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Panel: Innovating STEM

This panel will focus on the intersection of innovation, health equity, and diversity leadership. Speakers will share their experiences in STEM fields, the impact of investment dynamics, and the significance of inclusive leadership. They’ll discuss strategies for nurturing diverse leadership talent, particularly among womxn in STEM, and how this fosters innovation and tackles root causes of inequity in these fields.

Moderator – Amy Linnane, Managing Director, Experiential Programs at Duke University

Amy Linnane is the Managing Director, Programs for Duke I&E. She runs all co-curricular programming, including the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs program. Prior to joining I&E, Amy was the Director at Launch, a Business Accelerator located in Chapel Hill funded by a partnership between UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill, and Orange County to help local entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses. Before running Launch, Amy completed the program as part of her SaaS startup, FeedStation. Amy has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Connecticut, a Masters in Education from Sacred Heart University, and a Masters in Education with a concentration in Reading and ELL Education from UNC. Her 10 years teaching elementary school in Connecticut and North Carolina provided a strong foundation for creating curriculum, assessing programs, and working with all types of learners.

Afreen Allam, MBA ’16, CEO & Founder, SiNON

Afreen Allam (Founder & CEO of SiNON Nano Sciences), an MBA graduate from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, has over 10 years of research in nanomedicine. Her extensive studies on applications of carbon nanotechnology in drug delivery and bio-imaging led to the patent of the Carbon Dot in 2013. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a double major in microbiology and biochemistry and holds a masters degree in finance and banking. At the age of 17, Afreen had her first DNA sequence published and filed a patent at the age of 20. She has presented at numerous biomedical conferences. She was a Forbes 30 under 30 finalist, Bustle Upstart awardee, Triangle Business Journal’s Rising Star Women in Business for 2019 and Durham’s Women’s Achievement awardee, finalist for Mass Challenge and NYU’s Endless Frontier Lab accelerator. In 2021 she also was featured in the inaugural Forbes “The Next 1000” List. Afreen is a 2023 Termeer Fellow and in the CDL Neuro track accelerator at University of Toronto.

Andrea Mohamed, MBA ’08, COO & Co-founder, Launch2Lead

Andrea Mohamed (MBA ’08) is a transformative leader with over two decades of experience driving growth. In the summer of 2023, she became COO and Co-founder of Launched2Lead, a startup empowering early-career women in STEM, where she provides strategic direction and executes tactical plans to guide the company’s short- and long-term objectives. Previously, Andrea was an intrapreneur at RTI International—a large NC-based research institute—where she was the recipient of multiple President’s Awards. As VP of Strategy, Innovation, Marketing and Communications, she served on the business unit executive team and executed a multi-year growth strategy that resulted in record financials (revenue grew from $400 million to $750 million and over $1.3 billion in new business was booked, exceeding a target of $700 million). She also oversaw an annual $10M innovation and investment budget and architected a reorganization affecting 3000 people, critical processes, and accountability models.

Over the course of four years, Andrea led a digital marketing transformation at RTI where she modernized the function to drive customer centricity. She also led or co-led cross-functional teams to drive growth including: RTI’s rapid COVID-19 response that contributed to over $500 million in new business, a three-year investment in opioid research and behavioral health resulting in over $370M in new business and 100s of top-tier news media mentions, and a multi-year investment to build AI capabilities for research applications.

Earlier in her career, Andrea was Head of Marketing for a pharmaceutical research company. Before that, she was Director of Marketing/Communications at Fuqua where she served as chief brand steward, launched the school’s global initiatives in 2008, and contributed to school’s first #1 BusinessWeek ranking in 2014. In the early 2000s, Andrea worked in marketing and business development roles in the semiconductor industry and for IT organizations.

Andrea is a first-generation college graduate earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Magna Cum Laude) from Northern Michigan University and an MBA and Health Sector Management (HSM) certificate from Duke University, where she was recognized as a Fuqua Scholar and HSM Scholar. Andrea was honored as a Triangle Business Journal Women in Business awardee in 2021, is an invited speaker on the topics of innovation and marketing, and is a member of CHIEF, a private network of executive women. In January of 2024, she signed a publishing contract to co-author a book about the experiences of executive-level women in Corporate America.

Andrea lives in Cary, NC with her husband Raphael (MBA ‘08), two t(w)een children, and their two tuxedo cats. In her free time, Andrea loves to ski in the winter and go boating on Lake Gaston in the summer.