Since its founding in 1982, forty years ago, our highly impactful Women In Natural Sciences program has introduced over a thousand local high school students to hands-on science workshops, career and college exploration opportunities and amazingly positive youth development right here in Philadelphia. Such triumphant success deserves nothing less than an entire weekend of celebration.
Our three-day weekend celebration of WINS’s 40th anniversary kicked off with free museum admission to the public in recognition of the amazing achievements of women in the sciences, while Founder and CEO of Diversified Search, Judee von Seldeneck, graciously held the Welcome Reception at her house.
A special WINS pop-up exhibit in the Academy’s Spotlight Gallery exhibited the history and stories of our program, featuring a beautiful, engaging and immersive video narrated by WINS alumnae and current students with photographs by Kerrin Lyons. Research poster presentations in the Academy had our current WINS students showcasing their real-life, on-the-ground science work.
On Saturday, the Academy opened its doors to welcome hundreds of WINS alumnae and their families from around the country for an anniversary tribute dinner and celebration to remember. Friendships near and far were rekindled, connections were developed and toasts were made to success, sisterhood and the power of science. Carole Williams Green, founder of the WINS program, and Marilyn Hughes, alumna from the first ever WINS class of 1982, both joined in the celebrations.
Everyone came together in the auditorium to hear the utterly moving stories and overwhelmingly passionate testimonials of various journeys our WINS alumnae, program leaders and committee members have experienced over the last 40 years. A sneak-peek preview of a wonderful, upcoming WINS mural by artist Serena Saunders was announced, while awards were given, including one to Distinguished Alumna Zaika Elliot, for their commitments and achievements.
“WINS helped me to understand that I am part of an expansive and complex ecosystem and that my life and what I do with it matters,” said Elliot, who co-directs Soil Generation, a Black and Brown agroecology coalition of women, non-binary farmers and organizers. “WINS is a safe haven, a place that dissolved any notion that the barriers that I faced as a young, Black woman from West Philly could stop me from excelling at school, deepening my interests in the sciences, entering my university of choice and finding joy in my career.”
As they say, once a WINS, always a WINS. “With the conclusion of this amazing and awe-inspiring 40th anniversary, we are truly touched by all the love and support surrounding the WINS program,” says Kimberly Godfrey, Academy’s manager of social justice programs. “WINS, just as any other community, takes a village. I am so humbled and honored to consider this institution and these people my village, my home.”
The weekend’s excitement was joyously sponsored by Comcast, Saint Gobain, Fiduciary Trust, Hamilton Family Charitable Trust and Boeing. Cheers to 40 years of success, and 40 more to come!