The award is the highest honor for volunteer work given annually to a member from each ARCS Foundation Chapter
Exceptional volunteer service and inspirational leadership skills are just a few of the valuable qualities ARCS Light Award recipients share, along with their determination and commitment to support STEM Scholars and promote advancements in science, engineering, and medical research.
ARCS Foundation will recognize fourteen ARCS members with the annual ARCS Light Award for their efforts to continue ARCS mission and selflessly giving their time and talents to benefit their local chapter and ARCS National.
The 2021 honorees went above and beyond to accomplish goals, while unable to meet in person or hold public events throughout 2020. These ARCS members displayed ingenuity, skill, and professionalism as they adapted to changes brought about by the pandemic. This award recognizes their accomplishments in fundraising, scholar support, educational webinars and field trips, recruitment, and event planning—all seamlessly performed on virtual platforms.
The following dedicated women are the 2021 ARCS Light Award recipients, by chapter:
Atlanta – Frances Swensson: Frances serves at the ARCS National level on the Chapter Engagement Committee and the All Members Conference Committee. Locally she served as VP of Administration and VP of Membership. Frances chaired the chapter’s Scholar Awards Luncheon and Internal Communications Committee. Chapter members consider Frances an “unsung hero,” who fully commits her time and talent to all ARCS functions.
Colorado – Sue Zoby: Sue is currently serving her third year as Colorado Chapter President. In 2020 she expertly transitioned chapter meetings to a virtual format, which enabled online “Scholar Meet and Greets” at each of the chapter’s six supported campuses. Sue also created a virtual version of the chapter’s annual Scholar Recognition event. After joining the chapter in 2014, Sue served as Bookkeeper and Assistant Treasurer. For several years, she compiled and wrote ARCS Colorado Student Scholar Profiles.
Honolulu – Roslyn “Roz” Pearson: Roz participates on the chapter board by taking minutes and providing sage advice to fellow members. She also makes a popular, labor-intensive passion fruit jelly that is sold at one of the chapter’s ARCS fundraisers. Roz is a charter member of ARCS Honolulu Chapter, which was founded in 1974.
Illinois – Patricia “Pat” Doherty: Pat is an enthusiastic supporter of the Illinois Chapter’s programs and fundraising events. A member of ARCS Illinois since 2008, Pat served on the Board of Directors from 2010 to 2017. She also chaired the Finance Committee and participated in the chapter’s Programs and Public Relations Committees.
Los Angeles – Yolanda Walther-Meade: Yolanda has been an active member of ARCS National Board since 2011. A member of two ARCS chapters, she was President of ARCS Los Angeles Founder Chapter from 2011 to 2014 and served as VP University Relations for five years. Yolanda has been Member Emerita of ARCS San Diego Chapter since 1992.
Metropolitan Washington – Doris Pierson: Doris is a tireless advocate for ARCS, introducing new members to the organization and providing opportunities for speaking events. Doris has served as Director-at-Large for several years in ARCS Metropolitan Washington Chapter. For two years, she co-chaired the Development Committee and served on the Membership, Special Events, and University Relations committees.
Minnesota – Anja Bielinsky: Anja has been instrumental in developing relationships with University of Minnesota, mainly by facilitating the addition of Neuroscience as the newest approved department for ARCS funding. Anja has served on the Minnesota Chapter Board of Directors for four years. She helped organize chapter events, which include moderating a panel of ARCS Scholars. She also led ARCS Minnesota Chapter’s Scientist of the Year selection committee.
Northern California – Christine Simpson Brent: Currently Christine is ARCS Northern California Chapter Co-Vice President of University Relations and Chair of the Nominating Committee. She served as Chapter President from 2017 to 2020 and helped raise more than $1,000,000 for three separate and consecutive years, which will fund ARCS Scholar Awards. At the national level, Chris serves on the Board as Council of Presidents Representative, Co-chair of University Relations, and Co-chair of the Collaboration Networks.
Orange County – Anna Papió Toda: Anna serves as the chapter’s current Vice President of Communications and Co-chair of the Information Strategies Collaboration Network. Anna received two separate MSc (Ing) degrees in electrical engineering and computer sciences from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona, Spain. In 2015 she earned her PhD degree in electrical engineering from University of California, Irvine.
Oregon – Lee Ragen: Lee is a member of the chapter’s Nominating Committee and specializes in helping members use their talents to lead ARCS. Lee served as Board Member-at-Large from 2017 to 2021 on several ad hoc committees and co-chaired the Oregon Chapter’s 15th Anniversary Celebration in 2019. She also chaired ARCS Oregon’s Member Relations Committee and headed up the Scholars Awards Luncheon in 2009 and 2010. During one of the events, Lee invited Bill Gates Senior to be the guest speaker at the luncheon.
Phoenix – Christine Burton: Since 2012, Christine has been a staunch supporter of the ARCS mission. Nationally her roles have included Director of Newsletter and Vice President of Membership. At the chapter level, Christine has served as Director of Public Relations & Newsletter, Chair of University Relations, and Vice President of the Fall Benefit and Awards Dinner.
Pittsburgh – Beverlynn “Bev” Elliott: Bev is a founding member of ARCS Pittsburgh Chapter (2003) and was the chapter’s first Fund Development Chair. In 2020–2021, she served as ARCS Pittsburgh Chapter President. Currently she is active at the national level as a member of the University Relations and Long-Range Planning committees. Bev also volunteers with other organizations, such as the Humane Animal Rescue and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
San Diego – June Chocheles: June is an active member of ARCS San Diego Chapter, most recently serving as Executive Vice President and Vice President of the Fund Development Committee. She has used her connections in the biotech community to increase sponsorships for the chapter’s Scientist of the Year events. Before joining ARCS San Diego, she was a member of ARCS Community Advisory Council.
Seattle – Carmen Gayton: Carmen continues to assist ARCS Seattle Chapter after joining the organization more than 25 years ago. She recently served as Director of Long-Range Planning. Her leadership was instrumental in crafting the chapter’s statement of support for Black Lives Matter and social justice issues, which also prompted important conversations and action at ARCS National level.