SPE Announces Formation of DEI Advisory Board

SPE has formed an Advisory Board to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within the Society and the plastics industry. Through the formation of this Advisory Board, SPE intends to bring these issues to the forefront, while at the same time developing educational, professional development, mentoring, and recruitment resources for SPE’s elected leaders, staff, and members and their companies. SPE’s goal is to ensure a more thorough understanding of the issues and of the inherent value of being more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

Dr. Elizabeth Anne Gardner, Senior Chemist and Materials Engineer at Jabil, will Chair the DEI Advisory Board and Dr. Saurav S. Sengupta, Principal Research Scientist in Packaging & Specialty Plastics at Dow, will assume the position of Vice Chair.

“It is vital for SPE’s membership to know our commitment to DEI principles and to understand that we have created an Advisory Board to help the Society, its stakeholders, and the plastics industry as a whole embrace our goals of fostering diversity and inclusivity,” said Dr. Gardner. “By providing the necessary tools and resources, we strongly believe we can achieve these goals.”

A recent study by McKinsey and Company reaffirms the strong business case for both gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership—and shows that this business case continues to strengthen. According to the study, most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.

Patrick Farrey, SPE’s CEO, said that not only is DEI “the right thing to do,” it is also good for businesses that commit to these principles. And, said Farrey, as a founding member of the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM, SPE has already been addressing sexual and gender-based issues to make certain that those who work in STEMM industries are doing so in a safe and welcoming environment. But Farrey also emphasized that prioritizing the needs of all individuals should be an essential priority for the plastics industry.

“Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion should be business imperatives for SPE’s members’ companies and academic institutions,” said Farrey. “SPE is striving to create an environment in which everyone feels respected and valued, and has equal opportunities to develop, advance, and be heard.”

In conjunction with SPE, the SPE Foundation, with its mission to support the development of plastics professionals by funding quality educational programs, grants and scholarships emphasizing science, works to create inclusive opportunities for plastics students around the world.

“The formation of this Advisory Board is a natural extension of the Foundation’s DEI workforce initiative,” said Eve Vitale, SPE Foundation’s Chief Executive. “This initiative creates education, employment, and advancement opportunities for all students across the entire plastics value chain. Bringing polymer/plastics-based STEMM educational programs to historically excluded people and communities prepares us all to be global citizens by exposing students and professionals to people from different cultures and social groups. And with teachers and staff members of diverse backgrounds we affirm students’ cultural identities and enhance the learning environment.”

DEI Advisory Board Members are:

Elizabeth Anne Gardner, Ph.D., (she/her) Advisory Board Chair
Senior Chemist and Materials Engineer, Jabil

Dr. Gardner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macalester College, where she triple-majored in Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana. Elizabeth was a chemistry professor for over fifteen years, and has taught courses in the fields of organic, inorganic, analytical, materials, biological, forensic, environmental, nuclear, computational, and engineering chemistry.

Elizabeth also taught a course on the science and writing of science fiction and conducted research into functional materials. She has also been a Lead R&D Scientist in the Strategic Technology and Research Division at Ricoh, and in the Materials Testing, Analysis, and Characterization Lab at medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific. She has served as an Investigative Chemist and Expert Witness specializing in materials failure analysis and forensic engineering, and as a former Chair of the Minnesota Section of the American Chemical Society. In her less-than-copious free time, Elizabeth is a novelist and an avid Star Trek marathoner.

Saurav S. Sengupta, Ph.D., (he/him) Advisory Board Vice Chair
Principal Research Scientist in Packaging & Specialty Plastics, Dow

At Dow, Dr. Sengupta focuses on new product innovation and process development for formulated polymers. Saurav joined Dow in 2007 and led key product development projects leading to the R&D 100 Award in 2015. He has held several leadership positions in Dow business and corporate R&D divisions. He also serves on the advisory council for Dow Asian Diversity Network (local chapter). He is also a board member of SPE Extrusion Division. Saurav holds 17 granted patents, 16 peer reviewed publications, one invited article, and 16 active patent applications. He has also delivered several industry presentations and co-authored 3 book chapters. He earned his doctorate degree in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, Canada, and master’s degree in Industrial Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology, India. Saurav also holds an Executive Certificate in Global Leadership from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Patrick Farrey (he/him)

Pat has been the CEO of SPE since June 2017. A career association executive, Pat was previously an Executive Vice President of Kellen – a global association management firm with offices in Atlanta, Brussels, Beijing, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, New York and Washington, D.C.  Pat was a member of the company’s Executive Board and managed its Chicago and Denver offices. Pat was a founding partner of the association management company Landon, Farrey & Associates, Inc., which was acquired by Kellen in October 2011.  Prior, he and his business partner launched Independent Publishing Company (IPC), a publisher of packaging-industry trade magazines, association journals and web sites.  IPC was acquired by Medical World Communications (NJ) in December 2001. 

Pat specializes in helping Societies achieve profitability, relevance, and vitality. His strengths include strategic planning, marketing, global expansion, membership development, publishing, administration, public relations, meetings, and trade show management.

Pat holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. He is a Certified Association Executive and a member of American Society of Association Executives, the Arizona Society of Association Executives, the Association Forum of Chicagoland and the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives.

Brian L. Gibson (he/him)

Brian's career was that as a Product Development Engineer and Manager with plastics, chemical, converting and injection molding expertise in diversified technology and manufacturing companies. 

Brian is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and has an Edison Patent Award (R&D Council of New Jersey). His core competencies include Design of Experiments (DOE), Intellectual Property Management, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Polymer Extrusion and Rheology, Market Segmentation, Quality Functional Development Analysis (QFD) and Stage-Gate New Product Development Management. His professional experience includes: Quality Manager/Process Engineer, Tri-Seal – a Tekni-Plex Company; Project Engineer/Sintering Manager, Polymer Technologies, Inc.; Senior Scientist / Research Engineer, Honeywell (formerly AlliedSignal); Process Control Chemist / Production Supervisor, Sun Chemical Corp.; and Research Engineer, Occidental Chemical (OxyVinlys). Brian has a Masters of Business Administration, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Studies, from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a BS Chemical Engineering, BA Chemistry, from Lafayette College.

Allison Lin (she/her)
VP of Procurement and Sustainability, Westfall-Technik, Inc. 

Allison is an Intrapreneur who thrives in leading and developing global procurement and sustainability organizations, collaborating with external and internal networks to develop and deliver sustainable solutions at Fortune 50 companies.

Consistently rated as a top-performer by exceeding corporate expectations, problem-solving across boundaries to deliver break-through, industry changing results. She is also a public speaker on environmental and social sustainability. Her professional skills are focused on organizational design and development, collaborative negotiations, relationship management , commodity risk management, and licensing and commercial agreements.

Her other professional roles include Global Director, Global Sustainable Packaging Procurement, The Coca-Cola Company; Procurement Manager II, The Starbucks Coffee Company; and Senior Purchasing Manager, The Procter & Gamble Co. Her professional awards include: Women Breaking the Mold, Plastics News (2016); Sustainable Innovation Award, Caps and Closures (2020); Cost Innovation Award, P&G CTO (2012). Allison has an MBA from Duke University and a B.S. in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University. 

Lynzie Nebel (she/her)
Upstream Quote Engineer, Cytiva; Co-host, PlastChicks Podcast; VP of Membership Engagement, SPE Executive Board

Lynzie is an Upstream Quote Engineer for Cytiva, managing the product costing for custom upstream hardware equipment for bio processing. Throughout her career, Lynzie has gained experience in the automotive, appliance, medical, pet, and micro injection molding industries.

Lynzie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Plastics Engineering Technology from Penn State Behrend in 2008. She has been a member of SPE since 2004 and has been involved in her local section, holding many positions including past President. Lynzie also sits on the Injection Molding Division and is the former secretary for the SPE Foundation board. She is currently the Vice President of Member Engagement on the Executive Board for SPE. In 2015, Lynzie was part of Plastics News' inaugural class of "Women Breaking the Mold," and was named one of the group's "Rising Stars" in 2018. She is also on the Industrial Advisory Board for Penn State's Plastics Department.

Cathy Nestrick (she/her)
DEI Leader / Co-Host, Parity Podcast; Former VP and General Counsel, Berry Global Group, Inc.

Cathy is a DEI thought leader and is passionate about helping organizations grow with Diversity and Inclusion through better employee engagement, employee experience, innovation, problem-solving, and business reputation. Cathy spent nearly a decade with Berry Global Group, Inc. as the VP and General Counsel, where she also founded Berry's D&I strategic initiative. Over the years, she has honed her skills in developing strategy, leading global teams and initiatives, delivering results in fast-paced environments, collaborating with people at all organizational levels, working with people on different teams and in different regions, project management, change management, managing outside resources, and developing alliances and networking. 

Cathy has a J.D. Degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration from Hanover College.

Diego Pedrazzoli, Ph.D. (he/him)
Senior Research Engineer, Johns Manville

Dr. Pedrazzoli graduated in 2010 in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Trento (Italy) and Luleå University of Technology (Sweden). He earned his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2014 from the University of Trento, after spending his second half of graduate studies working at the Georgia Institute of Technology. For his Ph.D., he worked on the development of advances polymers and composites applied to the automotive and aerospace industries.

Diego joined Case Western Reserve University (Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering) as a Research Associate in the Fall 2014 with the aim of developing electrically-conductive fiber-reinforced composites for damage monitoring applications. Diego joined BNNT, LLC in 2016 as Materials Scientist with the aim to develop polymer nanotubes from the whiteboard to the R&D apparatus to the factory. He later joined Johns Manville in 2017 as Sr. Research Engineer to support (1) product/process/technology development, (2) new business development and (3) intellectual property development and joint collaborations with external parties.

While Diego is now in the Denver/Boulder area, he has already lived and worked in four different countries (Italy, Sweden, Hungary, and the US - 4 states) and loves to meet and build relationships with people from other cultures while being involved in diversity and inclusion causes.

Jonathan Quinn (he/him)
Director of Market Development & Sustainability, Pregis

Jonathan is the Director of Market Development and Sustainability at Pregis, where he leads the market segmentation strategy development and execution along with all facets of flexible packaging sustainability focused on providing innovative products and services that Protect, Preserve, & Inspyre. Jonathan joined Pregis in June of 2021.

Jonathan is recognized as an expert in the areas of Packaging Sustainability, consumer insight and voice of consumer associated with packaging. He has conducted extensive consumer research on the e-Commerce and consumer packaged goods sectors. Prior to joining Pregis, Jonathan most recently held Marketing leadership roles at NOVA Chemicals. Additionally, he has held sales leadership and business development roles at Illinois Tool Works Zip-Pak division, the COESIA Group, and Multisorb Technologies.

Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Science in Packaging Science and Business Management from Clemson University. Currently, Quinn is the founder and Chairman of the Emerging Leadership Council at the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), chairs the membership committee at AMERIPEN, and is on the Global Board of Directors of the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA). In June of 2021, Jonathan was appointed to the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Advisory Board for Diversity and Inclusion. Jonathan was designated a “Rising Star under 35” by Plastics News in 2018 and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) Young Leader of the Year in 2019. In February of 2021, Jonathan was recognized by Plastics News as a top Social Media influencer in Plastics and Packaging. He can be found on all social media channels under the handle @JQUINNPACKAGED.

Sherrika Sanders, Ph.D. (she/her)
Senior Technical Engineer, Manner Polymers

Dr. Sanders received her undergraduate degree from Xavier University of Louisiana in Chemistry. After receiving a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry and completing postdoctoral research, Sherrika enjoyed a 9-year career as a Senior Scientist, Technical Services Scientist, and Group Leader for The Dow Chemical Company. Following her tenure at Dow, Sherrika became the R&D Director at Authentix, Inc. located in Dallas, TX.  In this role, she managed development, formulation, scale-up, quality and commercialization of markers for authentication solutions while also leading the Environmental, Health and Safety function for the Company.

In 2017, she was recognized as a “Hidden Figure of Dallas” for her many contributions to science and technology. In 2018, during Women’s History Month, Sherrika was listed as 1 of 20 “Most Influential Women in Manufacturing”. Currently, Sherrika has returned to the plastics industry as the Senior Technical Engineer for Manner Polymers in McKinney, TX.  She was most recently named as one of “The Top 50 Advanced Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Logistics Influencers” by Warner Communications.  Given the breadth of her role, no two days are the same. Each day is exciting and provides a unique opportunity to make a difference within the company and the customers they serve.

Eloa Garcia Moreira Silva (she/her)
DEI, Culture and Development Leader, Braskem America

Eloa has experience as an HR Business Partner for different areas in industrial companies. She has 11 years experience in talent development and management of HR processes and programs for different countries (Brazil, US, Mexico and Germany). She has focused on building and managing processes, programs, trainings and tools for people development (Career, Coaching, Mentoring, Succession Planning, Performance management).

Eloa has managed and disseminated a Work Environment and Corporate Culture survey and has managed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs in Brazil and in the US. She has designed and deployed her company’s Employee Value Proposition and Employee Experience.

Her educational credits include Post-Grad in Strategic People Management, FIA- Fundação Instituto de Administração and a Bachelor's in Psychology from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie.

Patricia Viotto (she/her)
HR and DEI Head, North America, Braskem America

Patricia is a Human Resources executive with 20+ years of experience in multinational companies, different sectors such as Mechanical, Pulp and Paper and chemical industries, Financial Services and Consumer Goods. Extensive experience in HR strategy, talent management, HR business partnering, leadership and organization development, organization redesign, Compensation, DEI and Internal Communication.

Patricia holds a Business Degree and MBA in Human Resources, as well as Mentor Certification by Universidad Anahuac (México).

Eve Vitale (she/her)
Chief Executive, SPE Foundation

Eve is Chief Executive of the SPE Foundation, which supports the development of plastics professionals by funding quality educational programs, grants and scholarships, emphasizing science, engineering, sustainability, and manufacturing while working to create inclusive opportunities for students around the world.

Eve has over 12-years’ experience working to increase gender and racial diversity in STEM fields, STEM-education and non-profit development. She leads the PlastiVan®, a national STEM-based plastics education program for K-12 students.

Eve has degrees in mechanical and manufacturing engineering and works as an engineering consultant in recycled and plastics sustainability.

Sue Wojnicki (she/her)
Director, Member Experience, SPE

Sue has been SPE's Director, Member Experience, since February 2018 where she leads a team that is dedicated to improving member value and customer experience. She joined the SPE Team in September 2011 holding positions in the Membership, Events and Marketing areas. Prior to SPE, Sue spent her early career years in manufacturing where she held managerial positions in finance at Unilever, Clairol, and Cytec.    

Sue holds a BS degree in Accounting and Business/Management and a Master’s degree in Computer Science. She recently earned a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate.

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