2024 Inspire STEM Gala Honorees

Chakara Cardillo headshot

Chakara Cardillo stands as a distinguished educator with over a decade of invaluable experience within Randolph Public Schools. Her commitment to advancing STEM education has garnered widespread recognition, including being named the PLTW 2018 Rookie Teacher of the Year by the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Notably, she has been featured on Boston25 News during Teacher Appreciation Week and celebrated as a District Spotlight Teacher. Chakara’s influence extends beyond local boundaries; she was a finalist for the prestigious Patriots Hall of Fame Presented by Raytheon Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year award, further underlining her dedication to educational excellence.

In addition to her illustrious teaching career, Chakara has showcased her versatility by excelling as a ballroom pro-am competitor, a Rose Scholar, and a distinguished pageant queen, holding titles such as Mrs. Universe International 2023-2024 and Mrs. Massachusetts America 2017. She has also judged various local, state, and national pageant competitions for scholarship, merit, and volunteerism. Serving as a PLTW Community Leads Team Member Alumna, Chakara remains at the forefront of educational innovation, supporting educators both locally and nationally. She has provided a voice for the necessary implementation of STEM education for K-12 throughout the country. Her involvement as an alumna of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Inspired Fellow has positioned her as a conference presenter, sharing insights and strategies to enhance educational practices as well as influence the need of future educators from diverse backgrounds.

As an advocate for diversity, inclusivity, and equity in education, Chakara is committed to providing students with a multitude of opportunities for success. She prioritizes the cultivation of problem-solving skills essential for navigating today’s complex society, emphasizing adaptability and real- world applications in her teaching approach. Through her roles as a Master Teacher with Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and the support of Applied Learning Hub, she fosters an immersive learning environment enriched by authentic feedback and industry connections with the commitment of transportable skills as the forefront of her pedagogy. Chakara’s visionary approach to education is evident in her efforts to shape policy and advocate for the advancement of STEM initiatives. She has presented deliverables and feedback to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, served on panels at statewide STEM conferences, and championed events like STEM Week to integrate STEM and STEAM cross-content curricula. With a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Pre-med concentration) and a minor in chemistry, and the pursuit of a Masters in Educational Leadership Chakara’s passion for education fuels her innovative curriculum development and student engagement strategies, bridging the gap between academia and practical application.

As a graduate of the Leadership Institute at Bridgewater State University and an active member of instructional and applied learning teams, Chakara remains dedicated to her professional growth and leadership roles. Her impact transcends the classroom as she continues to inspire students and educators nationwide, advocating for the importance of STEM and STEAM education in shaping the future. Chakara believes it is important for students to take risks and charge of their learning by participating in competitions for academic success, technological advancements, and scholarships. As Ivan Alton Fitzwater aptly stated, “The future of the world is in my classroom today.”

As an eighth-grade engineering/ STEM teacher and PLTW certified instructor Chakara Cardillo remains steadfast in her commitment to empowering students and effecting positive change within her community and beyond.

Dutrochet Djoko, PharmD headshot

Dr. Dutrochet Djoko is an Associate Director, Medical Reviewer at Sarepta Therapeutics.

In his current role, he is responsible for providing oversight of the review of promotional and medical materials for scientific/medical validity across Sarepta’s Portfolio including OPDP and APLB materials.

Prior to joining Sarepta, he worked for 16 years as a retail pharmacist and 12 years as a hospital clinical pharmacist, and 4 years as a high school teacher. He remains widely recognized for his contributions to the community as a mentor for the Biomedical Science Careers Program (BSCP), skilled and dedicated pharmacist.

Dr. Djoko has earned accolades for his civic leadership, especially for his commitment to educating the public about medication adverse events, and the potential risks of prescription drug abuse. He has focused on halting the rise of opioid addiction by spearheading programs reaching more than 1,500 high school students across the state. Dr. Djoko serves as an advisory board member for Recovery Centers for America. He is a trustee for Salem Hospital and a member of the Quality and Professional Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Mass General Brigham & Women and Salem Hospital committee on Community Health, Workforce and Patient Equity.

Dr. Djoko’s civic engagement extends beyond our borders. He serves on the Scientific Board of STEMpower. In 2022, Dr. Djoko returned to his native country Cameroon for the grand opening and inauguration of the first STEM Center the country and all of Central Africa has ever seen at the University of Dschang. Spearheading this initiative with the help of STEMpower, Dr. Djoko’s goal was to be able to aid the youth of Africa and provide them with basic resources often scarce there.

A resident of Danvers, Dr. Djoko is a town meeting member and serves on the Danvers Board of Health. He is a member of the Massachusetts Human Rights Commission and is the current chair of the Danvers Human Rights and Inclusion Committee.

For his professional and civic accomplishments, Dr. Djoko has been recognized with numerous awards including the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus with a Black Excellence on the Hill Award and three times finalist for the Next Generation Pharmacists Award in the Civic Leader category, given by Pharmacy Times.

After his BS and MS in biological sciences at the University of Dschang, Dr. Djoko earned a MS in education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and a doctorate in Pharmacy from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University..s

Chiderah Okoye headshot

Chiderah Okoye serves as Co-founder and Chair of Transform Power Systems, a Boston-based electrical power systems engineering and design firm. Transform Power Systems was founded with the focus of advancing clean energy through deploying engineered renewable systems and developing the next generation of clean energy professionals. In 2023, the organization launched the Transform Power Workforce Hub in collaboration with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to drive the training and job placement of Massachusetts-based adults into clean energy careers.

Through December 2023, Chiderah concurrently served as Executive Director of Venly, an ecosystem platform software firm in Cambridge, MA. Venly created and maintains a Member- Oriented Management System that helps small businesses collaborate and compete more effectively as part of global value chains. As part of that work, she supported the launch of the Cambridge-based 501(c)3 the Mary S. Peake Fellowship which leads a national initiative to train college students, graduates, and veterans on digitally enabled capabilities that they in turn use to help local businesses grow.

An engineer by background, Chiderah has long been interested in how opportunities created by technology could be shared by historically disconnected communities. She previously served President and President Emeritus of the National Society of Black Engineers – Boston chapter She is the founding Co-Chair of the Affinity Leadership Consortium (ALC), an initiative that brings together diverse demographic professional organizations to advance the talent development, education, and economic outcomes of its member organizations. In recognition for her ongoing community-based efforts, Chiderah was selected by the World Economic Forum to join the Boston Hub of the Global Shapers. In February 2017 Chiderah received a 5-year appointment by then-Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to serve on the Black Advisory Commission to inform on opportunities for inclusive economic prosperity and wellness. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) and Resilient Coders, an initiative that upskills adults into software development jobs without the barrier of a college degree.

Chiderah lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston with her husband and son. She looks forward to supporting how communities, like the one that she lives and works in, can be innovators in driving sustainable and inclusive growth.

Dr Renee Richardson Gosline

Dr. Renée Richardson Gosline is a Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and head of the Human-First AI group at MIT’s Initiative on The Digital Economy. She is an expert on the intersection between behavioral science and technology, and the implications of AI for cognitive bias in human decision-making.

Renée has been named a Digital Fellow at Stanford’s Digital Economy Lab, an honoree on the Thinkers50 Radar List of thinkers who are “putting a dent in the universe,” and one of the World’s Top 40 Professors under 40 by Poets and Quants. She has presented her research to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as a featured speaker at SXSW, and to the OECD. Her work has been published in academic journals and books and been featured in international media outlets including PBS, The BBC, The Wall Street Journal, The BBC, The Economist, Fast Company, NPR, Yahoo Finance, Forbes, and Psychology Today.

Renée is a leading thinker on how AI affects human judgment and the interplay of human and AI bias. Her forthcoming book, In Praise of Friction, examines how AI affects our experiences, and the importance of auditing our decision-making processes to minimize “bad friction” and leverage “beneficial friction.” Her experiments have examined: the persuasiveness of generative AI and human co-authorship; the impact of adding friction to generative AI to improve quality; when people are likely to exhibit algorithmic aversion or appreciation; how cognitive style predicts preference for AI versus human input; how technology affects performance via placebo effects; how consumers determine “real” from “fake” products; and the effects of storytelling in social media on trust and persuasion.

Renée enjoys teaching MBA and Executive Education classes, and specializes in advising on CX strategy, creating a culture of experimentation, and Responsible AI. She has collaborated with and given keynotes for a variety of organizations on CX and Leadership, including Goldman Sachs, Salesforce, IBM, Procter and Gamble, Accenture, Johnson & Johnson, Analog Devices Incorporated, TD Ameritrade, and Capgemini. Prior to academia, she was a marketing practitioner at LVMH Moet Hennessy and Leo Burnett.

She received her Undergraduate, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees at Harvard University.

Renée serves on the Board of Directors of the National Kidney Foundation, the Board of Directors of The Equity Alliance investment fund, the Executive Board of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) CX Council, and the Scientific Affiliate Board of the Behavioral Economics group Ideas42, and the advisory board of Sloan Management Review. She lives with her husband, son, and dog in Massachusetts.

Tanya Towns headshot

Tanya Towns is the Senior Manager for Amgen Operations Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DI&B) External Engagement, playing a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s approach to fostering diversity and inclusion. As a key member of the Operations Talent and Culture senior team, she spearheads initiatives aimed at cultivating partnerships and programs aligned with Operations’ strategic focus areas. With a profound commitment to attracting diverse talent, Tanya drives Amgen’s external engagement efforts in DI&B. Collaborating closely with talent acquisition, internal stakeholders, and business leaders, she strives to achieve breakthrough outcomes that mirror the communities Amgen serves. 

Tanya’s journey at Amgen began in 2011 within the Worldwide Compliance and Business Ethics function, where she contributed to Enterprise Records and Information Management Compliance. Since then, she has held various roles spanning Information Security, Operations, and Human Resources, emerging as a trailblazer in the Operations DI&B team. 

Before her tenure at Amgen, Tanya amassed 14 years of experience in food & beverage manufacturing and Quality Assurance, complemented by 5 years of leadership in Real Estate banking. Her diverse background underscores her deep understanding of organizational dynamics and commitment to fostering inclusive workplaces. 

Outside of her professional endeavors, Tanya resides in California with her husband of 29 years, relishing their empty-nest phase from four children. An avid advocate for community service, she dedicates her spare time to various causes, including church, veterans, youth, and under-resourced communities. Tanya finds joy in exploring new cuisines, embarking on adventures through travel, and nurturing her passion for continuous learning.

Tanya’s dedication to Amgen is rooted in its people and culture, encapsulated by her mantra: “My passion led me to Amgen but people and culture keep me at Amgen.” 

Drawing inspiration from luminaries like Harriet Tubman and Michael Jordan, Tanya embraces the power of perseverance and resilience in overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness.


Quotes that inspire me 

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman,  
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” — Michael Jordan, former professional basketball player

Janeen Uzzell Keynote speaker headshot

Janeen Uzzell is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the largest student-run organization in the United States that focuses on improving the advancement of Black engineers in academia and industry with more than 30,000 members worldwide. As a strong STEM leader, she reinforces NSBE’s overall mission to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.

Janeen’s leadership has spanned around the world from Fortune 100 companies to the private sector to government. Her previous role was Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, one of the top five websites in the world. While in this role, Janeen launched the Office of the COO, introduced organizational rigor and process improvement, led a staff of more than 500, and operated a budget of $140M. She also created the Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund, a $4.5 million fund created to provide grants to external organizations that support knowledge equity by addressing the racial inequities preventing access and participation in free knowledge. This fund developed out of the intensified racial trauma toward Black people in 2020.

For nearly two decades, Janeen’s experience implementing the design and use of technology drove impact on global outcomes at General Electric (GE). As the head of Women in Technology, she effectively accelerated the number of women in technical roles across the 300,000-employee workforce. She directed numerous company-wide initiatives as the Global Director of External Affairs and Technology Programs and the Director of Healthcare Programs at GE Africa, where Janeen lived for several years as an Ex-Pat in Accra, Ghana. In addition, she held positions as the Director of Global Healthcare Programs, the Director of Healthcare Disparity Programs, and the Director of Service Operations for GE.

A recipient of numerous awards for her professional accomplishments, Janeen’s credits include being recognized by ADWEEK as one of the Top Black Women Trailblazers in Tech, one of the 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal, The United Nations Global Leadership Award, the GE ICON Leadership Award, and The Network Journal’s 40-Under-40 Business Leadership Award. Her community endeavors as a servant leader extend worldwide. She has served as an Ambassador for Global Causes; an expert in Public Private Partnerships; and a strategist with Ministries of Health, Heads of State, and global partners. She has also held leadership roles on the United Nations Council as well as the Global Health Council for her strategic focus on healthcare solutions in low resource settings.

Janeen received her Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a Master of Business Administration in International Business from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Currently, she serves on the board of Mercy Ships International, and the dFree Global Foundation. She was a former advisor for NCA&T’s College of Engineering, her alma mater. She is a venture capital investor and Chairwoman of the Greybridge SPAC. Most recently, Janeen was appointed by President Biden to serve the White House on the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A thought leader and a voice of influence throughout her career, Janeen fuses her passion for social justice and her leadership as a global technology executive to establish diversity, equity, and inclusion in technology through product development and leadership advancement. Her career forms a beacon of light shining on inequality in tech spaces and forges opportunities for others who seek to follow this path. In her spare time, Janeen enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her family and friends. She is based in Washington, D.C.

Dr Gilda Barabino

Gilda A. Barabino is President of Olin College of Engineering. A chemical engineering pioneer in the field of medicine and global health, she has pursued an equity ethic across her interdisciplinary career.

Under her leadership, Olin College is increasing its representation of women and people of color among faculty and students under its mission of “Engineering for Everyone,” where engineering is open to all, and engineering is done in service of everyone.

Dr. Barabino was the first African American to pursue a graduate degree in chemical engineering at Rice University and the fifth Black woman in the United States to receive a PhD in chemical engineering. Her groundbreaking research on sickle cell anemia informed current technologies and formed the basis for novel therapies. Through her subsequent work in global health and interdisciplinary research and education, Dr. Barabino pioneered new engineering approaches to problems in medicine.

Advocating for equity and justice throughout her career, she was Dean of the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York, the inaugural vice provost for academic diversity at Georgia Tech, and vice provost for undergraduate education at Northeastern University. She is the founder and executive director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity and co-chaired the seminal National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine study and report on Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations.

Dr. Barabino has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently the board chair and a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She serves on the Defense Innovation Board and the boards of Science for America, the National Institutes of Health National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, VentureWell, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital – Needham.

Dr Wesley Harris

Dr. Wesley L. Harris is currently the Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, director of the MIT Hypersonics Research Laboratory, and Head of New House Residence Hall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

He was elected vice president of the National Academy of Engineering in 2022.

Dr. Harris served as Head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT from 2003-2008, and as associate provost for faculty equity at MIT from 2008-2013.

He served as Associate Administrator for Aeronautics at NASA from 1993-1995, responsible for all programs, facilities, and personnel in Aeronautics.

From 1990 to 1993, Dr. Harris performed as Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma, Tennessee. From 1985 to 1990 he served as Dean of the School of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. And from 1972 to 1985, he held several faculty and administrative positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His academic research is associated with unsteady aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, rarefied gas dynamics, hypersonics, sustainment of capital assets, and chaos in sickle cell disease, having made seminal contributions in each of these research fields. In academia, he worked with industry and governments to design and build joint industry-government-university research and development programs, centers, and institutes, and effectively transferred technology. He is credited with more than 150 technical papers and presentations.

Dr. Harris developed an outstanding record in advancing cultural diversity in academia and government. 

He served as chair and member of various boards and committees of the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Science Board, Universities Space Research Association, and several state governments. He served on committees of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Helicopter Society, and the National Technical Association. Dr. Harris also served as advisor to colleges, universities, and institutes.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1964, and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences from Princeton University in 1966 and 1968 respectively. Dr. Harris was elected an Honorary Fellow of the AIAA and a Fellow of AAAS, AHS, and IAA for his engineering achievements, engineering education, management, and advancing cultural diversity. He was also recognized by election to membership in the National Academy of Engineering, the Cosmos Club, and the Confrerie des Chavaliers du Tastevin. Dr. Harris received several honorary doctorates.

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