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2013 Athena Pinnacle Awards Nominees - Technology

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WINNER: Barbara Noerenberg
Vice President, Program Management
Qualcomm Inc.

Noerenberg has risen to the position of vice president program management at Qualcomm by the strength of her perseverance and her willingness to take on challenging assignments and break through glass ceilings. Since joining Qualcomm in 1994, she advanced from keypunch operator to managing the successful multi-year joint development collaboration between Qualcomm and several international companies. Her technical and interpersonal skills led to her current position, which includes responsibility for managing all program aspects of the R&D organization with a $130 million budget and more than 500 employees.

Noerenberg has developed initiatives that encourage and guide girls and women to advance in their careers. Her support includes her volunteer work as a Girl Scout leader for more than 10 years, taking her troop to the highest level where the girls achieved top awards. Because of her engineering and management background, she helped the girls to gravitate toward technology badges, and many became leaders in medical and technology fields. Her “pay-it-forward” perspective and strong belief in mentoring are evidenced by programs she helped establish at Qualcomm and Athena, as well as developing female-friendly hiring and promotion practices at Qualcomm.

Noerenberg is active in the community, having served on the boards of directors of Athena San Diego and Whispering Winds. She is the recipient of the YWCA TWIN Award and the North County Chamber of Commerce Woman in Business Award. She has been a keynote speaker for the Society of Women Engineer’s and the North San Diego Chamber of Commerce Women’s Week.

WINNER, FOUNDER'S AWARD: Barbara Bry
Chief Operating Officer
Blackbird Ventures

Bry is a beacon of technology entrepreneurs in the San Diego community whose passion is to level the playing field for women in business, health care and politics. She has been a serial entrepreneur in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She has worked as a journalist, university administrator, entrepreneur, marketing executive and angel investor. Currently, she is the COO of Blackbird Ventures that invests in early stage technology companies. She and her husband Neil Senturia write a weekly column on technology and entrepreneurship for U-T San Diego, and they teach entrepreneurship at UCSD.

Her leadership in San Diego organizations and passion for promoting women’s successes has reached legions of women business leaders. She played a central role in founding Athena San Diego and served as its first executive director. Under Bry’s leadership, the organization built a strong foundation for what is now the pre-eminent organization for women executives in technology and life sciences. Today, Bry uses her vast connections among the technology and investment communities to mentor women entrepreneurs, including through Athena, UC San Diego and multi-city networks such as “Geek Girl” and “Women 2.0.”

Bry serves on the Athena San Diego Foundation board, the San Diego Jewish Community Foundation, the San Diego Jewish Women’s Foundation, and is a lifetime board member of Connect. She is a member of Women Give San Diego, serves as a mentor at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Business and was an advisor to the UCSD Entrepreneur Challenge.

Shirley Adams
Vice President, SPAWAR Services/Navy/Marine Corps Services
General Dynamics Information Technology

Adams is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years experience delivering on-target action strategies for small and large organizations. She specializes in strategic planning, operational effectiveness, knowledge management and business development. Her leadership history with major businesses such as GDIT, Systems Engineering Solutions (SESI) and Mazda; providing IT services for large firms such as Boeing, Airbus, Pratt & Whitney, their OEMs and the Department of Defense, have resulted in major team productivity improvements, achievement of multimillion-dollar milestones and successful new profit center launches. As a strategist for revenue growth and business management, Adams has counseled companies to industry leader positions by helping them broaden market share and increase profits.

Throughout her career, Adams has been recognized and commended for her commitment to teamwork and her ability to communicate clearly and honestly with shareholders, colleagues, subordinates and customers. Adams has a passion for success and a commitment to high standards and ethical business practices. Adams embraces challenges and values the rewards of a collaborative, team-oriented environment.

As an accomplished author, teacher and speaker, Adams has been recognized by all segments of the business community and is the recipient of numerous awards from both industry and government, including the Crystal Airplane Award, The Daily Transcript’s Top Influentials Award, San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business award and AFCEA International’s Excellence in Leadership Award, among others.

Erna Adelson
Senior Director, Information Systems
Sony Network Entertainment

Adelson intentionally managed her career, focusing on high-growth/high-tech industries and applying what she learned from the financial to digital content industry. She achieved greater heights in her career by taking calculated risks and delivering results. Adelson is focused on empowering the sales and marketing teams at Sony by deploying software technology that provides actionable information. Currently reporting to the CFO of Sony Network Entertainment, she is consolidating the global financial reporting for this billion-dollar company.

With the IT field on Wall Street and the digital industry being male-dominated, Adelson’s accomplishments and style serve as a role model for women. Women mentored by Adelson in her financial services career are now vice presidents and senior directors. She has successfully hired more women into the field -- her current staff is 40 percent women. Adelson strives to give back to other women and support their career development. She has reached out to mentor women, both as direct reports and as business colleagues. She is a mentor in Athena’s mentoring program and mentors women through the Sony Electronics’ collaboration with other West Coast companies in the Women Unlimited program. Adelson also mentors Rady MBA students and serves as a guest lecturer at SDSU on technology careers.

Adelson has received the following awards: 2002 Forrester Research recognition for Sony style in Top 10 Consumer Goods Sites; 2005 Sony Electronics U.S. Business Unit Performance award; 2007 Sony Electronics CFO award for Promotion of Social Media technology for marketing; 2012 San Diego Business Journal Women Who Mean Business finalist.

Tim Bridgman
Director of Engineering, Turbomachinery Products
Solar Turbines Inc.

Bridgman is the director of engineering, turbomachinary products, at Solar Turbines. He rose vertically through the ranks of engineering and understands the engineers he directs. In 1997, Bridgman took his first management role as the New Product Integration (NPI) functional manager, which he held for nine years. In this role, he oversaw five general managers and was responsible for the development of the Taurus 65 and Mercury engines. In 2006, Bridgman was promoted to his current role. He now oversees 226 employees in six functional groups, with 13 percent being female engineers.

Bridgman has always mentored female engineers. He is an active member in Solar Turbine’s formal mentorship program and informally mentors, as well. Bridgman’s career is full of great examples of how he empowers and inspires women. Bridgman understands the need to retain talented women, helping them find positions that are more stable and still broaden their management experience. In addition to empowering women, he is active in hiring and retaining them. Bridgman believes diverse engineering teams help to create better products.

Bridgman is the executive sponsor for the Solar Women Engineers Employee Resource Group, which works to improve diversity and inclusion among engineers at Solar Turbines. This group strives to leverage the SWE initiatives, including hiring and supporting female engineers. As the executive sponsor, Bridgman has been instrumental in hiring female engineers into the New Grad Rotation Program from the SWE Annual Conferences. He actively ran the rotation program from 2005 to 2009, during which time it grew from 8 percent to 33 percent female engineers.

Cynthia Curiel
Sector Vice President, Communications
Northrup Grumman Aerospace Systems

Curiel is one of six female vice presidents reporting to the Aerospace Systems sector president. She has been in the aerospace industry since 1985, after graduating from UCSD. Curiel followed her father’s footsteps and joined General Dynamics, where she had two mentors, male and female. In 1985, it was still rare to find women in the industry, but her mentors provided her the tough love, motivation and opportunities to become well-versed in the industry. Curiel personally experienced the value of mentors and embracing opportunities. She says, “it’s not about how much or what she has accomplished, but more so about how well she’s doing and what she’s doing to replace the glass ceiling with a door.”

Curiel has volunteered with the Partnership in Education program to provide students in developing communities exposure to careers in STEM. She brought her colleagues/engineers to schools and in turn provided tours of the company facilities. She also established a shadow program through the San Diego Air & Space Museum. She supports efforts to provide young people and the less advantaged with the knowledge to recognize their potential and how they can achieve success. Curiel has supported the company’s High School Involvement Program and Women in Leadership, college interns, mentors, and conducts one-on-ones with her employees to create an open dialogue environment. Cynthia’s organization is 35 percent female and half of her direct reports are women. Her contributions towards empowering and mentoring extend beyond a focus; it is part of her DNA.

Josie Donnelly
Vice President of Sales
ACTIVE Network

Donnelly’s work ethic and drive to improve serve as an inspiration to others, and have helped her rise through the ranks at ACTIVE Network. She has served in eight different roles with the company. Now, as vice president of sales for ACTIVE’s Communities business, she is responsible for approximately $100 million of revenue, up 50 percent from prior year, and leads an organization of 130 people.

Donnelly is recognized as a high-potential leader and was selected for ACTIVE’s year-long High Potential Leaders Program, a leadership development initiative structured like a mini-MBA program, combining real-world experience with formal and informal classroom study, coaching, executive mentors and global networking. The objective of the program is to prepare graduates for a seat at the executive table.

Donnelly is building a women’s program called Women Who Work It for ACTIVE Network, which will support the growth of female professionals and leaders, while also giving them the tools and skills to make an impact on ACTIVE’s business. Topics include networking, negotiation, leadership, career planning and coaching, as well as challenges women face in the work place. She is also mentoring three of her female co-workers who are dedicated to tackling challenges and developing their leadership skills in order to excel and assume more responsibility at the company.

Monica Haas
Vice President – Administration & External Affairs
Sempra U.S. Gas & Power LLC

With more than 15 years experience in the energy industry, Haas has advanced in what was a male-dominated industry. She has served as vice president of corporate planning for Sempra Energy and today is the vice president of administration and external affairs for Sempra U.S. Gas & Power.

Her success can be attributed to hard work, a positive attitude, and eagerness to accept challenging assignments. Along the way, she has identified and approached mentors who could help her with her professional growth. She has challenged not only herself, but also those around her to achieve success with projects that were complex. The management of projects that require a high-level of skill and fortitude have been the hallmark of her successful career. A leader in the true sense of the word, Haas recognizes skill and capability in employees and works with them to achieve success.

As a female leader in what traditionally has been a male, engineering dominated industry, Haas has developed a strong belief in helping women advance in their careers. While most of her mentoring has been informal, she has developed an open-door policy — one that female colleagues are comfortable knocking on. She is great at spotting talent.

Haas is on the board of the Indigo Village Educational Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing parenting skills and coaching, where she lends her leadership beyond her professional position. She has an appreciation for women professionals and is mindful of the demands for work-life balance.

Wendy Lanahan
Director, Real Estate
Qualcomm Inc.

Lanahan has been with Qualcomm for nearly 22 years. After spending 13 years excelling in various roles in Qualcomm business units and corporate finance, she moved to real estate and facilities. She quickly became an integral part of the real estate department and is now the real estate director for all North America. She is in charge of domestic real estate transactions, including San Diego -- a significant role since Qualcomm has in excess of 4.5 million square feet of real estate space here.

Lanahan was instrumental in the purchase of several large properties for Qualcomm, including the 7Up Distribution Center and Pacific Center both in San Diego, Kifer Corporate Center in Santa Clara, Calif., a building in Brier Creek Corporate Center in Raleigh, N.C., as well as the sale of 10300 Campus Point in San Diego.

With senior roles in commercial real estate still largely occupied by men, Lanahan has paved the way for other women by demonstrating the lack of correlation between gender and job performance. She has taken the time to mentor other women in her field, receiving four to five mentoring requests each year. She enjoys this role, and is proud that this is an area of business where women excel -- selflessly helping other women succeed in business.

Lanahan also participates with CREW San Diego, including serving as a speaker at one of the most highly attended education programs, which focuses on careers as well as challenges for women in commercial real estate. She steps up to mentor or provide career advice whenever asked.

Robin Lipka
CEO
The Marlin Alliance

Robin Lipka is owner/CEO of The Marlin Alliance, a business transformation consulting company. The company has supported organizations across industries to include health care, telecommunications, military and government, receiving 97 percent top quintile past performance rating completed by Dunn & Bradstreet.

Lipka started her career in the Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General and U.S. Customs Service, serving as a project manager/accounting and audit manager. During her tenure there, she was selected as one of three key leaders for the development of annual auditable financial statements, required for government by the 1990 CFO Act.

The Marlin Alliance is a women-owned small business that supports the U.S. defense industry and the advancement of women in this industry by focusing on mentoring and career growth of women. The Marlin Alliance also establishes partnerships with other women-owned businesses to provide solutions to military and government customers.

Lipka is president of the San Diego Chapter of Women in Defense (WID), an organization of more than 300 members that cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security through educational programs, mentoring and networking. Lipka educates women and others in the industry, as well as promotes advocacy for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program.

Under Lipka’s leadership, WID has implemented numerous programs for women and girls, including USD’s STEM program “Girls Day Out,” Lockheed Martin’s “Engineering Day for Girls,” High Tech High’s internship program and robotics programs.

Donna Locke
Executive Vice President/CFO
Strategic Data Systems

After 10-plus years in the health care industry, Locke began a new career in the technology industry working for Strategic Data. As the company grew, Locke jumped into an expanded role accepting additional assignments and working hours, while continuing to maintain her life at home as a wife and mother. The company grew to 140-plus employees in three years. In 2002, Strategic Data Systems was ranked No. 67 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 500 fastest growing privately held small businesses in the country. As executive vice President and CFO, Locke is responsible for implementing and managing efficient financial systems, HR, contracts and legal.

Locke continuously strives to advance women in the workplace. With her keen eye for identifying talented women, she encourages and develops their skills, providing a clear path for advancement. She has established an unofficial fast track program, allowing the woman to experience the different facets of running a small business. Locke demonstrates the value of hands-on experience, communication and application through her own actions and empowers women around her to do the same. Locke’s leadership qualities of character and commitment, as well as empathy and nurturance have shaped Strategic Data Systems into the strong team it is today.

Locke is a member of the San Diego Chapter of NDIA and Women in Defense (WID), volunteers at the USO in Palm Springs and has organized and hosted multiple charity golf tournaments for the San Diego Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Heidi Nevitt
Director of Operations, SCORE
Southern California Offshore Range

In 1989, Nevitt became operations director for the Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE), which provides tactical range training and testing services to U.S. Navy units of the Pacific Fleet. During the next two decades, she began transforming SCORE into a multi-faceted training range complex, providing training support in eight warfare areas. She leveraged technology to efficiently provide multi-warfare training support, including live missile firings against remotely operated aerial and surface targets, as well as support for emerging weapon systems and tactics. This rapid development led to the creation of the San Clemente Island Range Complex and fruition of the “Adversary Island” requirement to provide realistic opposition forces activities and ground truth for readiness evaluation.

Nevitt received the Superior Civilian Service Award and two Meritorious Civilian Service Awards. Her success has been a combination of education, communication, hard work, persistence and a joyful demeanor. The confidence and commitment she has demonstrated is a source of inspiration for young women considering the field of engineering and/or technical fields. Within her own career track, she has pursued hiring women in previously male-dominated careers, which previously was discouraged because women were not allowed within the military to have warfare specialty positions.

Nevitt is USD’s “Rotaract” adviser, mentoring USD students with philanthropic activities and technical career paths. She is also the Coronado High School Robotics Rotarian sponsor, for where she established the “Life Skills” program, which exposes students to gap knowledge areas and skills.

Lori Steele
CEO
Everyone Counts

Steele founded Everyone Counts to make elections more accessible, accurate, secure, and cost-effective with a hardware agnostic Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. Her vision attracted global leaders that quickly positioned the company as a leader in both election administration and as a provider of cutting-edge voting solutions. Their solutions have led to the adoption of the Everyone Counts state-of-the-art election and voting system in an ever-growing number of jurisdictions across the globe, from the United Kingdom to Australia, and across the United States, including 85 counties in the 2012 presidential election.

Steele has advanced the cause of women in the workplace through leading by example. Her spirit, energy, innovation and drive to grow the business and dramatically improve democracy are recognized throughout the San Diego community, as well as nationally. Lori has become the go-to expert on election modernization for major media, from the New York Times, to CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, to the Wall Street Journal.

Steele has served on the board of the Greater San Diego Boys and Girls Clubs for 17 years. She was a founding partner and director at San Diego Social Venture Partners, has served as a director for Voices for Children, and has contributed her time and expertise to the Door of Hope and Excellence and Justice in Education. In 2012, Lori was an MBA Guest Speaker on “Universal Access Elections” at the UCSD Rady School of Management.

Linda Strand
CEO
Independent Energy Solutions

Strand founded IES in 1998 with her business partner in an effort to address the need for clean energy solutions in San Diego County and throughout the world. The early adaptors were developing regions and countries such as Micronesia, Brazil and the Marshall Islands; igniting projects such as village power, which brought refrigeration and home lighting. In the early 2000’s, IES became prominent in the industry and has completed projects with the military, municipalities, residential, private nonprofit, education and commercial entities, among others.

Strand has a deep conviction for women in the workplace and works to ensure her company embraces equality. She insists that female applications be elevated. IES employs females in key positions such as project coordination, fiscal management, administration, marketing and procurement, which is approximately 20 percent of the company’s full-time employees.

Recognized by the faculty of CSUSM as “Executive Chair” in 2011, Strand presented her vision for IES and outlined her role as a female business leader in a male-dominated engineering and construction industry. Since her presentation, the university has referred several female students to her as a mentor and adviser. She feels that young woman need to find their voice in the business world.

Strand ensures that IES gives back to the region through volunteerism and philanthropy. She has participated in North County Leadership, the CSUSM Executive Chair, the Palomar College Foundation, the Vista Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego North County Economic Development Council and recently accepted a position on the North County Health Services Board.

Erica Tofson
Vice President, HR & Administrative Operations
KES Inc.

Tofson joined KES 14 years ago as a human resource clerk and has worked her way up to become vice president of HR and administrative operations. Although she lacked specific experience in defense contracting business, she quickly learned and was able to contribute significantly to the growth of KES. When KES was recognized by San Diego Business Journal, Inc. Magazine and Deloitte as one of the fastest-growing companies in San Diego County, she contributed greatly by identifying, recruiting and managing highly skilled employees. She has an uncanny ability to identify deficiencies within business processes and possesses highly analytical talent to provide desired improvements.

Tofson supports opportunities for women in the workplace and actively recruits and manages highly skilled and strongly motivated women. Under Tofson’s stewardship, KES has increased hiring of women by more than 500 percent. In fact, the corporate office has more female professionals compared to their male counterparts. Tofson mentors her employees informally -- providing both praise and helping them improve their skill set. She chairs the KES Employee Ownership Communications Committee to help educate about the value of employee ownership to KES employee-owners.

Tofson strongly believes in helping people reach their professional goals by providing informal mentoring not only to her own employees but throughout the organization. She has been effective in encouraging her staff to further their professional credential by instituting educational reimbursement programs. She has been a true leader who cares deeply for the success of KES and its employee-owners.

Nicole Truitt
Founder
Metamer Materials

Truitt is founder and CEO of Metamer Materials, a startup company developing adaptive materials and reconfigurable composites for military and telecommunications applications. Prior to Metamer, she was co-founder and co-inventor of Code Fluidics, which develops smart materials capable of changing the look and feel of consumer products in real time, using microfluidics. She is a fellow in the Startup Leadership Program and was recently inducted to the MIT Alumni Association Honor Roll. Truitt has held Research Scientist positions at 3M and Caltech, and is the holder of multiple patents licensed by GE, Rhevision, Lubris and Code Fluidics. She co-founded and led the UCSD Entrepreneur Challenge, a business plan competition focused on building a community of innovators and entrepreneurs. She is an accomplished artist, with past exhibitions in Minneapolis, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Truitt is passionate about bringing people together and fostering a community to support the progress of women in science, engineering and business. As co-founder and co-CEO of the UCSD Entrepreneur Challenge, she created an organization focused on building a community to teach and support entrepreneurship to students on campus. To further her goal of helping women in engineering and science thrive on campus, Truitt co-founded the UCSD Women Innovation Network, a peer social and support group for women in science and engineering. These initiatives have made a substantial impact for women at UCSD. She also serves, informally, as a mentor to young women applying to and attending her alma mater, MIT, and to young graduate students at UCSD.

Audrey Veitas
Director of Marketing
redIT

Veitas leads by example at work and while volunteering. She sets the precedent for others, as she has prevented gender from standing in her way. Few people would have been able to establish a sales, operational and product infrastructure in less than a year for a brand new, multinational company. With Veitas’s success came a slew of customers, rapid employee and revenue growth, and the respect and admiration for the redIT brand. As director of marketing, reporting directly to redIT’s U.S. managing director, Veitas applies her broad educational and business background to efficiently forge new ground. Her electrical engineering degree has helped her understand the fundamentals of her industry, and has served as an important foundation to understand industry trends and dynamics.

Veitas goes out of her way to give platforms for women and budding entrepreneurs to receive the attention and support they deserve to make their own professional dreams a reality. It is for these and a host of other reasons that she was a recent finalist in the San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Award.

Veitas co-chairs the Program Pipeline Committee for Connect’s MIT Enterprise Forum, co-chairs Athena’s Technology Special Interest Group and serves as a general mentor for the Forum for Executive Women groups at Athena. She is a tireless champion for helping others to break the glass barriers that still exist for women in technology leadership roles.

Cynthia (CJ) Warner
Chairman/CEO
Sapphire Energy Inc.

Warner is chairman and CEO of Sapphire Energy, the world’s leading algae-based fuel company, and as an appointed member of the National Petroleum Council. A chemical engineer by training, Warner worked her way up the ranks for nearly three decades to become the highest-ranking woman in the oil and gas industry. Just prior to joining Sapphire Energy, she was vice president of Global Refining for British Petroleum, where she was instrumental in turning BP’s U.S. refining business around, and achieving record performance in international refining. Over the course of her prestigious career, she held numerous leadership roles, including overseeing refining operations on five continents, and developing long-term technology strategies for low carbon and sustainable fuels.

Warner’s expertise, wisdom and poise made her an instant fixture in Washington D.C., where she is regularly called on by members of Congress and administration officials to advise them on energy-related matters. She bridges the emerging cleantech and traditional fossil industries seamlessly, and plays a significant role in ushering a new generation of renewable energy into mainstream America.

Warner empowers the women at Sapphire to achieve career success and seeks their counsel on issues affecting women and their families. She finds ways to turn the spotlight from her to the women in her company, creating leadership opportunities whenever possible. Even though she has a hectic travel schedule, Warner finds time to be an informal mentor who is accessible, responsive to and encouraging of women seeking to elevate their professional profile.

Rebecca White, Ph.D.
Site Manager, Director of Cultivation
Sapphire Energy Inc.

White is a talented, perceptive and natural leaders. She has the gumption and know-how to take control of a situation and bring about successful outcomes, whether it is going as planned or if it needs new direction. White has the confidence to delegate as needed, and the drive to make sure expected project results are managed properly. She exemplifies what it is to be able to lead a team effectively. White’s intelligence, ingenuity and ability to communicate effectively have brought her to a commendable level of success in a nascent cleantech industry.

White advances women in science and technology by serving as a role model in the workplace and community. Her wisdom, direction and can-do attitude have had the single greatest impact women in the cleantech industry. White takes time out of her personal schedule to inspire future and current generations of women in science and technology.

White initiated and ran an educational outreach program that inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers by targeting K-12 and post-secondary school students through presentations, hands-on activities and tours. One of the most successful projects was an endeavor with High Tech High in North County where White led the advanced placement environmental biology classes in a laboratory and instructional session that taught them to cultivate their own algae growing experiment. White was also instrumental in building a relationship with the San Diego Science Festival developing a hands-on teaching activity that is one of the most popular activities at the festival’s Expo Day.

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