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Wright honored with national science and technology award

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

MIDDLETOWN -- Kelly Wright of Middletown received the national STEP Ahead Award Sept. 24 that recognizes more than 100 women in science, technology, engineering, and production careers. Wright is the environmental, health and safety manager at Clarios, a manufacturing company that makes automotive batteries.

Kelly Wright of Middletown was honored with a national STEM award for her work at Clarios and the Appoquinimink School District.

The awards presented by the Manufacturing Institute honor women who are leaders within their companies and communities. Every year, they choose 130 people to recognize: 100 honorees and 30 emerging leaders under the age of 30. Wright was picked as an honoree.

“I was really quite flattered that all the accomplishments throughout my career were thought of highly enough to be selected out of thousands of applicants,” she said.

Carolyn Lee, executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, said Wright was selected as an honoree because of her contributions at Clarios and her work within the Appoquinimink School District.

“She was an integral part of Clarios’s expansion and plays an active role in the recruitment and retainment of skilled employees. Kelly also volunteers with the local school district’s STEM Council inspiring the next generation of talent to pursue careers in the industry. These are the very attributes of a STEP Ahead winner and leader,” Lee said in a statement.

Wright is a member on the Appoquinimink Board of Education and also works with the district’s STEM Council to encourage students to pursue careers in the industry.

As the EHS manager at Clarios, Wright monitors the manufacturing process to make sure the facility is following all safety, health and environmental regulations determined by the federal, state and local governments.

The community leader has found a way to bring her work at Clarios and the school district together by hosting world-of-work tours where engineering educators and secondary school administrators gain project-based ideas for the classroom.

She held tours at Clarios for Appoquinimink’s engineering curriculum Project Lead the Way teachers, Continuing Professional Education leaders and other district leaders to give them ideas for projects that students to handle in the classroom. 

“Because our school district has committed to making our district not only college ready, but career ready, we wanted to find ways to support pathways for different opportunities to show kids what [the working world] looks like,” she said.

She is also a mentor for young executives, mostly with STEM women, at Clarios and the University of Delaware. Wright said it's important to see professional women support other young professional women so they have confidence to move forward in their careers. She wants them to know there are women in positions of power and they belong there.

“It's important to use your successes to help others because you are not here forever,” she said. “When it comes to women in STEM, you want to make sure you are blazing your own path, but you're helping clear the way for those behind you so they can take your place someday.”

“We are mothers, we are students and we are spouses and we are community volunteers, and whatever other roles.” Wright said. “That doesn't negate the fact that we shouldn't be in these professional roles as well.”