The Computing Research Association (CRA) is pleased to honor Mary Fernández with the 2018 Service to CRA Award for her work in transforming the visual identity and communications of the organization. Mary was a member of the CRA board from 2009 to 2015, during which time she spearheaded several key initiatives to re-brand and revitalize communications.
Mary first became involved with CRA in 2008 by serving as a speaker and mentor at CRA-W’s Advanced Career Mentoring Workshop. She joined the CRA board in 2009 as an ACM representative and co-chaired the 2010 CRA Conference at Snowbird the following year. Mary was also a speaker at CRA-W Grad Cohort 2011, the CRA-W Mentoring Tracks at Grace Hopper in 2012 and CRA-W’s Distinguished Lecture Series in 2017.
As chair of the communications committee, Mary advocated to CRA’s board of directors the importance of developing a strong brand identity and directed several initiatives to improve communications. She guided a multi-year effort which clarified and strengthened the CRA mission statement and re-branded CRA as a more unified organization.
Mary was instrumental to making the vision of creating a new brand identity for CRA a reality. She took on the challenge of finding a way to bring the multiple identities that make up CRA under one cohesive brand and succeeded by building consensus with members, staff, committee chairs and board members.
The new look was unveiled at the 2014 Conference at Snowbird and positioned CRA as dynamic and collaborative, while preserving the unique identities of CRA’s distinct committees.
The new CRA symbol is designed to represent great minds coming together. The symbol was created by combining many ovals of different sizes into one symbol to illustrate dynamic collaboration. Each committee’s logo is a different color to both strengthen its individual identity and connect it to the organization as a whole.
Mary currently volunteers her time and energy to the boards of several nonprofit organizations, using her wealth of leadership expertise to help advance their missions. After serving on the board of MentorNet for several years, she took on the role of CEO in 2013 and revitalized the organization to enhance its mission to increase the representation of historically underrepresented individuals in STEM fields; it is now a division of Great Minds in STEM. Mary also spent 17 years at AT&T Labs Research, as a research computer scientist specializing in database and information systems, then as the head of distributed computing research, and finally as assistant vice president of information and software systems research.
Mary left the CRA board in 2015 to focus on other responsibilities, but her work has had lasting impact. The vibrant CRA and committee logos and unified web presence are all the results of her amazing leadership, and this is evident to anyone who attends our events or visits our websites.
The Service to CRA Award will be presented at the upcoming 2018 CRA Conference at Snowbird.