Vietnam. With a bullet wound to her foot and separated from her parents during the chaos, she was tossed onto a small fishing boat. Liz ultimately found herself in Nebraska and was raised in several foster homes under difficult conditions. She knows first-hand the value of a caring environment coupled with good educational opportunities. Liz works tirelessly in fundraising efforts on the board of directors for the Toussaint Academy of Arts and Sciences, part of Father Joe’s Villages. The Toussaint Academy provides a home, mentoring and structured education focused on the arts and sciences for homeless teenagers in the San Diego. Bui chairs the program committee and works directly with young women to ensure they matriculate successfully to college.

Jan D’Alvise

Life Science Entrepreneur and CEO

BioBiz Partners

Jan is a seasoned life science executive in pharma, diagnostics, medical devices and drug discovery research tools. BioBiz Partners is a business development consulting firm that guides emerging life science companies to develop and implement strategies to attract investors and partners, and to maximize their commercial potential. Jan has taken on several CEO roles and is currently CEO of Pediatric BioScience, a development stage diagnostic company with a proprietary set of biomarkers for diagnosing autism. She is also the executive chairman of Precision Through Imaging, a San Diego medical device company developing a disposable imaging tool that will guide oral surgeons while drilling for dental implant placement.

Jan currently advises several other life science startups in the medical device and diagnostics space. Previously, Jan was CEO of Gish Biomedical and interim CEO for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Jan was also co-founder, executive vice president and COO of Metrika, and president, CEO and chairman of NuGEN,Inc.

As a member of the Tech Coast Angels and their chair for the BioMed Track Screening Committee, Jan has a first advantage to preview many women-owned businesses in the bio and pharma space. One of her primary roles is to help these evolving women entrepreneurs work strategically in developing their business plans. Also, as an Entrepreneur in Residence for the Springboard Entrepreneurship Program at UCSD, Jan finds herself assigned to a variety of small startups where her skills and experience are invaluable to these budding women entrepreneurs.

Martha Demski

Senior Vice President and CFO

Althea Technologies, Inc.

Martha has more than 30 years of experience as a finance professional in life sciences. She began her career in the late 1970's at Bank of America, where she helped numerous life sciences companies with funding, including being involved in the first equipment leases for Hybritech, a company that launched many life sciences companies and the careers of numerous life sciences leaders in San Diego. She has served a variety of roles in life sciences including 15 years as vice president/CFO of Vical, Inc., COO/CFO at the Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center and currently is Senior Vice President/CFO of Althea Technologies.

Martha embodies everything Athena. She has consistently mentored and promoted women through her career. In her role as CFO at Vical, Martha mentored and empowered the women who took on greater responsibilities after leaving the company. For the past nine years, she has been a "Big Sister" to her "Little Sister" in Big Brothers, where she has helped her achieve a degree in math. Martha has helped many women in life sciences form and fund their companies. In her role on the Board of Chimerix, she mentors women on the company's management team as well as women in the community on how to get on boards.

She has been on the boards of San Diego Venture Group, Association for Corporate Growth, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and the Finance & Audit Committees of the San Diego Foundation. Martha currently serves on La Jolla Country Day's Finance Committee where she has spearheaded an entrepreneur's speaker series that inspires high school students to be entrepreneurs.

Jan Dziewior

Vice President, Customer Master Data Program


One of the key areas that has been significant to Jan is having a close connection to her customers. Her love of caring for patients was transferred to her support to her customers in the various roles she has had. Understanding them and their needs has been key for her and she is able to transfer that to her customers.

Starting with her company leadership, she has developed her women's network program from an incubation group of 15 to more than 300 (perhaps more by now). She is at any one time more formally mentoring women at Carefusion (one to four is standard "workload") and has served as a mentor and guide to Athena San Diego’s FEW group — several of whom are at the early stages of their careers and assisted them in handling "hard assignments" and positioning them for growth. Our group has been impressed with her willingness to apply her knowledge skills to a broader base of women in the community.

Her resume lists the following broader based leadership activities in the San Diego area, and these are the more "formal" affiliations:

• Board member, San Diego Children’s Choir

• Chair of CareFusion ERG: Women’s Initiative Network (WIN)

• Trained as Culture Facilitator for CareFusion company initiative

• Trained in Situational Leadership, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations

Pamela Kurtzhals, M.D

Scripps Clinic

Pam exemplifies the role of healer. Her general surgical practice is primarily supporting women with breast cancer and other breast health related issues. In addition to being a superb oncoplastic trained surgeon, she is an outstanding speaker and is tirelessly giving of herself to promote breast health education among her peers. Pam is caring, compassionate and tireless in her role as a physician, colleague and friend. Not only is she an excellent doctor, she juggles her other roles as a busy wife and mother of three young sons.

Pam is active as a mentor of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, residents and fellows in her practice. She is an active continuing educational lecturer for colleagues as well as internal medicine, primary care physicians and the OB/GYN providers with in the community of Scripps Health. She is active in community support of Breast Cancer Survivor Day activities, volunteers at the Susan G. Komen three day event support table and participates in the American Cancer Society breast cancer walks.

Pam is the department head for the Division of General Surgery and a member of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Breast Surgeons. She is active in the American Cancer Society, Scripps Health, Breast Cancer Task Force and is involved with breast cancer survivor groups.

Marcia Bland Lloyd, J.D.

Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel

Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Lloyd has held numerous key leadership positions within the life sciences industry, including her current role as senior vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel at Amylin Pharmaceuticals. Lloyd actively works to nurture the next generation of women executives, including those in the fields of science and technology. She is the executive sponsor of AROW (Amylin Reaching Out to Women), and is engaged in expanding Amylin’s flex-time, mentoring and remote work opportunities. Lloyd is past chairperson and an active member of the Executive Leadership Foundation and Council, the nation’s premier leadership organization comprised of the most senior African-American corporate executives in Fortune 500 companies. She helped found the council’s “Women on Wall Street” group and was board liaison to the NextGen Network, initiatives aimed at identifying and mentoring up-and-coming African-American business leaders.

Drawing from her personal experience raising six children while juggling a thriving career, Lloyd has become a nationally recognized speaker on some of today’s most pressing topics for working women such as surviving work/home imbalance and building a successful blended family. As a member of the board of directors as well as the Nominating and Governance committee of the California Healthcare Institute (CHI), Lloyd promoted diversity among the leadership group that generally did not include women or minorities. Lloyd is also a member of The Links, Inc. – a 14,000-member nonprofit that seeks to enrich the lives of African-Americans. She is the chair of The Links’ San Diego Arts facet and actively participates in youth and health initiatives. Lloyd also serves as an associate of the Women Business Leaders of the United States Health Care Industry Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving the unique needs of women in senior executive capacities in the U.S.

Hallie Metzler


One Recovery

Hallie Metzler has distinguished herself by using her more than nine years in the health care industry to help co-found One Recovery, the first comprehensive online community specifically designed to help people accomplish continuous and meaningful recovery. Her career has spanned the fields of management, sales and marketing, and business development. She has taken the problems of addiction and eating disorders and used her health care background with a new view of technology and built a unique offering that is showing tremendous results and saving money in the health care system.

Hallie has been an example of how a woman with a passion and interest in health care can develop that passion into a career in the tech and health care industry by thinking creatively and taking risks.

Before co-founding One Recovery, Hallie also created a 501c3 called IAM that provides free support groups, educational workshops, community resources, sponsorships, and partnerships with outside resources for those who struggle with an eating disorder. This experience was a foundation for her as she began to build One Recovery.

Ann Rhoads


Zogenix, Inc.

Ann has served as CFO, treasurer and secretary of ZGNX since March 2010 and took the company public in November 2010. From 2000 to 2009, she was the CFO for Premier, Inc., a health care service company, where she had responsibility for all areas of financial management, strategic planning, business development, information technology, and ethics and compliance. From August 1998 to 2000, she served as vice president for strategic initiatives at Premier, where she was responsible for overseeing a $30 million venture capital fund. Prior to joining Premier, Ann held various positions at Sprout Group, a VC affiliate of DLJ (now part of Credit Suisse First Boston), Bain & Co. and Merrill Lynch Capital Partners (now Stonington Partners). Ann is a member of the board of directors of Novellus Systems, Inc. She received an MBA from Harvard and a bachelor’s from the University of Arkansas.

Ann should be recognized as an inspiration to women in the life sciences community. She was hired by Zogenix to take the company public in 2010. The IPO was a challenge given the state of the stock market and an overall lackluster economy, but they managed to "get out." The company's revenues have consistently grown for the past year and they were successful in raising a follow-on round of equity after the IPO. Ann has a strong business acumen and is well regarded by her board and executive peers — which both are comprised primarily of business men in the life science and financial industries — but she can hold her own. Ann is as an example of a woman that has achieved great success and garnered tremendous respect in an environment where few women succeed.

Ann is one of a handful of women CFOs in the SD business community. She has been involved in several fundraising endeavors while at ZGNX and is an active representative of the company to the investment community.

Shelley Valentine

Executive Vice President

West Wireless Health Institute

Shelley has distinguished herself as an agile, outside the box thinker as she has worked with the West Wireless Health Institute as well as the West Health Investment Fund, where she serves as COO, and the West Health Policy Center. She is the person tasked with carrying out the vision of founders/philanthropists Gary and May West. The institute is one of very few medical research nonprofits in the country and its operations require a unique executive.

Shelley herself is a role model for other women in health/tech executive management. Prior to her work with Gary and Mary West, she was a director at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Joan Kroc Institute at the University of San Diego.While with the United Nations and the International Executive Service Corps, she gained experience in assessing the viability of opportunities in emerging markets. She currently sits on the Governance Committee of Grantmakers in Aging.

Valarie Williams

Vice President of Information Technology/CIO

Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest

In addition to being responsibility for Planned Parenthood’s entire IT department, Valarie also runs their Patient Contact Center. The foundation of Valarie’s successful career progression is her willingness to transition through various industries. She’s never been afraid to join a company in a different business from her previous experiences, as is evident from her successes in each of the financial, telecom, automotive, marketing, and health care industries.

Valarie brought her expertise and knowledge to address a major challenge faced by the organization: developing and implementing an Electronic Health Records system that would ultimately allow the primarily female staff of clinicians to efficiently serve the needs of the primarily female patient community. Valarie also has successfully reduced the call abandon rate from 16 percent to 6 percent, a huge impact to the patient community. She firmly believes that technology shouldn’t interfere with care – technology should improve care.

In addition to her responsibilities with her role at Planned Parenthood, Valarie offers her talent to other nonprofit organizations in several ways. She is also a much sought-after speaker, having addressed the Institute for Healthcare Transformation conference in 2010 on EMR implementation, as well as at iHT2 more recently on Healthcare Information Exchanges and some of the challenges communities will face around the protection of patient data.

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