2019 Rosemary Schraer Mentoring and Achieving Women awardees announced

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —  Every year, an exceptional mentor and women who have shown remarkable professionalism and leadership at Penn State are recognized with two awards: the Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award and the Achieving Women Award.  

The 2019 award winners will be honored at a luncheon, to be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26, in the Presidents Hall at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. This year’s guest speaker is Tonya Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor of chemical engineering in the Penn State College of Engineering. 

Luncheon tickets will be available until April 19. The cost is $25 per person and $250 for a reserved table of 10 seats. Tickets must be purchased through the CVent site listed below, and credit card/p-card is the only accepted method of payment. An email confirmation will be sent once registration is complete.  

While the luncheon will officially begin at noon, the lunch buffet will open at 11:30 a.m. To reserve a table or seat online, visit http://www.cvent.com/d/p6qlth

Contact Robin Havens Tate at 814-863-6288 or [email protected] with any registration questions. 

Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award  — Zoubeida Ounaies, professor of mechanical engineering and associate department head for administration

The Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award was created in memory of Rosemary Schraer, former associate provost for Penn State. It honors a current University employee who exemplifies Schraer's giving of herself as a mentor. This year’s recipient is Zoubeida Ounaies.  

Ounaies is a professor of mechanical engineering and associate department head for administration at Penn State. At the University, she has established the Electroactive Materials Characterization Laboratory (EMCLab), an experimental research facility dedicated to advancing the application of functional materials in sensing, actuation and energy harvesting. She has authored and co-authored over 150 published papers in leading journals, refereed proceedings, and invited book chapters, and she is the inventor or co-inventor of eight patents. In her role as associate department head, Ounaies is passionate about mentoring and empowering faculty so that they can achieve the success they deserve.   

Ounaies was selected as a Big Ten Academic Alliance Leadership Fellow in 2017-2018. She is a fellow of the ASME, senior member of SPIE and serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. 

Achieving Women Awards 

The Achieving Women Award recognizes Penn State women who have shown notable leadership and accomplishment in their fields, and have gone beyond the requirements of their employment duties and responsibilities in support of the University’s diversity efforts, promotion of equal opportunity, or contribution to human causes and public service activities. The following people will be honored:  

Graduate Student — Hannah L. Kempema, MBA student in the Smeal College of Business  

Originally from Austin, Texas, Kempema will be graduating in May with her MBA from the Smeal College of Business with concentrations in finance and marketing. At Penn State, she made significant contributions to expanding the role of Smeal’s National Association of Women MBAs. The student group promotes discussions around gender equity in the workplace and works to serve as a model of dedicated, inclusive professionalism. Prior to enrolling at Penn State, she worked as a real estate broker on a nationally-ranked team in New York City. 

Staff Exempt — Susan A. Johnson, assistant director of research funding, planning and operations in the College of the Liberal Arts

Johnson has been at Penn State for 12 years, all in the College of the Liberal Arts. She currently serves as the assistant director of research funding, planning and operations in the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. In her role she oversees the college’s budgets for 22 centers and institutes; monitors the Start Up, External Recognition and Promotion and Tenure funding for faculty; and manages the Undergraduate Student Research Funding. In addition, she monitors over 60 budgets and 80 professorships. Along with the day-to-day operations of the Research and Graduate Studies Office, Johnson supervises the office staff, as well as mentoring new administrative assistants and center staff.  She has served on the United Way Committee, the Dean’s Staff Advisory Council (co-chair), and also the University Staff Advisory Council for five years, serving as secretary for two.   

Staff–Non-Exempt —Kris Benefield, manager of the IT Learning and Development department

Benefield, a former writing teacher and Learning Designer, now serves as the manager of the IT Learning and Development department at Penn State. She holds a masters of English and education from Northern Arizona University, and she plans to begin pursuing additional graduate education in the immediate future.  

Faculty — Lucy Johnston-Walsh, clinical professor and director of the Children’s Advocacy Clinic at Penn State Dickinson Law 

Johnston-Walsh is a clinical professor and director of the Children’s Advocacy Clinic at Penn State Dickinson Law. In this position, she supervises law students as they represent child clients in court proceedings involving child maltreatment cases. Johnston-Walsh is also the director of the Center on Children and the Law at Penn State. Prior to directing the Clinic, Johnston-Walsh worked as a staff attorney at MidPenn Legal Services, and as a policy director for a statewide child advocacy organization. Before attending law school, Johnston-Walsh practiced as a social worker in the public school system of Virginia. She received her juris doctor from the Dickinson School of Law and her master's in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Administrator — Debra Conway, director of continuing education at Penn State Hazleton 

Conway is director of continuing education at Penn State Hazleton, where she oversees credit and noncredit certificate programming to include anchor programs of practical nursing, allied health and industrial maintenance. Conway has more than 20 years’ experience in higher education focusing on sales, management and employee development. She was instrumental in developing the industrial maintenance program for Penn State to meet the needs of business and industry. She taught as an adjunct instructor within the business departments at Misericordia University and Penn State Hazleton. 

Conway serves as the education representative for the Hazleton Can Do Economic Development Agency and is an advisory committee member for the Hazleton Area Career Center Electrical Technology program. She holds an associate of science in business administration from Luzerne County Community College, a bachelor of science in business from Penn State and an MBA from Wilkes University.