• jen3757

Mentoring, it’s in Our DNA


In celebration of National Mentoring Month, we're proud to highlight some of the brave and brilliant women who serve as our mentors and leaders today. Athari’s CEO and founder Susan Mitchell shares personal memories of growing up with a “Nurse Mom,” and how that paved the way for her future in STEAMM. Now in her spritely 80’s, Susan’s mother, “Nurse Nettie” as she is known, still maintains her certification and she holds a legacy of public health work at Walter Reed, serving as a School Nurse at Misawa Air Force Base Japan and as a Nurse Practitioner in support of our armed forces at the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Being raised by a strong mentor as a mother, Susan shares:


“My life science roots were planted many moons ago. Growing up with a nurse mom, I learned to use the proper medical terminology for everyday ailments, much to the surprise of my peers and teachers. Our resident nurse practitioner was always full of medical advice for our family, neighbors and sometimes even strangers too!


I have also witnessed first-hand the importance of being a lifelong learner and sharing knowledge after seeing my mother progress from an LPN, to RN, to NP because of her constant thirst for higher education and her willingness to stay current on her nursing license, even in her retirement.


As I reflect, I can also thank Nurse Nettie as she was seemingly preparing us for Covid my whole life! Using hand sanitizer and hand-washing was a universal precaution met with the strictest of compliance protocols in our childhood home.


More seriously, my mom and I both would agree that there is something tremendously rewarding about being a mentor, innovator, and career creator. Like her, I have a strong calling to plant seeds that ensure our curated community continues to touch and teach, encourage and reach the next generation. I am filled with excitement every time opportunities arise where I can help develop young minds that are about to bloom. Being able to pour into and invest in the seedlings that will blossom into future biotechnologists, doctors, entrepreneurs, leaders, and life scientists brings my heart joy… Hopes and dreams, powered by STEAMM.”


CEO Susan is committed to creating a future where, as an African-American woman leading a biotech business, she is no longer a minority in the field; instead, she is among peers from all walks, creating a wellspring of future bioscience leaders, also from all walks.


Building a mentoring mindset and pro-STEM education culture that is year-round and sustainable is crucial, as we have much work to do:

  • Despite making up nearly half the U.S. workforce, women are still vastly underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce. We’ve made gains from less than 10% of the workforce in the 1970s but are still today under 30%.

  • African-Americans make up 11% of the U.S. workforce overall but represent 9% of STEM workers, while Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce but only 7 percent of STEM Workers, according to PEW Research.

And with this work to do, we will leave you on this high note…..


“I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier…”

- Whitney Houston