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Honoring Our Founders

Posted on Wednesday, March 29, 2023

It’s Women’s History Month and I can’t help thinking about the ladies who created ARCS Foundation Oregon.  What inspired our five founders to invest all that time, talent and treasure in creating an organization that supports STEM education in Oregon and provides opportunities for like-minded women to network, further our education, and use our skills to grow and expand the mission?  I decided to find out. 

Mary Ann Lockwood, Nancy Fischer, Cornelia Stevens, Ellen Richardson, and Sharon Hewitt were those five women. All five were involved at OHSU in 2002 in a variety of capacities - Mary Ann worked on special projects for the OHSU President; Ellen was a member of the faculty wives organization; Cornelia was active in the Ethics Department and Nancy and Sharon were on the Marquam Hill Steering Committee.  OHSU Development officer Randy Petty asked them to attend a meeting with ARCS National and Seattle Chapter representatives. 
Sharon recounted, “After listening to these representatives, we liked the idea of a group of women working together to achieve a positive goal - attracting smart, young people to our community to enhance research at OHSU. We hoped that some of those students would remain after graduation, enhancing and contributing to the economic and cultural vitality of our state.” 
The five founders did not know each other well but they bonded as they worked together forming the chapter, raising money and recruiting more women to the organization.  Thus, began long-term friendships and the camaraderie that is alive and well in ARCS today. 
In 2003, our founders hosted a tea in the library of OHSU where they inspired 40 more women to join the cause. Another event followed in January 2004 and the membership grew to 65 women.   

Unfortunately, Mary Ann is no longer with us, but Nancy, Cornelia, Ellen and Sharon continue to engage with and support our Chapter and are an inspiration to all of us.  We will soon celebrate the 20th anniversary of ARCS Oregon. 

Nancy currently lives in Bend. She extended her commitment to ARCS this year by funding her second University Matched Endowment. In addition to supporting a scholar at OSU in Forestry, Nancy’s new endowment at OHSU will help the university recruit PhD students to research pancreatic cancer. She expressed how rewarding it is to see the growth and expansion of ARCS mission over the years.  

Cornelia continues to live in Portland and as fears of Covid recede, we hope to see her more often at ARCS events. 

Ellen enjoys her life in Seattle and is involved with the local chapter of ARCS.  Her support of ARCS Oregon continues and was demonstrated recently when she established an endowment to support scholars at OHSU. 

Sharon continues to be active on the Board as VP of Governance.  She was the first President of ARCS, followed in the second year by Ellen.  In 2017, Sharon established an ARCS endowment to support a scholar at OHSU’s School of Medicine. She divides her time between Oregon and Arizona. 

I consider it an honor to be President of the Chapter that they have created.  Since these visionary and accomplished women founded this organization, we have invested nearly $6 million to support 363 STEM scientists.  The number of annual awards continues to grow, and our membership is expanding across Oregon, attracting more accomplished women who want to support our mission and be part of this successful and vibrant organization.   

Thank you to Mary Ann, Nancy, Cornelia, Ellen and Sharon for creating ARCS Foundation Oregon and providing us all with the opportunity to carry on a legacy of advancing STEM education in our state.  

Click HERE to read more about the history of ARCS Foundation Oregon.