Harford Community College Employees Named Northeastern Maryland Technology Council Visionary Award Recipients

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Laura Cianelli Preston, former Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, Harford Community College, and Dawn Grissom, Project Director, Community Education, Business & Applied Technology, HCC, have been named NMTC Visionary Award winners. Along with other award recipients, they were honored at the 10th NMTC Visionary Awards ceremony that was held virtually on April 22.

Laura Preston was awarded NMTC’s Visionary Award in the Leader category, recognizing those who make consistent contributions to building the STEM-educated workforce and advancing our innovation and technology base in a public way that inspires others to help in accomplishing shared goals.  These individuals solve enterprise-wide issues, create practical solutions, and engage others in the process. 

She was honored for her exceptional ability to promote STEM opportunities with community healthcare partners throughout her tenured career at Harford Community College. A few examples of her most recent contributions above and beyond her role as dean at the College include transferring all available personal protective equipment that would have been used for instruction for nursing students and donating the items to meet University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health’s dire need to equip their medical staff in March 2020. Ms. Preston coordinated with her faculty, HCC facilities personnel, and Upper Chesapeake personnel to deliver PPE equipment in a timely fashion to meet this important need during the pandemic. In addition, she was instrumental in the award of over $3.5 million in state grants to Harford so that additional nursing students could be trained for Maryland hospitals. Ms. Preston has been a leader in increasing the nursing capacity for the state by working with Cecil College on an accelerated program as well as working with Towson University on the associate to bachelor’s degree program. All of these programs are in line with the state’s initiative to increase the number of degreed nurses working in local hospitals.

Dawn Grissom was awarded NMTC’s Visionary Award in the Innovator category, recognizing those who put forth exceptional personal efforts that measurably benefit the development of the STEM-educated workforce and advancing our innovation and technology base. These individuals consistently show potential for broad positive impact in the community with the potential to revolutionize an industry, way of life, or organization.

The driving force behind the College’s innovative cybersecurity programs, Ms. Grissom brought to life innovative educational programs in cybersecurity for Harford students. Her sustained and innovative efforts will directly and significantly contribute competent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-educated workforce that will aid technology and innovation in cybersecurity across the region for many years to come. Grissom’s outstanding accomplishments include expertly leading the Harford Community College team through the National Science Foundation “Hire Harford First” program pilot. This program is part of National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological program that addresses the increasing need for a skilled cybersecurity workforce. In addition, Ms. Grissom planned, programmed, directed, and implemented a robust curriculum and summer program that effectively taught students about cybersecurity in the context of familiar Internet of Things devices that are a part of their home and play. Her efforts were instrumental in the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency awarding grants to Harford Community College so that it could launch GenCyber Smart Camps for middle school students in our area.

A total of 17 Marylanders will be honored this year for STEM-educated workforce development and advancing our technology and innovation base to grow our economy and protect national security. The NMTC awards gala is the largest of its kind in Maryland. Supporting this gala are leaders and contributors from industry, government, and education.

The 2021 Visionary Award honorees are as follows:

Visionary: Jeff Foulk, CEO, SURVICE Engineering

Leader: Laura Cianelli Preston, Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Professions (ret.), Harford Community College

Leader: Kyle Rickansrud, Director of Technology Services and Media, Cecil County Public Schools

Leader: Tim McNamara, Chairman, Facilities Committee, Discovery Center at Water’s Edge

Leader: Andrew Renzulli, Supervisor of Science, Harford County Public Schools

Leader: Dr. James Morgan, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Cecil College

Innovator: Todd Miller, Product Manager, Data Systems Analysts, Inc.

Innovator: Dawn Grissom, Project Director, Harford Community College

Innovator: J. P. Lapps, Senior Vice President, NextGen Federal Systems

Innovator: Kim Sheppard, Chair, Mathematics Department, Cecil College

Innovator: Mark A. Mears, Director, Facilities Management & Emerg. Prep. ChristianaCare, Union Hospital

Mentor: Amy Fares, Project Manager, Data Systems Analysts, Inc.

Mentor: Erin Poole, Customer Service Representative and SharePoint Developer, Data Systems Analysts, Inc.

Mentor: Dr. Art Lee, Research Engineer (ret.), US Army Research Lab

Mentor: Sarah Wheat, Chief, Employee Development and Engagement Branch, Army Research Lab

Rising Star: Kayla Ross, Science and Engineering Lab Coordinator, Cecil College

Rising Star: Jeremy Ruroede, Founder, SERRI Technologies

Previous NMTC Visionary Award winners from Harford Community College include Al Horst, Richard Schwanke, Marlene Lieb, John Mayhorne, Deb Wrobel, Denise Carnaggio, Bruce Burns, Rob Lieb, Sandra Young, Dennis Hiebert, Frank Mayer and Tami Imbierowicz.

For more information, visit https://nmtc.org/nmtc-visionary-awards/.

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