The Quilt recognizes technology pioneer Marla Meehl for top honor

The Quilt today announced that Marla Meehl, a veteran technology leader and one of the world’s pioneering women in the field of advanced networking, has received the inaugural Dave Reese Quilt Distinguished Service Award.

The Dave Reese Quilt Distinguished Service Award was created this year to honor individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership, support, and service to The Quilt community and its stakeholders. The award is named in honor of Dave Reese (1958-2019), who was a founding member of The Quilt and served in a number of leadership roles for the organization including chairman of the board and treasurer.

“Dave was a treasured member of The Quilt community with a sharp mind for technology, an extraordinary sense of community, and a strong commitment to the mission of R&E networks,” said Jen Leasure, president and CEO of The Quilt. “His passing was a tremendous loss, and we couldn’t think of a better way to honor his memory than by establishing this award to recognize individuals who appreciate the diverse set of organizations that comprise our membership, embody the belief that collaboration makes the whole cloth of The Quilt stronger, and dedicate their time to supporting initiatives that broadly impact our Quilt member organizations. Marla was selected to receive this award from many worth nominations submitted, and we couldn’t think of better choice for our first recipient.”

For more than 30 years, Meehl has provided leadership, service and support to the Quilt and the national R&E networking community. From the onset of her career through her current position as Head of the Network Engineering and Telecommunications Section (NETS) in the Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), she continues to provide to provide vision and leadership for the Quilt and the national R&E networking community.

“Since early in her career, as a network engineer at time when few women were entering this field, Marla has demonstrated her tireless and passionate commitment to diversity, support and mentorship of other women seeking IT careers,” said Sherilyn Evans, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), where Dave Reese held the position of Vice President for Regional and International Initiatives before his passing. “Over the span of a storied career … Marla Meehl may be the finest exemplar of one deserving to be honored with the Dave Reese Distinguished Service Award.”

“Throughout her groundbreaking career as a woman in network engineering, Marla has worked
to raise awareness and close the gender gap in information technology,” said Wendy Huntoon, past executive director of KINBER in Pennsylvania, co-principal investigator for Women in IT Networking at SC, or WINS (sharing the duty with Meehl), and one of the founding members of The Quilt. “While Marla’s professional contributions and accomplishments exemplify the characteristics associated with the Dave Reese Distinguished Service Award, it is her personal commitment to the people in the community that merits the award.”

“Her recent effort with the WINS program and longer-term efforts for diversity in the R&E community has provided opportunities for young women to grow in engineering, software and management that would have not existed otherwise,” said Dave Jent, Associate Vice President at Indiana University. “I believe Marla exhibits exactly the traits this award intends to highlight – dedication to community, dedication to increase awareness of the need, and advantages, of a diverse workforce, dedication to creating a greater sense of community in our small part of the world.”

“Marla’s long career in networking, cyberinfrastructure, and numerous technology projects regionally and nationally is exemplary not only for its many accomplishments but also for her collaborative leadership style that has enabled generations of researchers and technologists to thrive,” added Laurie Burns McRobbie with Indiana University and co-chair of the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative.

“There are certain people that we meet over the course of the years that stand out from the background of life. Whether this is from their larger-than-life personality, or their clearly over-the-top level of intelligence, or other reasons. These people impact us as well as others around us in ways that become clear and important over time,” said Ron Hutchins, Vice Provost for Academic Technologies at University of Virginia. “Marla Meehl is one of these people … her impact on this community is one that will be felt for many years.”

Meehl received this recognition at The Quilt 2021 Winter Member Meeting running through Feb. 11.

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About The Quilt
The Quilt is the national coalition of advanced regional networks for research and education, representing 36 networks across the country. Participants in The Quilt provide advanced network services and applications to more than 250 universities and thousands of other educational institutions throughout the United States. Follow us on Twitter @TweetTheQuilt.