W⁴V STEM Role Models/Advocates

Wise Wonderful Women of West Virginia

Anne Barth

Executive Director
TechConnect West Virginia


Anne Barth is the Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia, a non-profit organization focused on driving innovation, cultivating entrepreneurship and creating greater economic diversity.  With a coalition representing higher education, private industry and the public sector, TechConnect leads innovation-based economic development in the state.  Under her leadership, Barth has helped to advance programs and initiatives that foster startups, commercialization and entrepreneurship, while also co-founding the West Virginia Women & Technology Conference. 

Barth oversees the management and operation of TechConnect and its programs, leads development efforts including writing grant applications to government agencies and private foundations, and directs communications for the organization.  As executive director, she often speaks to groups about technology-based economic development and how it can diversify and grow West Virginia’s economy.  She also leads planning for events that advance TechConnect’s mission, such as the annual Women & Technology Conference and the Coding & Cyber Summit.

In this phase of my career, my own mission aligns with TechConnect’s primary mission–growing and diversifying West Virginia’s economy.  Success hinges on attracting young talent to live, work and raise families in the state.  Adding knowledge economy job offers a chance for young people to stay in West Virginia, earn a good income and enjoy a great quality of life.  I also want to see more young women pursue careers in STEM fields because these jobs pay better and are more recession-proof.  That’s a big motivation for the Women & Technology Conference—to help showcase the opportunities in STEM fields for all of West Virginia’s young people, but especially for girls.

Barth holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and a Master’s in Corporate and Organizational Communications from West Virginia University.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, the West Virginia Science & Research Council, the WV Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Committee, the West Virginia Bioscience Association, the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and Advantage Valley. 

NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson:  Take all the courses in your curriculum. Do the research. Ask questions. Find someone doing what you are interested in! Be curious!

Ann Chester, PhD

Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences
West Virginia University

Ann Chester, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Health Sciences at West Virginia University is founder and director of Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) a campus/community partnership program initiated in 1994 which reaches out to 9th-12th grade under-represented students across West Virginia and supports them towards college and professional school. 

Under her leadership, HSTA brings under-represented students and their teachers to multiple university campuses during summers for laboratory and classroom training and enrichment activities, and then provides the infrastructure and support for community-based science club projects mentored by teachers, scientists, health professions students and volunteer community leaders during the school year.  A distinctive piece of HSTA is its students’ development of research projects that examine and address health issues faced by their communities. The projects turn HSTA students into community advocates who address health and social issues at home as they prepare to move on to college and beyond. An overwhelming 99% of the 2700 successful HSTA high school graduates attend college, 87% graduate with a 4 year degree or better, 62% choose health sciences or STEM majors and 84% stay in WV to work.

Chester has taken her love of science and her expertise in engaging communities in partnership with higher education to help others capture their own potential.  This has fostered grass-roots change in science education and health literacy in WV.  She has done this with the help of many enthusiastic partners and by raising funds of over $2,500,000 per year from federal, state, foundation, business, and local funders.

Chester was trained as a plant ecologist at Virginia Polytechnic and State University, San Diego State University and Duke University. Her career has centered around inspiring in others, a love of research and science and helping others reach their potential.  Chester’s work has been recognized nationally and regionally by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities (2010), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2010,2006), and Crisis Magazine (2006). She received the national Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2018 for the 2015 cohort of nominees.  This is the highest mentoring honor in the nation.

“Believe in yourself and you can help others believe in themselves and together we can make the world a better place.”

Leah Curry

Previous President
Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, Inc.
Buffalo, West Virginia

Leah Curry is the previous President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, Inc. (TMMWV) in Buffalo, West Virginia.  Curry’s responsibilities included overseeing all manufacturing and administrative functions of the manufacturing plant. Established in 1996, TMMWV manufactures 4-cylinder engines for the Corolla and V6 engines for the Highlander, Sienna and Lexus RX350.  In addition, TMMWV manufactures 8-speed automatic transmissions for the Avalon, Lexus ES, Camry and Highlander.  TMMWV has the capacity to produce more than one million engines and transmissions yearly.

Curry joined Toyota as a team leader at Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia in 1997. During her more than 20-year career at Toyota, she has served as held several manufacturing management positions, including general manager of Assembly and management positions in Body Weld, Stamping, Maintenance, Production Engineering and New Model launch at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, Inc. (TMMI) in Princeton, Ind. Prior to her current position, Curry served as vice president of Manufacturing at TMMI, where she oversaw all manufacturing operations at the plant that produces the Highlander, Sienna and Sequoia.

In alignment with Toyota’s values of respect for people and continuous improvement, Curry believes in demonstrating servant leadership every day. Additionally, she is a proponent of encouraging females to consider STEM-based career paths and is involved in various community initiatives geared toward Pre-K through 12th grade students.

Curry studied Industrial Electronics at the University of Evansville and Ivy Tech Community College in Evansville, Ind.  She holds a TPC Certification in Industrial Electronics. Nationally, Leah serves on the National Board of Directors of the Manufacturing Institute and Women in Manufacturing Institute. Locally, she is a board member of The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and The Education Alliance, a private, non-profit organization that advocates for public school student achievement in West Virginia. Curry was named as one of the Automotive News’ 2015 “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry,” a National Manufacturing Institute’s Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Award Recipient in 2013, and honored as a Who’s Who in West Virginia in 2018 by The State Journal.

Dr. Kathy D’Antoni

Associate State Superintendent of Schools in West Virginia

Kathy J D’Antoni is currently the Associate State Superintendent of Schools in West Virginia. She oversees statewide the areas of Career Technical Education, Adult Education, and Institutional Education.

She is responsible for 35 career technical schools, 55 Adult Education programs, and 55 institutional education programs across the state. Her duties include, project-based learning, entrepreneurial learning, curriculum development, and student organizations. Kathy was the founder of Simulated Workplace, an environment for learning which is now a national model.

Education is key to a prospering and valued society. Empowering all students, elementary through higher education, not only prepares the individual for the future, but makes the world around us a better place.

Kathy J D’Antoni earned a Doctor of Education from WVU/Marshall University. She was inducted into the Marshall Business School Hall of Fame, The June Harless Hall of Fame. Kathy has owned and operated private businesses and has authored many articles on education and co-authored numerous national publications on education.

“Set your goals high and follow your dreams Always remember, you are the only one who can keep you from succeeding.”

Dr. Jan R. Taylor

West Virginia Science & Research (WVSR), a division of West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
Charleston, West Virginia

Director of West Virginia Science & Research (WVSR), a division of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and project manager for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

Taylor’s responsibilities with WVSR include research programs, competitions, education and human resources projects, and program evaluation. She joined West Virginia EPSCoR as deputy director and senior research fellow in 2003. Prior to that, Taylor served as vice president and project director of the National Institute for Chemical Studies. She also worked in the environmental quality field for the state of West Virginia and served on the faculty of Marshall University.

Over years of extensive program management, Taylor has received awards from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. She has also managed sub-awards to counties, states, universities and other jurisdictions nationally.

Taylor holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological sciences from Marshall University and a doctorate in biology and systems science from the University of Louisville.