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Remarkable Women of UC

International Women’s Day, held annually on March 8, is a time to reflect on women’s progress in the workplace and society, and to reaffirm our commitment to improving women’s lives worldwide. It’s also a day to celebrate women for their accomplishments, contributions and perseverance.

To highlight some of the numerous incredible women associated with the university, the President’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (PACSW) has launched the “Remarkable Women of UC” series, recognizing various UC women each year beginning with the UC alumna for 2017.

The alumni associations from each of the 10 UC campuses were asked to nominate women to be recognized and then PACSW selected 13 who are being featured in a “Remarkable Women of UC” descriptive poster exhibit. Representing a broad spectrum of disciplines, ages and ethnicities, these 13 women are all champions in their fields. An additional 18 women will be recognized in a honorable mentions poster.

For your enjoyment, the posters will be on display in the Franklin building lobby beginning March 8 and continuing through the end of the month. You can also read about the women being honored below:

Ann Lee-Karlon

Ann Lee-Karlon oversees more than 35 teams developing treatments for various medical conditions and diseases as senior vice president at Genentech. Lee-Karlon, who earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley and Ph.D. at UC San Diego, previously worked as a biotech scientist and holds U.S. and international patents in vascular tissue engineering.

Lee-Karlon is passionate about broadening and diversifying the talent pool for future leaders in STEM. As president of the Association of Women in Science in Washington, D.C., she partnered with the United Nations to establish International Women and Girls in Science Day and with the Kauffman Foundation to initiate programs to help women and minority entrepreneurs succeed.

Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye

Tani Cantil-Sakauye is the first Filipina-American and second woman to serve as California’s chief justice. She led the judicial branch out of a state recession, and improved its efficiency, accountability and transparency. Today, state Supreme Court oral arguments and Judicial Council meetings are webcast.

Cantil-Sakauye is a champion of revitalizing civic learning, and has worked to address implicit bias, truancy and other issues.

“Gaining the respect of my colleagues as a female, ethnic minority in the white male-dominated legal profession was challenging at times,” the UC Davis alumna said. “But I persevered through preparation, hard work, and the generosity and guidance of several mentors from within the profession.”

Carol Greider

Carol Greider was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 with two other scientists for their discovery of telomerase, an enzyme in the human body that plays a critical role in normal cell function.

Greider earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Santa Barbara and Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. She is now a professor and department director at John Hopkins University, where she directs a group of eight scientists in studying the role of short telomeres, which are the ends of chromosomes, in age-related disease and cancer, as well as the mechanism that maintains the length of these telomeres.

Christine Simmons

Christine Simmons is president and chief operations officer of the Los Angeles Sparks, which has won three Women’s National Basketball Association league titles.

She has helped Fortune 500 companies build stronger partnerships with the business community. She led efforts to diversify suppliers for NBC Universal, ensuring that diverse communities have opportunities to compete for business with the corporation.

A loyal Bruin, Simmons is president of the UCLA Alumni Association Board and past board member of the UCLA Black Alumni Association. She serves on a number of other boards including the NBA Global Inclusion Committee, L.A. Sports Council and Better Futures for Thomazeau, a nonprofit group that creates jobs and lends aid to Haiti.

Gail Knight

Gail Knight became chief medical officer and senior vice president at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego in 2016. Prior to that, she was the first African-American woman to be named chief of staff and clinical director of neonatology at the hospital.

Knight has spent 25 years practicing medicine at Rady Children’s Hospital where she has treated and provided critical care, such as cardiac surgery and heart-lung bypass, to thousands of infants in the NICU. Knight, who earned her medical degree at UC San Diego, was instrumental in bringing many initiatives to fruition, including forming neonatal intensive care units at Rancho Springs Medical Center and Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego. 

Jaime Nack

Jaime Nack, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA, is an environmental champion who serves as one of Al Gore’s presenters for The Climate Reality Project. She is president of Three Squares Inc., a consulting firm that develops sustainability plans for corporations, government agencies and academic institutions. In 2013, she launched One Drop Interactive as an online platform to engage employees on sustainability and show real-time savings across energy, water, recycling and other business operations.

“Technology holds the power to expand the impact of our work 100 times over. When you think about what that means for purpose-driven companies, the ability to scale profit and impact is huge.”

Janna Rodriguez

Janna Rodriguez’s passion for social issues has translated into concrete solutions to critical issues. In 2012, while working for UNICEF in Ibadan, Africa, the researcher developed a pneumonia sensor that has become part of pneumonia prevention kits now used. Last summer, while working with Child Family Health International in Argentina, she proposed solutions to problems in their water demand and sewer system.

Rodriguez is working on her doctorate in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. Among her goals, the UC Merced graduate wants to help more people from diverse backgrounds get involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “I want to serve as a role model to women who may hesitate to enter STEM fields but who have much to contribute.”

Laurie Garrett

Laurie Garrett, a UC Santa Cruz alumna, has won multiple awards for excellence in journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the 1995 Ebola epidemic in Zaire. She authored three books on global health issues, and is a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Garrett influenced the Joint Chiefs of Staff to deploy military personnel to West Africa during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Her recommendations to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation helped limit the spread of virulent influenza.

“What I love about my profession is that I have the opportunity to save thousands, even millions of lives, through my work as a global health policy expert.”

Marigold Linton 

Marigold Linton, an enrolled member of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, is the first California reservation American Indian to have ever left a reservation to attend a university. She earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Riverside, where she has established a scholarship fund, and received her Ph.D. at UCLA.

Linton is director of American Indian outreach for the University of Kansas, where she developed a consortium with Haskell Indian Nations University that obtained over $13 million to support research training opportunities for American Indian students and faculty at both institutions.

Linton founded the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and the National Indian Education Association.

Minh Dang

Minh Dang is a team manager at an IT consulting firm, but in her spare time, she is a tireless advocate for survivors of child abuse, slavery and human trafficking.

The UC Berkeley graduate provides training, education and technical assistance for organizations around the country that address human trafficking and child abuse. She is a presidential appointee to the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, and was named a Champion of Change by former President Barack Obama in 2013.

“I enjoy supporting others to be their most authentic selves. I love seeing someone feel inspired, walking with them in their journey to overcome challenges, and celebrating their successes.”

Sue Desmond-Hellmann

Sue Desmond-Hellmann is a physician, scientist and philanthropist who has devoted her career to improving the human condition and has driven major developments toward eradicating disease, poverty and inequity.

She credits a move to Uganda in 1989 to study HIV/AIDS and cancer as a turning point. “It was so profound to recognize…that all the learning I had done to become a doctor didn’t matter at all if I didn’t make a contribution.”

Trained as an oncologist, Desmond-Hellmann spent 14 years at Genentech where she developed two of the first gene-targeted therapies for cancer. She became the first female chancellor of UCSF in 2009, before becoming CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2014.

Ann Wang and Jessica Willison

UCLA graduates Ann Wang and Jessica Willison are the founders of Enrou, an online marketplace that sells handmade goods from artists around the world.

Wang and Willison built their enterprise on the belief that creative and passionate people can change the world and make it a better place. Through Enrou, the two entrepreneurs aim to create job opportunities for artists in developing communities, and help tackle poverty through small business and community development.

In 2016, the pair were lauded for their work in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list, which recognizes bright young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers.



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  1. Patrick Rogers March 10, 2017 Reply

    For more information on what the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking is doing to improve how we address human trafficking and survivors, see their 2016 Annual Report at

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