How & Why Did Diversity Alliance for Science Begin… Here’s Our Story:
by Leah Brown
It was an exhausting traditional Life Sciences conference that we paid thousands of dollars to attend. Too many people buzzing around. It was an explosion of business connections in the chaos of making a deal. It was obvious the rush was about making “sales goals” and not about the bigger picture, patients.
Patients that look like rainbows. Different colors, appearance and transparency. That is what I wanted. It was about producing medicines that were going to save lives. I ran into my client at this whirlwind conference and we both fell on a sofa, what could easily have been a vendor booth that cost thousands of dollars. Really nice sofa.
We chatted about the stale chicken at lunch and how we couldn’t find the people we targeted for today’s networking conference among the sea of suits. She, Jackie La Joie of Merck© was charged to finding Life Science suppliers that looked like me; vendors of color; female vendors, vendors that had served in the military and are now disabled and other criteria that I fully didn’t understand. I felt sorry for her challenging quest and became truly discouraged.
We knew there was a solution for Jackie’s problem. We brainstormed the opportunity. We envisioned her dream of being able to bring her scientific buyers to a quiet but fun and safe place where that could have meaningful dialogue with small diverse suppliers. We sighed, simultaneously, as we shared our ideal conference dreams with each other. We knew at an instant, together, we can make a difference, solve a problem; so there, right on that beautiful soft sofa, we kicked off our shoes and laid out the framework for Diversity Alliance for Science. We held our first conference in 2008.
Since that time, 13 years later, DA4S has partnered with 750 + companies, hosted 30+ events, and have grown beyond 475 members at our peak.