A crowd of about 2,500 industry folks came out to the New York Hilton Midtown on Thursday, May 14, to attend the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Woman of the Year (WOTY) event.

Denice Torres, JD, MBA, president of J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare, was honored as the 2015 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Woman of the Year. The HBA WOTY award is bestowed upon one senior woman whose accomplishments have led to significant contributions to the healthcare arena. Ms. Torres is well-regarded throughout the healthcare industry because of her leadership style, presence, and savvy. As president of McNeil, she has been a true change agent, leading the company through an unprecedented time in J&J’s history. Under Ms. Torres’ strong leadership, McNeil’s sales have increased at a double-digit rate, reclaiming leadership in several OTC categories as well as the No. 1 healthcare professional recommendation for many of those products. She joined J&J during 2004 and has served in key leadership roles across all three sectors of the healthcare giant: pharmaceuticals, medical device and consumer. 

Johnson & Johnson Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky introduced Ms. Torres.

“Take charge of your career and of your life,” Ms. Torres stated in front of a captivated and enthralled crowd. “Make it a point to help out other women. … Laugh loud, laugh often. Enjoy the journey; it becomes our life.” 

After Ms. Torres’ speech, she was surprised by an appearance by her friend Diana Nyad, an author, journalist, motivational speaker and long-distance swimmer. 

Stuart Sowder, PharmD, JD, MBA, VP of external medical communications at Pfizer, was recognized as 2015 Honorable Mentor. Established during 2001, the Honorable Mentor award recognizes an individual every year who shows long-term support for the advancement of women in the healthcare arena, has a personal dedication to developing, mentoring and promoting women in the industry, and who has been supportive of the HBA’s goals. Mr. Sowder is well-known for his staunch and consistent commitment to diversity. He supports Pfizer’s Women’s Leadership Network, and is a formal and informal mentor to many women at Pfizer.

Carol Wells, senior director of commercial training and development at Genentech, received the 2015 STAR (Strategic Transformation Achievement Recognition)Since 1999, the HBA has annually recognized a volunteer who stands apart as a truly exemplary role model for others and who has shown a long-term commitment to furthering HBA’s strategic goals. STAR nominations are submitted by the scores of HBA volunteer leaders who have see firsthand the outstanding achievements made by those deserving of this distinguished award. Ms. Wells was one of the first members of the HBA San Francisco chapter, and has played an important role in driving and supporting the chapter’s growth. Her dedication to develop and grow women as thought leaders in healthcare is evident and supported by serving as chapter president for two terms while also leading program development since the chapter was founded. Ms. Wells was instrumental in creating WOTY West, a celebration of the HBA Woman of the Year held in San Francisco and connected via video link to the event in New York City. She was bestowed with the HBA President’s award during 2011.

The WOTY luncheon additionally highlighted roughly 100 Rising Stars and Luminaries. Since the HBA started honoring Rising Stars during 1998, HBA has honored more than 1,000 talented women from its Corporate Partner organizations. As part of the 25th anniversary of the WOTY event during 2014, the HBA honored 25 past Rising Stars as an inaugural class of Luminaries because they made an important impact on the healthcare industry and/or experienced significant career advancement since receiving their Rising Star award. 

To be recognized as a Luminary, one must be an employee of an HBA Corporate Partner company; have more than 20 years of professional industry experience; serve as a role model in their company; actively mentor and sponsor others, with a track record of helping advance other women’s careers; exhibit dedication to the healthcare arena; and is a shining example of transformational leadership that the organization wants to formally recognize.

HBA Rising Stars are professionals in the early to mid stage of their career (regarded as the first 15 to 20 years of their professional career). They come from various sectors of the healthcare industry and are designated by HBA’s Corporate Partner organizations. Each eligible Corporate Partner organization designates one or two Rising Stars who meet this criteria: is an employee of an HBA Corporate Partner company; contributes significantly to her organization, preferably in numerous areas; exemplifies leadership and is a role model for others; assists those in subordinate or peer positions and is a team player; exhibits dedication to the healthcare industry; and is a true example of top talent that their organization wants to formally recognize.


2015 HBA Luminaries:

Judith E. Beach, PhD, JD, senior vice president and senior associate general counsel for regulatory and government affairs

Erin Byrne, executive vice president, managing partner

Anne Davison, senior vice president, strategic planning 
JUICE Pharma Worldwide

Nicole Faust Cohen, managing director, growth and strategy lead – research and development, Accenture Life Sciences

Lynn Gerber, area vice president sales
Astellas Pharma US

Amy Grahn, senior vice president, global clinical development, operations and pharmacovigilance 
Horizon Pharma, PLC

Suzanne Hansen, director of healthcare, Boots UK
Walgreens Boots Alliance

Tobi Hunziker, national client liaison
Publicis Touchpoint Solutions

Amy Hutnik, executive vice president, strategy and operations
inVentiv Health Commercial

Amanda Joly, senior vice president, operations and strategy
GSW, an InVentiv Health Company

Lynn W. Kenney, communications director, North America

Emily Lightfoot, senior vice president health systems

Diana Littman Paige, executive vice president, MMC Health
Marina Maher Communications

Andrea Marks, vice president, chief analytics officer

Shaden Marzouk, MD, vice president, clinical affairs
Cardinal Health

Kristi Matus, executive vice president and chief financial and administrative officer

Natalie McDonald, founder and president
Create NYC

Lisa Rometty, global franchise head, fluid systems
Baxter Healthcare

Kathrin Schoenborn-Sobolewski, PhD, vice president, head of strategic partnership
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Karen Shoshan, senior vice president, client services
McCann Managed Markets

Rekha Shukla, senior director of operations management
Cegedim Inc.

Ellen Stafford-Sigg, principal, life sciences
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Rachel Stahler, chief information officer
inVentiv Health, Clinical  

Victoria Summers, executive vice president, engagement strategy and analytics
Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

Hilary Thomas, PhD, partner and chief medical adviser life sciences

Lisa Walkush, national advisory life sciences leader
Grant Thornton LLP


2015 Rising Stars:

Rekha Abichandani, MD, global development team leader
Shire Pharmaceuticals

Cynthia Accuosti-Jones, field director, managed markets

Elaine Andrecovich, vice president  

Ana Ayres, general manager, orthopaedics and global surgery Portugal   
J&J Medical Iberia 

Teri Ann Bajek, vice president digital services 
Health & Wellness Partners LLC 

Cindy Baksh, vice president, client services

Courtney Breece, director product support 

Sara Briggs, director, human resources
Stryker Corporation

Ambre Brown Morley, director, product communications, diabetes 
Novo Nordisk

Dottie Caplan, associate vice president, launch readiness and life cycle management, corporate affairs
Sanofi US

Erin Cowhig, senior director, human resources
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. 

Terri Crudup, vice president, custom research 
AlphaImpactRx Inc.

Michelle Cuccia, vice president, global generics growth markets, specialty and BGx marketing and branding
Teva Pharmaceuticals 

Danielle DeForge, director, corporate communications
inVentiv Health

Kara Dennis, managing director, mHealth  
Medidata Solutions

Donna Deverick, vice president, account director 
Discovery USA

Julie Russell Dilts, senior counsel 
Roche Diagnostics Corporation

Stephanie Dreyer, senior brand manager, marketing, Bayer Consumer Care 
Bayer HealthCare LLC

Linda Drumright, general manager, clinical trial and optimization services  
IMS Health 

Michele Ehler, head of talent development North America
UCB Inc.

Linda Enns, PhD, copy supervisor 
McCann Regan Campbell Ward

Lynn Forrest, vice president
Campbell Alliance, an inVentiv Health Company

Audris Francis, director, talent acquisition  
PDI Inc.

Liz Frank, team lead
Biosector 2, an InVentiv Health Company

Ashley Gaines, head of sales and marketing, infectious disease   

Anita Gandhi, PhD, senior principal scientist, translational medicine  
Celgene Corporation 

Alexa Garrett, associate director, Sandoz US Distribution and Logistics

Melanie Goldey, senior vice president, strategic planning and investor relations 
Everyday Health

Teresa Graham, lifecycle leader, global product strategy

Sarah Grimwood, research fellow
Pfizer Inc

Courtney Hartstein, US flu brand manager 

Kathleen Hennigan-Shannon, vice president, account group supervisor 
McCann Torre Lazur

Alissa Hicks, director, field medical affairs
Shionogi Inc.

Erin Hlivia, vice president/client operations

Susan Hynes, head of global quality pharmaceutical manufacturing  
Bristol-Myers Squibb 

Katie Isaacs, senior vice president, group account director
The CementBloc

Michelle LaFond, director, bioreactor scale-up and development 
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Jill Lesiak, vice president creative director   
Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide   

VA Lopes, management supervisor
Giant Creative Strategy

Lori Mercurio, director, strategic projects
Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals 

Melissa Mims, director, medical affairs

Kyoko Miyahara, senior director
Pfizer Inc

Laura Morrison, senior strategic planner
McCann Echo

Lisa Nibauer, senior director
Becton Dickinson & Co

Jen O’Dwyer, senior vice president, client service director 
CDM New York 

Jennifer Ogden, director, global accounts
West Pharmaceutical Services Inc.

Nawal Ouzren, vice president hemophilia franchise 
Baxter Healthcare

Kaya Pai-Panandiker, senior director, marketing

Soomin Park, senior director, global statistical sciences 
Eli Lilly and Company

Anu Patel, vice president, group account supervisor 

Arleen Paulino, executive director clinical operations
Amgen Inc.

Maggie Pax, director, integration planning
Thermo Fisher Scientific

Karen Peterson, Abbott divisional vice president and controller, Abbott Diagnostics  

Cintia Piccina, executive director immunology
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation 

Kristen Pilkiewicz, vice president, associate creative director, copy 
H4B Catapult

Janet Piscitelli, MD, medical director, east region 
Quest Diagnostics

Michelle Rapp, associate partner, account management 
Razorfish Health

Pritam Raut, director
Cognizant Technology Solutions

Dalia Rayes, senior director, ASPIRE business unit
Actelion Pharmaceuticals

Anne Marie Robertson, executive director, marketing
Helsinn Therapeutics (US), Inc.

Megan Robinson, senior vice president, creative director brand development 
Sudler & Hennessey

Sandy Rodriguez, senior director, corporate communications
Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

Valentina Roselli, senior manager, advisory services

Emily Segalla, vice president, group copy supervisor
Flashpoint Medica

Wendy Short-Bartie, product director, Zykadia
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Kiley Smith, senior manager, fraud investigative and dispute advisory services

Amy Stafford, zone vice president
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Kristin Stephens, vice president, clinical operations
Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co

Patricia Vera, director, financial operations
Daiichi-Sankyo Inc.

Laura Wallace, director, risk management and epidemiology
Purdue Pharma LP

Julie Weber, consultant

Jillian Welker, director of agency operations
PALIO, an inVentiv Health Company

Jennifer Wellman, co-founder and head of regulatory strategy
Spark Therapeutics Inc.

Pamela Yanakopulos, partner