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2010 Athena Pinnacle Awards - Biosciences

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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.

Hazel M. Aker

Senior Vice President/General Counsel/Secretary

Cadence Pharmaceuticals

Hazel Aker hired four women who said she shares knowledge, encourages development, ensures all have ownership of projects and is transparent.

Aker has proactively reached out to two junior female VPs. Even with limited time, she shares information and participates in Athena events and educational sessions.

She has strongly supported flexible work schedules to encourage healthy work-life balance, while increasing productivity and retention.

She sits on the board of the USO Council of San Diego, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life of active-duty U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families. She's on the Executive and Audit committees, co-chairs the Governance & Board Development Committee, and provides pro bono legal services. She is committed to expanding diversity of the board.

Aker is a volunteer docent-naturalist at Poway's Ecological Reserve, where she leads interpretive nature walks, assists with educational programs and encourages quality recreational use of the reserve. She's a member of the vegetation control team.

She has served as member of the Steering Committee for Athena's On-Board Program.

Amanda Clardy

Chief Marketing Officer

Life Technologies

Amanda Clardy has made developing professionals a priority, spending countless hours of time mentoring female colleagues.

She is a founding member and president of iWIN, a networking organization created to support, mentor and promote professional and personal development of women at Life Technologies. Since iWIN began in Carlsbad, more than 500 employees internationally have participated as mentors, mentees or both. iWIN leadership now comprises 60 women from across the company, many of them women who have become empowered to participate in such an organization for the first time in their professional careers.

Clardy started The Working Mothers’ Group -- mothers who provide support to each other as they balance the demands of career and family. The group championed the upgrade of all lactation facilities across the company to make the rooms private, comfortable and pleasant, which earned the 2009 Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Award from the San Diego Breastfeeding Coalition.

She is a respected member of the company’s leadership team, and currently serves as the company’s first female chief marketing officer, with a department of more than 150 people. She serves on the Carlsbad Educational Foundation and is a member of NAPW, Athena and the Downtown Women’s Club. She has won numerous awards, including being named 2009 Woman of the Year by San Diego Magazine.

She is the mother of two beautiful, creative daughters, who are a constant source of inspiration.

Cathy Cooney

Executive Vice President, Human Resources


As a lifelong human resources practitioner and the mother of two daughters, Cathy Cooney has long been a champion of women and diversity.

Early in her career, Cooney shattered a few glass ceilings of her own, often working as the only woman on a management team with Texas energy workers at Halliburton and later food service operators at Frito Lay and Pepsico Food Systems.

Since the 1990s, she has worked for companies that support health care, an industry dominated by female workers. Knowing the most successful service companies align well with their customers, Cooney brings leadership attention and organizational muscle to ensuring women have opportunities to succeed in their professions and their lives.

Today, as the EVP of HR at CareFusion, a San Diego-based health care technologies company with 16,000 employees worldwide, she leads the global HR team and engages employees directly in the bigger mission to recruit, retain and support female colleagues.

Using the power of a good business case, Cooney aligns leaders around diversity initiatives and engages them to actively support mentoring programs, women’s organizations and hiring criteria.

While at Cardinal Health, she built the first Diversity and Inclusion program, ushered in a highly successful mentoring program pairing executives with high-potential women and minorities, and launched a supplier diversity program that teamed customers, suppliers and employees.

She also mentors women formally and informally and is an active supporter of future leader programs for high school women.

Anna Crivici

Senior Director, Finance

Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Anna Crivici is an inspiring leader and champion of women both professionally and personally. She is active in mentoring women inside and outside of Amylin and is an advocate on promoting women in the workplace. She has hired, mentored and promoted women to leadership roles since joining Amylin in 2003. Crivici networks with the senior women at Amylin to have them engage more in women’s development. Her door is open to everyone who wants mentoring. Her style is infused with confidence and makes her mentees feel that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. She continues to serve as a role model, and her character and spirit have directly affected the success of women at Amylin and beyond.

Crivici received her Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and her B.Sc. in specialized honor biochemistry from the University of Guelph (Canada).

Crivici is the founder and has served as co-chair of AROW (Amylin Reaching Out to Women), an Employee Resource Group devoted to the advancement and retention of women at Amylin. She continues to be an active member of Athena, recently facilitating a table at the Associates Affinity Group dinner, "Managing Up, Down & Sideways," in October of 2009. She is also a member of the Healthcare Business Women's Association.

Judy E. Davidson

Director of Advanced Practice Nursing and Research

Scripps Health

Dr. Judy Davidson is the director of advanced practice nursing and research for Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego and Chula Vista, and associate clinical professor for USD. She incorporates nursing research, evidence-based practice and scholarly activity through literature, presentation and publications throughout the country. She leads the movement of family-centered care in health care and has conducted numerous research studies on family-centered care. She developed a mid-range theory for nursing called Facilitate Sensemaking, which describes how a nurse might assist the family to make sense of their situation and their new role as caregiver.

She chairs the Council for Scientific Inquiry and Pressure Ulcer Prevention Committee. She is instrumental in providing constructive feedback to the Medical Staff Investigational Review Board and Pharmacy and Therapeutics. As the chair of an American College of Critical Care Medicine Taskforce, the team wrote the first national clinical practice guideline on “Support of the Family in the Patient-Centered Intensive Care Unit (ICU),” which was published in 2007.This changed the practice of medicine.

She developed a nerve monitoring system that was practiced only in the operating rooms and extended this into the critical care setting. A creative change agent, Davidson inspires nurses to incorporate research into their practice and is a member/educator for the San Diego Consortium Evidence Based Practice Institute.

Beth Hoffman

Vice President, Biology

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Beth Hoffman has been a strong leader for women both personally and professionally since the beginning of her career, which has spanned prestigious academic research, government research and drug discovery.

Currently VP of biology at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Hoffman also has brought other women into leadership roles and empowered them to drive decisions and strategy. She has been lauded by those she’s worked with as an excellent mentor, both scientifically and in their professional growth. As a female researcher at mostly male institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hoffman has opened doors for women through her own efforts and example.

She went on to establish her own lab as the tenured Head of the Molecular Pharmacology Unit at the National Institute of Mental Health before transitioning to industry. Rising to Eli Lilly’s head of neuroscience discovery research, then Amgen’s scientific executive director for neuroscience, and now to her present position as vice president, Hoffman has continued to help other women advance.

Whether by giving “Management and Mentoring Skills” seminars; “Survival Skills” workshops; talks on “Opportunities for Careers in Industry;” through hiring, training or inclusion in strategic discussions; or providing leadership opportunities, Hoffman has helped women develop into people of influence within her company and in every type of research institution.

Denise L. Jackson

General Counsel/Senior Vice President/Secretary

AMN Healthcare

As General Counsel, senior VP and corporate secretary, and head of the all-woman legal department at AMN Healthcare, Denise Jackson is dedicated to empowering women professionally. AMN’s legal team isn’t strictly female by design. Jackson’s hiring decisions are based upon selecting the right people for the job, who just happened to be women. In recent years, AMN has seen a significant increase in the number of women promoted and hired to key leadership positions, and who contribute to critical areas of AMN including sales, finance, operations and corporate services. Not only is Jackson an example of this increase, she has also contributed to it through her hiring and promotion decisions.

Jackson built AMN’s legal, risk management and HR functions and implemented a company-wide training and development program for new and existing hires. She also established a system to support and mentor managers, utilizing training sessions and roundtable meetings that served as forums for learning and sharing of best practices. Jackson led a program to help individual employees take control of their careers at AMN Healthcare, outlining the success factors upon which managers gauge employee performance and career progression. Using these factors, managers and employees can collaborate to identify performance areas needing improvement, as well as areas of excellence and advancement to the next phase of their career.

Jackson has actively involved AMN with a personal cause of her own, Girls on the Run San Diego, a nonprofit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. A marathon runner herself, Jackson has volunteered with the organization for several years, first as a “running buddy,” then as a coach and for three years as board chair.

Pamela Jackson

Senior Director, Military & Government Business

SeQual Technologies Inc.

In 2006, SeQual Technologies introduced The Eclipse, a revolutionary new portable oxygen concentrator to treat individuals with injuries or lung disease. The product was a finalist in the new product category in health care in the 2007 CONNECT innovative product award competition.

Pam Jackson was hired at SeQual in April 2000 to lead the development of this product. She hired a development team of a dozen engineers, coordinated the activity of professional staff members of a foreign partner company, sought out and was primarily responsible for acquiring $15 million of R&D funding from the Department of Defense, led the development process and conducted focus groups along the way. Once the product was introduced, Jackson assumed the position of marketing director and product manager of Eclipse. She led the training of sales personnel, customers and medical professionals. Once the product was well entrenched in the homecare market, she assumed the role of senior director for government activities and oversaw the development of a next-generation product specifically designed to support the military medical mission.

Throughout her career with SeQual, Jackson has exhibited extraordinary professionalism and has been an outstanding ambassador for the company. Her actions have served as great example of how a woman can lead and be successful.

Pamela M. Klein

Chief Medical Officer

Intellikine Inc.

Throughout her career, Pam Klein has assumed leadership roles and worked to empower others to do the same. In medical school, she served as chapter president of the American Medical Women’s Association. As a student member on the admissions committee, Klein frequently advocated for women who had taken a nontraditional path to medical school.

While at the National Cancer Institute, she developed the first testing program for breast cancer genetic predisposition. Although initially available only through the Department of Defense, this outreach program was broadened to nonmilitary women in the D.C. metropolitan area. It grew into a comprehensive effort to teach women about drug development and encouraged women to participate in treatment studies for cancer.

Klein later joined Genentech, and over several years advanced to vice president of development. She was recognized for her leadership skills and in particular, as a role model for aspiring female leaders. She developed a leadership program for the 1,200-person Development Organization, as well as founded and chaired the Senior Leadership Forum. Over the next several years, five vice presidents came out of this group, including two female VPs. Finally, at Genentech, she also served as an adviser to a companywide organization, NextGEN, which taught leadership and business skills to individuals entering the work force from college.

Elizabeth Morgan

Vice President, Clinical Operations

Mpex Pharmaceuticals

Liz Morgan has been a leader in clincal development and regulatory affairs in San Diego biotech for more than 20 years. She has been involved in filing more than 25 INDs and 2 NDAs for new drug candidates. Her last two positions have been VP-level executive positions, where she has had responsibility for running clinical trial operations (Nereus, Mpex).

At Mpex she has been responsible for building a clinical team from scratch and has hired a team of five exceptional contributors -- four of them women. Through her mentoring efforts, three of these women have been promoted into positions of greater responsibility. From a job performance perspective, Morgan was responsible for all operating aspects of two large clinical trials in the last year, both of which came in on time and under budget despite aggressive expectations. She has earned great respect among the board of directors and management team for the way she runs her department, and her team has tremendous loyalty to her.

Morgan is a member of San Diego Women in Bioscience, the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society, the Drug Information Association and other organizations, and is regularly asked to be a speaker on topics relating to clinical trials.

She also has been a leading fund raiser for the Arthritis Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Nancy G. Pratt

Senior Vice President

Sharp Healthcare, Clinical Effectiveness

Nancy Pratt is one of the most respected executives at Sharp Healthcare, the largest health care provider in San Diego. In 2007, through her leadership and dedication, Pratt championed and led Sharp in the long journey to achieve the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Pratt began her career as a nurse. She has brought health care outcome process into the focus. For countless hours, she presented, trained and mentored thousands of staff, physicians and volunteers about clinical quality and patient safety. The Sharp system consists of seven hospitals, three affiliated medical groups, one health plan, four long-term care facilities, one liability insurance company and two foundations. Imagine the skill and effort to move an organization of this size.

There are about 120 people in her division. Eighty-eight percent (15 out of 17) of leaders in her division are women. Through her work, everyone at Sharp –- including more than two-thirds of the work force that are women -– has been given opportunities, motivated and promoted to be Top-Notches. They deliver exceptional care and are bestowed the highest honor.

For her own career, Pratt went from serving patients at the bedside to being recognized in the White House. She has demonstrated that women can advance, lead and move organizations to places and achievements that many think aren’t possible. She is an honor to herself and an inspiration to women in health care.

Rhonda Rhyne


Association for Innovative Cardiovascular Advancements

Rhonda Rhyne embodies everything Athena. She has consistently and increasingly promoted/mentored women through her 27-year professional career. As CEO of Culture Technology Inc., she equitably recruited, interviewed, hired and promoted women, building a work force comprised of more than 75 percent women.

While president of CardioDynamics, Rhyne promoted 50 percent of companywide positions and 75 percent of director/senior management positions filled by women. She identified, promoted and mentored women in director/senior management positions, and organized and mentored collaborative leadership opportunities for women at all levels from administrative to senior management. She facilitated corporate organizational structure supporting direct interaction and/or management of women with executive management, including herself as president. Rhyne directly mentored an average of 5 percent of corporate women employees per year, as well as an average of five women per year outside of the company.

Her extensive community involvement includes serving as co-chair for 2009-2010 American Heart Association’s Go Red, Circle of Red efforts for women’s heart disease. She serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council at Washington State University’s College of Pharmacy, for the advancement of women in science/health care.

Rhyne created a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, with an all-women board of directors, focusing on innovative advancements for cardiovascular disease, with a highlight on women. She co-created Athena’s mentoring committee in 2006, benefiting more than 250 Athena FEW members with mentoring benefits. She authored book on the glass ceiling’s effects on women’s advancement, and created Grace Protection Systems, a technology company to safeguard women and children from sexual predators.

Catherine Stiefel


Freedom Meditech

Catherine Stiefel has 20 years of business experience, primarily in finance and accounting. She served from 2006 to 2009 on the board of directors of Stiefel Laboratories Inc., a global dermatological pharmaceutical company and leader in dermatology research. Stiefel was acquired by Glaxo Smith Kline in July 2009 for $3.6 billion. Before the Glaxo acquisition, Stiefel Laboratories was the largest private pharmaceutical company in the world with revenues approaching $1 billion. Stiefel closed a $500 million private equity investment from Blackstone Group in 2007 and acquired Connetics Corp. in 2008 for $600 million.

Before retirement in January 2007, Stiefel was vice president and director of acquisition accounting at Science Application International Corp. (SAIC), a $6 billion revenue government contracting company, from 2001 to 2006. At SAIC she was responsible for the accounting for investments (including valuation) totaling more than $100 million, acquisitions and divestitures, including the sale of SAIC's largest subsidiary for $1.35 billion. Prior to SAIC, Stiefel worked for Deloitte & Touche as an auditor, specializing in real estate and alternate energy, beginning in 1992. She left Deloitte as a senior manager in 2001 to join SAIC.

Stiefel is a certified public accountant in the state of California and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University.

Naishu Wang


Alfa Scientific Designs Inc.

As a self-taught business leader, Naishu Wang has graduated with honors from the “University of Real Life Business.” While having a strong technical background as an M.D. and Ph.D., she has received very little school training on how to run a business. During the past 15 years, she has dedicated herself learning how to successfully grow a company by doing.

Wang is president of Alfa Scientific Designs Inc., a company she founded at the end of 1996. Alfa focuses on the research and manufacture of rapid medical in-vitro diagnostic devices for the detection of cardiac and cancer markers, drugs of abuse, fertility hormones, infectious diseases, etc. In 14 years, her facility has expanded from 400 to 39,600 square feet. The company has increased from three to 75 employees, and the number of products has grown from two to more than 50.

To date, 10 of Wang’s patents have been granted. In 2002, she was awarded the Minority Owned Small Business of the Year by USA SBA, San Diego and Imperial District. The business continues to grow in this tough economic year.

Her management style is in the form of direction, training and motivation. There are 12 women supervisors and seven women in the manager level or higher, including two in the company’s executive committee. Most of them are trained, promoted and grown within the company from an early stage.

Wang recently was recognized and honored by California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse with the California Champion Against Lawsuit Abuse Award for her dedication to promoting justice over greed. She also is a lifetime member of America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals.

Janet White

Director, Business Development

Kyowa Hakko Kirin California Inc.

Janet White contributes significantly to the development and advancement of women in San Diego through active mentoring, guidance and involvement in several volunteer organizations. She has supported, encouraged and advised peers and junior colleagues at several companies, including SGX Pharmaceuticals and KKC (a U.S. subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin in Japan), in career development and transitions. She mentors women colleagues on business development, program structure and management, and coaches her peers. White brought senior women into SGX and actively worked to foster the success and promotion of women scientists.

Her significant contribution to the development of women scientists includes her involvement and leadership in AWIS, serving as San Diego chapter president (2004-2005) and now as councilor on the national board. Locally, she implemented a successful corporate sponsorship program that is important to the chapter’s long-term success and fundamental to its career development, scholarship and outreach programs. She encourages young women to embrace leadership roles.

Nationally, she chairs the marketing and communications committee, and participates in the strategic planning and endowment campaigns. Through her exemplary contributions, AWIS will be able to support future generations of women scientists. White also contributes to other professional organizations, including the Athena Bioscience Affinity Group Committee, Diamond FEW and the U.S. West Coast section of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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