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2010 Athena Pinnacle Awards - Educator

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Congratulations to our 2010 nominees. Athena would like to thank everyone who nominated and contributed the following excerpts for these exceptional candidates.

Margarita M. Baggett

Chief Nursing Officer

University of California, San Diego Medical Center

Americans placed nurses in the No. 1 position as the most trusted profession. Margarita Baggett of University of California, San Diego Medical Center (UCSDMC) safeguards this trust by innovatively leading 1,500 nurses in a patient-focused, family-centered pursuit of excellence. Baggett’s deep belief in transformational leadership provides the foundation for resources, education and implementation, enhancing the staff’s performance, driving the growth of academic nursing and maximizing clinical effectiveness. As an adaptive leader, she advances the profession by leading the two-hospital system to Magnet status.

Promotion of nursing knowledge is clearly realized through the dynamic initiatives known as the Frontline Leadership Academy and the Nurse Residency Program, offering staff an educational opportunity to develop leadership skills intertwined with advancing the clinical knowledge required of the bedside nurse. Additional venues take advantage of nurses’ expertise by offering scholarships to become nationally certified as experts in medical/surgical, orthopedic, oncology, women’s services and critical care nursing.

Largely due to Baggett’s encouragement and direct support, UCSDMC exceeds the national benchmark in this area, as well as the number of staff pursuing advanced degrees in science, research and health care education. She provides guidance in building self-directed interdisciplinary teams represented by each hospital unit. Each team identifies and implements solutions to improve their respective area. Successful quality improvement projects are then spread from one location to another. Under Baggett’s vision, UCSDMC is one of only 10 hospitals in California to be listed in the Top 100 Hospitals to Work For.

Michael Brunker

Executive Director

Jackie Robinson YMCA

As the executive director of the Jackie Robinson YMCA, San Diego’s “inner-city” YMCA, Michael Brunker leads the operation of a 25,000-square-foot facility in the city’s most vulnerable community. Since 1997, he increased the branch staff from eight to 108, the board of managers from 12 to 60, and the budget from $450,000 to $2.3 million.

Staff members at the Jackie Robinson YMCA are predominantly women with children who are continuing their education. The Jackie Robinson YMCA serves families surviving violent loss with mothers or grandmothers as the head of households. Brunker measures his success one child at a time. Case in point: He mentored a young woman whose mother is a crack addict and brothers are incarcerated. This young woman beat the odds by graduating at the top of her class at Lincoln High School, then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford with and a master’s from Western University of Health Sciences. She is now a physician’s assistant in radiation oncology at the Sequoia Regional Cancer Center.

Brunker’s coaching career includes the University of Detroit, San Diego State University and the Detroit Pistons. Many of his student-athletes were women who have received NCAA Division I scholarships and some have even gone on to the WNBA, such as Vanessa Nygaard.

Lisa Curtin

Executive Director of Military and Government Education

San Diego Community College District

Lisa Curtin’s passion for empowering, inspiring and mentoring women has been demonstrated throughout her career. As a former Navy Commander, she encouraged and promoted hundreds of women who entered the military, working to develop their leadership potential. As dean of students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., she was able to mentor Navy women throughout her tenure.

Curtin is currently the executive director of military and government education for the San Diego Community College District and has been responsible for recruiting top leadership talent, including several women who now successfully fill senior leadership roles. In addition, she has made it a practice to identify high school and college-age women, who would benefit from leadership and mentoring opportunities. She works with them one-on-one to create personal development plans, establish career goals and practice interview techniques.

Her passion for guiding women is demonstrated by her membership in the Association of Federal Executive Women, the Women’s Maritime Association and by serving on the board of directors of the California Space Education Workforce Institute, as well as her past service as a member of the Defense Advisory Council on Women in the services.

Charlene Dackerman

Senior Vice President, Human Resources

Bridgepoint Education Inc.

Charlene Dackerman has been in the education industry for many years and has inspired many people of all ages. She is an extremely dedicated, caring and committed woman who has what it takes to go above and beyond in all that she does.

In her current role as senior vice president of human resources, she leads a team that is in charge of training and development and human resources. Through her tutelage, the company has grown to a place unimaginable just a few years ago.

In addition to her full-time job senior VP of HR, Dackerman is also dedicated to the community in which she serves. She is on the board of directors for United Way, a member of Executive Women International and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., which is focused on work force development improvements through math and science education.

Through Bridgepoint Education, Dackerman has been a part of numerous community sponsorships including San Diego Symphony, San Diego Padres and the San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards -- and she does it all with a smile on her face.

Robin Darmon

Director, MBA Career Connections Nominee

University of California, San Diego - Rady School of Management

Robin Darmon has been a great mentor and promoter for more than 580 students and alumni. In a world where an MBA degree is a key to advancement into management positions, Darmon’s MBA class consists of 30 percent women.

Darmon opens doors to internship and job opportunities for the students by connecting them with corporate partners. She has dedicated endless hours to working directly with students, matching their backgrounds and skill sets to achieve superior career preparation.

While her works to mentor students hold true for all students, Darmon has made a focused effort to help and encourage women to take an active role in networking with professional associations. She helps her students get involved with Athena, she hosts the Healthcare Business Women’s Association meeting and is an active member of the Association for Women in Science.

Most importantly, Darmon loves what she does. She has taken her students’ career development to heart. What drives her most is assisting in the student development of life-long career building skills. Successful entrance into the work force is one of the toughest transitions for students. Darmon has demonstrated excellence and dedication in bringing women to the MBA program and helping them enter the management work force.

Terry Gaasterland


University of California, San Diego

The gap between men and women in status, promotion, pay and growth opportunities is still manifest in universities, particularly in training high-level graduate students in traditionally "male" disciplines.

At UCSD, Professor Terry Gaasterland, internationally recognized in the field of bioinformatics, provides a welcoming, supportive lab environment for female graduate students who have found the male-dominated academic culture unwilling to effectively nurture and train women. All six of her female Ph.D. students moved into her lab in their second, third or fourth years, each having a personal story of feeling abused, ignored, underappreciated or underutilized in their previous lab.

Gaasterland gave each a Ph.D.-level project to develop independently, and provided training, encouragement and support to complete their degrees. Each one, within six months of entering her lab, had an NSF fellowship or journal publication tied to their new project. All obtained their Ph.D. degrees, and three are now tenure-track professors at major universities, one is a Stanford-trained attorney and two continue to conduct independent research.

Completion of a Ph.D. is arduous and challenges one’s self-esteem and commitment throughout one’s education. Feeling unwelcome and unappreciated in the lab adds an immense burden to an already difficult endeavor and often results in women choosing other, more “accepting” careers. Gaasterland’s dedication to nurturing women scientists has had a profound impact on the lives of many, providing a role model for future generations of women scientists.

Eloisa Haudenschild


Haudenschild Garage

Eloisa Haudenschild is a dedicated art collector and an important patron of the arts and education. She is the president of InSITE, a triennial, binational exhibition of commissioned, site-specific projects by artists from throughout the Americas, administered by institutions in San Diego and Mexico City and presented in both San Diego and Tijuana.

She is also a member of the board of directors of the San Diego Museum of Art, and a former member of the board of directors of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Haudenschild’s commitment to multiculturalism is evidenced by her involvement with UCSD’s Institute of the Americas, as well as many other regional projects.

Roberta Imbimbo


Francis Parker School

Roberta Imbimbo has been a passionate science educator at Francis Parker School for 17 years, primarily working with students in grades junior-kindergarten through third grade. She integrates technology, her wealth of collected materials and a hands-on approach to teaching in achieving her primary goal of inspiring young scientists.

Imbimbo has teamed this year and last with one of her former students, now a Parker senior, to encourage girls to be more involved with science and to think more seriously about science careers. The two created an after-school program designed to attract fourth- and fifth-grade girls. This high-interest program introduces and completes science investigations in the space of one 60-minute session, giving the girls in attendance great feelings of accomplishment and success.

Imbimbo has encouraged not just her current students, but also an aspiring high school scientist through her generosity of time, willingness to be involved and desire to see more girls involved in scientific pursuits.

She also participates in local science organizations, science programs sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University and the University of San Diego, as well as local and national science conferences and workshops.

In short, Imbimbo is doing a wonderful job of promoting science literacy for all of her students, but particularly for girls.

Christine Kane

Teacher Leader

Nubia Academy

Christine Kane exemplifies the notion of leadership in every aspect of her life. In a few years, she has mentored hundreds of teachers through the San Diego Area Writing Project (UCSD) and has just been named co-director. She's taught advanced reading and multiple literacy classes to current and future teachers at USD and SDSU, is the lead teacher at the Nubia charter school, and is on the leadership team of a charter application, the San Diego Global Vision Academy. Kane also serves on the National Writing Project English Language Learner Network National Committee.

In her fourth-grade classroom, she coaches parents how to support their children through science fair, has developed an eight-week structure to teach kids how to think like scientists and develop and test a hypothesis and buys the science fair display materials herself for her low-income students. Girls may not always be the explicit focus of her amazing energy, but they resonate to her articulate and positive can-do, next steps leadership style. She works with public schools at all grade levels, leading workshops on teaching writing and critical literacy.

While working off campus recently, Kane’s substitute called because a group of girls wanted to stay inside during lunch and work on their science experiment. It is this passion to be and become a lifelong learner that Kane inspires in teachers and students. She commands attention, guides inquiry, fosters leadership and cultivates social responsibility in every cross-section of her busy life.

Joanne Pastula


Junior Achievement

All of Junior Achievement’s internal employees are women, who are out in the community as models and mentors to the young people in JA programs.

Joanne Pastula has built the only “Disneyland of Financial Literacy” in the state of California, right here in San Diego. It’s Junior Achievement’s JA BizTown, a real city run by San Diego fifth graders. Complete with real businesses like Cox Communications, NBC 7/39, SunDiego, Best Buy, Kaiser Permanente as well as an airport and city hall, JA BizTown gives kids a chance to be working adults for the day.

JA is Pastula’s job “in retirement”: Since leaving her position as executive vice president of Burnham & Co. over 10 years ago, she has dramatically increased JA’s reach, growing from a fledging operation with a budget of just over $300,000 to a $2 million annual income operation that now owns its own building. Programs like JA BizTown ensure that Pastula’s motto, “JA: Where business gets down to kids,” is a reality.

Every year, Pastula inspires 1,500 business volunteers to teach those JA programs in classrooms throughout San Diego County. This year, more than 40,000 students will have the invaluable JA experience.

The JA program doesn’t specifically target math, science or engineering, but at BizTown it’s common to see young girls taking on the role of mayor of San Diego, CEO for SDG&E or one of 21 CEO positions for the companies represented, promoting the idea that attitude and education -- rather than gender -- can help achieve the career you want to pursue. JA also collaborates with USS Midway to expose young girls to math and science.

Jim Rohr

Director Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

SPAWAR - SSC Pacific Navy Lab

Jim Rohr, of SPAWAR’s SSC Pacific Navy Lab, tirelessly and with great inspiration (but almost no budget) conceived and leads a novel K-12 outreach program for middle-school girls. Under his leadership, SSC PAC has participated in more than 50 community events this year, from classroom lectures to the San Diego Science Festival, reaching out to thousands of girls in our community.

The center, under Rohr’s guidance and inspiration, encourages middle- and high-school girls to consider science and engineering careers. Rohr conceived of, designed and implemented successfully an event called Girls' Day Out, which invites middle-school girls to local universities for a half day on campus; Summer Boot Camp, which provides a week on campus for high-school girls to work with scientists and engineers; and a unique summer internship for high-school girls from Los Angeles whereby they reside here and work with our researchers for a month at a time.

During the summer you are just as likely to find Rohr running around the numerous Point Loma labs checking in on the many interns for whom he has found opportunities, as well as bringing in speakers and organizing a career-development internship program for the college high-school students. He inspires and is tireless in his motivation of well over 100 STEM professionals at SSC Pacific to join the Navy lab's K-12 outreach efforts. Moreover, since 2007 he has been instrumental in securing more than $1 million for the SPAWAR enterprise for K-12 community outreach.

Barbara Sawrey

Associate Vice-Chancellor

UCSD Academic Affairs/Undergrad Education

During 26 years as a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at UCSD, Barbara Sawrey has proven to be a role model for young people and women in science. She has mentored hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to teaching careers. Her former students and mentees teach at nearly every two-year and four-year school in San Diego County, and dozens of other California colleges.

In 2002, the American Chemical Society (ACS) gave Sawrey the ACS National Award for Encouraging Women in the Chemical Sciences. She has won numerous teaching awards over the years, notably the UCSD Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCSD Academic Senate. She has been involved in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad since 1985, and served as coach of the high school team in international competition 1985-87. Since then she has been on the selection committee for U.S. coaches, and was the chair of the Scientific Board for the International Chemistry Olympiad when it was held in the United States in 1992.

She was a founding faculty member of the joint Ph.D. program between UCSD and SDSU in mathematics and science education, and helped launch the California Teach program at UCSD to respond to the critical need for K-12 mathematics and science teachers in California schools. Currently she serves on the board of governors for The San Diego Foundation and is chair of the Foundation’s Science & Technology Working Group.

Ericka Senegar-Mitchell


Junipero Serra High School

Ericka Senegar-Mitchell, founder and director of Science in the City, a high-school outreach program that mentors young women through exposure to careers in biotechnology, was honored in May 2009 as one of three top biotechnology educators and awarded the Genzyme/Life Technologies National Biotechnology Educator of the Year Award.

Senegar-Mitchell coordinates job shadows and internships with San Diego’s local biotechnology companies and research institutions, and promotes the increase of young women in biotechnology careers with the Ladies of Science in the City, a group of 20 high school girls who bond as “sisters in science” as they explore careers in science.

Inspired to teach by the youth she mentored through industry education programs, as a science fair judge and a job shadow coordinator, Senegar-Mitchell related most with at-risk, minority, girls whose struggles were reminiscent of those she encountered. She recognized that these girls would only escape the violence and poverty of the inner city with help from dedicated mentors, exposure to career options and advantages made possible through a quality science education. Devoted teachers who enabled her to take ownership of her learning served as a catalyst for leaving a lucrative career in biotechnology to prepare future scientists as a biotechnology teacher at Serra High School and facilitator of the UCSD/BEWiSE Young Women in Cancer Research Oncofertility Summer Academy, a program that introduces high school girls to biomedical research in the field of oncofertility.

Matt Singley


Solana Pacific Elementary

Matt Singley has been an extraordinary fifth-grade teacher. He inspires each student to embrace learning, and excites his students about math. He is an example of a teacher whose passion is learning. Role models like Singley inspire our children to be passionate about reading, math, technology and learning in general.

Singley stands out above and beyond as a teacher. He transformed his classroom with a mini-library, demonstrates the importance of technology and makes learning fun, which creates excitement for the students.

Jaqueline Trischman


California State University San Marcos

Jaqueline "Jackie" Trishman inspires all those around her to great things and believes that reaching out to girls and women at all stages of their education and careers is important to foster future women leaders in the sciences. She believes that serving as a role model is not enough to truly move the dial and ensure that more women have successful careers and leadership roles in the sciences.

Trishman not only serves as a Girl Scout Troop Leader in her spare time, but also leads and orchestrates a science ChemExpo through the Girl Scouts each year, which reaches more than 200 girls throughout San Diego and Imperial counties.

Trishman joined the CSUSM Chemistry/Biochemistry faculty in 1993. She has carried forward her desire to see more women succeed in her field, and believes in finding opportunities to engage women in science in creative ways. For example, on a trip to Catalina Island, she helped five students earn SCUBA certification for scientific diving. She has formally mentored several students to be co-advisors of the ACS Student Club. She also has hired past women students to teach courses for nursing and kinesiology majors, and those women have gone on to mentor their own group of students.

Trishman has chaired the CSUSM's Chemistry/Biochemistry Department for four years. In this role, she successfully mentored female faculty in the mathematics and science division through tenure and promotions, helping them with publication and grant writing efforts.

She has been active as a leader in the professional community through her work with the San Diego section of the ACS as chair, vice-chair and secretary. As chair, she ensured that one-third of the nine presentations throughout the year were delivered by female scientists, including the vice president of a local drug discovery company and the only female full professor of nanoengineering at UCSD.

Sally Ann Zoll

Chief Executive

United Through Reading

Sally Ann Zoll, Ed.D., is the chief executive of United Through Reading, a nonprofit that keeps separated families, including deployed service members, connected by reading books to children on DVD. Respected as a collegial leader, Zoll builds relationships of trust with her all-female staff, the board and the organization’s donors.

Zoll mentors staff with a motivational approach that encourages input on critical initiatives and hiring from within. During Zoll’s tenure, the United Through Reading Transitions Program, which helps parents who are separated from their children while incarcerated, has burgeoned. In some cases, the Transitions Program is the only contact children with incarcerated mothers get. The program is not only at two local detention facilities, but serves teenage girls in Juvenile Hall as well. The program has grown more than 300 percent since Zoll’s arrival in 2007.

Zoll has also served on a number of nonprofit boards of directors including the United States Academic Decathlon, the Coronado Schools Foundation, the Coronado Public Library and the American Heart Association of San Diego. She has participated in the Intel Hurricane Education Leadership Program, providing leadership to schools in Louisiana and Mississippi affected by the hurricanes of 2005. In February 2007, she chaired the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” conference, hosting 800 women in Southern California for an educational event about heart health.

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gita 4:25am May 14, 2010

how do i become a member of Athena womens group? gita