Sandia LabNews

Two Sandians honored with 2024 Women in Tech Awards

Remarkable women who drive innovation and excellence in tech

Two Sandians have been honored with 2024 New Mexico Women in Tech Awards from the New Mexico Technology Council. The award recognizes remarkable women who drive innovation and excellence in their tech field and inspire and empower others to pursue careers in the tech industry.

Mary Monson

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TECH TRANSFER EXPERT — Mary Monson, senior manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development, accepts an award from the New Mexico Technology Council on March 13 for her immense impact on tech transfer at Sandia. (Photo by DeAnna Vincent)

If an invention or project created at Sandia has the potential to make it into the real world, you can bet Mary Monson knows all about it. You can also bet that Mary and her team will do all they can to make it happen.

“I’ve never met anyone with her level of passion and drive,” said Technology Partnership Manager Joel Sikora, who has worked with Mary for 19 years. “She constantly challenges herself and others to make a greater impact.”

As senior manager of Technology Partnerships and Business Development, Mary holds the reins for the tech transfer division and is always trying to steer Sandia to the best partnerships.

Her start at Sandia was not a traditional one.

“I moved to Albuquerque and sent my resume to Sandia. There was no specific job posting,” Mary said. “Sandia was looking to engage beyond the NNSA and DOE programs, so they hired a handful of marketing people. I was one of them.”

After legislation passed that enabled national labs to do tech transfer, Mary changed roles. Now more than 25 years later, she helps lead and amplify Sandia’s efforts to move technology out of the Labs. Her team said her work has turned the program into what it is today.

“Under her, I’ve watched us grow from one department of a dozen people doing business development to six departments with more than 130 people doing business development, economic development, business intelligence, licensing and partnership agreements,” Joel said.

Mary’s entire career has been in tech. Her first job was at a company called Unisys, a leader in computing at the time. “That is where I fell in love with tech,” Mary said. She continued to work for tech companies including Texas Instruments and Digital Equipment Corp. before coming to Sandia.

Being a woman in the tech industry isn’t always easy. Mary says her career has been fascinating and fun. “I get to work with smart people and am constantly learning. That has always been present in my career.”

She is especially proud of how far Sandia has come since it started its tech transfer efforts. “We started with just Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and licenses but have creatively established new programs along the way like the Entrepreneurial Separation to Transfer Technology program. We’ve established new capabilities like Business Development, and Business and Competitive Intelligence. We had nothing like that before.”

Mary is one of eight honorees this year for the New Mexico Tech Council Women in Tech Award. The organization highlights her 25 years of management experience and her work getting lab technology to the marketplace.

Mary said she is honored to receive this award. “I appreciate the New Mexico Technology Council’s recognition of the importance of leadership in deploying and commercializing technology. It’s a privilege to be part of such an impressive group of women leaders.”

Those who work with Mary couldn’t say enough positive things about her.

“Mary is a pioneering force, not just in navigating the complex field of federal technology transfer but in forging pathways for others to follow,” Sandia Technology and Economic Development Manager David Kistin said.

Mara Schindelholz

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WOMEN IN TECH CHAMPION — Mara Schindelholz, principal research and development staff member at Sandia, accepts a Women in Tech Award from the New Mexico Technology Council at their event on March 13. (Photo by DeAnna Vincent)

Mara Schindelholz, principal research and development staff member at Sandia, is also one of this year’s honorees. Mara has 15 years of experience in creating and commercializing new technologies.

Mara came to Sandia with experience developing corrosion sensors and materials aging models for the DOD. Since starting at Sandia, she has, among other things, worked in surveillance of nuclear weapons, led the development of new technologies such as sensors and digital technologies that could be beneficial throughout a nuclear weapon’s lifecycle, and worked to commercialize some of these technologies through the DOE’s Energy I-Corps program and the National Lab Accelerator Pitch Competition.

Mara is currently on an Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignment to the National Science Foundation as a program director for their Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer program. Her role in the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships program, was established through the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act.

Mara’s love for tech started at an early age. “My mom was a math teacher, and my dad was a biology professor at an all-female college,” Mara said. “They instilled in me a love for math and science and that women were just as capable as men in these fields.”

Mara has been working to prove that point her entire career. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and her master’s in materials science and engineering. She worked at two small businesses early in her career where she says she recognized the disparity of women in the tech field.

“When I started, I was one of only two female principal investigators in my group of 15 at Sandia,” she said. “I’ve had some incredible female mentors but there is always room for improvement, especially in the area of entrepreneurship and tech transfer.”

Mara said she’s encouraged by the programs Sandia has started to change that, including the ones spearheaded by fellow honoree Mary Monson.

As part of her role at the National Science Foundation, Mara is working to recruit more female startup founders, recognizing that they receive less than 3% of venture capital funding in the U.S.

Mara says she is honored to be recognized by the New Mexico Technology Council for her efforts and to be on this accomplished list. When asked what the most rewarding part of her job is, Mara said, “I love seeing new technologies created for the betterment of society — be that to enhance national security, increase economic competitiveness, or tackle environmental challenges.”

It’s clear that Mara’s work is far from done.

New Mexico Women in Tech Awards

The New Mexico Women in Tech Awards were founded in 2008 by Lisa Atkins, chief operating officer of FatPipe New Mexico and former chair of the New Mexico Technology Council board of directors. Atkins recognized the need for a community dialog about gender equity in the workplace and a call to action to create career pathways for young women entering the tech industry. Over the past 15 years, the New Mexico Women in Tech Awards have recognized more than 100 women, shaping the tech landscape by providing funding to advance education and training.

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