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Celebrating the Women at Forge and Those Who Inspire Them for Women’s History Month

By Forge Biologics
Mar 15, 2024 12:47:15 PM

Celebrating the Women at Forge and Those Who Inspire Them for Women’s History Month 

To celebrate Women's History Month this March, we are proud to acknowledge and highlight a few of the remarkable women at Forge and those who inspire them. These women embody resilience, courage, and determination, who have broken barriers and made history in their respective fields. From Katherine Johnson's groundbreaking work at NASA to Mavis McKenna's pioneering contributions to gene therapy, these women have left an indelible mark on their industries and girls and women forever. Their stories serve as a source of inspiration for Forge team members like Sango Kasongo, Ashley Craddick, and Ahado Abukar, reminding us all about the power of role models and their lasting legacies.  


We honor and uplift the trailblazers who pave the way for future generations of girls and women at Forge and everywhere. Our third and final feature is Ashley Craddick, Senior Director, GMP Manufacturing, who shares why Mavis McKenna is one of her heroes. 


Ashley (1)


Mavis McKenna is an icon in the virology space and has left an incredible legacy. Her work creating images of AAV transformed the field of gene therapy, even while she was battling ALS. The modeling and capsid alteration processes she discovered allow scientists to understand more deeply what we are making and using as therapeutic vectors. Mavis's discoveries have shaped and guided the newest generation of gene therapies. All of her trailblazing work has directly influenced my career. Having such an influential woman to look up to motivates my choices and the journey I want for myself. Everyone I know who has worked with Mavis sings her praises as an individual and mentor as well, so I hope to model my professional leadership after her. Mavis's footprint is forever left in gene therapy and honored by us all as we use her work to continue significant advancements in this field.

— Ashley Craddick, Senior Director, GMP Manufacturing


Our second feature is Ahado Abukar, Planner/Scheduler, Maintenance, who was encouraged by June Almeida's story. 


Ahado 1-1


June Almeida influenced my career by teaching me to persevere despite the difficulties I may encounter. She was forced to drop out of school at the age of 16 due to her family not being able to afford to continue to send her to school., She was also a single mother in a time when that was less accepted than today, and had limited resources. Her publications were initially declined. I can relate to her on such a deep level. I had my son at 19 and it made it difficult to continue my education. When I see another woman continue to pursue her education and her career despite all the challenges it comes with, it shows me and other women that it is possible to have a chance at my dreams as well. Trailblazers like June, and the amazing women at Forge I work with, are a daily reminder. To Agnieszka Gascoyne, Ashley Craddick, Regina Mickley, Lakesha Seals... thank you for being incredible role models.

Ahado Abukar, Planner/Scheduler, Maintenance


Our first feature is Sango Kasongo, Quality Control Analyst II, who shares why Katherine Johnson is such an inspiration to her. 




“Well-behaved women rarely make history,” a quote that has rung true to me as early as my cognition began. I’m inspired by the women that were courageous and tenacious enough to diverge from societal norms to make history. The women that were told to sit still, cross your legs, soften your voice, and yet made grandiose movements, sat firmly, and spoke their concerns and curiosity loudly. One woman I think of that exemplifies this motivating quote is NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson. Raised in an era coming off the heels of the abolishment of slavery, segregation enforcement on federal levels, in addition to women fighting for their rights, Katherine climbed a mountain despite all odds. Her interest in mathematics was innate; she was eager to go to school at an early age, and that desire was evident in her consistent advancement graduating high school at age 15. But skills and curiosity alone didn’t lead to her success, as she also had a community of family, professors, and coworkers that uplifted and supported her. It was her boldness to ask the “how’s,” ‘why’s” and “why nots” that gave her notice at NASA. Soon enough, she became a leader, trusted by the men on her team, so much so she did the calculations for the first Moon landing. However, greatness does not happen in a bubble. An individual can have all the knowledge, jargon, and reasoning but without the resources and time invested, some can fall flat. That is something I have really taken from Katherine’s story, tending to your community as you tend to them. Even in retirement, Katherine continued mentorship encouraging students to enter STEM fields despite challenges. Katherine showed me as a black woman in science, to never silence myself, take up space, and leave something behind for the people after me. Thank you, Katherine Johnson, for showing the world that well-behaved women rarely make history! 

Sango Kasongo, Quality Control Analyst II