Chapter Officers 2018-2019 

President– Jennifer Blum

Jen AWIS picJennifer “Jen” Blum is an astrophysicist and graduated from Columbia University in NYC with a Bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics. In 2011, she was the first African American in five years to obtain her Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Michigan. Her expertise was in black holes and she was a Rackham Science Award Fellow. She has been trained by multiple mentors, including Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, current director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, and host of the TV series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey”. Jen was a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) while at University of Michigan. She has been an AWIS DC mentoring circle leader for the last two years and has participated in Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conferences. Jen is currently a researcher for the Department of Defense. Her hobbies include professional voice acting in radio commercials.


Past-President – Megan Stine

MJS_bioMegan Jean Stine is a science educator, program manager, and aspiring coder who supports a strong foundation in STEM for all. She was trained as a cellular biologist, earning her B.S. in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Medicine from Johns Hopkins University.  During her postdoctoral fellowship studying the use of nanoparticles in the treatment of lung cancer, Megan worked as an adjunct laboratory instructor at a college in Baltimore, MD, then an online mathematics instructor for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Since, she has worked as the Science Program Manager for CTYOnline, a freelance science writer, and a Scientific Program Manager for the NCI. Currently, Dr. Stine is a Program Officer for Science Education Outreach at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she manages the team’s outreach activities, promotes the department’s science education resources on social media, and leads the BioInteractive Ambassador program. She currently serves on the board as the Past-President.


President-Elect – Rita Isabel Lechuga

Rita Isabel Lechuga is a Mexican-American physician working in public health, specifically epidemiology and global health.  She began her career as a disease detective, working in rural parts of the Mexican Caribbean, tracking down cases of arbovirus, including dengue and yellow fever. She moved to the US to study at the George Washington University, where she earned her MPH and began working as a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, researching HIV, viral hepatitis and child health in the Americas.  She currently works at NASTAD, a non-profit working to end the HIV and viral hepatitis epidemics, overseeing a portfolio of HIV surveillance system strengthening work in five countries in Central America.  In her free time, she spends as much time as possible with her daughter and traveling the world.


Vice President for Programs – Meredith Goodrich

Meredith graduated from Denison University in 2014 with a B.S. in biology and a concentration in Neuroscience. Shortly after, she began working in a neurodevelopmental laboratory within the Center for Neuroscience Research at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC. There, she studies the genetic programming that drives the development and connectivity of the limbic system as a research technician. Her largest project wrapped up in 2017 and explored correlations between phenotype and genotype in autism spectrum disorders. She became an active member of the AWIS DC chapter in 2016 and was elected as Vice President of Programming in 2018. Outside of work, she also volunteers in community outreach programs with Whitman Walker Health. Meredith enjoys being active outside, loves to cook, and the exploring new restaurants in DC in her spare time!


Vice President for  Membership – Federica Polato

Federica Polato is a research associate at the National Institutes of Health focusing on finding therapies for retinal degeneration diseases. She holds a PhD in life sciences from the UK and moved to the States to pursue postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute. As a fellow and during her PhD, she conducted research to identify biomarkers and novel targets for drug development against breast and ovarian cancer. Her interests in women’s health issues led her to the Society for Women’s Health and Research where, as an intern, she co-organized a conference on the role of environmental exposure and gender differences in the development of autoimmune diseases. Besides the creativity and continuous learning of her work in a research laboratory, Federica enjoys coaching younger STEM trainees. She joined the AWIS-DC chapter because she would love to contribute to the mission of the association in inspiring younger women to pursue a career in the STEM field. When not working, she spends her time outdoors as much as possible whether biking in rock creek park or on the river chasing rapids with her kayak.

Vice President for Communications – Kelsey Sugrue

Kelsey is a fifth-year graduate student at the Institute for Biomedical Science at The George Washington University, where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine. She works at the Children’s National Medical Center where she is conducting her thesis research, focusing on the molecular mechanisms underlying congenital heart defects. Prior to coming to Washington D.C., Kelsey received her undergraduate degree in Molecular/Cellular Biology from Saint Mary’s College Notre Dame, a women’s college that instilled in her a strong sense of “girl power.” It was also during this time that she worked for two summers in the research labs at the Hillman Cancer Center at the University of Pittsburgh. As a result of these experiences, Kelsey has become very passionate about science and helping women in science find success and happiness in their education and careers.

Kelsey has been an active member of AWIS DC for three years as well as the Mentoring Circles Program. In 2016, she was elected as Vice President of Communications for the AWIS DC Chapter and is excited to be continuing her role on board for another year. She enjoys sharing the excitement of science to non-science audiences, whether through Twitter (@Kelsey_Sugrue), her blog “Sketching Science,” or in the community by teaching middle school students through the Adventures in Science program. When she’s not in the lab working on her thesis project, Kelsey’s other hobbies include cooking, photography, running, and enjoying all the fun things D.C. has to offer.

Vice President for Finance – Barbara J. Natalizio

Natalizio-AWISDCBarbara J. Natalizio, Ph.D. is a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow serving in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Division of Graduate Education at the National Science Foundation. Prior to the AAAS fellowship, Dr. Natalizio was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where her research focused on investigating messenger RNA export regulation and its effects on eukaryotic gene expression. There she became interested in issues related to career transitions for scientists as a member of the Executive Committee of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Postdoctoral Association. As a member of the Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association, Dr. Natalizio advocates for the enrichment of the postdoctoral experience by supporting initiatives that provide professional development opportunities. Moreover, her transformative training at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science inspired her to help scientists become more effective communicators. Dr. Natalizio is passionate about channeling this enthusiasm for communicating with non-scientific audiences to advocate for improved science policy. She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and history from Montclair State University and her Ph.D. in molecular genetics and microbiology from Duke University.

Mentoring Circles Coordinator – Heather Bloemhard

Past Chapter Officers


President – Megan Stine

President-Elect – Jennifer Blum

Past-President – Leslie Jimison Hamilton

Vice President for Programs – Federica Polato

Vice President for Public Relations; Membership – Deborah Bouvier

Vice President for Communications – Kelsey Sugrue

Vice President for Finance – Barbara J. Natalizio

Volunteer – Meredith Goodrich

Volunteer – Rita Isabel Lechuga



President – Leslie Jimison Hamilton

President-Elect – Megan Stine

Past-President – Kristina Krasnov Miller

Vice President for Programs – Deborah Bouvier

Vice President for Public Relations; Membership – Jennifer Blum

Vice President for Communications – Kelsey Sugrue

Vice President for Finance – Barbara J. Natalizio



President – Kristina Krasnov Miller

President-Elect – Leslie Jimison Hamilton

Past-President – Jodi Wesemann (replacing Soo Kim Jennings)

Vice President for Programs – Sherry Marts (replacing Allison Mathes)

Vice President for Public Relations; Membership – Ofelia A Olivero

Vice President for Communications – Mayra Montrose

Vice President for Public Relationships; Social Media – Sarah J. R. Staton

Vice President for Finance – Christine Burgess



President – Soo Kim Jennings

President-elect – Kristina Krasnov Miller

Past-president – Melissa McCartney

Vice President for Programs – Xiamin Su

Vice President for Public Relations; Membership – Eada Wallbank

Vice President for Communications – Mayra Montrose

Vice President for Public Relations; Social Media – Bethany Brookshire

Vice President for Finance – Heather Dean



President – Melissa McCartney

President-elect – Soo Kim

Past-president – Jodi Wesemann (replacing Lisa Nichols)

Vice President for Programs – Alka Prasad

Vice President for Public Relations; Membership – Shana Spindler

Vice President for Communications – Lee-Ann Hayek

Vice President for Public Relations; Social Media – Jodi Wittlin

Vice President for Finance – Marcia Holden



President – Lisa Nichols

President Elect –Melissa McCartney

Past President –Anissa Elayadi

VP for Finance – Marcia Holden

VP for Programs – Alka Prasad

VP for Communications – Soo Kim

co-VP for Public Relations – Callie Raulfs-Wang

co-VP for Public Relations – Romina R. Heymann

co-VP for Public Relations – Shana Spindler



President – Anissa Elayadi

President Elect – Lisa Nichols

Past President – Jennifer Hobin

VP for Finance – Marcia Holden

VP for Programming – Jamie Whitacre

VP for Communications – Heather Gorby

VP for Public Relations – Nicole Gibson



President – Jennifer Hobin

President Elect – Anissa Elayadi

Past President – Jodi Wesemann

VP for Finance – Marcia Holden

VP for Programming – Lisa Nichols

VP for Communications – Jodi Wittlin

VP for Public Relations – Nicole Gibson



President – Jodi Wesemann

President Elect – Jennifer Hobin

Past President – Natalia Melcer

VP for Finance – Marcia Holden

VP for Programming – Ana Ferraras and Ester Sztein

VP for Communications – Angela Grant

VP for Public Relations – Christina Fuentes



President – Natalia Melcer

President Elect – Jodi Wesemann

VP for Finance – Lenka Federkova

VP for Programming – Jennifer Hobin

VP for Communications – Angela Grant

VP for Public Relations – Joslyn Kravitz



President – Jodi Wesemann

President Elect – Natalia Melcer

Past President – Nancy Bakowski

VP for Finance – Lenka Federkova

VP for Programming – Ester Sztein

VP for Communications – Anne Fleckenstein

VP for Public Relations – Lisa Frehill



President – Jodi Wesemann

VP for Finance – Lenka Federkova

VP for Programming – Natalia Melcer

VP for Communications – Ester Sztein

VP for Public Relations – Afua Anim



President – Nancy Bakowski/ Jodi Wesemann

VP for Finance – Lenka Federkova

VP for Programming –  Jodi Wesemann

VP for Communications – Judy Keen /Ester Sztein

VP for Public Relations – Afua Anim



President – Nancy Bakowski

VP for Finance – Lenka Federkova

VP for Programming – Tsvetanka Zheleva

VP for Communications – Edith Richmond Schartz

VP for Public Relations –  Jodi Wesemann