Girl Scouts of Connecticut Organization Honors President Berger-Sweeney

Students and Alumnae Join in Applauding Outstanding Women in STEM

L-R: Mary Barneby, Girl Scouts of Connecticut CEO;
Joanne Berger-Sweeney and her fellow honorees, Kathy Kountze-Tatum and Manon Cox; and Caroline Sloat, president, Board of Directors, Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Hartford, Connecticut, December 7, 2015 – President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience Joanne Berger-Sweeney was one of three Connecticut women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) honored for their leadership by the Girl Scouts of Connecticut at the organization’s annual Breakfast Badge Award event.

Held at The Hartford Club in the heart of the city on Friday, December 4, the gathering drew more than 250 attendees. The two other leaders recognized were Manon Cox, president and chief executive officer of Protein Sciences, and Kathy Kountze-Tatum, senior vice president and chief information officer of Eversource Energy.

The honorees were asked to share with the audience some of the experiences that led to their accomplishments and to offer advice for girls and women who might want to follow in their footsteps. Berger-Sweeney spoke of her personal journey from a girl who loved science to performing breakthrough research resulting in the second-most-used Alzheimer’s drug in the world, Razadyne, to becoming a college president.

Berger-Sweeney also described participating in the Girl Scouts while growing up in Los Angeles, how she loved camping in the wilderness and forging bonds with other girls, and the camp songs she remembers to this day (she sang a few verses of one, drawing applause from the crowd). She spoke poignantly about her mother, who served as executive director of the Girl Scouts Council in Los Angeles and was the first African American woman to lead a Girl Scouts Council in a major metropolitan area. Berger-Sweeney said that when her mother passed away at age 46, the Girl Scouts attended her funeral in droves; she still remembers the “sea of green” from all those who were dressed in Girl Scouts attire that day to honor her mother.

Trinity students and alumnae pose for a selfie with
President Berger-Sweeney (which she Tweeted).

 About Trinity, Berger-Sweeney spoke of its distinction among selective liberal arts colleges for turning out a disproportionate number of scientists. “People don’t expect the caliber of science research that is conducted at Trinity,” she noted. “And our Interdisciplinary Science Program offers top students the chance to begin important scientific research as early as their first year of college.”

Berger-Sweeney also announced that, for the second year in a row, Trinity will welcome to its campus the Tech Savvy conference for girls, sponsored by Connecticut’s chapter of the American Association of University Women. The daylong conference – to take place Saturday, February 27, 2016 – is for sixth- through ninth-grade girls, to get them excited about studying and pursuing careers in STEM.

Seated at a Trinity table at the Girl Scouts breakfast were several Trinity alumnae and students, including Tyler Gibbs ’19, who, in her first year, said she is considering majoring in math or economics. Gibbs, who participated in the Girl Scouts in New York from second through eighth grade, said she found the remarks by Berger-Sweeney and the other honorees inspiring, adding, “It’s nice to see all the women in the room who have stayed involved with the Girl Scouts and are role models for girls.” 

Written by Kathy Andrews