Four Honored for Advancement of Women

From left, Maria J. Mangano, Vaishnavi Siripurapu, Candice Crilly and Jillian L. Dempsey are this year’s recipients of the University Awards for the Advancement of Women. (UNC photos)

A doula, a graduate mentor, a solar energy researcher and a career development director have received the 2021 University Awards for the Advancement of Women.

These women and the 2020 award recipients, whose ceremony was canceled because of the pandemic, were honored at a virtual event on March 8.

The awards, a collaborative effort of the chancellor’s office and the Carolina Women’s Center, have recognized the efforts of nearly 50 advocates for gender equity since they were established in 2006. This year’s winners are:

• Candice Crilly, a doctoral student in chemistry, who led Women in Science Promoting Inclusion in Research Experiences at Carolina for two years. Under Crilly’s leadership, the WinSPIRE organizational team devised and implemented strategies to recruit students from less privileged backgrounds, leading to a 225 percent increase in program size and a more than 20 percent increase in applications from students who would be the first in their family to attend college. Crilly continues to support the program through grant writing and meeting with potential community partners.

“After serving as WinSPIRE’s chief executive for several years, Candice made a conscious effort to ensure the longevity and financial stability of the program,” one of her nominators wrote. “She has worked tirelessly to decrease the gender gap in STEM research.”

• Jillian L. Dempsey, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor of chemistry and deputy director of the Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels. Dempsey’s research laboratory seeks to develop efficient solar energy conversion processes. She is the program director for the Clare Boothe Luce Fellowships for Graduate Women in Chemistry and co-founder of the Chemistry Women Mentorship Committee.

“Jillian was relentless in acquiring a Clare Boothe Luce fellowship program for the chemistry department at UNC, a program dedicated to increasing the participation of women in the sciences, mathematics and engineering at every level of higher education,” wrote one of her nominators.

• Maria J. Mangano ’82 (JD), career development director at UNC’s School of Law, has a special interest in women’s career issues and working with students and alumni who are members of groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession. She is a longtime member and past president of the N.C. Association of Women Attorneys, served on the board of directors of the N.C. Legal Education Assistance Foundation and has been a member of the N.C. Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee since 2005.

“Maria has dedicated her career to advancing opportunities for others, especially women, in the legal profession,” wrote one of her nominators. “Two women professional career counselors in the Career Development Office are former students who were mentored by Maria, making one-third of the current counselors in our office Maria’s former students. Maria has also advanced the retention and advancement of women at UNC School of Law.”

• Vaishnavi Siripurapu, a junior majoring in biology and women’s and gender studies, who works as a birth doula at UNC Hospitals and collaborates on a YouTube Channel for reproductive and feminist education called The Vagilantes. Vaishnavi has collaborated with Duke Global Women’s Health Center, The InnovationNext Reproductive Health Grant and scholars from various universities to push for reproductive health development and accessibility. She also is a peer instructor in the biology and chemistry departments, encouraging the retention of women in STEM at UNC.

“Vaishnavi was involved in the Women of Worth program at UNC and encouraged other women of Asian backgrounds to join and engage in the program to promote mentorship and a sense of community among women at UNC,” wrote one of her nominators.

Faculty and staff award recipients receive $5,000 each; student award recipients receive $2,500 each.


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