2017 Award Recipients

2017 Award Recipients: Anna Schreiber (top left) and Erica Lofton (top right) and
Bianca Ruffolo (bottom center)

Young Women in Public Affairs: Erica Lofton, University School of Milwaukee

Also recipient of the District 6 YWPA Award and one of 10 Zonta International YWPA Awards

At the time of her application, Erica Lofton was completing her sophomore year at the University School of Milwaukee. She had served as 9th and 10th grade student representative on her school’s student council, working to create a positive school culture. As a freshman, she spearheaded a Black History program that had not been done in more than five years; because of her advocacy, the Black History program is now mandatory.

Erica has also represented the 2nd Aldermanic District of Milwaukee as a member of the Milwaukee Youth Council, where she participated in the drafting of legislation creating Milwaukee’s first-ever youth-focused restorative justice initiative.

At the age of 7, she founded the charity Girls in Action, Inc., through which she teaches girls ages 8 to 12 how to become leaders. She uses teamwork to promote manners, self-esteem, social skills, and communication skills. Among the work: Helping the girls start a violence prevention campaign that earned recognition from President Barack Obama and the opportunity to travel to the White House, where Vice President Joe Biden presented them the Champion of Change National Award.

Erica wrote in her application, “We face things such as body shaming, unequal payment in the workplace, human trafficking, underrepresentation of women in strong leadership roles, health disparities, and the list goes on and on. But, I feel that the way these things can be dissolved is if we teach girls to love themselves and instill in them leadership qualities that can flourish once they realize their natural leadership skills. The key to doing this is teaching them while they are still young and impressionable. When Girls in Action did our research while formulating our curriculum, we found that between the ages of 8 and 12, the formative stages are taking place, making it easy for someone to persuade that child. This was the leading factor on us choosing the focus age group we wanted to work on.”

Erica is also owner of a related business, Girlz in Action, LLC, where she does keynotes, small group presentations and workshops for girls and other youth about leadership. Erica’s career goal is to obtain a law degree to advocate for women and children and make a positive impact on gender equality and children’s rights. As a congresswoman, she would like to pass laws that advocate for women and children.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business: Anna Schreiber, Marquette University

Also recipient of the District 6 JMK Women in Business scholarship

Anna Schreiber is studying Information Systems in the Management Department at Marquette University.

As Anna described her field in her application essay, “The program I am enrolled in at Marquette University is critical to the business field, in fact, I would say that any business without IT is not really a business at all. Especially in the world that we live in today, IT is what makes a business run and serves as the platform for people to do their jobs. As IT professionals, we are responsible for helping people use technology in efficient and intelligent ways to solve problems. Over the next few years, technology will only continue to evolve, so the IT field will help businesses learn the right ways to apply it.”

Anna took a leadership role as co-president of the Information Technology Student Organization at Marquette and co-editor of that organization’s publications. She was awarded Most Valuable Team Player in Marquette’s IT Innovation competition, InnovaIT, and as a business analyst intern at Robert W. Baird her team won the Intern Case Competition—with a program that will most likely be implemented at the company.

In addition to praising Anna’s instrumental work on the initiative she was assigned to during her internship, her coach and mentor at Baird commented, “She has…exhibited an ability to quickly build relationships, which was imperative in her role as a liaison between business users and IT…. She is clearly a very self-motivated person and this comes across in how she approaches her professional work as well as her coursework and school obligations such as her leadership of the Marquette IT Student Organization.”

Her recommendation from a professor at Marquette also commented on her ability to engage: “Anna is very collaborative and she tends to uplift members of her peer group with her positive attitude and archetypical leadership style. She is accountable to her team and she expects the same level of accountability of her team members.”

District 6 President Tamara Hagen (left) and Scholarship/Awards Chair Marlene Brant (right) recognize Anna Schreiber (second from left) and Erica Lofton (second from right) at the District 6 Fall Conference.

Women in STEM: Bianca Ruffolo

Bianca Ruffolo is pursuing a degree in Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Her goal is to ultimately become a molecular pathologist physician/scientist, pursuing both a medical practice and research work.

Through her program at UW-Parkside, Bianca will spend two years working with a microbiologist in the glucose-phosphate stress of E. coli. Her program also allows her to do medically relevant research through the RUSCH program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; she is focusing on hematology oncology research. Bianca says, “What’s most exciting about this program is that its purpose is to groom students toward helping underserved populations in Wisconsin; I want to focus on women’s health research and poor rural communities, since these have been an underserved field for too long.”

In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her academics, Bianca is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and the Pre-Health Club and president of the Molecular Biology Club and Circle K. Her participation in Phi Eta Sigma and Circle K involves community service projects, including Parkside’s GEMS conference. One of Bianca’s favorite volunteer opportunities, GEMS (Girls Empowered by Math and Science) is designed to involve more young women in STEM fields.

Bianca was also chosen to be a Newman Civic Fellowship Member and was the Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics representative for the College of Natural and Health Sciences Advisory Board, which discusses issues and possible solutions in the college.