AFCEA International honored MITRE's Debra Zides, principal program manager of agile acquisition, with its Meritorious Service Award for her leadership and volunteerism in engaging youth in STEM and connecting them to professionals for internships and education.
Zides has volunteered countless hours teaching and guiding students in her community’s Science Club for Girls. She’s provided one-on-one coaching to K-5 students and teaches chemistry to K-2 students in a weekly afterschool program.
In 2022, Zides created the Lexington-Concord Chapter’s AFCEA Young Social Innovator Award. This $1,000 scholarship spotlights applicants who use STEM skills to disrupt problems in underlying systems and create solutions to challenging social and environmental issues. As vice president of education for AFCEA’s Lexington-Concord Chapter, Zides also helped to match high school seniors with local companies for internships and forged partnerships across government and industry to help design AFCEA’s Diversity Speaker Series.
At MITRE, Zides draws on advanced manufacturing to provide innovative hardware solutions. Last year, she co-designed an Advanced Manufacturing Marketplace Showcase that connected buyers and sellers of these technologies. Through personal contacts and community outreach, Zides created an extensive list of women leaders in advanced manufacturing to join the event, including government and industry executive directors, senior technical specialists, academic institution VPs, and startup/small business CEOs.