District News and Announcements

3/12/2021 - STEM Professionals Panel, Thursday, 3/25, 7:00 pm

Register for this event by clicking here.

The public is invited to join a STEM Professionals Panel virtual event, held in
collaboration with community members and Region 15 Public Schools.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at 7:00 pm. Students, families, and community
members are encouraged to register in this event.

Panelists from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds will be sharing their
experiences in an online forum to: build awareness of and inspire interest in related
careers; discuss their paths to STEM careers and contributions they have made to their
fields; respond to questions around what motivated them to pursue their careers and
insights they’d like to offer to our community’s young people. All panelists are parents of
students in Region 15 schools.

Included on the panel are:

Dr. Maria Arole, a Pharmacist with over 17 years experience in Medical Affairs; Mrs. Erin Blackwell, an Engineer with over 20 years experience in electrical, nuclear, and industrial engineering; Mr. Zuoxian Hu, a Software Developer with over 20 years experience in building complex applications for financial institutions; and Dr. Bob Kumi, a Pharmaceutical Scientist & Regulatory Affairs Professional with over 23 years experience.

Registration is available through the Region 15 website, www.Region15.org.

Meet the Panelists
Maria Arole is a pharmacist who earned her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from
the University of Illinois, Chicago. She currently works at Clovis Oncology, a
biopharmaceutical company as the Field Medical Director where she manages a team of
Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) for the Eastern US region. At Clovis, she also
supported the launch of Rubraca® used in the treatment of patients with ovarian and
prostate cancer. Prior to that, she was the MSL at Pharmacyclics, interacting with
leading physicians at major academic institutions in New England as part of their
Oncology/Hematology Field Medical Affairs team. After spending several years at
Celgene launching Revlimid® for myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple myeloma 
(blood cancers), Maria joined Alexion Pharmaceuticals and served as an Oncology
Medical Information pharmacist and contributed to the successful launch of Soliris®.
Prior to moving to the pharmaceutical industry, Maria had worked as a retail pharmacist
at a leading pharmacy retail chain for over a decade. Maria is originally from Nigeria and
relocated to the US right after high school. She is married to her husband ‘Benga and
they have three amazing daughters. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading,
mentoring, and traveling. Maria and her family moved to Southbury in 2010 and currently
has 3 children in 3 different schools in Region 15.

Erin Blackwell is a learning manager for operations specialists at McKinsey & Company,
a global consulting firm. She earned her Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from the
United States Naval Academy in 2000. Upon graduation, she became the
communications officer aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CG47) responsible for all external
communications and cryptography during the ship’s drug interdiction deployment. She
completed the U.S. Navy’s nuclear power school and graduated to be the division officer
in charge of all non-nuclear auxiliary mechanical systems on the aircraft carrier USS
George Washington (CVN73). She is qualified as a Naval Nuclear Engineer and Surface
Warfare Officer. After being honorably discharged from the military in late 2005, she
joined McKinsey & Company as a consultant in Manufacturing and Industrial
Engineering. In this role, she worked across industries including coal mining, bakeries,
paper mills, pharmaceuticals, and financial institutions. After becoming an engagement
manager, she opted to step into internal operations at her company and has explored
numerous roles including recruiting, practice management, talent, and now
learning/capability building. After moving 12 times in the past 20 years, Erin settled in
Southbury, CT with her husband, Andrew, and two daughters five years ago. In her free
time, she enjoys spending time with her children, kayaking, hiking, and baking.

Zuoxian Hu is a senior managing director of software development at SS&C
Technologies Inc. Zuoxian learned computer programming while he was studying
physics in college. He was fascinated by how software enabled people to communicate
with machines freely and increased productivity amazingly, which drove him to study
computer science in graduate school. The first project Zuoxian worked on was building
software to assist language translation. It was used to bring the show “Family Album
U.S.A” into China mainland as a “teaching course.” The show was quite popular.
Zuoxian joined the Sandy Hook based company Open Information Systems in 1999 and
worked on projects to develop software for financial institutions including Citi, Deutsche
Bank, and JP Morgan Chase. In 2005, Zuoxian started working for SS&C Technologies
Inc. He gradually started to lead projects and successfully deliver products to clients
including hedge funds, asset managers and insurance companies. He is currently
working on a project called “Singularity”, where he and his team aim to offer a unified
platform to multiple industries in financial service. Zuoxian loves the culture of New
England and has been living in a Southbury neighborhood with his family of four since
2006. He enjoys spending his free time with the family exploring lakes and trails, biking
and jogging.

Robert (Bob) Kumi is a Pharmaceutical Scientist and Regulatory Affairs Professional
with over 23 years’ experience. Bob has worked with the US Food and Drug
Administration as Scientific Reviewer and as a Regulatory Affairs Lead in multiple
companies in the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry, including Boehringer Ingelheim
and Regeneron. In these roles, he contributed and was involved in the review,
development and marketing of multiple products in the US and abroad, both as a
regulator Reviewer and regulatory affairs professional. Currently he is a Principal
Consultant, Regulatory Affairs Strategy with the Halloran Consultant Group. In this role,
Bob interacts with and advises clients on efficient development of medicines for various
therapeutic areas including COVID-19 treatments, neurology, oncology and rare
diseases. Bob hails from Ghana in West Africa, where he earned a BSc. Honors in
Chemistry (major) and Biochemistry (minor) from the University of Ghana, Legon
(Ghana). After completing National Service as a Teaching Assistant in the University of
Ghana Chemistry Department, Bob continued his education and earned a Ph.D. in
Pharmaceutics from the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy. “My passion and
love for science, work and life is driven by a quest to learn and understand how things
work and to solve problems”. Bob is married to his wife, Naa, and they have two terrific
teenagers, who attend Pomperaug High School. Bob and his family have been
Southbury residents since 2013. In his free time Bob enjoys watching and playing soccer
and tennis; he is also known to dabble in songwriting. He also loves to travel and has
been fortunate enough to visit many places around the globe for work as well as
pleasure.