Athens, Ga. – Women are in a unique position to create positive change around the globe, says Susan Fonseca, University of Georgia alumnae and founder of Women@TheFrontier, a forum that highlights women entrepreneurs. And, she says, there’s no better time for women than now because of the exponential rate of change enabled by technology.
Fonseca, who holds UGA degrees in anthropology and law, will lead UGA Women@TheFrontier, a poster exhibition and panel discussion on women as key drivers of innovations that address the world’s greatest challenges, on March 27, 12:30-3 p.m. in Mahler Auditorium at the UGA Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.
The session is one of the key events during Thinc. at UGA Entrepreneurial Week, a celebration that includes lectures, workshops, panels discussions, competitions and networking that promise to engage, inspire and showcase innovative efforts by UGA faculty, students and alumni.
UGA Women@TheFrontier opens with poster exhibits by UGA women innovators and researchers. Fonseca will deliver the keynote following opening remarks from Libby Morris, UGA interim provost effective July 1. A panel discussion by UGA women pioneers will focus on entrepreneurship, technology, innovation and societal impact. Panelists include Toni Miles, director, Institute of Gerontology, College of Public Health; ValaRae Partee, undergraduate student in environmental engineering, College of Engineering; and Farah Samli, doctoral student, department of infectious diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine.
“Now is a great opportunity for female game-changers, as I call them,” said Fonseca. “These are women who are taking risks, who are taking a leadership role in pushing, promoting, creating, designing, disrupting-figuring something out that’s new, innovative in the area they are in. These are women who are aware of global impacts and global needs, who are committed to making a positive impact on other people’s lives. These are the women who are getting their hands dirty-who are really making the difference themselves.”
“What’s often missing at the table and what women bring,” says Fonseca, “is the approach of ‘we’re all in it together.'” Women, she says, are able to create opportunities for everyone to be part of the conversation.
Fonseca said that women’s commitment to positive global impacts, combined with the fast pace of technological change, means that going with the status quo “now is often the riskier bet.”
Fonseca, who lives in Atlanta, said she did not set out to be an entrepreneur herself. Her father, one of 11 children, was raised in poverty in Honduras. Her mother, a nurse, joined the Peace Corps in Honduras, where Fonseca grew up. She says both parents educated her at an early age about the importance of giving back. “It’s in my DNA,” she said.
In addition to founding Women@TheFrontier, Fonseca is a founding member of Singularity University, an interdisciplinary university based at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, which offers a unique 10-week program aimed at stimulating disruptive thinking and solutions that solve some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU and UGA jointly sponsor the annual Global Impact Competition to select a graduate student to attend SU. Today, SU alumni are in more than 70 countries around the world.
Prior to SU, Susan negotiated diplomatic and international collaboration with Central American leaders, government officials and industry that culminated in the successful vote and passage of the Dominican Republic-Central America-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. She also has produced technical and scientific conferences.