Women Dinner

5th Annual Women’s Career Achievement Dinner

celebrating the accomplishments of our alumnae and inspiring our current students.

When: Monday, April 26, 6-8:30pm
Where: Clark Gym
Sponsored By: The RIT Women’s Center, RIT Leadership Institute, and Alumni Relations Office.
Each year, in collaboration with the RIT Leadership Institute and the Women’s Center, the Office of Alumni Relations invites an accomplished alumna from each college to return to campus to lecture, lead a workshop, or present a program to women students. It’s a fulfilling way to connect successful women graduates of RIT with future alumnae, offering today’s students a vision for their own future.

The day culminates with the annual Women’s Achievement Dinner, held in the Clark Gym, highlighted by a student performance—this year, the RIT step club, RIsTep—and attended by some 180 students, faculty, and staff. This year’s keynote address will be delivered by two-time winner of the White House Correspondents’ Association Award, Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, National Political Correspondent, PEOPLE magazine.

The program will be as follows:

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Opening address by Sasha Malinchoc, SG Vice-President 2007-2008
  • Dinner
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Networking dessert reception
  • Closing remarks - Dr. Mary-Beth Cooperm Vice-President of Student Affairs

If you are interested in attending contact your college Dean's office or Donna Rubin.

This special dinner has become a much anticipated event at RIT to honor and inspire women as well as to celebrate their accomplishments! It will be a night to remember!


2010 Presenters:
Name:Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, Washington Bureau Chief
Employer:PEOPLE magazine
Bio:Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, a six-year White House reporter for The Associated Press, is National Political Correspondent for PEOPLE Magazine. She was honored with the 2009 White House Correspondents' Association Award "for excellence in presidential news coverage under deadline pressure" for her Election Night cover story taking readers into the room as Barack Obama and his family privately greeted the news that he would be the first black president of the United States. Westfall won the same award in 2001 for behind-the-scenes reporting on the Election Night 2000 conversations between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Her White House tenure spanned President Clinton’s impeachment scandal (she was in the Roosevelt Room for Clinton's lectern-thumping "I ... did ... not ... have ... sexual relations ... with that woman"); Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign; and President Bush’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She was in the small press pool that accompanied the President to New York's "Ground Zero" just three days after the Twin Towers fell.

Ms. Westfall joined the AP in July 1994 when she was assigned to Washington metro crime and politics. Her background on Capitol Hill (she was a legislative aide and speechwriter to Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., from June 1989 until July 1993) won her a spot on the Washington AP's national team after Newt Gingrich's GOP revolution. She covered Congress for six months before being assigned to the 1996 presidential campaign. Bouncing from Phil Gramm to Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan, Westfall finished out that year on Bob Dole's campaign plane.

In January 2003, Ms. Westfall traded the AP White House beat for PEOPLE and later that year married Frank Westfall, then a Secret Service physical security specialist and bomb technician, who is currently the Department of Homeland Security liaison to the state of New Jersey. They have a son, Jonathan Franklin, born March 2005.

A native of Rochester, NY, Mrs. Westfall received a bachelor's degree in politics, with a certificate in Latin American studies, from Princeton University. Stanford University awarded her a Master's degree in journalism in June 1994.

College:College of Applied Science and Technology
Name:Alison Tyler '97, '01
Program(s):Packaging Science, Biotechnology
Employer:Beacon Converters, Inc.
Bio:Alison Tyler is the Technical Director at Beacon Converters, Inc of Saddle Brook, NJ. Alison has held previous positions in Marketing, Sales, Manufacturing and R&D at Alcoa, DuPont, and DuPont-Merck Pharmaceuticals. Beacon Converters, Inc. is a manufacturer of sterilizable packaging for the medical and healthcare markets and was recently named as a top 500 Woman-Owned business in the United States.

Alison holds Bachelor Degrees of Science in both Biotechnology and Packaging Science in addition to a Masters Degree of Science in Packaging Science from Rochester Institute of Technology where she currently is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Packaging Science. She is a member of the RIT Packaging Science Industrial Advisory Board since 2002, serves as Co-Chair of the IOPP Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee and also is the IOPP MDPTC Sustainability Task Group Advisor.

Alison currently resides in Penfield, NY with her husband and three children.

College:College of Imaging Arts & Sciences
Name:Laura Zigarowicz '98
Program(s):Biomedical Photographic Communications
Employer:Eastman Kodak Company
Bio:Laura Zigarowicz (Burroughs) is a Marketing Manager for Eastman Kodak Company’s Chief Marketing Office. Since graduating in 1998 Laura’s career has allowed her to apply creativity and technology to marketing. She became a full-time employee at the company where she performed her college internship – Corporate Communications, Inc. in Rochester, NY. Her employment at the interactive ad agency allowed her to experience many sides of the business. She started as a graphic designer / photographer then went on to web programming, creating custom sales and training materials, product launches, and eventually designing custom content management systems (CMS) for Fortune 500 companies. In her 10 year career with Corporate Communications, she became the primary account manager for the firm’s Eastman Kodak accounts being heavily involved in marketing and branding at the corporate level. In 2007, Laura took a position with Eastman Kodak Company as their B2B Branding Manager. Her primary responsibility was to make sure Kodak is represented with a unified presence around the globe by providing guidance and resources to the future and current product groups and regions. Starting in 2009, Laura’s position expanded to include both the B2B and B2C networks. The expansion has given her the opportunity to custom design a web-based CMS solution where all marketing processes and assets where brought "on-line", making for efficiency, control of content creation and execution for Kodak’s marketers and external suppliers. Other projects include social media, environmental guidelines, and designing processes for Kodak’s internal photo resource. Laura is always interested in continuing education and has taken graduate courses in Project Management at RIT. Outside of work; Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and six month old daughter. Her interests include photography, spending time outdoors, and traveling.

"I've had wonderful experiences as a woman in my field. I’m lucky to be surrounded by many women at Kodak in leadership positions that have been mentors to me along the way and I have, in-turn, been a mentor to young women joining the workforce. RIT’s professors taught me that creativity, problem solving, networking and hard work will always lead to success."

College:College of Liberal Arts
Name:Lori Strem '82
Program(s):Criminal Justice
Employer:Rochester Police Department
Bio:Rochester Police Captain Lorri Strem is a 1982 RIT graduate of the Criminal Justice Department. She has been in law enforcement for twenty-nine years. At twenty years old, prior to her graduation from RIT, she served with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department as a Parks Deputy for three years. In 1984, she joined the Rochester Police Department and has served for 26 years in various assignments. She serves as a patrol officer in the former Genesee Section (southwest area of the city); the Narcotics and the Intelligence Units, and the Backgrounds and Recruitment Unit. She was promoted to Sergeant and again worked patrol and Internal Affairs before being promoted again to Lieutenant. In this position she commanded the Youth Services Section and served in patrol again on both sides of the city, eventually returning to the Genesee Section where she began her career. She was able to realize her goal to become the Genesee Section Captain and she is the first RPD female officer to hold the rank of Captain. Unfortunately her mentor, Captain Louis Campanozzi, was not able to see her achieve this goal. She is currently assigned to the East Division and she is the chairperson for the Chief Moore’s Domestic Violence Committee.

She has a twenty year old daughter, Eleni Kontos, who is attending college in New York City at the School of Visual Arts.

College:College of Science
Name:Donna Rankin-Parobek '88, '93
Program(s):Imagine Science
Employer:Carestream Health Inc.
Bio:Donna Rankin-Parobek is the Intellectual Property Director for Carestream Health, Inc., responsible for overall strategic and technical management of a portfolio of over 1,000 US and foreign issued patents and pending applications. Donna works with worldwide R&D teams on patent filing strategies, new invention evaluations, competitive assessments, patent valuation and licensing, inventor training and portfolio maintenance. Prior to this role, Donna worked for 15 years at the Eastman Kodak Company as an intellectual property manager, research scientist and project engineer in the Kodak Research Labs and Government Systems Division. She received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Imaging Science from Rochester Institute of Technology. Donna is a patent agent registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

College:B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences
Name:Barbara Switzer '93
Program(s):Computer Science
Employer:Global Crossing
Bio:Barbara Switzer is a Senior Applications Manager at Global Crossing with 25 years of experience in Software Engineering. She is 10-year veteran of Global Crossing where she is responsible for three of Global Crossing's most critical business applications supporting both internal and external customers. Prior to Global Crossing, Barb worked as a Software Engineer at Eastman Kodak. She holds a MS in Computer Science from RIT, a BS in Computer Science from SUNY Utica and an AAS in Liberal Arts from Paul Smith’s College. Barb is a 2009 nominee for Women of the Year by the Upstate New York chapter of the Association for Women in Computing (AWC).

College:Kate Gleason College of Engineering
Name:Jennifer Indovina '06, '07
Program(s):Electrical Engineering, Business Administration
Employer:Tenrehte Technologies, Inc.
Bio:Jennifer Indovina is the CEO and Founder of Tenrehte Technologies, a semiconductor company developing wireless smart-grid consumer products. While renewable clean energy is her passion, she is also a writer, engineer, political energy adviser, and advocate for conservationism in Kenya. As a TED Fellow, Jen is always looking for opportunities to grow, learn, and share what knowledge she has accumulated so far, and you can read more about Jen's global energy efforts on her blog: Simplify Energy (http://jenindo.posterous.com). Jen graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2007 with an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and an MBA.

College:National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Name:Rita Straubhaar '91
Program(s):Graphic Arts & Photography
Employer:Monroe Community College
Bio:Upon graduation from RIT, Rita Straubhaar attended University of Vermont (Burlington) and earned her Master’s in Education in Higher Education Student Affairs (HESA). She also worked as a medical photographer and taught sign language as well. Later, she moved to Boston, Mass., and worked at LINKS Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Deaf Inc. and the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

In 2003, she started working at Monroe Community College (MCC) as an Adjunct Professor in American Sign Language. By fall of 2004, she was hired as a full-time tenure track Instructor. Rita was recently granted tenure and starting next fall, will be promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor.

"RIT played a large part in where I am today because it provided me with many opportunities not only in my original field of Medical Photography but also student teaching (RITsign), and as editor of the student creative arts magazine Rolling Bricks. These opportunities gave me skills in teaching, creativity, administration and management; all skills that I use today as a tenured faculty member at Monroe Community College."
College:E. Philip Saunders College of Business
Name:Christine Peters '91
Program(s):Accounting
Employer:Family First Credit Union
Bio:Christine was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Family First of NY Federal Credit Union in January 2006 and President/CEO in July of 2008. She had served at Family First in the position of Chief Financial Officer for eight years previous to becoming CEO. In addition to over 14 years in the Credit Union industry, she has also worked in public accounting at Price Waterhouse and health insurance with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Christine holds both Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor designations, along with earning the Certified Chief Executive designation by completing the Credit Union Executive Society CEO Institute program. In addition, she volunteers her time as a member of the Penfield Rotary Club and holds the position of Chair of the Finance Committee for the Eastside YMCA Board of Managers. She is also an active member of the Rochester Women’s Network and the Renaissance Executive Forums group based in Rochester, New York. Christine also serves on the Boards of both the New York Credit Union Foundation and UsNet.

2008 Presenters:
Keynote speaker – Susan Holliday '94 (Professional/Technical Communications)
CAST – Michelle Schleher '97 (Civil Engineering Technology)
CIAS – Becky Brubaker '93 (Newspaper Operations)
COLA – Terri Standish-Kuon Ph.D. '88 (Professional./Technical Communications) and '86 (Biomedical Photo Communication, CIAS)
COS – Donna Marcera '87 (BS Chemistry) and '90 (MS Chemistry)
GCCIS – Debra Hogan '79 (Computer Science)
KGCOE – Emily M. Cole '03 (B.S. and M.S. in Industrial Engineering)
NTID – Katie Schmitz '95 (M.S. Career & Human Res. Dev.)
SCB – Lynn (Siverd) Sullivan ’88 (Business Administration – Finance)

2007 Presenters:
Keynote speaker – Kathleen C. Anderson MBA ‘85
CAST – Rachel McGinnis ’05 (Multidisciplinary Studies)
CIAS – Kelly Growney ’84 (Design)
COLA – Kelli O’Connor ’98 (Professional/Technical Communications)
COS – Karen Warren MS ’79 (Chemistry) and Annemarie Ross ’05 (Chemistry)
GCCIS – Kelly Mullaney MS ’03 (Information Technology)
KGCOE – Holly Hillberg MS ’92 (Electrical Engineering)
NTID – Elissa Olsen MS ’99 (Software Development Management, CAST), ’78 (Applied Computer Technology, NTID), ’80 (Computer Information Systems, CAST)
SCB – Lynette Loomis MBA ‘79

2006 Presenters:
CAST – Sharon Napier '04, President of Partners & Napier
CIAS – Amelia Hugill-Fontinel '02, University Press Editor of RIT
COLA – Kathleen Anderson '94, Media Director of Travers Collins & Company
COS – Kim Vangelder '86, CIO of Eastman Kodak Company
GCCIS – Julianne Klie '89, President of Veritor
KGCOE – Heidi Grenek, DflSS Program Manager and TTM Process Manager of Xerox Engineering Center
NTID – Jessica Cuculick '98, '02, Visiting Instructor/Support Faculty of NTID Liberal Studies
SCB – Dawn McWilliams '00, Executive Director of Marketing of Simons School of Business at UofR