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Donna Dean

Contributor II
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Since 2010, Dr. Donna J. Dean has focused on leadership and talent development, career enhancement, and mentoring strategies for organizations and individuals. Prior to her current activities, she was Senior Science Advisor and a registered lobbyist for five years with Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, a Washington D.C. based government relations consulting firm that advocated for the public policy interests of 13 institutions of higher education (including the University of Houston) and 8 other research and education organizations. 

During Dr. Dean’s 27-year career at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration, she held senior management positions in NIH’s grants peer review system and was senior scientific advisor to three NIH Directors. In 2001, Dr. Dean was designated the founding/acting Director of the new National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at NIH. 

She has recently written two books that draw upon her career experiences: Equitable Solutions for Retaining a Robust STEM Workforce (Academic Press, 2014) and Getting the Most out of Your Mentoring Relationships: A Handbook for Women in STEM (Springer 2009). Raised on a tobacco farm in eastern Kentucky, she earned the B.A. in chemistry from Berea College, Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University, and conducted postdoctoral research in cell and developmental biology at Princeton University. She also is a graduate of the JFK School of Government, Harvard University, Senior Managers in Government Program. Of all the awards she has received, she is most proud of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Berea College in 2007 in recognition of her career achievements in the public sector and for her advocacy for historically underrepresented groups in science and engineering.

Among her current professional activities are Advisory Board for the AAAS Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity, Advisory Board to the state-wide West Virginia STEM+ Family Travel Initiative, Diversity Advisory Committee for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, and pro bono consultancy to several university STEM faculty development projects. Other activities included the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), eight years on the national Board of the Association for Women in Science (2007-2008 national President), six years on the Board of Advisors for Tulane University School of Science and Engineering (2007-2012; now emeritus member), Senior Women’s STEM Council, University of Maryland (2006-2014), advisor to the joint biomedical engineering program of the University of North Carolina/North Carolina State University, and Board member of the Washington Academy of Sciences. She currently is on the Dr. Dean is an elected fellow of the AAAS, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Association for Women in Science. In September 2010, she received the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health 20th anniversary award in recognition of her efforts on women’s health research and career development. She has given over 500 invited presentations to universities, colleges, medical schools, research institutions and at meetings of professional organizations.


Networking and Mentoring: Keys to Success in Science

Description: In today’s scientific enterprise, expanding one’s knowledge base and skill sets is a continuous need. In her talks on this subject, Dr. Dean describes how mentoring and networking can enable any individual who has a passion for science find her or his own ‘best fit’ for a career that melds life values and career interests. Effective mentoring and networking can lead scientists to take active steps that lead to self-analytical thinking to assess themselves and their needs and interests; develop, enhance, and sustain productive interactions with their colleagues at all career stages; and sustain a meaningful life and career in the context of family, culture, and workplace change. Success in any chosen scientific career requires that an individual be able to (1) acquire the appropriate professional credentials, (2) recognize when a rich opportunity arises; (3) learn from mistakes or missteps; (4) deal with biases and misconceptions; (4) develop a sense of career directions and timing; (5) select appropriate role models; (5) mesh personal values and interests with the right workplace; (6) obtain a healthy balance in life; (6) create opportunities for others; (7) know when it is time to move on; and (8) stretch beyond normal comfort zones in taking strategic risks.

Category: Careers, Chemical Education, General Science, Professional Development

Improving the Climate for a Diverse STEM Workforce

Description: Development of effective institutional strategies for attracting and supporting a diverse workforce is the focus of this presentation. Examples are presented from academic institutions and industrial sectors, along with case studies and evidence of what works.


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