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2010 Athena Pinnacle Awards - Companies

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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.

The Academy of Our Lady of Peace

Founded in 1882, the Academy of Our Lady of Peace is the oldest high school in San Diego and the only all-girls school in the county. Fifty-one women and 11 men comprise the faculty. The principal, Sister Dolores Anchondo, and the vice-principal, Sister Joyce Hampel, are notable role models of female leadership focused on providing education tailored to the learning needs and styles of young women. Ten of the 12 major campus departments, including math and science, are chaired by women. Eleven of the 16 members of the board of directors are women.

A three-time winner of the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the academy has also been nationally recognized for its character education program. With a diverse student population (47 percent white, 31 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black/multiracial, 10 percent Asian), OLP is a college preparatory school where 100 percent of students go on to college.

OLP students score above state and national averages on the SAT, and the cumulative GPA for all students is 3.24. Students are encouraged to go beyond the minimum requirements in math and science. In the senior class, 75 percent of students complete a fourth year of math, and 49 percent of students complete a third or fourth year in science. All OLP graduates pursue collegiate studies, matriculating to some of the best colleges in the country, including Cornell, Harvard and Stanford, as well as to all campuses in the UC and CSU systems.

To serve students from all socio-economic levels, OLP awarded more than $1.5 million in tuition assistance in the last school year. In the past two years it also has spent more than $100,000 upgrading science laboratories, including electrophoresis equipment.

Every student receives instruction in study skills, peace education and leadership. Each contributes 75 hours of service to the community before graduation, a gift of more than 14,000 hours in 2009. Service hours in the junior year are focused on “Concerns of Science,” requiring students to volunteer with organizations in the areas of ecology/environment, animal care or research on the ethical issues of biological science.

EDCO Waste Disposal

Sandy Burr co-founded EDCO Wastemanagement with her husband Ed Burr in 1967. EDCO got its start in La Mesa and has grown into the largest family owned and operated waste management and recycling firm in California.

In an industry that appears dominated by corporate consolidation, EDCO’s active and involved family ownership offers the ability to act quickly, creatively and responsibly, while investing the necessary resources to solve challenging waste and recycling issues. The company has aggressively embraced its unique role as a family owned and locally operated premium service provider that is firmly committed to service innovation and market development.

Sandy Burr represents EDCO's numerous charitable interests and continues to contribute to the vitality of the San Diego region.

Larrabee | Mehlman | Albi | Coker LLP

Larrabee | Mehlman | Albi | Coker LLP is a female-owned boutique immigration law firm located in San Diego with a national practice primarily serving the pharmaceutical, biotech & IT industries. Not only are all of the partners/owners women, 100 percent of the associate attorneys are women and 84 percent of the support staff are women.

The firm strives toward work-life balance and supports a flexible work environment to assist its employees in achieving such balance. The attorneys, who believe in mentoring and fostering women within the legal profession, have served and continue to serve as role models for staff to further their education and advance their legal careers. The associate attorneys are encouraged to pursue professional development, as well as involvement in the San Diego community -- specifically, to advance and protect immigration rights for individuals and companies.

The partners and associate attorneys are active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), serving on national and local committees, including the local chapter’s executive committee and the advisory board of the Immigration Justice Project of San Diego. As leaders within their profession, the attorneys present at local and national seminars to educate others and assist with difficult immigration issues. The firm is also involved in AILA’s 5th Grade Creative Writing Contest to educate and encourage students to learn about and respect the immigrant culture within the United States.

LRAD Corp. (Formerly American Technology Corp.)

LRAD Corp.’s Long Range Acoustic Device directional sound systems are used around the world in diverse applications including fixed and mobile military deployments, maritime security, critical infrastructure and perimeter security, commercial security, border and port security, law enforcement and emergency responder communications, and wildlife preservation and control.

The company was founded in 1980 and currently has more than 320 U.S. and foreign patents and patent filings to date.

The management team at LRAD Corporation brings together a unique blend of technology licensing and manufacturing expertise with acoustic engineering experience. Together, this team has advanced the company’s audio technologies and expanded its market applications.

Of the three most senior members of the management team, one is a woman: Katherine H. McDermott serves as chief financial officer.

Of the five members of the board of directors, there is one woman, Laura Clague, vice president and corporate controller of Amylyn. Another woman, Helen C. Adams, has been nominated and will presumably be elected to replace a resigning male director in March.

National University

National University is No. 1 in California and among the top 10 colleges and universities nationally awarding master’s degrees to women. NU promotes academic success among women by offering a unique accelerated one-course-per-month format, with online and evening-based classes that facilitate the demanding schedules of working/family women.

NU has consistently “produced” great female leaders in business, government and nonprofits throughout the state. NU alumni include successful female executives such as the mayor of Escondido, San Diego City Council members, the sheriff of Fresno County, the fire chief of Monterey Park and the chair of the California Board of Occupational Therapy.

At NU, women constitute nearly 64 percent of all students. Its core values of diversity, access and affordability have also helped minority women. NU ranks first in California in awarding master’s degrees to Hispanics and African Americans, and is third nationally in granting master’s degrees to Hispanic women. NU alumni have been named among Ebony magazine’s “100 Most Promising Black Women in Corporate America.”

Education is critical to career success. NU has built an educational system that is innovative and accommodating to modern women’s life style, responsibilities and schedules, providing so many with the opportunities to compete and win in what was once exclusively a man’s world.


PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is dedicated to recruiting, developing and retaining employees who are able to contribute diverse perspectives, knowledge and experiences to the company and the clients it serves -– and women are key to that effort. To foster women’s career development, PwC instituted Women’s Networking Circles directed to management-level women and Emerging Women’s Networking Circles directed to senior associate-level women. Both provide role models, mentors and networks to address professional and personal challenges, leverage networks and enhance communications. PwC has circles in 34 locations, along with many industry-focused circles, and is growing circles in other markets. Both circles empower by creating an open dialogue of issues that affect women in the workplace, with assistance in managing these issues.

Half of PwC’s new hires -– and half of its total population -– are women, and PwC is committed to removing any barriers to their success. A key part of its strategy around the retention and advancement of female staff is bringing women together to discuss issues that affect them specifically. This year, PwC’s women partners and diversity leaders hosted events throughout the country focused on women’s advancement. The firm held its first Global Women’s Conference to share best practices for advancing women across all regions.

PwC also offers its women support through the following programs: Women of Color Council; Parenting Circles; Corporate Lactation Program; Emergency Backup Care Reimbursement & Centers; The Prepared Parent book; Childcare Discounts; Nanny Resource & Referral Program; Working Mother Website; and the Full Circle Program.

Qualcomm Inc.

Qualcomm is demonstrably committed to advancing women. Its corporate board is comprised of 18 percent women. Catalyst figures women constitute only 11 percent of Fortune 1000 company board seats, and 25 percent of Fortune 1000 companies have no women on their boards. Qualcomm is proud to have many women leaders and senior executives.

In 2009, 111 were promoted and 20 hired to director roles. Women comprise 19 percent of the management team, 23% of new hires and 24% of all employees. The CEO is extremely supportive of Women in Science & Engineering (QWISE), a dynamic group dedicated to promoting women's careers. The more than 300 members of this group focus on: mentoring, recruiting and outreach.

Qualcomm has proactively created an environment conducive for women to succeed, offering benefits including: tuition reimbursement, 100 percent paid health care and a women's mentorship program. Its innovative environment has earned Qualcomm inclusion on Fortune magazine’s Best Places to Work list for 12 years, and it is the 6th most diverse company of the Top 100.

Qualcomm is actively engaged with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to incorporate institutional reform and increase women's participation in technology. Qualcomm provides scholarships to women and minorities studying engineering. Last year more than $120,000 was awarded. Many awardees become employees. Qualcomm has supported organizations like Girl Scouts, GirlStart, San Diego Science Alliance, Society of Women Engineers and Athena.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

SciTech is an after-school program at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for 4th- through 6th-grade girls at six low-income schools in San Diego County. It inspires girls to become innovative and creative thinkers by fostering excitement and interest in science, technology and engineering.

Through project-based learning and interactions with local women scientists, the girls make concrete connections to everyday life while developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Recent evaluation of the program indicates that girls who attend the program for one year acquire increased self-confidence and positive attitudes toward science.

In 2009, SciTech expanded to include high-school girls who act as mentors for younger students. The girls develop and implement hands-on activities and maintain a SciTech blog about science careers. To establish an authentic scientific learning community, all the SciTech participants regularly interact with one another via videoconferences, blogs and wikis. The girls also take weekend field trips and compete in national science contests.

By targeting girls in the upper elementary grades, SciTech fills a noticeable gap in science education in San Diego. While there are local programs that encourage middle and high school girls to pursue science careers, there are few programs available for younger girls. SciTech acts as an important piece of the science pipeline by helping to prepare girls for future involvement in science programs when they reach upper grade levels.

The Seany Foundation

A San Diego-based pediatric cancer charity, the Seany Foundation employs bright, motivated women in a variety of leadership positions. These include but are not limited to chief administrative officer, director of development, assistant director of development, marketing director, art director, grants manager, donations coordinator, community relations representative, public relations representative and special events coordinator. CEO Mitchell J. Robins strongly encourages and provides funding for employees to participate in educational conferences, consultations and webinars to help empower them with the self-confidence and skills needed to perform their jobs to the utmost of their abilities.

Additionally, Chief Administrative Officer Amy G. Robins works closely with the CEO to ensure that women are well represented on the board of directors. There are currently three women active on the Seany 2010 board.

Furthermore, the foundation recognizes its responsibility to provide opportunities for today's promising independent, young female leaders, and recently named its first youth ambassadors, two local high school students who will be helping to promote awareness, brainstorming, participating in fundraising activities and contributing feedback.

The Seany Foundation also has committed to funding the salary of a female research fellow from the University of California, San Diego. This bright and driven young woman will spend her time in the laboratory researching the complexities of solid tumors.

The Seany Foundation exemplifies an organization fueled by the passion and intelligence of women given the opportunity to lead and excel, and to create social and scientific change.


SPAWAR’s SSC Pacific Navy Lab (PAC), under Jim Rohr’s tireless and inspirational leadership (and with almost no budget), implements a novel K-12 outreach program for middle-school girls every year. SSC PAC has participated in more than 50 community events in 2009, from classroom lectures to the San Diego Science Festival, reaching out to thousands of girls in our community.

The SSC PAC Center encourages middle- and high-school girls to consider science and engineering careers. Some examples include: 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 program for high-school girls from Los Angeles, whereby they reside here and work with our researchers for a month at a time.

On behalf of the SSC PCA, Rohr visits the numerous Point Loma labs, checking in on the many interns for whom he finds opportunities, as well as bringing in speakers and organizing a career-development internship program for the college high-school students. The program also includes well over 100 STEM professionals at SSC PAC to join these K-12 outreach efforts, and since 2007 has secured more than $1 million for the SPAWAR enterprise for K-12 community outreach.

Young Survival Coalition – San Diego

San Diego’s Young Survival Coalition was founded by three young breast cancer survivors in 1998. All under the age of 35 at diagnosis, they were discouraged by the lack of information and resources available to young women, and were concerned about the under-representation of young women in breast cancer studies. Unlike their post-menopausal counterparts, young women diagnosed with breast cancer face higher mortality rates, fertility issues and the possibility and ramifications of early menopause.

YSC seeks to change the face of breast cancer by: advocating to increase the number of studies about young women and breast cancer; educating young women about the importance of breast self-examination and early detection; and being a point of contact for young women with breast cancer. Here in San Diego, YSC supports hundreds of young women by giving lifesaving lectures on prevention and awareness, visiting countless support group meetings and patient homes, and attending numerous medical conferences to gather and analyze the latest information on breast cancer research. Their support helps women prepare for surgery, fertility treatments, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstructive surgery.

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