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Athena Honors the Region’s Diversity Champions and Reveals its Annual Pinnacle Award Winners 

Athena - California’s premier leadership advocate for women in STEM - revealed its “Pinnacle Winners” during its 22nd Annual Pinnacle Awards on August 6. This distinguished industry award recognizes leaders that continuously champion the advancement, promotion and career success of women leading in STEM. 

“At the core of Athena’s mission is to accelerate women’s rise in their careers and access the social capital that Athena’s vast network offers women in STEM,” said Holly Smithson, Athena CEO. “The industry’s flagship Pinnacle Awards is predicated on celebrating those essential allies, mentors and sponsors that serve as the driving force in our career progression. Selected from an extraordinary list of nominees, these four winners were “virtually” cheered and celebrated all across our region's STEM community," Smithson continued. We congratulate these deserving diversity champions and all of our 2020 Pinnacle Nominees.


Individual in Life Sciences

Dr. Kiana Aran | Chief Scientific Officer @ Cardea Bio 

Individual in Technology

Vicki Mealer-Burke | Chief Diversity Officer @ Qualcomm

Individual in Service Provider

Maysoon Lehmeidi | Program Manager @ UC San Diego

Rising Star

Yelaine Wang | Financial Analyst @ Teradata

In addition to these esteemed Pinnacle Award Winners, these five merit-based scholarship winners were unveiled before this virtual audience: 

  • Ruchi Agashe | Canyon Crest Academy Graduate| Studying Biology @ Yale University

  • Anushree Chaudhuri | Westview High School Graduate | Studying Engineering @ MIT

  • Anushka Gupta | Westview High School Graduate | Studying Computer Science @ Columbia University

  • Sarina Krishnan | The Bishop's School Graduate | Studying Technology @ Princeton

  • Karla Padilla Leon | Olympian High School Graduate | Studying Neuroscience @ USC

These Pinnacle Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors entering a four-year university to study in the sciences, math, or engineering fields. Outstanding applicants are well-rounded women who’ve demonstrated academic excellence, leadership in school organizations, and community involvement.  In addition to a financial award, each Pinnacle Scholarship recipient is paired with an Athena Foundation board member for mentorship. 

While the Pinnacle Foundation invites donations year round, this year’s summer fundraising campaign exceeded its $50,000 fundraising goal by showcasing the 2020 Pinnacle Scholarship winners and their STEM career ambitions throughout social media.

Athena and its Pinnacle sponsors "virtually pivoted" quickly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, translating the energy, pride and sense of community captured at this “STEM Event of the Year.” The Pinnacle Awards sponsors include diversity advocates and Athena partners at Qualcomm, Sony, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, EY, Intuit, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Teradata, Mintz, Teknion, SDG&E, SDBJ, Jump Studios, Sara Brown Events and SEAS Productions. 

“In recognition that this STEM show must go on despite the global shutdown, we’re deeply grateful that our corporate community demonstrated its resilience and commitment towards continually championing the professional advancement of women leading in STEM,” added Smithson. 


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