Own It: WEST Annual Awards and Networking Night

We already have over 200 registered and 15 on the waitlist.

On January 23rd, WEST will host our annual Awards and Networking Night. This marquee event provides WEST an opportunity to look back on 2018 and look ahead to 2019. It also gives us a chance to thank and recognize the community that has contributed to making 2018 one of our most successful years ever. This year, we will honor members and sponsors of the WEST community who exemplify the spirit of WEST and our 2018-2019 theme: “Own It: Empowering Your Career & Your Life.” Many of our sponsors helped us to select awardees - individuals from their companies who advance women leaders, serve as exemplary leaders or role models, or those who give back to the community in meaningful ways. We will also honor WEST volunteers and supporters whose dedication and outreach efforts have helped us reach our strategic goals.

Awardees include:

  • Denise Aronson, CEO and Founder at Safety Partners, Inc.
  • Kira Connaughton, Sr Specialist Talent Development US, Takeda 
  • Julia CurranManager, Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit (OTAU) Business Operations
  • Ivana Magovčević-Liebisch, Ph.D., J.D., Executive Vice President, Global External Innovation & Partnerships, Chief Business Officer at Ipsen
  • Finola Moore, Associate Director of Immune Tolerance at SQZ Biotechnologies
  • Rebecca Murphy, Marketing and Commercial Executive Assistant at bluebird bio
  • Mark Parrington, Senior Director, Head of External R&D Americas, Sanofi Pasteur
  • Ann-Marie Richard, PhD, Patient and External Association Engagement Lead at Pfizer
  • Karen Single, Executive Director in the Center for Professional Career Development & Alumni Services within the Academic Affairs department at MCPHS University
  • Peter Stebbins, Transactions Lead, Medical Devices at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center
  • Joseph Vogel, Senior Manager of Program and Alliance Management at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
  • Daphne Zohar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PureTech Health
WEST Stand Out Volunteer and Supporter Awardees:
  • Diana Anderson, Blogs
  • Tatiana Demidova-Rice, Events
  • Stella Kafka, Event Social Media
  • Peng Meng Kou, Events/Programming Committee
  • Angie O'Donnell, Workshop Leader
  • Karen Perez de Arce, Events
  • Kanoelani Pilobello, Marketing/Events
  • Anne Weeks, Events

More details about the awardees below.


Date and Time:
January 23, 2019
6:00 - 8:30 PM

Evening’s Schedule 
6:00-6:30: Registration, Mingling, Appetizers, Wine
6:30-6:45: Welcome, Acknowledgement of Sponsors, Overview of the Evening
6:45-7:15: Facilitated Networking
7:15-7:45: Award Presentation
7:45-8:00: WEST Looking Forward, Looking Back
8:00-8:30: Optional Networking


Takeda, 35 Landsdowne Street, 35 café, Cambridge, MA 02139

Campus Map 

There is a parking lot, 55 Franklin Street Garage (Le Meridien Hotel building) and street parking on Landsdowne and Sidney streets.  It is $12 if you enter after 5pm.

$10 for Members, $20 for non-members

Cancellation Policy:
All programs are non-refundable.


Please plan to check at the reception/security desk with a picture identification card.

Become a sponsor and contribute to a great cause.  For more information, email [email protected] or call 857-600-2598.   



Thank You to Our Event Sponsors


Gold Level Sponsor 



Silver Level Sponsor 



Bronze Level Sponsor  




More About the Awardees

Denise Aronson, CEO and Founder, Safety Partners, Inc.

As a pioneer in the life science health and safety industry, Denise founded Safety Partners in 1992 after having her first child, when there were few opportunities for scientists to work part-time. Denise parlayed her lab safety experience into a small, woman-owned business, thus allowing her to balance her career with parenthood. As Safety Partners grew, she prioritized recruiting others facing similar choices in balancing career and family – building a bridge for many to continue to share their scientific expertise and raise their families. Since then, Denise and her team of 50+ employees have implemented lab safety programs for more than 500 top life science companies. She has built a corporate culture that emphasizes peer-to-peer relationships and mentoring. As a member of the “Greater Cambridge” life science community, Denise has devoted countless hours to supporting many non-profit organizations including WEST, AWIS, MassBio, the North Shore Technology Council and The Bioscience Network.

Julia Curran - Manager Oncology Therapeutic Area Business Operations, Takeda

Julia has been passionate, innovative and widely active in her dedication to diversity and inclusion. She has served as an ambassador of Takeda R&D Diversity & Inclusion initiatives at internal and external events. At the Invitation of the Takeda women’s group in Japan – Hanamizuki – she represented R&D at Takeda’s Women’s Day in Japan in 2018. She proposed an innovative concept in celebration of International Women’s Day dubbed the “selfie campaign” that has been adopted on a global basis by Takeda. Julia has also been involved in the Boston chapter of the HBA since 2013 and served as Co-chair, along with Kira Connaughton, of the Takeda HBA Ambassadors in 2017 and 2018. The HBA Ambassadors, under Julia and Kira’s leadership, have been active in sponsoring many events including the Connect for Success Luncheons and the Fostering Women Leaders Panels. Their poster at the HBA National Conference in 2016 was selected for special recognition. Julia is also an active member of the Boston Biotech and Pharma Women’s Networking Forum that connects many different organizations in the greater Boston area. Julia truly stands out as a champion of diversity and inclusion inside and outside Takeda. 

Kira Connaughton - Sr Specialist Talent Development US, Takeda

Kira plays a key role in the development of women including co-leadership , with Julia Curran, of Takeda Boston’s HBA Ambassador Group since May, 2017. Under Kira and Julia’s leadership, the HBA Ambassador group offered a panel discussion at Takeda around Fostering Women Leadership with female Takeda leaders and presented at the recent J-WIN event to provide 100 Japanese women with information about HBA and Takeda’s participation. Kira and Julia’s presentation at the 2016 HBA conference won special recognition for Takeda’s poster at the session. Kira also holds a marketing leadership position in the HBA/Fit to Lead program. Recently, Kira partnered with Talent Acquisition to coordinate and develop a women’s panel discussion for Takeda Boston’s 2018 summer interns, and she manages the selection process within Takeda for the Women Unlimited program across the US.

Ivana Magovčević-Liebisch, Ph.D., J.D., Executive Vice President, Global External Innovation & Partnerships, Chief Business Officer at Ipsen

Ivana Magovčević-Liebisch, Ph.D., J.D., has been driving business growth and advancing the life sciences industry for more than 20 years, fueled by her passion to improve patients’ lives. She is an Executive Vice President and the Chief Business Officer at Ipsen. She leads Ipsen’s Global External Innovation and Partnering group which is responsible for fueling Ipsen’s pipeline through business development and alliance management. Throughout her career, Ivana has taken the responsibility to encourage and support women to take on leadership positions in biopharma. She believes women in scientific fields should not only mentor their female colleagues during their careers but that the process of empowerment should begin long before they enter the professional world. She serves on the Board of the Boston Museum of Science and Life Science Cares Board of Advisors, and is a trustee of Suffolk University, and an overseer of the Boston Ballet and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Finola Moore, Associate Director of Immune Tolerance at SQZ Biotechnologies

Finola Moore is the Associate Director of Immune Tolerance at SQZ Biotechnologies, where she applies the SQZ technology to manipulate the immune system for the treatment of autoimmune disease. Finola empowers and supports women scientists not only at SQZ, but in the greater Boston community as a role model for confident and effective leadership, mentoring the next generation of women scientists through the AWIS mentoring program, and involvement in alumni associations to support career development of students. In addition to her successes and contribution to women in STEM, she champions a work-life balance for herself, direct reports, and those she mentors. For these reasons, she is a true embodiment of WEST’s 2018-2019 theme of “Owning It” in both one's career and life.

Rebecca Murphy, Marketing and Commercial Executive Assistant at bluebird bio

bluebird bio would like to acknowledge the incredible contributions of Rebecca Murphy, our marketing and commercial executive assistant. Rebecca is actively engaged with our bWILD employee resource group (Women Influencing Leadership Development) by being an active member of the Outreach Team and has also actively participated in our partnership with WEST. One of the many ways that Rebecca demonstrated impact this year was through the creation of a 2-part work/life balance panel. This engaging process included an initial panel to explore work/life balance, a prompt to share and practice work/life balance hacks, a tool to measure action and impact, “flamingo” lunches and a follow-up panel to share the actions and impacts. In addition, Rebecca was a force to be reckoned with when we launched bWILD in 2018 with our kick-off event led by esteemed BOD member, Wendy Dixon, including taking photos of birds dressed as Rosie the Riveter, and greatly helped with the bWILD booth at International Day, to name a few of the additional contributions. Rebecca ongoingly brings new, creative ideas to bluebird bio wherever she is involved and a deep dedication to diversity, inclusion and the development of women across our organization and beyond.

Mark Parrington, Senior Director, Head of External R&D Americas, Sanofi Pasteur

Mark Parrington is a senior leader who actively encourages the development of women. Mark is a great supporter of MA-WISE (Massachusetts chapter of Women Inspiring Sanofi Excellence), the internal Sanofi resource group for women. With his frequent attendance of MA-WISE events, Mark sends the message that these are important events that are worth attending. Yet Mark does not merely attend events, he volunteers. Mark participated in a MA-WISE speed networking event and spent 90 minutes offering guidance and insights 7 minutes at a time. When I first volunteered for MA-WISE, Mark challenged me to have a MA-WISE event at our site. Ours is a small site and previously had not held a MA-WISE event. I took up this challenge and the result was an amazing “Rapid Prototyping Workshop” at which people learned about design thinking. Without Mark, I wouldn’t have done this. His challenge enabled my growth as a leader.   

Ann-Marie Richard, PhD, Patient and External Association Engagement Lead at Pfizer

Ann-Marie Richard, PhD, is the Patient and External Association Engagement Lead in the Internal Medicine Research Unit at Pfizer. She has over 10 years of pharmaceutical drug discovery experience as a Principal Scientist in metabolic diseases. Currently as a Patient Engagement Lead, she has established herself as a bridge between researchers and the patient / patient advocacy community. She helps build understanding and trust between scientific teams and patients and/or caregivers to bring valuable perspectives into drug discovery. Ann-Marie is also the Chair of ADVANCE Greater Boston -- African Americans Dedicated to Value Added Networking for Corporate Excellence, the local African American Colleague Resource Group (CRG) at Pfizer. Through her leadership, ADVANCE had a great year in 2018, including activities around health awareness, particularly in disadvantaged communities, diversity networking (ADVANCE partnered with other diverse CRGs in local Pharma/Biotech to create a community for professionals of color within Greater Boston’s growing Biotechnology sector that fosters collaboration, networking, support and innovation), internal team building, and professional growth that helps drive Pfizer’s business forward. Ann-Marie is also the Founder and President of the Dominican Health and Education Initiative, a 501c3 non-profit aimed towards elevating the health and education standards on the island of Dominica.

Karen Single, Executive Director in the Center for Professional Career Development & Alumni Services within the Academic Affairs department at MCPHS University

Karen Single is very passionate about many things in life, and if you’ve worked with her you know that she is a champion for women in stem careers. Her zeal to see our students succeed in this field was followed by action when she started the Women in Stem Careers program with a grant from Sanofi Genzyme about two year ago outside of her regular responsibilities as the Executive Director. This initiative partners undergraduate female students needing an extra boost with mentors of their choosing that help guide them in their journey to academic, personal and career success. Throughout the year, students are engaged with a fun and impactful program that encompasses professional development workshops, one on one coaching, networking outings, and inspirational and motivational speakers. In addition to recruiting volunteer mentors, organizing and planning the program, she also serves as a mentor herself. Any student having her as a mentor will be challenged to reach their full potential with her tough love approach. She takes no nonsense when it comes to owning one's actions and consequential outcomes. She will however make sure that you know how to access all of the necessary information and resources to push forth.

Peter Stebbins, Transactions Lead, Medical Devices at Johnson & Johnson Innovation

Based at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Boston, Peter provides deal leadership in partnering with early stage companies across the medical device sectors and has been with Johnson & Johnson since 1990. Peter is a strong champion for diversity and inclusion and connects us with opportunities to support gender equality and LGBTQ rights. Most recently he was instrumental in helping lead J&J’s local Boston participation in the WiSTEM2D program to help nurture bright undergrad students interested in science and engineering by helping them bridge their passions to careers as researchers, professors, innovators and, to become tomorrow’s STEM mentors. He is also a volunteer with The Possible Project, an after school program that teaches entrepreneurship.

Joseph Vogel, Senior Manager of Program and Alliance Management at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Joseph Vogel is a Senior Manager of Program and Alliance Management at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA where he has worked since 2015. He has 10+ years of experience in all phases of drug development, focused mainly in the rare and genetic disease space. He is passionate about diversity and inclusion and believes it is a critical aspect of getting drugs to patients successfully. In addition to his day job, Joe has made a tremendous impact by leading the development and launch of Alnylam’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. Under his leadership Alnylam established two Employee Resource Networks, launched an internal Managing Unconscious Bias workshop, developed a strong internal/external D&I brand, and increased involvement with local biotech affinity groups. Joe is heavily involved with the community organization OutBIO – a networking group for LGBTQ individuals in the drug development industry and has plans to spearhead Alnylam’s involvement in the 2019 Boston Pride initiative. Joe is an extremely valuable player at Alnylam and in the Biotech industry and deserves to be recognized for his innovative and passionate approach to diversity and inclusion across the board.

Daphne Zohar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PureTech Health

Daphne Zohar is an amazing technologist, visionary, and entrepreneur.  She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PureTech Health (PRTC.L) and a member of the Board of Directors. PureTech Health is an advanced, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel medicines targeting serious diseases that result from dysfunctions in the nervous, immune, and gastrointestinal systems (brain-immune-gut or the “BIG” axis). PureTech Health is at the forefront of understanding and addressing the biological processes and crosstalk associated with the BIG axis. By harnessing this emerging field of human biology, the Company is pioneering new categories of medicine with the potential to have great impact on people with serious diseases. PureTech Health is advancing a rich pipeline that includes multiple post human proof-of-concept studies and two product candidates that have been filed with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review. Ms. Zohar created PureTech Health, assembling a leading team to help implement her vision for the Company. Ms. Zohar has been recognized as a top leader and innovator in biotechnology by a number of sources, including EY, BioWorld, MIT’s Technology ReviewThe Boston Globe, and Scientific American. She is an Editorial Advisor to Xconomy, and is on the Board of WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station.