The Colour of Weather Reception celebrated 15 years of promoting diversity in the workforce at the recent AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA.  Colour of Weather (CoWx) brought students from a broad spectrum of disciplines together to engage with decision-makers and other creative contributors in the atmospheric sciences.

Among the participants were the NOAA Administrator, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, the NOAA Deputy Administrator, Vice Admiral Manson Brown, P.E., Dr. Craig McLean, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) and Dr. Louis Uccellini, Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. Several of the AMS Past Presidents were in attendance, as was the AMS President-Elect, Matthew Parker, CMM, who gave brief remarks during the event. Dr. Keith Seitter, the Executive Director of AMS also participated in the auspicious gathering of atmospheric enthusiasts.

Dr. Carlis, Dr. Sullivan, NOAA Administrator, Dr. Morris

Co-founded by NCAS Director, Dr. Vernon Morris, the CoWx mixers began as informal social gatherings of a handful of professionals and students over two decades ago.  Several of the original attendees were in attendance at the event – including Dr. John Cortinas, Director of the Office of Weather and Air Quality at NOAA, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Professor of Geology at the University of Georgia and Host of Weather Geeks, Dr. Everette Joseph, Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at Albany, and Dr. Warren Washington, Senior Scientist at NCAR. As more students of color began attending the AMS annual meetings (primarily from Howard University, Jackson State University, and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez); there was a need to move beyond ad-hoc coordination to a more formal organization, and to find a space large enough to accommodate the growing meeting.  The AMS formally endorsed the CoWx in 2009, and it became a part of the annual program in 2010.

The theme of this year’s event was “Bridging the Gap by Building Diverse Relationships”, which emphasizes the mission of CoWx, “…promoting environmental literacy, diversity and inclusion in scientific and technical endeavors through community service, and other activities that provide access to information, knowledge, technical consultation and support, and research.”

In addition to the ice-breaker activities, STEM Charades and Geosciences Bingo; experts shared their perspectives on diversity and negotiating career paths in atmospheric sciences with the audience. Dr. Wanda A. Sigur, the Vice-President and General Manager, Civil Space, Lockheed Martin Company, spoke to the standing-room only crowd about the importance networking. The NOAA Deputy Administrator, Vice Admiral Brown also gave remarks and stressed the relevance of diversity in the field of geosciences, and encouraged the students to approach the various professionals in the room for career advice.

There was a wide range of professionals, representing the federal, governmental, private, and non-profit sectors including AMS, NOAA, NASA, US Departments of Energy and Interior, Lockheed Martin Co., Savannah River National Laboratory, ESRI, ERT, Inc., Climate Data, CyberData, Harris, NBC Miami, WKRG News 5, IBP, IMSG, UCAR, Global Weather Corporation, WKRG-TV, to name a few.

Additionally, representation from over 25 academic institutions, added to the spectrum of careers in research.  Some of the universities included the Pennsylvania State University, Millersville University, New York City Tech College, the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Jackson State University, Texas A & M University the City University of New York, the University of Georgia, University of Texas, El Paso, and Cornell University.

Students and several first-time attendees raved about the event, expressing such sentiments as “The “Colour of Weather” meeting was by far the best meeting of the entire conference, and the conference isn’t even over yet!” Another stated…“this was an amazing event and a great way to kick off the meeting!” Dr. Warren Washington, the first African American President of the AMS expressed his pleasure at seeing the growth of the CoWx receptions. “…we never would have suspected that such humble beginnings would lead to something this impressive…”

We look forward with anticipation to the CoWx Reception at the 2017 AMS in Seattle, WA, and to further engagement and inclusion of both AMS membership, and the larger community.

To learn more about the CoWx, please visit the NCAS website, click here