Keynote Speakers

2022 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Tristesse Burton

Dr. Tristesse Burton is a Westside Chicago native with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in Crop Sciences,  a  Master of Science in Law from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago in Pharmacognosy.

She has over 10 years of interdisciplinary and collaborative research experience, including working within the fields of phytochemistry, pharmacognosy, anthropology, nutrition sciences, and health disparities research that collaborates with American Indian communities.  Dr. Burton has received over 15 awards, fellowships, and grants including two NIH awards, and was a previous IBHE Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois Fellow. She presented her research at over 20 conferences, first and co-authored eight papers and two book chapters. She previously served as a Faculty Instructor for the UIC Urban Health Program’s Research Training and Career Development Program and a  Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

She is also a previous Board Member for Expanding Your Horizons in 2018 and served on the organizing committee from 2013-2017.  She is currently a UIC T32 Precision Lifestyle Medicine and Translation Research (PREMIER) Postdoctoral Fellow and a collaborator within the UNLV, Center for Health Disparities Research. She is a first-generation college and graduate student, a wife, and a mother to an energetic toddler. Her passions are in increasing minority representation in STEM careers and higher education and eliminating perinatal health disparities that affect African American and American Indian women.

2021 Keynote Speaker

Karen K. Harris, Senior Vice President – IHA

Karen K. Harris, Senior V.P. –  Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) 

Karen K. Harris is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA), a trade association representing over 200 hospitals and 50 health systems.  In addition to her corporate legal responsibilities, Ms. Harris also assists in the development of policy positions on issues affecting hospitals and their communities, and in the advocacy of those positions at the federal, state, and local levels of government.  Ms. Harris also serves as Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys, a trade association representing over 600 health law attorneys.

Immediately prior to joining IHA, Ms. Harris was a partner in the Health Care Practice Group in the Chicago office of Saul, Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr LLP.  Her practice focused on transactional and regulatory health care law on behalf of all types of health care providers and entities, including hospital systems, physicians, IPAs, ambulatory surgical centers and other health care professionals, managed care companies, pharmaceutical companies, and HMOs. Ms. Harris also previously served as regional general counsel at Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc.

Among other awards/honors, in 2018 Ms. Harris was named a Women of Influence honoree by the Chicago Business Journal, and in 2017 one of the Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Chicago by Crain’s Business Journal.

An avid sailor, Ms. Harris is a Past Commodore of the Jackson Park Yacht Club (2017-2018) on Chicago’s south side.  She is the current President of the Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation and oversees all of the youth sailing programs.  She is also the Interim Chair of US Sailing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.  She races aboard the vessel Mise En Place.  

A Chicago native, Ms. Harris is a graduate of Princeton University (B.A. 1991) and Harvard Law School (J.D. 1994).  She resides in Hyde Park with her family.

2020 Keynote Speaker

Nadya Mason – professor of physics

Nadya Mason, Ph.D. – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Nadya Mason is a professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she specializes in experimental studies of materials. She received her B.S. from Harvard University and her PhD from Stanford University, both in physics. Dr. Mason’s research focuses on the electronic properties of small-scale materials, such as nano-scale wires and atomically thin membranes. Her research is relevant to applications involving nano-scale and quantum computing elements. She currently serves as Director of the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC), a $16.1 million multidisciplinary research and education center funded by the National Science Foundation.

In addition to maintaining a rigorous research program and teaching, Dr. Mason works to increase diversity in the physical sciences, particularly through mentoring, and is former chair of the American Physical Society (APS) Committee on Minorities. Dr. Mason can also be seen promoting science on local TV, at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and in a TED talk.

Dr. Mason has been recognized for her work with numerous awards, including the 2009 Denise Denton Emerging Leader Award, the 2012 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award of the APS, the 2019 APS Bouchet Award, and as one of Essence Magazine’s “Woke 100” of 2019.

2019 Keynote Speaker


Jo-Elle Mogerman, Ph.D. – Vice President, Learning and Community 

Jo-Elle Mogerman is a native Chicagoan who grew up with a love of animals, Mogerman applied that love to her academic pursuits, obtaining a B.A. in biology from Macalester College, an M.A. in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in biology with a focus on foraging ecology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition, she is currently adjunct at DePaul University’s School of New Learning, teaching a course that engages students as citizen scientists.

Currently, she oversees the vision and strategic direction for all learning and community programs at Shedd Aquarium.  She brings extensive executive experience in informal education and community relations and is well-versed on topics related to the conservation and zoological community through nearly 14 years at Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo.

Mogerman has served as an Illinois Nature Preserves commissioner, chaired the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Diversity Committee and been a member of the Society for Diversity and the former Chicago Wilderness Executive Council. She has garnered more than 10 awards for the organizations, programs and projects under her lead.

2018 Keynote Speakers


Dr. Enid Montague received MS and PhD degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2008, specializing in human factors and ergonomics engineering, the future professoriate, women’s studies and human computer interaction.

Dr. Montague is currently an Associate Professor in the college of computing at DePaul University and adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is the director of the Wellness and Health Enhancement Engineering Laboratory (WHEEL). Dr. Montague has received numerous awards for her research including the Francis Research Fellowship for research that emphasizes “longer, safer and healthier lives” and a Kl2 early career award from that National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore trust in health care systems.

Dr. Montague’s research uses human factors and human-computer interaction methodologies, design principles and theories to understand health care systems to promote safety and patient-centered care. At present, Dr. Montague explores the role of trust between people and technologies in health care work systems. She looks at organizational and design factors that affect both workers and patients with the overall goal of understanding technology.


Corlis D. Murray is a 28-year veteran of Abbott, a $20 billion global health care company, where she is responsible for the company’s engineering, regulatory, and quality assurance functions in more than 150 countries. She began her career at Abbott in 1989 and has held a number of senior roles, incl. senior manufacturing engineer, production manager, and engineering manager.

In 2012, Murray launched Abbott’s high school STEM internship program targeting under-represented students. To date, nearly 90 young people have participated and 97 percent are pursuing a STEM degree or have a STEM job.

Corlis has been named to Black Enterprise’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list twice and been named Black Engineer magazine’s Scientist of the Year. She was recognized by the Society of Women Engineers with its Advocating Women in Engineering award and by the Lions Academy for mentoring. She sits on the Clara Abbott Board of Directors and on multiple Abbott executive committees. Corlis holds a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering degree from Southern University.

2017 Keynote Speakers

Emily Graslie is Chief Curiosity Correspondent for The Field Museum in Chicago, where she has the fun and rewarding task of creating YouTube videos about the Museum’s research and science – but she’s not a scientist! Over the last four years she’s documented through vlogs and episodes various collections tours, interviews and experiments in order to discover the many ways we learn about our planet and its history. Join Emily as she talks about her work at the Museum, her background as an artist, and how she merged her passions to follow her dreams.
Eugenia Cheng will share her experience of being a female mathematician, and of teaching mathematics at all levels from elementary school to grad school. The question of why women are under-represented in mathematics is complex and there are no simple answers, only many many contributing factors.She will focus on the issue of confidence, and how the differences between typical men’s and women’s attitudes might affect the way they learn as well as the way others learn. She will discuss differences between how male and female students tend to judge themselves and each other, how adults tend to judge male and female children, how students tend to judge male and female professors, and how male and female professors judge themselves and each other.

2016 Keynote Speakers

Dr. Laura Sanchez was born and raised in Northern California. She attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry (2007) and was three times a dodgeball champion. She decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz after an amazing NSF Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (2006) in Prof. Phil Crew’s lab. In the fall of 2007, she returned to UCSC to work for Prof. Roger Linington where her graduate studies encompassed two main projects including: (1) using the natural product almiramide C as a basis for structure activity relationship and mechanism of action studies; and (2) exploring the fish microbiome as a niche environment for isolating microbes.
     In the fall of 2012, she continued to move south to join Prof. Pieter Dorrestein’s lab at UC San Diego as an NIH IRACDA Fellow. Her postdoctoral research focused on establishing methods for probing and characterizing metabolic exchanges in polymicrobial communities, specifically those associated with cheese rinds. Additionally, she was also involved with beta testing, documentation, creation of in-house natural product libraries donated by the NIH for Global Natural Products Social Molecular Networking. As an IRACDA fellow, Dr. Sanchez was able to gain experience teaching and developing her pedagogy.
     Dr. Sanchez is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy and is investigating the chemical language of metastasis by monitoring the spatial distribution of small molecules exchanged between ovarian cancer cells and healthy cells with the novel technique of imaging mass spectrometry. Dr. Sanchez enjoys adult sports leagues, reading books, and cooking in her free time. She has previously participated as a workshop host for EYH during her days as a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz and is an enthusiastic advocate for public engagement by the broader scientific community.
Dr. Camille Ginsburg has been a staff scientist in the Technical Division at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL) since 2005. Prior to this, she held a research scientist position at the University of Wisconsin and a postdoctoral position at the Ohio State University. She earned an MS and PhD in Physics from Northwestern University, and a BS in Physics from the University of California at Irvine. Prior to joining FNAL to work on accelerator technology, she was working in experimental particle physics.
     Her research interests include the interface between particle physics experiments and the accelerator, and superconducting RF (SRF) technology. She has been a member of experiments at the FNAL antiproton accumulator (E760), the DESY/HERA electron-proton collider (ZEUS), and the Tevatron proton-antiproton collider at FNAL (CDF Run II). She is currently working primarily on SRF technology for future light sources, the International Linear Collider, Project X, and the LHC high luminosity upgrade.
     She serves on a number of FNAL committees and advisory panels, and is very active in international collaborative SRF projects.
      She has two teenaged children, one in high school and one in college.


2015 Keynote Speakers

NaShara Mitchell is a SUCCESS advocate, strategist, speaker, educator, entrepreneur and business owner (#Sassee B) reframing gaps to opportunities in education, business and life for women, creatives and the underrepresented. With over 10 years in higher education administration and business ownership, Ms. Mitchell’s courses, workshops and motivational trainings are delivered with a fusion of interdisciplinary academic research, pop culture, and a straightforward honesty that leaves participants unpacking and applying the information received in ways most meaningful to their lives. She speaks nationally on graduate education preparation and completion, professional and personal development, and entrepreneurship.
     Influenced by Jem & the Holograms, Reading Rainbow and 3-2-1 Contact from her youth, Ms. Mitchell’s research investigates the socialization and success of women and underrepresented minorities, entrepreneurship and social enterprise, and the legal and business influences on mission fulfillment and transformation. In other words, what happens at the intersection of purpose and passion in education, business, law and life.
     Formally, Ms. Mitchell serves as the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Development for the University Graduate School at Indiana University (responsibilities to the core campuses of Bloomington and IUPUI) and Director of the Preparing Future Faculty & Professionals program on the IUPUI campus. As a Plan C professional, she is also the owner of Ready to Blush, a beauty and wellness concierge, and Studio B Creative Exchange, a community based co-working and event space for creative professionals and women entrepreneurs. Ms. Mitchell earned a BA in communications and sociology from DePauw University, MS in higher education and student affairs and JD from Indiana University.
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Dr. Nancy Sacco; Executive Director, Astellas Global Development Strategic Operations   In her current role at Astellas, Nancy has executive leadership and management responsibilities in the Astellas global and medical organization functions including Process Improvement/Standards Management, Training Design and Deployment, LMS Technology and Management and Divisional Integration. In addition, Nancy is the Astellas representative on the AVOCA Executive Directors Board and on the Transcelerate Biopharmaceutics Operating Committee. She is also the Chair of the Global Medical and Development Information Strategy Steering Committee and a member of the Development Leadership Team and Synopsis/Protocol review and approval committees.
     Nancy has been a leader in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years. Prior to joining Astellas 6 years ago, she was the Global Head of Clinical Operations at Takeda and Head of Clinical Research Operations Pfizer-Michigan overseeing clinical trials spanning more than 5 therapeutic areas. Nancy completed her doctorate at the West Virginia School of Medicine in Anatomy/Cell Biology and a post-doctoral fellowship at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Physiology.