Third Biennial LeadHERship Conference Amplifies the Voices of Women and Gender Minorities in STEM

Underscored by University’s Celebration of “50 Years of Women at Stevens”

How do we learn from the past as we face the future? This was the question posed to the 100 students, alumni, faculty and staff in attendance at the 2021 LeadHERship Conference at Stevens Institute of Technology. The two-day conference, which took place on September 17–18, brought together leaders, change-makers and lifelong learners for two inspiring keynote addresses, networking receptions and a series of themed workshops led by alumni, faculty and special guests. For the first time in the conference’s history, the public was invited to join virtually via Zoom and livestream. 

Assistant Director for Diversity Education Liliana Delman organized the conference. “The 2021 LeadHERship Conference brings the Stevens community and its supporters together to learn, build new networks and skills and engage in professional development,” said Delman. “This conference strives to amplify the voices of women and gender minorities in STEM and inspire all of us to work toward gender equity.”

Ready for day two of the 2021 LeadHERship Conference.

The conference kicked off with a keynote conversation between Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Dr. Kevin Ryan, Stevens teaching professor and program director of the Network and Communications Management Services, the topic of which was her book, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, Stevens’ 2020 selection for the First-Year Reading Program. Hanna-Attisha is founder and director of the Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, an innovative and model public health program in Flint, Michigan. Hanna-Attisha and Ryan discussed how students can become trusted messengers of information in the scientific community.

Additional programs and workshops followed, aligning with the following thematic areas: “trust the science,” research-based workshops on gender equity and inclusion; “foundational leadership,” skills-based workshops on leadership, inclusion and identity development; “lessons in life and work,” highlighting voices of alumni and seasoned professionals; and “the new normal,” assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its future implications.

Many alumni led workshops or participated in panels. These include Brooke Dubinski BE ’05, Dione Francis BE ’99/MS ’05, Julianne Greco ’20/MBA ’21, Joelle Hinds ’93, Christina Martinez BE ’94/ME ’96, Laura Paglione ’90, Lisa Peterson BE ’02, Monica Anne Razak ’19, James Salvadon ’02 and Kathleen Walsh ’11. Learn more about the workshops and participants here.

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson
Closing keynote speaker, Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson, shared her journey from growing up in the projects of Bedford-Stuyvesant, to finding her passion for engineering at MIT, to giving back to the next generation of women of color.

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson, an aerospace engineer, offered the closing keynote. Ericsson is the first person of color to receive The Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers, the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and the first African-American female civil servant to earn an Engineering Ph.D. at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. In her address, Ericsson shared about her journey from growing up in the projects of Bedford-Stuyvesant, to finding her passion for engineering at MIT, to now giving back to the next generation of women of color. You can watch her keynote here.

The 2021 LeadHership Conference, a biennial event that was established in 2016, was especially meaningful this year, as the university celebrates 50 years of women at Stevens. “This conference is one of the signature events of Stevens’ calendar, and it is happening at a very special time: It is the 50th anniversary of the first undergraduate women to enroll at Stevens,” said Laura Rose, vice president for development and alumni engagement, in opening remarks on day two of the conference. “The women of 1971 were trailblazers; others have followed. This is a place where women can learn and where women can and will succeed.” Rose went on to note the percentage of women in Stevens' incoming first-year class is at a record high.

The photos below were taken by Kaiden Goz ’25, Anjali Joy ’25 and Raphael Lee Li ’25. To learn more about the conference, visit stevens.edu/LeadHERship.