AWIS Announces ‘Shooting Star’ Chapter Awards


Shelley O’Brien

AWIS Announces ‘Shooting Star’ Chapter Awards
Stellar outreach, engagement, and advocacy earn monetary grants

WASHINGTON DC, April 15, 2021 – Five local AWIS chapters have been designated ‘Shooting Star’ winners by AWIS’ Chapter and Affiliate Committee for their stellar outreach, engagement, and advocacy during 2020. These chapters include Palo Alto, East Bay California, Massachusetts, Notre Dame, and Gulf Coast/Houston. Each of these chapters will receive a $600 grant for use in chapter activities that support the AWIS mission and/or help promote membership.

The winning chapters were determined by AWIS’ Chapter and Affiliate Committee based on the information submitted in each chapter’s annual report. These awards are given annually, however this is the first time they include a monetary grant. Below is more information on the activities recognized by these awards. Kudos to these chapters for exceptional performance in a challenging year.

Shooting Star for Advocacy: Massachusetts
“The 2019–2020 Board of MASS AWIS agreed to support the Wage Transparency Bill (H.3963), which was going through the Massachusetts state legislature. This bill would allow current employees and job applicants to request the salary range for a position. The bill was cosponsored by state Rep. Josh Cutler, state Senator Patrick O’Connor, and Megan Driscoll Greenstein, business leader and career coach. Karen Yee represented MASS AWIS and attended a committee hearing in January 2020 to support the bill. In order to move the bill to the House floor, MASS AWIS members reached out to state senators and representatives on the committee and requested their support.”—Dr. Angeliki (Diane) Rigos, President, AWIS Massachusetts Chapter

Shooting Star for Career Development: Gulf Coast Houston
“During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as everyone was trying to make meaningful connections virtually, the Gulf Coast Houston chapter saw the need to facilitate career development conversations among the local STEM community. We launched the virtual monthly Career Development Seminar Series, providing members with an opportunity to engage with speakers, learn from the speakers’ professional journeys, and work on individual career goals. The virtual platform allowed us to tap a bigger pool of influential speakers across industries and to reach attendees across the globe. Although virtual, the experience continued to remain personable, bolstering connections.”—Garima Vyas, President, AWIS Gulf Coast Houston Chapter

Shooting Star for K–12 Outreach: Notre Dame
“As primarily a chapter for graduate students, we at AWIS-ND enjoy utilizing our combined experiences and skill sets to encourage and excite younger members of our community to get involved in STEM. Due to the virtual nature of many events this year, we have modified our outreach tactics. Currently, we are working with local high schoolers to provide feedback on their science projects and presentations for the regional science fair before the competition. Additionally, we are assembling take-home science kits to distribute to local students, so they can experiment for themselves, rather than watching demonstrations performed online.”— Dr. Claire Nelmark, President, AWIS at Notre Dame

Shooting Star for Resiliency: East Bay California
“2020 was a challenging year for many reasons, but as a chapter we grew stronger and we thrived; we pivoted to reimagine our events in a virtual format, and we aimed for more connection, not less. We reacted to global events with timely topics, and we held career development workshops, movie screenings, and social events. We also chose to make all our chapter events free, as a service to our local community during challenging times. We now frequently reach triple digits for numbers of attendees, as we continue to grow our strong and connected (virtual for now) community.”—Dr. Danielle Tan, President, AWIS East Bay California Chapter

Shooting Star for Strategic Alliances: Palo Alto
“Over the past four years, the AWIS Palo Alto chapter has been actively involved in establishing and expanding strong strategic alliances with a variety of small and large industry partners in Silicon Valley. Special thanks go to past committee chairs Meredith Sellers and Jay Raipara (Industry Outreach), Laure Fresard (Programs), and past President Ermelinda Porpiglia, for connecting our chapter to companies including Google, NASA, Illumina, Exponent, and Avails Medical, as well as organizations like Women in Tesla, Biotech Connection Bay Area, and StartX. These important partnerships significantly impact our STEM women community by providing vital opportunities for networking, mentoring, and employment.” —Dr. Meike Herget, President, AWIS Palo Alto Chapter



About AWIS: Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors. In addition to scholarships, AWIS provides career resources, professional development, as well as networking, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities to build leadership skills. To learn more, visit and @AWISNational.


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© 2021 Association for Women in Science. All Rights Reserved.