Tag Archives: extraordinary women

Women’s History Month: Notable Women Inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Women’s History Month: Notable Women Inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Since the founding of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), nearly 550 innovators have been honored for their contributions to making our world a better place through their patented inventions. In conjunction with Women’s History Month in March, NIHF celebrates the accomplishments of women Inductees in the Hall of Fame.

NIHF is Inducting three women inventors in its 2018 Class. On May 3, Sumita Mitra (Nanocomposite Dental Materials), Jacqueline Quinn (Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron), and Mary Engle Pennington (Food Preservation and Storage) will be Inducted as part of The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation®.

(l to r: Jaqueline Quinn, Mary Engle Pennington, Sumita Mitra)

Other notable past women Inductees include:

Mary Anderson, Windshield Wiper (1866-1953; Inducted in 2011)  While touring New York City in a trolley car on a snowy day in the early 1900s, Anderson conceived her idea of a windshield wiper blade that could be operated from the inside by the trolley driver. Her idea consisted of a lever inside the vehicle that controlled a spring-loaded arm with a rubber blade. With her 1903 patent, Anderson’s invention proved to be the first windshield-clearing device to be effective.

Frances Arnold, Directed Evolution of Enzymes (Inducted in 2014)  Arnold is a pioneer of directed evolution, a process for “breeding” scientifically interesting or technologically useful proteins by mutating and recombining their DNA sequences and screening for desired properties. Arnold’s methods are used for developing new biological routes to making pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, consumer chemicals and biofuels.

Stephanie Kwolek, Kevlar® Fiber (1923-2014; Inducted in 1995)  Thousands of police officers and armed forces members can attest to the value of Kwolek’s breakthrough research in para-aramid fibers. The fruits of her work can be found in lightweight bullet-resistant vests, mooring ropes, fiber-optic cables, aircraft parts and canoes. Kevlar is a polymer fiber five times stronger than the same weight of steel.

Frances Ligler, Portable Optical Biosensors (Inducted in 2017)  A biosensor is a device using biological molecules to detect a chemical or biological target. Ligler is recognized for her innovative application of emerging technologies in a variety of fields to make optical biosensors smaller, more versatile and more automated. Thanks to her work, biosensors have moved out of the laboratory and into use for food safety, disease diagnosis, pollution control and homeland security.

More information on Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame is available at www.invent.org/honor/ .

About the National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) is the premier nonprofit organization in America dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention, promoting creativity, and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. Founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, NIHF is committed to not only honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place, but to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate. For more information, visit invent.org. To nominate an inventor for Induction, visitinvent.org/nominate.

Profile: Melissa Aldana

Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana will perform at the Jefferson Center on February 17 at 7 pm and again at 9 pm. A rising tenor saxophone star, Aldana recently released her second trio album (and fourth as a leader). “Back Home” unveils a powerful musical creation by Aldana and her illustrious bandmates. Not so much reminiscent of a specific place, “Back Home” evokes something a little deeper for Aldana.

“Back Home is a tribute to Sonny Rollins, who has been a huge influence on me since I was ten years old,” she explains. “It makes a reference to the first time I heard him playing back home in Chile. I completely fell in love with the sound of his tenor. He is organic and funny. Those are some of the most important elements in music. It’s like he’s having a conversation with you, and you can hear how he’s taking risks and trying new things. Those are the elements I want to have in my own playing.”

Aldana describes her relationship with the tenor saxophone as a lifelong commitment. The journey with the instrument has allowed her to mature as an artist, and her dedication to it remains. From New York to Montreal (and around the world), she carries that pivotal moment when she first heard Sonny Rollins play with her in addition to the lessons she has learned from other artistic influences. In this way, she can allow the music she creates to tell the story of her travels, experiences, and personal growth.

On “Back Home” she includes a track called “Time” that is a “meditation on her life since departing Chile.” She has described the nostalgic track as a reflection of the last nine years of her life. As the tenor saxophone carries the listener through the ups and downs of the accumulated time, it is not hard to give over the memories of one’s own adventures. This is exactly the impact Aldana hopes to have with her work.

“I hope [the audience] has fun and goes on a trip with the music. Also, I hope they enjoy it as much as I did when I recorded the album,” she adds.

Joining Aldana for her February 17 show are Sam Harris on the piano, Thomas Crane on the drums, and Pablo Menares on the bass. Together, they project an “uncommonly full orchestral sound, rich in spiritual intensity, all in the absence of a harmony instrument.” The experience is one that Roanoke audiences are unlikely to forget, and Aldana is excited to introduce both new and returning fans to her new music.

To purchase tickets, visit www.jeffcenter.org. For more information on Melissa Aldana and how to purchase her music, go to www.melissaaldana.com.

New Staff at Jefferson Surgical Clinic!

Jefferson Surgical Clinic has a commitment to providing patients with exemplary health care. For that reason, we always take interest when they hire new staff. The latest additions to their team are no exception to their commitment. We are excited to introduce you to these two extraordinary women!

Christin Clark has been promoted to Nurse Practitioner upon completing a M.S. in Nursing in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in the spring of 2017. She will see patients in JSC’s vascular clinic, where she has worked as an R.N. supervisor since 2014.

Susan K. Blick has joined Jefferson Surgical Clinic as an advanced-level certified family nurse practitioner. She will be joining Dr. Gregory Zachmann in providing patent care at Jefferson Surgical’s ENT department. Blick relocated to Roanoke from Macon, Georgia where she spent 14 years as a nurse practitioner.

For more information, or to make an appointment with Christin Clark or Susan Blick, call 540.283.6000.

Extraordinary Women: Alice Allison Dunnigan

Now more than ever we need to be reminded how diversity should be celebrated instead of ignored. Without the many contributions of every race and gender, our country would never have reached the feats that we know today. Black history month provides the opportunity to remember the influence that African Americans have had on the past and will have in the future.

Alice_Allison_DunniganOne of the most important careers in communications has always been reserved for a journalist. They must tell a story transforming it from reality to paper, which can be very testing. However, Alice Allison Dunnigan communicated the country’s information while creating history along the way. Dunnigan was the first African American female correspondent at the White House and the first female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries. In 1925, she was a teacher in a segregated school house and attended a college for journalism. Alice created fact sheets of historical African American’s in Kentucky while she was a teacher called, The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition.

As her dreams of becoming a journalist grew, she began to write freelance. America was still highly segregated during her era, and her road to success very challenging. Dunnigan started writing for the American Negro Press full-time and gained the opportunity to have a capitol press pass. Her experience gave her the access to Congress news events, which was never given to women or African Americans. Dunnigan made her dream a reality when she began to write for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Administration in 1966.

Even as a correspondent in the White House, she still suffered through prejudiced actions. Alice fought for equality of women and African Americans in every aspect while a correspondent. She often asked questions about the growing civil right movement. Dunnigan made many pushes and achievements for women and African Americans. It’s important to appreciate that without women like Alice, we might not have accomplished the feat of black women in the White House. During February, take the moment to remember these forgotten heroes and share the stories of strong women to inspire an even greater future for the next generation.

Written by Stacy Shrader

“A Sense of Place” with local artist Clara Heaton

Photo credit : Kirsten McBride

At Bella, we are lucky to work in close proximity with some amazing artists in our community, like Clara Heaton. Clara is a prolific painter in her own right, but she also does a lot to support other artists in Roanoke and the surrounding counties. She recently completed her BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in painting at Radford University. Through a strong mentorship with one of her professors, Dr. Halide Salam, and a passion for creativity, Clara is emerging with grace and tenacity into Roanoke’s flourishing arts community.

The passion in Clara’s paintings speaks volumes. It is a beautiful abstract culmination of her thoughts, how she interprets the beauty of her own personal experiences, and ultimately the world around her.

Dr. Salam and Clara. Photo credit : Kirsten McBride
Dr. Salam and Clara.
Photo credit : Kirsten McBride

After becoming Salam’s personal assistant, Clara saw her work for the first time. She immediately noticed connections in their work. Shortly thereafter, she also began a friendship with one of Salam’s graduate mentees, Kevin Kwon.

“Before I met Kevin, we were in a juried show together. One of my pieces was placed next to Kevin’s, and my dad pulled me aside and showed it to me,” Clara explains. “My work was very linear, and Kevin’s was incredibly organic.”

Both pieces were the start of something new for them as artists. Kevin and Clara were fascinated that, without having ever met one another, their two bodies of work had the exact same color scheme and such a cohesive presence in the room.

Months later, Kevin asked her if she would like to do a show together and Clara immediately said yes. She also suggested the include their mentor, Salam.

As serendipitous as this all may appear, the truth is, Clara’s dedication, courage, and love for art propels her forward as she pursues these opportunities.

DSC_0125
Photo credit: Kirsten McBride

“The cool thing about art and artists is that you cannot become a powerful artist by relying on your talent,” says Clara. “You have to start dedicating hard work to it. You have to say, ‘I’m going to set time aside for this.’ If you can’t get over your ego, then you won’t ever grow.”

Opening night for “A Sense of Place,” in which Clara, Kevin, and Salam will showcase their work, will take place in the Aurora Lightwell Gallery on September 2 at 5 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Together, the three artists from three different cultural backgrounds and levels of academic training, will respond to the feelings and perception of places unique to themselves through the discipline and practice of painting.

Visitors can also tour the gallery and view their work on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm until September 30. For more information, visit www.aurorastudiocenter.com.

Extraordinary Women: Linda Webb

Linda Webb is more than the Executive Director of Opera Roanoke. She is a powerhouse for the art community, encouraging support for multiple organizations in our area. From Opera Roanoke’s performances to the exhibits at the Taubman Museum (and everything in between), she is one of many who reiterates that sustaining the arts is not just about raising money. It is about making sure people realize how special they are to Roanoke.

How did your interest in the art community begin?
I grew up loving literature, music, and theatre. It spoke to my soul and I had a little bit of talent in those areas. When I was in college, I studied playwriting with Pulitzer Prize-winning Paula Vogel. After I graduated, I began working in the business side of publishing in New York, but I kept my hand in the theatre world. After ten years in New York, I moved to Roanoke to get married and made the switch to nonprofit fundraising.

I began volunteering at Mill Mountain Theatre. I was excited about what they were doing there, and when their development person left, Jere Hodgin asked me to take the spot. I found that much of what I had done in New York in ad sales was transferrable. My experience had made me fearless when it came to calling on high level people.

Photo Credit: Lillian Orlinsky
Photo Credit: Lillian Orlinsky

What led you to Opera Roanoke?
I took some time off when I had a baby. I was still on boards even though I wasn’t actually working. The first board I was asked to be on was for Opera Roanoke. They asked me to contribute the fundraising knowledge I had as a volunteer. It was a way that I could keep my hand in that world even though it wasn’t full time.

Soon after, I began working at United Way. I always tried to include friends from the art world in various things that we did.

I stepped out of the working world for a while when my mother was ill. When I began looking for a job again, the president of Opera Roanoke’s board asked me to be the Executive Director and I accepted the offer. I know just enough to be dangerous, but I know more about opera than I did a year and half ago.

What can audiences expect from Opera Roanoke in 2016?
First, it’s important that even those who don’t think they like opera come out and give it a try. If you come to an opera once, you might just be hooked. Our unofficial slogan is, “Opera Roanoke, we don’t care what you wear.” It’s fun to dress up, but not everyone does. Be comfortable, come in your jeans.

Also, if you are a student, your ticket is free. If you’re not a student, you can buy a ticket for $25 and sometimes less with Groupon. Regardless of where you are sitting, you are going to enjoy the show.

This fall, we are going to do South Pacific. It’s sad, it’s happy, and the music is unbelievable. In the spring of 2017, we will be doing Susanna by American composer Carlisle Floyd. Both of these shows have to do with prejudice and overcoming it or not overcoming it. It’s very timely when you think about all the unhappy stuff that is going on in our country right now. However, it is going to speak to your heart and your brain on a different level than when you read or see the news. That is why I say, and I’m not kidding, opera can save the world.

For more information about Linda and Opera Roanoke’s upcoming season, visit www.operaroanoke.org

Extraordinary Women: Janet Scheid

Janet Scheid is one of the most inspirational women we know. Since her retirement five years ago, she has given much of her time and energy back to our community as a volunteer with several organizations and as a Vinton Town Council member. She is passionate about helping the town of Vinton grow and flourish as a place for both residents and visitors.

How did you become involved with the Vinton Town Council?
One of the council members, Wes Nance, had to leave council last July. He moved to Bedford, where he is the Deputy Commonwealth Attorney. His term will expire at the end of June, so council decided to appoint someone to fill his unexpired term. They sent out an advertisement, took applications, interviewed people, and selected me.

It’s been nine months since, and the term that I’m filling will expire at the end of this month. Last month, I was re-elected by the Town of Vinton to continue serving on the council.

What have you learned since you joined the town council, and what are you most passionate about as a member?
When I started, there were those who said, “You’re retired. You don’t need this.” However, I’ve always believed that if you want to see something change, you have to be willing to work and make that change. My mother always said, “If you’re going to whine then do something about it.” There isn’t a lot that needs to be changed, but there are some things and it is an opportunity for me to step up to the plate and make those changes happen that I think are important. Vinton is a wonderful small town with a great small town feel to it. In order to keep Vinton a place to live and raise a family, I think we need to invigorate the downtown area. That is starting to happen with some redevelopment projects in town that are going to bring people to live here. I think it will lead to the demand for more shops and restaurants.

IMG_1673You grew up in Washington, D.C. How did that influence who you are today?
Well, even back then, the first restaurants I can remember visiting were Chinese restaurants. This was in the early 1960s. There is a proliferation of them now, but back then there were very few. I was exposed to a lot of food from different cultures—French food, German food. I was also exposed to a lot of different ethnicities. My dad worked for the government and he was also a student getting his master’s degree. He had a whole network of foreign students that had come to DC to go to school, and he would have them all over to the house for the 4th of July. I think my exposure to so many different cultures just gave me a view of the world that maybe is bigger.

What organizations are you currently involved with and how did you get started volunteering with them?
I’ve served on the board for Susan G. Komen for the last five years—two of which were as president. I also served on the board of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy for 18 years. Currently, I am the secretary of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Public service has always been important to me. My dad was proud of the fact that he was a government employee. He instilled in me that giving back is important. It’s one of the reasons that I retired as early as I did. I wanted to spend more time doing volunteer work.

Years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, I am proud to say that I am a 20-year-survivor. It is an important part of my life, and there is no doubt that it changed my perspective when it happened. I had a great job, but I was ready to start paying it forward and doing all of these things I wanted to do with various organizations. The thing is, I know I get more out of it than I give. I’ve met wonderful people. It definitely keeps me busy.

What advice would you give to women who seek to be more involved in their community?
There is a lot to do. Now that I’ve been doing it for five years, it is amazing to me how much there is to do. I can’t imagine how some of these organizations will keep going without a dedicated core of volunteers to help do things. My advice is to jump in with both feet. Meet people, ask questions, and go to events. For me, Susan G. Komen came naturally and the land conservancy did too because I had an environmental background. You have to find what you are passionate about. Maybe it’s animals, church, or maybe it’s children. There are just so many opportunities out there for volunteering.

What’s next for you?
I am excited to continue serving on town council, and I have another year and a half or so on the Komen board. I’m going to be figuring out what’s next for me over the next couple of years. Some things are going to start to end, and I’ld like to branch off into some new areas. I haven’t figured out where the’s going to be. I know I’ll be busy. It’s not in my nature to sit. However, I am learning to say no. It’s an art I haven’t mastered before—but I’m getting there.

Extraordinary Women: Betty Branch

Betty Branch is a world-renowned artist whose travels throughout the years have expanded and reinforced her knowledge of art history and techniques. Her studio here in Roanoke is a magical place where thirty years of artwork, much of it focused on the female form, creates an environment of self-reflection and personal growth. Five of her eight children are also artists and showcase their creativity within the space. The family shares an affinity for exploring the complexity of femininity through different mediums. Betty and two of her daughters, Bonny and Katey, shared their thoughts with us on this process.

Isabel, part of the Taubman Museum of Art’s permanent collection, is elegant, a muse, and her expression reflects that she too may be captivated by something unseen. What was your inspiration when you created her?
Betty: “She was the first female figure that I have done that was something other than straight realism. Isabel is an impressionistic sculpture that represents my impressionistic realism. What I had in mind with the pose was an introspection. I wanted the piece to be a meditative piece, but it also had to do with the centering of the self in the female.”

Betty in Workroom close-up 2015What have you been able to share with your daughters as an artist?
Betty: “I would say that I’m pretty convinced that all of the girls saw my delight in the art. There was never any question that I was exercising a great love and freedom in doing it. I was part of that period that was on the edge of feminism. I was not espousing feminism per say at the time, but I still very strongly needed to exert for myself the power that I felt was due to women. My daughters have come along and fully exercised that without any need to worry about any repercussions.”

A Friend for Life, outside of the South County Library, captures the moment that literature opens the realm of possibilities for children to pursue their interests. What was that moment for you as a child?
Betty: “I am an only child, and we moved around a lot. I was in 15 different schools growing up. Reading was my main source of entertainment. That was the thing that was very important to me. Early on, I was fortunate to have access to nursery rhymes and fairy tales. That, I am quite certain, is a very solid foundation upon which much, if not all, of my work is based. The sense of possibilities of mythology, all of that is very empowering. That is what fairy tales are all about—empowerment or the lack of it.

I have painted and drawn for as long as I can remember. It never occurred to me that it could be a career until all of my children were in school and I was without that major focus of child-bearing and raising them. There was a sudden void in my life and the art was there. It really burgeoned.”

FullSizeRenderAs your children began to develop their own artistic interests, how did you encourage their development?
Betty: “Obviously, they have a gift that is undeniable. They saw what art meant to me. I took them to classes with me way before I was making sculpture art as a career. I would take anything that I could get myself into—weaving, paper-making, or pottery. It was pottery that led me to sculpture because I had not experienced real clay before that time. My pots sprouted faces and arms. It was through that experience of piling all the kids that were at home in the back of the station wagon, and driving to whatever little art festival there was to spend the day that they saw other artists with the things they had brought. Those were really special good times. I think it’s just in them. Every one of the eight could have been artists had their lives taken just a slightly different turn.”

Bonny: “When I was nine, Mom and I traveled to Greece for the summer and I was given an old brownie camera. I fell in love with the old door knockers on Crete and used my camera to record the variety of brass hands adorning the ancient wooden doors. I didn’t know I had a passion for photography until I returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The images I captured thrilled me because I could show exactly what I saw with others and I used those images in my first art exhibit.”

Much of your family’s work focuses on the feminine form—both young and old. What about that resonates with your family?
Katey: “ I am blessed by powerful women, like my mother, who have forged the way through a time dominated by men, to create a way for those who have followed to have less barriers when they step out in the world to follow what has heart and meaning with more vulnerability.”

Betty: “It’s very meaningful to us. Katey teaches a course in self-realization and she’s done large scale canvas paintings of women that are used at that conference. All of them are very conscious of the necessity for there to be a legitimate equality in the exercise of power. It’s not that anyone wants to flip it over and say that women should rule the world, but if half of the rulers were women, then we would probably have a different result.”

For more information on Betty Branch, her family, and her art (which is exhibited all over the world), visit www.bettybranch.com.