Held in conjunction with the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, the Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony and reception pays tribute to prominent women leaders who have made extraordinary contributions in their professions or their communities. The award winners are leaders in their fields, innovators of unique programs and services, and lifelong advocates for promoting equity for women and girls everywhere.
The Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony honors not only excellence, but also ingenuity and the ability to overcome barriers that still exist for women. The women selected for this honor represent a diversity of professional fields, personal characteristics, and life experiences. This inspiring awards ceremony is followed by a dessert reception and a chance to mingle with these exceptional awardees.
The Women of Distinction Ceremony and reception is included in residential and commuter registration. If you want to attend the Women of Distinction only, you can register ($35 per seat) by completing this Women of Distinction registration form. The ceremony and reception will take place in the Grand Ballroom in Stamp Student Union from 7:30-9:30pm on Thursday, May 30th.
The AAUW of Maryland Barbara Fetterhoff Honorary Fund is once again the platinum sponsor of the 2013 NCCWSL Women of Distinction Awards Ceremony and reception. AAUW of Maryland, many generous friends of Barbara’s, and AAUW donors from across the country, will contribute to this Maryland Fund, to honor AAUW member, Barbara Fetterhoff, for her leadership, vision, and commitment.
AAUW and NASPA are proud to announce these women as 2013 Women of Distinction awardees.
Policy and Government Affairs Chair,
OutServe-SLDN Board of Directors
Katie Miller spent the first half of her undergraduate education at the U.S. Military Academy, where she was ranked eighth in her class of more than 1,000 cadets. An aspiring Army officer, Miller could not reconcile her pride in her position with the daily half-truths required from her under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the law that prohibited gay people like her from serving openly in the military. In 2010, she made national headlines by announcing her resignation from West Point on live television and revealing her sexuality to the American public.
Miller immediately joined the founding board of OutServe — a then underground network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) service members — and traveled the media circuit to advocate the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and ESPN; been featured by the New York Times, Glamour magazine, and the Associated Press; and spoken at college campuses across the country. She also escorted Lady Gaga to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in a public demonstration for the discriminatory law’s repeal.
A Truman scholar and Point Foundation scholar, Miller graduated in 2012 from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She continues to advocate for LGBT service members as chair of a policy committee for the newly merged OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, making her the youngest board member of a major LGBT organization. Miller is also a regular contributor to OutServe magazine, where she has published significant pieces on military policy for HIV-positive members and the issue of transgender military service.
Miller joined the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress last fall, and she looks forward to rejoining the military in the near future.
Chief Executive Officer, Owens Media Group
Deborah Owens is CEO of Owens Media Group, which creates tools that teach women how to spend, save, and invest to build wealth. She is the author of three books, including A Purse of Your Own, published by Simon and Schuster. In concert with the book she launched the A Purse of Your Own Campaign and online community to financially empower one million women. More than 1,000 women have signed up to start Purse Groups of five to 10 like-minded women committed to supporting and holding each other accountable on their path to financial security.
Owens has more than 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry and is a former West Coast regional marketing manager, vice president, and financial consultant with Fidelity Investments. She is an ambassador for the College Savings Plans of Maryland and an alumna of the Greater Baltimore Leadership Committee. She holds a master’s of business administration from Loyola University of Maryland.
Owens Media Group develops financial literacy content for the web, television, radio, and print for companies and organizations. Owens Media produces Wealthy Radio, a one-hour personal finance talk show that airs weekly on NPR affiliate WEAA-FM in Baltimore, Maryland, and Wealthy Minutes, nationally syndicated broadcasts that offer brief financial tips .
Former Deputy Public Advocate of NYC and Founder of Girls Who Code
Reshma Saujani is the former Deputy Public Advocate of New York City and Executive Director of The Fund for Public Advocacy.
As a public servant, Saujani harnessed the power of her office to promote civic engagement and government accountability. She spearheaded public projects aimed at spurring citywide job and economic growth, engaging immigrant communities, supporting small businesses, improving education, empowering the public, and using technology to vastly improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. She also helped immigrant communities gain access to capital and government services and conducted the first-ever survey of immigrant entrepreneurs to identify and break down the barriers faced in launching businesses. As the daughter of refugees who fled the violence of Idi Amin’s Uganda for the freedom of the United States, she has a personal interest in ensuring a political voice and economic opportunity for all Americans.
Saujani also founded Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization with the mission to educate, inspire, and equip girls ages 13–18 with the skills and resources necessary to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She is the author of Women Who Don’t Wait in Line,which will be published in 2013.
In 2010, Saujani became the first Indian American woman to run for Congress. She campaigned in New York’s 14th congressional district as a passionate Democrat and community organizer.
Saujani earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University, and law degree from Yale Law School.
DONNA E. SHALALA
President, University of Miami
Donna Shalala is the president of the University of Miami and the director of Mednax, a national health care delivery group. She has more than 30 years of experience as a scholar, teacher, and administrator.
During Shalala’s tenure, UM has solidified its position among top U.S. research universities. She oversaw the fundraising of $1.4 billion in private support for the university’s endowment, academic and research programs, and facilities. She has also held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She served as CUNY, Hunter College president from 1980 to 1987 and as University of Wisconsin, Madison chancellor from 1987 to 1993.
Shalala also has a long history of civil service. She served in Iran as one of the country’s first Peace Corps volunteers from 1962 to 1964 and was assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Carter administration. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. secretary of health and human services, and for eight years, she oversaw a wide variety of programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, welfare, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.
In 2007, President George W. Bush picked Shalala to co-chair the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, and in 2009, Shalala was appointed chair of the Committee on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Shalala has received more than four dozen honorary degrees and a host of other honors, including the 1992 National Public Service Award. In 2008, President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and she received the 2010 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, which recognizes individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally.
Co-founder and President, Women Thrive Worldwide
Ritu Sharma is co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide, the leading organization advocating U.S. policy to benefit women living in poverty in developing countries. Due in large part to Sharma and Women Thrive, global women’s issues are now being incorporated into U.S. foreign policy, including assistance and trade programs.
A first-generation American of East Indian heritage, Sharma’s family left behind generations of violence and poverty in Punjab, India, to build a new life in the United States, where she founded Women Thrive in 1998.
She is an inspiring public speaker, an adept coalition builder, and a political strategist who has led numerous advocacy campaigns to success. She is the author of An Introduction to Advocacy: A Training Guide, which has been translated into six languages and is a primary reference for advocates around the globe. She serves on the board of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign and is regularly quoted on gender, global women’s issues, and U.S. foreign policy in many media outlets including the Washington Post, NPR, the New York Daily News, the Boston Globe, the Baltimore Sun, Fox News’ Strategy Room, Washington News Channel 8, and MSNBC.
Sharma holds a bachelor of science in foreign service in international economics from Georgetown University and a master’s of public health from Johns Hopkins University.
Chief Scientific Officer at Cytonome ST
Lydia Villa-Komaroff is the chief scientific officer and a board member at Cytonome/ST, a company that develops and builds cell processing systems. She received her bachelor’s degree from Goucher College and her doctorate in cell biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where renowned biologists David Baltimore and Harvey Lodish were her graduate advisors. As a postdoctoral fellow in Nobel Prize-winning chemist Walter Gilbert’s laboratory, Villa-Komaroff authored a landmark paper reporting the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells. This pioneering work is detailed in Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Synthesize the Human Gene by Stephen Hall.
A frequently published researcher and the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate in the United States, Villa-Komaroff has held positions at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Boston Children’s Hospital. During this phase of her career she published more than 70 research articles and reviews. She has also served as vice president for research at Northwestern University in Illinois; vice president for research and chief operating officer of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and nonexecutive chair on the board of Transkaryotic Therapies Inc.
Villa-Komaroff has served on committees for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Academies of Science and Engineering. In June 2012 she was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit held in Russia. She was appointed to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Board of Directors by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008 and also serves on the investment committee of that board. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine and recently co-chaired a subcommittee that planned and conducted a workshop on advancing women of color in academia. She also serves on the board of ATCC, a nonprofit biological resource center and research organization.
You can learn about the origins of the conference and see a timeline of past Women of Distinction awardees at History of NCCWSL.