Four AAPG members recently were recognized at the 2022 ALLY Energy GRIT Awards – three as recipients and one as a finalist.
The winners include past AAPG President Gretchen Gillis in the “Executive” category and Nicole Hart-Wagoner and Stefano Mazzoni in the “Professional” category. Chioma Owumelu was a finalist in the “Gritty Girls” category.
ALLY Energy describes itself as “an online workforce development platform for professionals working and seeking work in the global energy industry” with the overall goal of “promoting equity and inclusion in the energy sector … by promoting the involvement of women in energy and the presence of other underrepresented talent pools.” It was founded in 2014 in Houston, originally under the name “Pink Petro.”
According to organizers, GRIT stands for “growth, resilience, innovation and transition,” and the Awards “aspire to discover and recognize individuals, teams, and companies who are doing extraordinary things in energy, climate and sustainability.”
The 6th annual GRIT Awards and Best Energy Workplaces were presented in October in Houston.
The Award Winners
“I was honored by the fact that one of my colleagues nominated me,” said Gillis, senior geological consultant at Aramco Americas. “I have been a member of AAPG since 1990 and more recently joined a number of other organizations. I have done the most volunteer work for AAPG because of the importance of AAPG to my day job and my career.”
“In each volunteer role, as I become more familiar with an organization, I see how it can benefit from greater diversity and inclusion. That is why I promote D&I – to help organizations that are important (and important to me) become more successful,” she explained.
“I think the energy industry has some great initiatives underway to improve D&I, but progress has been slow. As someone who has worked for more than 30 years in this industry, I think we can and must do better because I do not think I have seen enough progress in my time. People need to feel like the industry will be welcoming and supportive now, not in five or 10 or more years,” Gillis explained.
“Geology has not historically been very diverse and, generally speaking, that has been my experience as well,” said Nicole Hart-Wagoner, who has been an active member of the AAPG Women’s Network in recent years.
“Throughout my geology education and career, I have frequently been one of the few women in the class or on the team. I became involved in DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) because women can face many challenges that stem from implicit and explicit biases in a field that historically has not been diverse. I believe that it is crucial to bring awareness to these challenges so that we can work to overcome them, and also to support those that are facing these challenges and biases,” she said.
“I am very honored to have been recognized alongside so many incredible finalists and awardees, thank you to everyone that has supported me throughout my career thus far,” Wagoner said of the award. “I would also like to encourage everyone to get involved, support your colleagues and learn more about DEI initiatives in your professional organizations and workplaces.”
Stefano Mazzoni is a consulting geoscientist who is also involved with the AAPG Women’s Network, among other professional societies and committees.
“In recent years during the pandemic-induced lockdowns and rise of remote programming and volunteering, I’ve increased my participation in several other organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and Inclusion. These include Pink Petro, SPE Gulf Coast Section’s D&I Committee, D&I Committee for IMAGE, and the AAPG Women’s Network,” he said.
Despite progress in the industry, Mazzoni said he still sees resistance in some areas.
“Although our industry has shown signs of progress in the last 20 years, we are still in a very nascent state with a long road ahead to achieve a true sense of belonging within all populations in our industry. We have seen the rise of important groups (such as AAPG WN, D&I committees at professional meetings, etc.) but there still exists significant push-back from companies, societies, and old-fashioned groups within who refuse to accept change.” he said.
“My work effort is not directly related to this type of activity, but I enjoy volunteering because it allows me to give back to the community and guarantee that women are represented,” said Chioma Onwumelu, a doctoral researcher and geoscience research assistant at the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center.
“AAPG Women’s Network and Society of Exploration Geophysicist Women’s Network are some of the groups I have been involved in the most. My interest in promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry stems from different reasons. One is from being more conscious about the positive impact diversity and inclusion have on the creativity, quality and standard of the work done in the workplace,” she said. “On the other hand, as a black woman who grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, I am motivated to be involved in discussions about seeing a better representation of the diverse world in the industry.”
“I sincerely appreciate ALLY Energy for providing this opportunity for us to gain recognition for the work we are doing and I feel privileged to have been nominated,” Onwumelu added.