Today is International Women's Day, a time to celebrate women's achievements and promote fairness and inclusion. And March is Women's History Month in the U.S., commemorating and encouraging the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history.
At iSpecimen, we value all our employees every day. March, however, is a special time to recognize the contributions of women in our company, community, and field of life sciences. Our company is led by CEO Tracy Curley, who has distinguished herself in accounting, finance, and management. It's no accident that under her leadership iSpecimen just made Fast Company's World's Most Innovative Companies list.
Tracy has acted boldly since her youth when she ran on the boys' cross-country team (there was no girls' team) and went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in one of the first classes with women. After three decades in accounting and finance, she joined iSpecimen as CFO in 2020 and was instrumental in helping us execute our IPO in June 2021, less than a year later.
At iSpecimen, we believe there is enormous value in the contributions of women in life sciences. Diversity of demography as well as thought contributes tangibly to our innovation and overall performance. We are proud to say that the doors are wide open at iSpecimen for all who love science and technology, and the composition of our company demonstrates this.
Women at iSpecimen
We thought you'd like to meet a few of the many women who help iSpecimen advance medical progress and create a fun, rewarding culture.
Masheka Awari is a customer success specialist coming up on her one-year anniversary at iSpecimen. As a ravenous learner, she is thrilled to support important research projects and be "on the front line of major breakthroughs." Masheka's work has made her "Mum," a research scientist, proud.
"I love that we have a lot more in common now when she shares about her translational research progress," Masheka says of her "Mum". "I know iSpecimen is an important partner for scientists like her looking for [specimen] matches to find cures."
Masheka got her start in science in middle school when she took advantage of a pilot program to explore STEM careers. "Those field trips and special programs meant everything," she recalls. "I was gifted with mentors during the most pivotal moment of my life."
One mentor has been Tracy, our CEO, who chose Masheka to spearhead our recent community outreach initiatives. It was another learning opportunity, and she seized it. And that's her advice to younger women.
"Walk into any opportunity being an eager learner," Masheka says. "The opportunities that are presented have nothing to do with whether you are the smartest in the room; it's because you are willing to learn. It's nothing you can fake."
Ashlee Hasler is a market response representative in her second year at iSpecimen, where she analyzes and refines marketing processes and strategies.
Unlike many marketers, she's also a trained scientist. "As a former analytical chemist, I couldn't ask for a better career," she says. "By working at iSpecimen, I get to explore my passion for pharmaceutical research and my creative and curious nature in marketing.
Ashlee's heart was set on this industry as a child, when her grandmother suffered from Parkinson's disease. "After watching how this disease diminished her quality of life and caused her eventual passing, I had a personal desire to understand physiologically what caused disease and what could be done to slow or stop these debilitating disorders," says Ashlee.
"By working at iSpecimen I can assist the researchers that are doing this amazing work to find cures and better treatments for patients, just like my grandmother."
Her grandmother would be pleased with Ashlee's progress. "I am blessed to be a part of a company that recognizes the need and benefits of diversity," Ashlee says. "On this International Women's Day, it strikes me how rare iSpecimen is in this industry. We are led by a female CEO. Nearly 50 percent of our leadership team are women. Sixty percent of the marketing team I work in are women
"Especially in such a male-dominated industry iSpecimen is leading the way. Women in industry are strong, bold, passionate, and necessary for the future. Not just today, but every day."
Kristi Garner, an iSpecimen employee in her fourth year at the company, is director of sales and business development, responsible for growing iSpecimen's market in the western U.S. and ensuring biospecimen quality.
Like Ashlee and Masheka, Kristi relishes being directly involved in medical progress. "iSpecimen supports clients who are at the forefront of new technologies that will change how patients are diagnosed and treated," she says.
One such technology is liquid biopsy, a tool intended to detect cancer in a drop of blood. "While supporting multiple projects in the liquid biopsy space, I have seen the focus expand from oncology to non-oncology indications," she says.
Kristi is also on the forefront of artificial intelligence: "I'm working with clients using AI algorithms to help with histopathological diagnoses of a wide variety of cancers. I enjoy partnering with clients as their research evolves."
Indeed, there's never a dull moment at iSpecimen. Kristi joined just before the pandemic broke out. Says Kristi, "It was fascinating to see how the diagnostics industry was affected and how iSpecimen was able to leverage our wide network of suppliers to support the rapidly changing needs."
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the women of iSpecimen. They're important to our industry and the world. As is everyone here. Happy International Women's Day and Women's History month.