Board of Directors

Paloma Corvalan

Paloma Corvalan
President

Ronel Alberts

Ronel Alberts
Co-Director of Affiliates

Maria Gyöngyössy-Issa

Maria Gyöngyössy-Issa
Director Finance

Neha Batta

Neha Batta
Director Strategic Development

Nasira Aziz

Nasira Aziz
Director Leadership & Co-Director IWIS

Heidi Hui

Heidi Hui
Director Communications

Elisabeth Paul

Elisabeth Paul
Director Policy & Impact

Khristine G. Cariño

Khristine G. Cariño
Director Events/Membership/Affiliates

Libi Berenson

Libi Berenson
Vice President & Director of Business Development

Naima Munir

Naima Munir
Director Youth Engagement & Co-Director IWIS

Paloma Corvalan

PhD
[email protected]

Paloma Corvalan, PhD, is the Partnerships and Development Manager at Sea Smart and SCWIST’s President. With Sea Smart, Paloma manages and delivers STEM educational programs that connect children and youth to nature, inspire them to pursue their love for STEM, and empower them to protect our environment. An alumna of Homeward Bound, an international leadership initiative for women in STEM, Paloma is committed to supporting groups that promote diversity and inclusion, protect our environment and empower youth. Paloma strives to lead a sustainable lifestyle and, in her spare time, loves camping, mountain biking and snowboarding.

Ronel Alberts

BSc
[email protected]

Ronel Alberts has a strong belief that the empowerment of girls and women, especially in STEAM fields, will lead to a more viable future. Ronel graduated from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with a BSc in Computer Science, and quickly discovered she has a knack for synthesizing technology and business requirements. She has been a Business Analyst for over 20 years, and has held numerous leadership positions throughout her career. She has been running her own consulting company for over a decade, and has had the privilege of working around the globe on challenging and interesting projects. Ronel believes strongly that continuing education is the way to create a sustainable future, and has completed numerous online courses through Johns Hopkins University and the University of Amsterdam. In her spare time, Ronel and her wife can be found geocaching, motorcycling, and hiking with their adorable dogs. She is currently serving as SCWIST’s secretary.

Maria Gyöngyössy-Issa

PhD
[email protected]

Maria Gyongyossy-Issa is semi-retired from UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and past Director of the Pathology Education Centre. Long ago, she did an Honours BSc in microbiology/immunology at UBC; a PhD in immunology in London, UK; and was first to describe T cell receptors. As post doc, Maria skied in Switzerland and France while doing biochemistry (complement) and blood (apoptosis). In Saskatchewan she raised a daughter while working on the biological warfare agent, T2 toxin. Moved to Vancouver and UBC, worked on platelets and developed several patents. In between, she taught at every level from kindergarten to CME, supervised graduate students, mounted biology and biochemistry courses for Douglas College, and for CIDA in Indonesia. She can’t seem to retire and still teaches medical students.

Maria served on the Board of Directors and was twice President of SCWIST and now she’s back as Treasurer. With SCWIST and Science World, she designed science outreach programs that address diversity and gender equality, three of which were funded by Women and Gender Equality, Canada.

Maria is a Rowing Canada National Umpire; an international 3rd Dan Black Belt TaeKwonDo instructor, an obsessive gardener, and most importantly – the model for the Chief Wizard in Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap books.
She doesn’t like paradigms: her motto is Emmanuel Kant’s dictum, “Dare to find out!”

Neha Batta


[email protected]

Neha Batta works as a Senior Manager, Business Process Improvement at Cymax Group. At Cymax Group, she plays a significant role in the development and execution of cross-departmental initiatives to support long-term corporate objectives geared towards operational excellence. Neha also oversees and manages the planning, estimation and implementation of quality assurance and compliance frameworks. Additionally, Neha is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) and is the Managing Director at Orion Immigration Services. Based in Burnaby, Orion Immigrations services provides immigration solutions for individuals, businesses and families. Neha earned a Master of Technology Degree in Geomatics Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (India) and completed Certificate in Immigration: Laws, Policies and Procedures from University of British Columbia (UBC). Neha is passionate about diversity & inclusion in STEM and integration of immigrants into Canadian workforce.  In her spare time she loves to read books, go for long walks and volunteer with various professional and nonprofit organizations.  Her favorite verse for self-motivation is “Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!” from the poem Don’t Quit, by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Nasira Aziz

BSc, MBA
[email protected]

Nasira Aziz is the Director of Leadership at SCWIST with a diverse background in STEM fields and has done an MBA with a concentration in Innovation Leadership from University of Fredericton. Nasira also holds an undergraduate degree in Interactive Arts and Technology from Simon Fraser University and a master’s degree in Chemistry from Pakistan. She worked as a Quality Control professional, an educator and an office manager around the globe until 2003. Nasira has held a life-long vision of making education accessible to all. In the early years of her career, she became part of a campaign where she went door-to-door in rural Pakistan, persuading parents to send their children, especially girls, to school.

After 2003, she dedicated herself to a “stay-at-home mom” role. However, during all these years, she has been devoted to making a positive contribution in her community. She volunteered to tutor children of all grades, especially children who were at risk of failing of dropping out of school. Nasira is looking forward to working with organizations where she can help reach shared goals. She brings with her a variety of experiences with formal technology and business knowledge, as well as an understanding of the challenges businesses face today in gaining and sustaining competitive edge. She joined SCWIST in 2018 as secretary. Working with the SCWIST board, she learned the operations of an organization, while helping further the success of women in education, a cause she holds close to her heart.

Heidi Hui

BSc
[email protected]

Heidi Hui is an Intellectual Property (IP) Analyst at Carbon Engineering. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Calgary. At Carbon Engineering, her main responsibilities include patent drafting, patent landscaping, establishing IP protocols, and identifying inventions. Heidi first ventured in the IP field during her internship at Cenovus. After gaining experience in this niche field, she used it as an avenue to her previous role as an IP Specialist at D-Wave in Burnaby where she drafted patent applications on topics such as processor designs and integrated circuit fabrication.  She also supported the processor development and fabrication teams to coordinate failure analysis on D-Wave’s superconducting chips.  Heidi is an avid supporter of mentorship for students, especially students belonging to minority groups that are looking towards STEM careers. She is continuously motivated by her work and volunteer experience to encourage women to strive for meaningful and lucrative careers in STEM fields. Heidi is a registered E.I.T. with EGBC. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and running.

Elisabeth Paul

B.Eng.
[email protected]

From delivering Space Systems to developing Zero-Emission Solutions for a better tomorrow, nothing stands in Elisabeth’s way to make this world a better place!
Strategic Leader & Business Development Director with 20+ years of experience creating, managing and bringing to market complex products and systems in rigorous environments (such as the CanadArm on the International Space Station and Imagery from Space), Elisabeth has now transitioned to clean technologies (including clean hydrogen energy and eliminating food waste). Elisabeth passionately believes that a mix of gender delivers better and stronger solutions needed to face today’s challenges. Involving girls and women in STEM fields is key for our future!

Elisabeth studied Computer Engineering at École Polytechnique de Montréal and Université Libre de Bruxelles. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, practicing at being a mixologist, playing ukulele and soccer with her two sons.

Khristine G. Cariño

DMD, PhD
[email protected]

Khristine Cariño is a champion and mentor for mothers returning to work after parenting sabbaticals. She draws on her experience of career reinvention and pivoting from over 25 years successively working as a clinical dentist, associate professor, epidemiologist, public health researcher, social entrepreneur, community organizer and educator.

With a PhD in Dental Sciences from Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and international awards from the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in epidemiology and behavioral sciences, she came to Canada in 2005 for a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. However, due to parental demands, Khristine veered off the academic track and became a stay-home mom in 2010. Her challenges as a mom and a new immigrant included postpartum depression and social isolation. In 2012-2017, she relaunched her research career but struggled with family-work balance. After another career hiatus, she became more involved with SCWIST as a member of the Board.

As SCWIST Director for Communications (June 2018- May 2019) and Director for Communications and Events (June-Oct 2019), Khristine delivered exceptional results in membership and volunteer recruitment & retention; digital communications strategy planning, implementation and evaluation; and events management. Khristine is rejoining the board for 2020-2022 with the primary objective of strengthening SCWIST as a platform to increase visibility and highlight voices of  Indigenous, Black and Persons of Colour (IBPOC)  in STEM. As current Director for Events, Membership and Affiliates, Khristine is focused on: (1) improving member experience and satisfaction,(2) increasing community engagement by connecting SCWIST members across Canada, and (3) identifying & mentoring potential leaders as part of SCWIST’s leadership succession strategy.

Follow @khristinecarino on Twitter and Instagram.

Libi Berenson


[email protected]

As an entrepreneur, a leader, an operations executive, a mentor and a coach, I have learned to enjoy every part of the journey to self discovery and accomplishment. I have started my leadership journey 15 years ago as an officer in the military, since then I have worked with some incredible companies, from Amazon to fast-growing startups. I have learned how to gain trust, listen, engage and develop others. I am a mom to two amazing human beings who are teaching me every day about the importance of love, patience and curiosity. I am passionate about helping others. In any way I can. I currently hold the position of Vice President as well as Director of Business Development at SCWIST. 

Naima Munir

MSc.
[email protected]

Naima holds a Master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus in Image and Signal Processing. She joined SCWIST a year ago and was elected to SCWIST 2020-2021 board in July 2020. She is currently serving as Director Youth Engagement and Co-Director IWIS.

Naima is passionate about advocating for equal and fair representation of women in STEM. She believes in promoting all forms of female leadership in the professional world and is happy to engage with new ideas on how to promote women empowerment in the professional workplace.

Independent Contractors

Ashley van der Pouw Kraan

Ashley van der Pouw Kraan
ms infinity Program Coordinator

Akanksha Chudgar

Akanksha Chudgar
North Indigenous Outreach Coordinator

 Cheryl Kristiansen, P. Eng.

Cheryl Kristiansen, P. Eng.
Make DIVERSITY Possible & SCALE Project Manager

Ashley van der Pouw Kraan

MSc.
[email protected]

Ashley van der Pouw Kraan was born and raised in Pitt Meadows, and currently resides in Vancouver. She has always been interested in all things science, with earth sciences holding a special place in her heart. She has spent the past six years working in a variety of roles at Science World, an informal science education centre, most recently as the Digital Communications Coordinator. When not at her desk, she can often be found reading, or cycling around the city. She is thrilled to join the SCWIST team as the ms infinity Program Coordinator.

Akanksha Chudgar

MSc.
[email protected]

Akanksha completed her undergraduate degree in Economics in India and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in environmental studies from UNBC in Prince George. She has worked with education in various schools in India as well as North America. She is interested in the behavior of human beings – their interaction with each other as well as the natural environment. The aspect that involves changing people’s interaction with nature (and each other) for the better interests her. She believes this can be done through communication, by considering people’s needs and by giving them more information about their impact on nature.

Cheryl Kristiansen, P. Eng.

MSc.
[email protected]

Cheryl brings diverse expertise in project management, engineering innovation and leading transformative change in STEM.  She has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, hands-on research experience in alternate fuels engine technology, and senior leadership success in the oil and gas sector.  Cheryl has worked in a variety of corporate cultures and organizational models with strategic agility, has effectively managed international engineering projects with multiple stakeholders, led diverse sales teams and created marketing strategies to deliver financial results.

As Managing Director of the Mitchell Odyssey Foundation, Cheryl developed a network of schools across BC with innovative programs that motivate and inspire high school students to pursue careers in STEM.  Cheryl is a certified facilitator and created the “Wild About Science” Odyssey Symposium for STEM educators in BC. She has delivered a variety of workshops across Canada, including SCWIST Diversity by Design workshops at post-secondary institutions, industry conferences and STEM organizations. As a WinSETT Facilitator, Cheryl has delivered seminars on Leading Change, Unconscious Bias, Allyship, and the Leadership Series in Alberta and BC. 

Cheryl led the SCWIST MakePossible mentoring project to advance women in STEM. She now leads the “Make DIVERSITY Possible” project – working with STEM companies to create diversity tools and build inclusive workplace cultures that embrace and advance a diverse workforce – as well as the new SCALE project to improve organizational effectiveness of SCWIST, develop partnerships and expand advocacy to advance gender equality. Cheryl is passionate about connecting and collaborating with others to create solutions, with a strong focus on continuous improvement and the belief that diversity drives innovation!