7 Trailblazing Women in STEAM To Be Honored for Shattering Barriers and Inspiring the Next Generation

The Dallas Chapter of The Links announces the 2024 Women Who STEAM Awards Luncheon honorees, recognizing outstanding achievements in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

The April 4 event also marks the inaugural year of the Eddie Bernice Johnson STEAM Academy Scholarships, established in honor of the late Congresswoman's dedication to STEAM education.

Clockwise from upper left: Alena McQuarter, Betty Hill Stewart, Jessica Shepherd, Teresa Coleman Wash, Sherrika Sanders, Nikki Delk, and Kathy Hubbard.

The Dallas chapter of The Links Incorporated has announced the honorees for the 5th Annual Women Who STEAM Awards Luncheon in April. Presented by Texas Capital, the themed ceremony, “Kaleidoscope: Illuminating Women and their Diverse Paths to STEAM Success,” will recognize 7 outstanding women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

The event on April 4 will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Warwick Melrose in Dallas. 

Linda McIntosh Todd, president of the Dallas chapter of The Links, said the local group is comprised of friends who have “transformed communities through service for the past 66 years.”

Todd invites all to “come and be inspired” by the stories of “phenomenal honorees,” hear firsthand accounts from the academy’s STEAM scholars, and learn about the impact The Link members have made in the community.

2024 Women Who STEAM Honorees

This year’s honorees have made significant contributions to their respective fields while also serving, teaching, excelling, aspiring, and mentoring within their workplaces and communities.

Per The Links, here are the seven honorees and some of their achievements:

Kathy Hubbard

Assistant Dean, Student Success and Inclusive Excellence, Southern Methodist University
In her 22-year career at SMU, Hubbard has been recognized for community service and ensuring all students have opportunities to succeed. She leads the effort to increase the number of students and faculty representing traditionally minoritized groups in engineering and computer science fields, according to The Links. 

Sherrika D. Sanders, PhD

Technical Service Manager, Manner Polymers
Sanders, who holds a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from Xavier University, has been noted as 1 of 20 “Most Influential Women in Manufacturing” and one of “The Top 50 Advanced Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Logistics Influencers.” Per The Links, her commitment to diversity in STEAM is at the heart of all that she does, using her platform to inspire and mentor underrepresented groups across the nation.

Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA, FACOG

CEO/Founder, Sanctum Med + Wellness
Dr. Jessica Shepherd, a board-certified OB/GYN and minimally invasive surgeon, founded her concierge wellness practice and serves as the chief medical officer for Very Well Health. Her passion for women’s health issues “has allowed her to be an advocate for women and girls, bringing women’s health issues to the forefront, including highlighting racial disparities in health care.”

Betty Hill Stewart, PhD

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of North Texas at Dallas
Stewart, the first African American faculty member to be granted tenure and promoted to full professor at Austin College, is currently leading the design and construction of a $100 million state-of-the-art STEM building at UNT Dallas. According to The Links, she’s “a passionate STEAM advocate, especially for students of color.”

Teresa Coleman Wash

Executive Artistic Director/Founder, Bishop Arts Theatre Center
Wash, a National Arts Strategies fellow who studied at Harvard Business School, uses her platform to advocate for women of color “to ensure that equity and diversity are not mere words but are incorporated into the highly competitive theater community.” Under her leadership, the Bishop Arts Theatre Center developed a summer STEAM program for young girls of color to embrace careers in theatre.

Nikki Delk, PhD

Associate Professor/Assistant VP for Research, The University of Texas at Dallas
Delk, a tenured associate professor in biological sciences and assistant VP for research at UTD, studies inflammation-induced breast and prostate cancer progression. She achieved the rank of captain while serving four years in the U.S. Air Force.  According to The Links, Delk is equally passionate about mentoring and providing research training as she is about the creative and performing arts.

Alena Analeigh McQuarter

CEO, The Brown STEM Girl
McQuarter, “known as a phenom, prodigy, and whiz kid,” embarked on her college journey at the age of 12. At just 13, she made history as the youngest Black person in U.S. history to gain acceptance into medical school. “Driven by audacious dreams,” she founded The Brown STEM Girl, the Brown STEM Girl Foundation, and Brainiac World Media to shatter barriers for other brown STEM girls, per The Link.

Leadership team spearheads event

The Dallas Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, currently comprised of more than 50 women, has been a driving force behind numerous vital community service programs for over six decades.
[Photo courtesy of The Dallas Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.]

Leading the efforts for the 2024 Women Who STEAM Awards Luncheon are event co-chairs Lisa Sherrod (AVP of external and legislative affairs for AT&T), Beverly Waters (global HR operations director for PepsiCo.), Effie Dennison (managing director, head of community development and corporate social responsibility for Texas Capital), and Linda McIntosh Todd (president of the Dallas chapter of The Links, Incorporated).

“We’re proud of our community partners, corporate sponsors, and members of The Links, Incorporated, who continue to support our Women Who STEAM Awards Luncheon,” PepsiCo’s Beverly Waters said in a statement. “Fundraising efforts from this event enable us to run programming for our Dallas Links STEAM Academy, which focuses on STEAM education and career readiness for 7th-12th-grade girls of color.”

Effie Dennison, managing director of community development and corporate social responsibility at Texas Capital, said the group’s work with Women Who STEAM helps “show the future generation of women leaders of color what they can achieve.”

Scholarships honor the late Eddie Bernice Johnson

Dennison is proud to announce the luncheon will also mark the inaugural year for the granting of the Eddie Bernice Johnson STEAM Academy Scholarships, established in 2023 to honor the late Congresswoman’s dedication to the success of the Dallas Links STEAM Academy.

“We’re proud to honor the legacy of congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson while also celebrating the achievements of women in STEAM fields,” she said.

Scholarships will be presented to deserving STEAM Academy Senior Scholars, with their names and schools to be released following the luncheon.

Women Who STEAM Co-Chair Lisa Sherrod said Congresswoman Johnson was a “dedicated member” of The Links, Incorporated for more than four decades. “She used her platform to encourage young people to explore STEM education and to ultimately choose careers in this field,” Sherrod said. “Whether it was climate, research, or space exploration—she always championed innovation.”

Sherrod said the Eddie Bernice Johnson Scholarships “keep her legacy alive and fulfilled” through its STEAM Academy Scholars, who will learn and pursue professions that meet the needs of the future.

The Links said proceeds from the luncheon, including the raffle, will support the STEAM Academy, community programs, and provide scholarships to college-bound students.

Current sponsors for the event include Presenting Sponsor Texas Capital, the Ellis Kirk Group, UNT Dallas, HNTB, Oncor, Thrivent, and Perkins Coie. To purchase tickets for the Women Who STEAM Awards Luncheon, go here.

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