2023 EDGE in Tech Athena Award winners promote diversity and inclusion in tech

Collage of photos of Jodi Shelton, Tonya Evans and Erica Moore and the Cal NERDS logo.

EDGE in Tech is a joint program of the Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. Each year, the EDGE in Tech presents the Athena Awards at its annual symposium, to be held virtually this year on March 2. 

The 2023 awards are given in four categories, to recognize achievements in executive leadership, academic leadership, early career excellence and next-generation engagement. Recipients were nominated by peers and colleagues who have been inspired by their work and efforts to foster inclusion in the field. 

“We are thrilled to honor these outstanding leaders who have demonstrated innovation and fortitude in the cause of expanding opportunities in the tech sector for all,” said Jill Finlayson, managing director of the CITRIS Innovation Hub and director of EDGE in Tech.

Executive Leadership Award

Jodi Shelton
Co-founder and CEO, Global Semiconductor Alliance

Technology pioneer Jodi Shelton, co-founder and CEO of the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA), launched the GSA Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) in 2018 with the aim of significantly increasing the number of women in leadership roles in the semiconductor field, the capital given to women-led startups and the number of STEM-focused female candidates joining the industry. 

She was inspired to start WLI to harness the creativity of women who have risen to the top ranks and to connect them with the next generation of female leaders for inspiration and sponsorship. 

Shelton was instrumental in the creation of GSA and has continuously addressed global issues in the multibillion-dollar semiconductor industry as the voice of its members. Under her leadership, the alliance has grown to include companies throughout the supply chain, representing 45 countries across the globe. In her role as CEO, Shelton ensures that GSA remains focused on fostering a more effective ecosystem through collaboration, integration and innovation. 

She is also founder, president and CEO of the Shelton Group, a strategic investor relations and public relations firm established in 1994.

Shelton earned her bachelorʼs degree in political science from San Diego State University and her masterʼs degree in political science from the University of Houston. She received corporate governance program certification from Columbia Business School. She serves as a board member of several organizations and contributes her time, resources and capital to numerous charitable llo and civic projects, including Girls Inc., Jonathanʼs Place and Habitat for Humanity.  

Academic Leadership Award

Tonya Evans
Professor, Penn State Dickinson Law; Co-Hire, Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences

Tonya M. Evans’s interdisciplinary, silo-busting work explores the legal, regulatory, policy and economic justice implications of new technologies, such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). 

A tenured full professor at Penn State Dickinson Law School with a co-hire appointment to the Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, Evans is not only an accomplished academic, speaker and trusted crypto policy advisor, she is a leader in promoting inclusion and equity within law schools. She has spent years developing online courses and content, such as the weekly Tech Intersect podcast, to enable nonspecialists to learn about Web3. 

Evans was named to the 2021 Forbes 50 over 50 list of women who are shaping a more innovative and inclusive future of investment, and to the Fastcase 50 of 2021 list, an annual award that recognizes visionaries and leaders in the law. She is also part of the American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Centerʼs 2022 list of women of legal tech.

From 2020–21, Evans served as chairperson of the Maker Ecosystem Growth Foundation to oversee the final phase and full decentralization of the MakerDAO stablecoin cryptocurrency. In 2022, she was the first keynote speaker at the inaugural Blockchain Law for Social Good Center conference.

Evans is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Howard University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.

Early Career Award

Erika Moore
Rhines Rising Star Larry Hench Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida

Erika Moore is the inaugural Rhines Rising Star Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida (UF). 

Mooreʼs research broadly focuses on understanding how immune cells can be leveraged to enhance tissue regeneration. While other immune cells are well described in their response to biomaterials, her work was the first to characterize how biomaterials influence B cells following injury. Her lab is also investigating inflammatory properties of immune cells from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and healthy individuals to explore potential impacts of race and ancestry on SLE-associated changes. 

Moore has been awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) KL2 training grant through the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, a Space Research Initiative grant from the Florida Space Institute, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship. She is the author of more than 30 publications, and in 2021, she was named one of Forbes’s 30 under 30 honorees in the health care category.

In 2019, she founded a nonprofit organization, Moore Wealth, which teaches financial literacy to students of color through seminars and scholarships. She is also a co-founder of Black in BME, a resource created to amplify, support and foster community for all self-identifying Black people in biomedical engineering. 

Moore earned her bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2013 and her doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University in 2018. Her Ph.D. thesis received Duke’s Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award.

Next-generation Engagement Award


Cal NERDS (New Experiences for Research and Diversity in Science) brings together a vibrant community of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate and graduate student leaders at UC Berkeley to cultivate a diverse workforce. After graduation, the program’s scholars become professional “NERDS” in industry, academia and government. 

In 2021–22, Cal NERDS created more 3,000 experiences for students from over 50 universities and community colleges across 13 states, including a five-day, 50-person trip to the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Among the program’s offerings are weekend-long, student-led data science and coding bootcamps, which aim to provide a positive climate on campus for peers learning to code for the first time. Cal NERDS also recently launched the STAR database, a centralized hub for STEM activities across the university. A related Faculty Engagement Opportunity digital tool, the first of its kind, is under development.

Cal NERDS’s videos on how to apply to graduate school have been viewed more than 700,000 times. 

For their myriad efforts, the group received the 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Program award from the Berkeley Collegium, a council of faculty members holding endowed chairs in higher education.

The driving force behind Cal NERDS is educational technologist Diana Lizarraga, who has held a leadership role at UC Berkeley for 20 years. As the STEM equity and success director in UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity & Inclusion, she is passionate about providing opportunities for students to gain tech and computational thinking skill sets to help shape their STEM career trajectories. Lizarraga’s educational theory of “TechnoInclusion” and its “TechnoSandwich” technique engages students with professional development,  hands-on coding and female role models. With the motto “exposure, participation and transformation,” she encourages a broad array of professional development pathways.

Logo for the EDGE in Tech Initiative at the University of California.

Please join EDGE in Tech on March 2 to celebrate this year’s Athena Award recipients and explore the experiences of experts using emerging technologies to advance innovation for more sustainable infrastructure. Tickets for the 2023 EDGE in Tech Symposium on Smarter Tech for Resilient Future are available now.