Submitted by Laureen Blakemore, YMCA at Virginia Tech, email@example.com
On Wednesday March 8, International Women’s Day, The YMCA at Virginia Tech hosted its third celebration to recognize the creative force of four local women who are contributing to the well-being of our community and the world through their service and leadership in the field of innovation and technology.
An instructor, mentor and consultant for domestic and international businesses, entrepreneurs and university students Lisa Garcia leads a dynamic career where she started off in journalism and is now the director of RAMP – the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program based in Roanoke, VA.
She is also vice president of entrepreneurial development of Verge, RAMP’s parent organization which manages an alliance of technology-oriented entities including the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council. Garcia also serves on Innovate’s Leadership Council, and taught at VT’s College of Engineering and Pamplin College of Business working with students on product development, leadership, research, and ideation. She has helped to grow local nonprofits including the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, the Dialogue on Race in Montgomery County, the NRV TimeBank, and is a member of the Town of Blacksburg’s Recreation Advisory Board.
A young leader whose life took many twists and turns before settling in Blacksburg as a Computer Science and Engineering student at Virginia Tech, Ayda Haydarpour was propelled to the world stage as a member of the Afghan Girls Robotic team also known as the Afghan Dreamers. The team developed an affordable and lightweight ventilator to help treat patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in Afghanistan. She was also Team Afghanistan’s captain at First Global 2021 where the team won the Judges Award competing against 177 other countries.
Haydarpour believes strongly in the importance of giving voice to Afghan girls who have been denied their fundamental human right in education. She founded the student organization Education For All at Virginia Tech, which aims to give Afghan women and girls free access to education and resources so they can advance their academic, professional, and personal goals.
A leader, mentor and dedicated educator Veronica Spradlin is a Blacksburg High School teacher who is passionate about STEM education. Spradlin was involved with the National Association of Women in Construction and ran the Mentoring a Girl in Construction camp for several years. She facilitated a new course for Unmanned Aircraft for Montgomery County Public Schools. The first drone class was held in the Fall of 2019. In 2022, she served on a state Department of Education board to develop a statewide curriculum for the Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems course. This course is now taught statewide.
In 2020 she joined the Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad and became a Nationally Registered Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and a certified CPR/AED/First Aid trainer. Spradlin uses her love and passion for education, mixed with her new training in emergency medicine, to help the community by offering CPR/AED/First Aid training.
Brianna Posadas is Assistant Professor at the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. She is also a fellow with the Center For Food Systems and Community Transformation and is affiliated with the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture. Her research is focused on the intersection of agriculture, technology, and user-centered design. When she completed her PhD at the University of Florida, she was the first Latina to earn her doctoral degree from the department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering.
In addition to addressing usability and accessibility of precision agriculture technologies, she is studying how to best utilize big data in agriculture while also protecting the privacy and security rights of the growers. Posadas is involved in technology policy work as a Media Democracy Fund PhDX fellow. She volunteers as a mentor through Vine Corps where she advises high school students on their college applications. She also coordinates the yearly Hispanics in Computing meeting at the Tapia conference.
During the event, the YMCA at VT also celebrated Women’s History Month with a presentation on the life and achievements of Barbara Michelsen, who served as the Executive Director 1987-1997. A portrait of Barbara by Joni Pienkowski was presented to the Y and will be displayed in the YMCA Lancaster House.
On Sunday, March 19, the YMCA at Virginia Tech will host is first annual Women’s Health Day at the Y Center, 1000 N Main St. from 2 to 4:30 p.m..
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