Local honored for work protecting women's rights

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By The Staff

Los Alamos resident Mona Wecksung has repeatedly championed women’s rights in both her professional life and through community involvement. To recognize her lifetime of efforts, the New Mexico chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) awarded her the AAUW 2008 New Mexico Grace Barker Wilson Award for Distinguished Service at a ceremony held April 26 in Rio Rancho.

The Grace Barker Wilson Award for Distinguished Service honors people who have challenged the status quo in the area of women’s issues. These people will have initiated positive societal change by taking risks to work toward equity for women, to work in the area of education, or to build women’s and girls’ self-esteem. Past Los Alamos Grace Barker Wilson Award recipients since 1990 are Elizabeth Aiello, Gloria Cordova, Donna Giaquinto, Denise George, Marjorie Bell Chambers and Caroline “Cas” Mason.

Throughout her life, Wecksung has been an activist for promoting positive societal change and challenging the status quo by working for women’s equity and rights as exemplified by her active participation in AAUW, in Mana del Norte, in Emily’s List and as a professional scientist at LANL.

In addition she has been active in community service in Los Alamos and has become a world citizen through her participation in international relief agencies and through touring choirs.

When on the Los Alamos AAUW Council, serving as EF Chair, Wecksung championed the Georgia Fritz Research Grant, organizing several musical events and reaching the goals of the grant (even after her term in office on the council had expired).

On the State AAUW Council, she organized both the program at the state convention and the follow up Workshop centering on the roles and challenges of female professors at NM universities.

After completing her term on the state council and as a result of her work as EF chair, Wecksung worked and continues to work with Mana del Norte, a national organization of Latina women, to provide scholarships for young women.

When working at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Wecksung championed women, particularly when, during a lay-off, 19 women and one man were selected for termination.

As a manager at LANL, she was able to provide mentoring to younger women and share with them her computing knowledge and experience.

Her activities promoting women’s issues extend beyond the formal confines of AAUW and LANL, as she actively supports Emily’s list, an organization that provides training and financial support for women running for political office on the pro-choice platform. In addition, Wecksung endorses CARE, an international organization that fights global poverty by working with poor women to improve basic education and improve their standard of living.

Her interests have branched out beyond local women’s issues as she works for Habitat for Humanity, serving on the board for a year. Furthermore, she is active in the Children Organ Transplant Association. This organization helps children and young adults who need life-saving transplants, such as bone marrow, cord blood or stem cells, by providing fundraising assistance and family support.

Wecksung’ community activities include membership in Los Alamos Women in Science, a board member of the Los Alamos Concert Association and, in her younger days, teaching ice skating. She has also successfully lobbied the state government for increased funding for children with learning disabilities.