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From Labs to Leadership – Honoring a Vision for Change

Dr. Clifton Poodry (Seneca) and Dr. Marigold Linton (Cahuilla-Cupeño) saw a need. Leaders within SACNAS for over three decades, Poodry and Linton were concerned that there was no program dedicated to training the next generation of STEM leaders of color. With the founders of SACNAS heading toward retirement, who would be equipped to take over leadership of the organization and continue to work of diversifying the STEM fields?

In 2009, Poodry and Linton led the founding of the SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), developed in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Training a cohort of 30 PhD-level scientists each year, the SLI now has a cohort of 240, the largest group of STEM leaders of color in the country.

Starting today, the SLI bears the name of its founders: the Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute.

Poodry is the Senior Fellow of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the retired Director of the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Linton is the Director of American Indian Outreach at the University of Kansas and past-president of SACNAS.

SACNAS President, Dr. Gabriel Montaño says, “It was not only their vision of the institute, but Clif and Marigold have been instrumental in its success and continuance through their sustained participation as mentors and financial benefactors. They have created a lasting legacy by training a new generation of leaders who will continue to drive the STEM diversity movement forward.”

Alumni of SACNAS’ leadership programs are now department chairs, assistant deans, senior scientists in industry, executive directors, program directors, entrepreneurs, and emerging policy leaders.

They are leaders working towards transformational change at their institutions—building bridges, networks, and communities to diversify STEM at the highest levels.

Dr. Leticia Márquez-Magaña, Director of the Health Equity Research Lab at San Francisco State University and SLI alum class of 2011 said of her experience at SLI, “I am particularly grateful for having stronger links to the pioneers that realized the original vision for SACNAS, and for increased connection to the next generation of scientists that will carry this vision forward.”

“SLI taught us all to harness our human will for the greater good,” says Dr. Ronald Hunter, scientist at Coca Cola Company and 2011 alum, “to liberate ourselves from limiting notions, and translate this to the overall community.”

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