Athena Announces 2017 Pinnacle Award Winners

Seven organizations, individuals, lauded for achievements against competitive backdrop of more than 70 individuals, 20 companies

SAN DIEGO – May 5, 2017 Athena, a San Diego-based business organization championing women executives and rising managers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), announced today the winners of last night’s 19th annual Pinnacle Awards.

Seven organizations and individuals received top honors against a competitive backdrop of more than 70 individuals and 20 companies.

“We celebrated ‘The Art of the Possible’ in true San Diego fashion thanks to a terrific keynote address by renowned White House Champion of Change recipient, Haben Girma, and the recognition of the best and the brightest in our region.” said Cheryl Goodman, Executive Director of Athena. “We were excited to honor them and the nominees last night amidst a crowd of more than 600 leaders in science, technology and business will gather to recognize those who excelled in the recognition, promotion and mentorship of women in STEM.”

The honorees included:

Individual in Life Science

Sabrina Johnson
CEO & Founder, Daré Bioscience/ CFO, California Institute for Biomedical Research


Individual in Education

Pamela Cosman, Ph.D. 
Professor, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, UC San Diego


Individual in Technology

Nina Smith
Executive VP/General Manager, Casualty Solutions, Mitchell International


Individual in Service

Nancy Hong, Ph.D.
Managing Director, RiverVest Venture Partners



Mitchell International


Life Science Start-up



Technology Start-up

Coin Up


Mitchell International represented two of the seven awards, including Company of the Year, and its executive team includes 50% women. “Mitchell is honored to be recognized at the Athena Pinnacle Awards, both as a company and at an individual level, for our commitment to the advancement of women in technology. We share Nina’s commitment to developing the next generation of female leaders, embrace her philosophy that ‘each one should reach one and each one should teach one,’ and are proud of the many contributions she has made to Mitchell and to our industry,” said MG Kristian, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Mitchell.

Pinnacle Scholarships were also awarded to five graduating high school seniors last night to promote the future of young women in STEM. The winners are:

Kiara Bacasen, Otay Ranch High School

Liana Merk, Canyon Crest Academy

Mielynn Shi, Westview High School

Tammy Truong, Vista High School

Jessica Xu, Marantha Christian School


The event, in its 19th year, also raised more than $50,000 for the scholarship fund.

The Pinnacle Awards is a staple of Southern California's technology and life science industry, providing a dynamic environment of high-value networking and inspiring exposure to best of the best in overall professional development and leadership. The valued sponsors of this year’s event included:

Title Sponsor: Qualcomm

Presenting Sponsors: Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., Sony, ViaSat

Supporting Sponsors: Academy of Our Lady of Peace, Bank of America, San Diego Business Journal, Mintz Levin and Deskhub

More information is available at

About Athena San Diego

Athena is a 501(c)(6) business organization based in San Diego. Athena specializes in professional development for women in STEM. Offerings include programs, mentoring, workshops, and the annual Pinnacle Industry Awards and scholarships for women in STEM (through the Athena Foundation).

Athena also champions the next generation of women leaders in science and technology with its annual Pinnacle Scholarships. Each year, merit-based scholarships are awarded to five (5) qualified graduating high school senior women in San Diego County. Winners receive their scholarships at our annual Pinnacle Awards dinner in May. The Pinnacle Scholarship Fund is managed by the Athena Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, and our partner the San Diego Foundation.

For more information, visit

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