The Women LEAD program is being coordinated this year by
three students, Emily Robinson, Nicole Zhao, and Genevieve Tarlton.
In celebration of Homecoming, the Women LEAD coordinators have invited a panel of young Rice Alumnae to speak on November 12th. These young alumnae were active student leaders during their time at Rice and will talk about what they learned during their time as students and how that has been applied in their current career roles. Due to limited seating, please RSVP here to confirm a seat at the event!
Kate Hildebrandt graduated from Rice with a BA
in Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality in 2009. Following
graduation, she served as a community health volunteer in the Peace
Corps in Namibia, working HIV and gender equality. She has been
working with the Houston Area Women's Center since 2011 as Lead
Training Specialist, where she targets the educational and medical
communities to help support survivors and enact social change to
end domestic and sexual violence. Kate discovered her passion for
grassroots community movements at Rice and plans to continue
working in the social justice field.
Megan Hermance graduated from Rice (Baker
College) in 2009 with a BA in Psychology and Managerial
Studies. After Rice, she joined Teach for America and taught
in the Rio Grande Valley. In the past few years, she has
returned to Houston and is working for YES Prep, a charter school
network servicing low-income communities across Houston. Currently,
she works as a Dean of Instruction. In this role, she coaches
Math and Spanish teachers, leads the math department, coordinates
testing and serves on the campus Leadership Team. She plans
to continue work for education reform in Houston and hopes to find
way to grow her impact.
Abbie Ryan, Hanszen '09, graduated from
Rice with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and now works as a
fuel cell engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.
In her four years at JSC, Abbie has monitored the Space Shuttle's
fuel cells from Mission Control, spent a month in Arizona using a
fuel cell to operate a Lunar Electric Rover prototype, acted as an
Engineering Lead for a Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle
test, and authored three papers on fuel cell innovations at NASA.
Abbie is currently one of five JSC employees chosen for a year-long
NASA-wide leadership development program and has gotten to shadow
some of NASA's top leaders from around the Agency; one day, she
hopes to be the Director of Johnson Space Center and let people
shadow her instead. While at Rice, Abbie was a four-year member of
Hanszen's Cabinet and served as Hanszen President from 2008-2009;
she attended, staffed, and then coordinated the Impact Rice
Retreat; she captained the HWKA Powderpuff team for three years, in
addition to giving Rice tours, working at the Nehemiah Center,
performing in the Vagina Monologues for three years, and costuming
three different college theater musicals. Rocket science is nothing
compared all that.
Serena Rodriguez (Lovett '04) is currently
a PhD student at The University of Texas School of Public
Health. At Rice, she majored in both Psychology and Ancient
Mediterranean Civilizations and debated between a career in
clinical psych and a career digging in the dirt in Greece.
However, that all changed after she helped organize an
International Service Project trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2003
with the Rice Community Involvement Center. Since then, she has
pursued a career in global health (with a 4 year detour to do event
planning in NYC), and her current work with Safe Mothers Safe
Babies focuses on maternal and child health programs in rural
Uganda. Serena is particularly interested in community-based
participatory research and in the power of photography,
storytelling, and qualitative methods to create positive social
In the financial services industry since 2005,
Mackenzie focuses on portfolio construction,
investment due diligence, and business development for the team.
Prior to joining Copeland Kemp & Associates, Mackenzie worked
with Merrill Lynch Investment Banking in New York City and also
founded Moser Consulting, which provides for-hire analyst services
to small businesses and international banks alike. Mackenzie holds
a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Rice University, where she
was also a member of the club crew team as both a rower and a
coxswain. In her free time Mackenzie enjoys reading, sewing, and
recently hiked across the Grand Canyon…in one day. She also
recently married her best friend, Josh, in the exact Rice classroom
in which they met.
Sparky Frost is a native Houstonian and
two-time Rice graduate, earning a B.A. in sport management and
English in 2007, and an M.B.A. from Rice in 2011. While an
undergraduate student, Sparky was a member of Lovett College, and
the founder and president of the Rice University Sport Business
Alliance. Sparky's involvement at Rice has remained far-reaching,
including serving as the Co-Chair for the record-breaking Class of
2007 Annual Fund campaign during the Centennial year, the former
Houston Young Alumni Committee, and now as chair of the Rice Young
Alumni Ambassador program. With over two decades of equestrian show
jumping experience, Sparky is committed to the sustainability of
equestrian sports and to increasing educational and entrepreneurial
opportunities in the equine and Houston communities.
She currently manages the breeding and sales operation of a private
equestrian business while competing in show jumping nationally and
internationally. Sparky has also served as a volunteer for the
Houston Symphony, United Way, Ronald McDonald House, United States
Equestrian Team Foundation and Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.
If you are interested in reading about previous Women LEAD programs, please see
notes from their discussions below: