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An Oral History of WEPAN with Liz Litzler

February 8, 2024

Elizabeth “Liz” Litzler is an Affiliate Assistant Professor and the Director of the Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity at the University of Washington. She is also been a WEPAN member, conference presenter, committee chair and co-chair, board member, and award winner. Below, she shares her twenty-year history with the organization.

Litzler became acquainted with WEPAN in 2003, working under Suzanne Brainard, one of WEPAN’s three co-founders. Brainard, Susan Metz, and Jane Zimmer Daniels were each running WIE/WISE programs at their respective institutions, but felt they were lacking a community to learn from each other. In looking at the gaps as they tried to serve their respective communities, the three women decided to create more cross-pollination across organizations. Litzer remembers Brainard having regular calls with the other two co-founders and how they were both colleagues and friends.

Liz solo cropped

“I was a student at what was then called the Center for Workforce Development, and later became staff in 2005. CWD was doing a lot of gender-related evaluations and research projects in STEM fields. WEPAN was an appropriate dissemination outlet for our work, and Suzanne was very supportive of our participation in WEPAN, both personally and professionally. I gave my first presentation at my first WEPAN conference in 2005, and have since been to thirteen conferences.”

Litzler took an active role in the organization, first serving as co-chair of the WEPAN Knowledge Center committee from 2009-2011, as a member of the WEPAN Conference Program Committee in 2010 and 2011, and Chair of the WEPAN Conference Proceedings Committee in 2011. She also served as a board member from 2012-2015. 

“As part of the conference planning team, we always tried to come up with a theme that would be relevant to all WEPAN’s constituencies, both academia and industry, so that everyone would have a place to plug in and have a reason to come. We also kept in mind why WEPAN started, as a place to support people who are running women in engineering or women in science programs. Whether people were looking to share research and resources or just come together and talk, we always had an interest in making sure people could find that community at our conferences.”

In 2020, Litzler was awarded the WEPAN Founder’s Award for exemplifying the spirit of the WEPAN founders through her extraordinary long-term service to the organization. 

“The Founder’s Award was a huge honor and a really meaningful award to receive as someone who worked with Suzanne for over a decade, and has helped me make the case that I’m a leader in my field.”

Litzler currently serves as a reviewer for the ARC Network, a National Science Foundation-funded initiative housed within WEPAN. When looking back at her time with WEPAN, she doesn’t hesitate in naming the organization’s biggest impact on her. 

“My engagement with WEPAN has helped me grow my network and given me a community of colleagues I’ve called on when I’ve had questions or needed advice. It’s the first organization I started to engage with in more than just a perfunctory, ‘go to a conference; way. It’s been really powerful to have that community. We all need a community to help us succeed.”

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