About AWIS

AWIS Staff

Sandra W. Robert, CAE

Chief Executive Officer
In her capacity as Chief Executive Officer, Robert is leading the strategic refresh of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), including market positioning, revenue expansion and diversification, partnerships, membership, research, and governance structure. Before coming to AWIS, Robert served as the first executive director of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives (CESSE), leading the development of its first operational structure, bringing its signature CEO event to profitability, broadening the membership model, and strategically redesigning the partnership program to maximize mutual value. Robert loves to “speak geek” and has supported the national engineering and manufacturing communities through leadership roles at Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. She is an avid advocate for the advancement of women in STEM careers, believing that it is imperative to bring the vast expertise of women to bear in solving the world’s grand challenges. Robert serves on the National Women’s Business Council.

Meredith Gibson

Chief Operating Officer 
Meredith Gibson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). In her current capacity, Ms. Gibson is involved in strategic planning, non-dues revenue generation, grant management, and membership engagement. Prior to joining AWIS, she oversaw development activities for the American Lung Association of Washington and was responsible for marketing project management for the University of Washington and the Sacred Heart Hospital System. Ms. Gibson is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a bachelor’s degree in international studies. She has traveled extensively and seeks to better understand cultural differences, in an effort to act as a better advocate and ally. She continuously pushes for scientific knowledge to become accessible to all, in the hope of broadening participation in the STEM community, both in the United States and abroad.

Heather Metcalf, PhD

Chief Research Officer
Heather Metcalf, PhD, is Chief Research Officer for AWIS, where she leads empirical work on gender and the STEM workforce. She has undergraduate degrees in applied mathematics and computer science (Clarion University of Pennsylvania, 2003) and master’s degrees in computer science (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005) and gender studies (University of Arizona, 2007). Dr. Metcalf earned her doctorate from the UA’s Center for the Study of Higher Education (2011), where she studied science and technology policy. Throughout her career, she has applied her unique, interdisciplinary work to influence cultural, systemic, and policy changes in academic, industry, and public policy spaces and to train researchers and practitioners to build equity into their daily thought and work. Dr. Metcalf has research, policy, and programmatic expertise on myriad topics in STEM, such as: bias; intersectionality; educational and workplace cultures, policies, and practices; leadership; innovation and entrepreneurship; STEM pathways; and more.

Heather Pownall, MBA, CAE

Chief Development Officer
As Chief Development Officer for the Association for Women in Science, Heather is responsible for AWIS programs and services, including corporate and institutional partnerships, the career center, publications, and innovative new solutions to support AWIS members and the advancement of all women in STEM. Previously, Heather served as Senior Director of Global Business Development for the leading professional association for accountants. In that role, she led the rapid growth of partnerships and sales with companies in the U.S. and globally. She also led development of strategies to accelerate gender equity and LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. Heather was selected by the American Society of Association Executives as a Diversity Executive Leadership Program Scholar (2015-2017) and attained her Certified Association Executive credential in 2018. Heather earned an MBA with a concentration in technology entrepreneurship from North Carolina State University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of South Florida. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her wife Leanora and their silver lab, Vinny.

Shelley O’Brien

Chief Marketing Officer
Shelley O’Brien joins AWIS as the Chief Marketing Officer. With our 50th anniversary approaching, Shelley will support our membership, chapters, and partners with stories, data, and tools to continue our mission of advancing women in science. Shelley spent her early career at Hewlett-Packard and AT&T learning multiple marketing disciplines including product marketing, channel marketing, executive positioning, and public relations. At AppSense (now iVanti), she led the North American Field and Channel Marketing Team in their efforts to drive demand on a limited budget. She was introduced to association leadership in 2017 at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. Shelley’s career has spanned a variety of marketing disciplines at large enterprises, small software companies, privately held organizations, and member associations. However, one thing has remained constant: her sense of urgency in helping to solve problems for key audiences.

Lori Devine

Senior Director of Corporate Relations
Lori Devine is a member of the AWIS business development team, where she works on product development, marketing, and building strategic corporate partnerships. A graduate of California State University, she has worked for several large nonprofits and has spent time addressing issues like poor air quality and the underfunding of our national parks. She has also lobbied members of Congress about the Citizen’s United ruling and its implications. In addition to a passion for politics and advocacy, Ms. Devine is a serial entrepreneur and is the founder of Living Seawall LLC. She currently holds a provisional patent and is working toward licensing her environmentally friendly technology for commercial application. She is excited to bring her experience in market analysis, business development, and real-world insights to the AWIS community.

Crystal Bedley, PhD

Project Director for the ADVANCE Resource Coordination (ARC) Network
An award-winning mentor and teacher, Dr. Bedley has formally engaged in promoting and supporting women in STEM for over a decade through research on push and pull factors for women STEM faculty, and through programming to support women in STEM undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty. Dr. Bedley earned a PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University where she studied the implications of the multiracial population on race relations, the meaning of family, and their depictions in mainstream media. Throughout her career, she has worked to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education and has expertise in program evaluation, evidence-based diversity and inclusion strategies, and climate survey research.

Alan Chewning

Director of Community Engagement
Alan Chewning comes to AWIS as Director of Community Engagement. Originally from Maryland, he graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio with a Bachelor in History. He has spent the last 10 years in association management focusing on membership, fundraising and component relations. Prior to that, he worked in Boston in the world of affiliate marketing before a stint as a fundraiser in the higher education universe. Currently, he serves on ASAE’s Component Relations and Volunteer Management Council as well as the Community Engagement Committee with the Kentucky Chapter of the MS Society. Alan currently lives in Louisville KY with his girlfriend Ashley and their rescued shelter dog Peanut.

Elizabeth Scire

Operations and Database Associate
Elizabeth Scire serves AWIS as the Operations and Database Associate. She is a former science teacher and is currently completing her Master in Public Administration at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Young Scientist Academy as the Chair of the Grant Writing Committee. She co-founded her university’s local chapter of Women in Science and Engineering and is passionate about advancing women in the sciences. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and their daughter.

Aspen Russell

Research Assistant
Aspen Russell is Research Assistant at the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) where they study STEM equity in the workplace and academe. Aspen’s research is founded on an intersectional framework and aims to bridge the gap between academics, practitioners, and change makers. They have an undergraduate degree in computer science and a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies from American University. They have worked in tech industry in advanced equipment manufacturing software creation, co-founded a nonprofit dedicated to researching and engineering solar-powered vehicles, and presented on bias in language and media communications. As a first-generation, genderqueer sociologist focused in gender studies, Aspen is dedicated to intentional and inclusive research methods with a focus on engaging allies. Aspen currently co-leads research for STEM to Market: The AWIS Accelerator, a program created specifically for the needs of STEM women, and AWIS Intentional Investing, a program focused on eliminating investor bias. Aspen is also lead researcher on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s study on computer science undergraduate performance.

Visit us:

Association for Women in Science 1667 K Street, Suite 800 Washington, DC 20006

Membership payments and donations:

AWIS Billing and Remittance 6181 Grovedale Ct. Alexandria, VA 22310-2553

1667 K Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20006
(202) 588-8175


1667 K Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20006
(202) 588-8175

© 2019 Association for Women in Science. All Rights Reserved.

© 2017 Association for Women in Science. All Rights Reserved.