The highest AISES professional honor, the Ely S. Parker Award is given to an educator, scientist, or engineer who has made a significant difference for Indigenous people, especially in education. Award recipients follow the example of 19th-century Seneca Nation Chief Ely S. Parker, who broke multiple racial barriers in his remarkable career. Winners are selected from a national pool of nominees by the AISES Board of Directors.
The winner of the 38th annual Ely S. Parker Award is Sequoyah Fellow Richard “Rick” Stephens, Pala Band of Mission Indians. A Board chair emeritus, Stephens served two consecutive terms on the Board and also served as a member of the Executive Committee and on the board of AISES Publishing. He provided invaluable leadership to AISES over the course of several critical years in the organization’s history, and has been a role model for and mentor to many as well as an energetic advocate for inclusion, service, and STEM education.
Stephens had a distinguished 33-year career in engineering, finance, and management at The Boeing Company. He concluded his career as the global leader of Human Resources and Administration, retiring in 2013. While at Boeing he also led Space and Communications Services, Reusable Space Systems, Naval Systems, Tactical Systems, Submarine Combat Systems, and Space Shuttle.
Stephens earned a BS in mathematics from the University of Southern California and an MS in computer science from California State University, Fullerton, and studied business administration at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. His skill as a manager has been recognized with multiple awards. He won the 2004 AISES Professional of the Year Award as well as the National Management Association Gold, Silver Knight, and Excellence in Leadership Awards, and is a National Management Association Hall of Fame inductee. Stephens is also an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Stephens has been generous with his time and skills, serving AISES and many other organizations. He is a past tribal chairman for the Pala Band of Mission Indians; a former city council member and mayor pro tem in Alpine, Texas; a past director of World Business Chicago; a board member for Digital Promise; and a past chair of the Orange County Business Council. A former Marine Corps officer, Stephens serves as treasurer of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. He is a former member of the President’s Council for Tribal Colleges and supported three cabinet secretaries. Stephens and his wife, Elane V. Scott, founded Raising Families, a nonprofit focused on parenting, children, and families. They have six children and 13 grandchildren.
Significant contributions to the STEM workplace are the focus of the AISES Professional Awards, which are bestowed in several categories. AISES members nominate many accomplished people, and the winners are selected by a committee representing corporate, academic, government, foundation, and tribal AISES partners. To learn more about this year’s Professional Award winners, see the Fall 2021 issue of Winds of Change.
Dr. Crystal Tulley-Cordova, Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources
Tobin Beal, General Motors
Dr. Josiah Hester, Northwestern University
Aaron Yazzie, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Leona Anderson, The Boeing Company
Deborah Tewa, Native Renewables Inc.
The AISES staff selects the Partner Service Award winners to honor those who have been exceptionally supportive of the organization. Strategic partners are enormously important to the AISES mission because they enhance and promote STEM education and careers, and foster the continued growth of the organization at a pace that would be impossible to achieve without them. Here are the 2021 recipients of the Partner Service Awards.
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Sam Tupou, Siletz Valley Schools
Bonnie Wallace, Wells Fargo Bank
Tony Baylis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Victoria Fuentes, American Chemical Society
Lake Erie Professional Chapter
Maria Dadgar, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc.
United Tribes Technical College
University of Oklahoma
1ST PLACE: Madison Whitekiller, Cherokee Nation
Automated Analysis Identifies Pericyte and Endothelial Cell Loss in Capillaries of Diabetic Mouse Models
2nd Place: Jasmine Neosh, Menominee Nation
Survey of Edible Plants of the Menominee Reservation
3rd Place: Gabbie Moneymaker, Squaxin Island
The Percieved Effects of a Sensory Garden on Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
Honorable Mention: Keilah South, Cherokee Nation
Crimson Bloom: A Biological Integration of Seed Types and How They Could Be Used as Data Collectors
1st Place: Blake MacQueen, Cherokee Nation
Reaction Condition Optimization of Sorbitol Hydrodeoxygenation over a ReOx-Pd/CeO2 Catalyst via Design of Experiments
2nd Place: Jade Morning Sky Little, Oglala Lakota
Biocultural Restoration of Fellows Falls: A Historical Ecology Approach
3rd Place (Tie): Crystal Morales
Creating Water Sustainability in a time of Uncertainty
Brittany Nez, Navajo
Model Predictive Control Study for an Electrified Turbofan Engine
Geological Changes Along the Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea Trail
1st Place: Christian Little & Matthew Poncho, Mescalero Apache
Water Quality Monitoring Autonomous Waterbot
Honorable Mention: Melani Trujillo & Diandra McFadden, Mescalero Apache
Working with an Artificial Hand
1st Place: Jordyn Begay, Navajo
Identification of the Artificial Synthesis of Aromatic Amino Acid Tyrosine, Based on Π-TO-Π* Absorbance Peaks
2nd Place: Kellen Apuna, Native Hawaiian
An Inventory of Forest Birds Along the Aiea Loop Trail, Oahu, HI
3rd Place: Caydence Palmer & Angel Enjday, Mescalero Apache
Make Your Air Safer: Alerting Indoor IoT Air Quality Monitor
Honorable Mention: Amber White, Navajo
Deleterious Effects of Atmospheric Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): Farmington, New Mexico Area of the Navajo Nation
1st Place: Dehlia Wolftail, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
Quantification of The Colville and Spokane Tribe Water Right Adjudication and Potential Impacts to Current Junior Water Right Holders
2nd Place (Tie): Michelle Anderson, Red Lake Nation
Effects of Sulfur on Manoomin
Marcie Vandever, Navajo
The Comparison of Microstructure and Mechanical Behavior of Stainless Steel 316L Using Near Net Shaped and Fully Embedded Methodologies Using DED Metal Advanced Manufacturing
3rd Place: Melissa Vera, Latina
Targeting Oxidant Stress in Diabetic Retinopathy
1st Place: Alicia Brown, Navajo
Chemical Biology Studies of Malleilactone, a Small-Molecule Virulence Factor Produced by Burkholderia pseudomallei
2nd Place: Lauren McLester-Davis, Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
The Association of Telomere Length and Neurodevelopment Performance in Surinamese Infants
3rd Place: Kali Dale, White Earth Ojibwe
Regulatory Mechanisms of MAPK Pathway Delayed-Early Gene Targets
Honorable Mention (Tie): Kyle Matt, Blackfeet
Searching for RR Lyrae Variables in the Second Data Release of the NOAO Source Catalog
Melissa Reed, Cherokee
From Trash to Treasure: Inexpensive Aquatic Invertebrate Sampling Devices Upcycled from Plastic Soda Bottles