March 11, 2021
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Villanueva shares path to growth at diversity summit

Carrie L Martin, martin59 [at], (925) 424-4715

Jeene Villanueva, a computer scientist and group leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), represented the Laboratory at the 2021 Lab Manager Diversity Digital Summit, “Building Better Labs: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” held in February. Watch it here.

Villanueva was one of four expert speakers featured during the two-day virtual event. Each speaker offered guidance on topics to help the lab manager community better understand the challenges, obstacles and successes of diverse lab scientists.

Villanueva’s talk, “Career to Management: How Networking and Helping Others Can Advance Your Career Into Management,” focused on how making connections, building networks and helping others along the way are all part of the journey to professional growth opportunities.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of the Pacific in 1998, Villanueva became a software developer at LLNL. She has worked on a variety of different projects at LLNL and continues to help with recruiting activities. In addition to her role as an Applications, Simulations & Quality Group leader of approximately 10 software developers, Villanueva is a project leader of a team developing a dynamic, data-driven web application used for supporting the confidence in system performance and safety. She enjoys working with a team of "brilliant" software developers who value the challenging work, but also understand that work-life balance is important. 

"Promoting inclusion and mindfulness are important attributes of an approachable manager,” Villanueva said. “Everyone has learned their skills along their journey to management from different role models, mentors and examples. No one gets to where they are alone.”

As someone who didn’t have role models in STEM during her early years, Villanueva strives to be what she needed when she was younger. In thinking of her career path, she sees it as one where she has had people walking beside her along her journey. With a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion and leading by example, Villanueva serves on different committees, dedicating time to educating and bringing awareness of inclusion and mindfulness.

Villanueva stands behind the ideal that diversity enables better outcomes, especially in the workplace. To satisfy her commitment to diversity, Villanueva volunteers in several LLNL initiatives that celebrate the history and heritage of various communities comprising the Laboratory and the region at large.

Villanueva regularly participates in LLNL’s Asian Pacific American Council (APAC).

“One group that is particularly close to my heart is LLNL’s Asian Pacific American Council (APAC),” Villanueva said. A Filipina, Villanueva, was APAC chairperson in 2011 and serves as an advisory board member. “I really enjoy the camaraderie of serving APAC and doing what we can to promote diversity and inclusion and make a difference at the Laboratory.”

In 2013, she served as president of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Women’s Association (LLLWA), a community of men and women committed to recognizing women’s achievements, informing women of policies that affect them and providing educational scholarships to employees. Through the LLLWA, she met a group of women who coordinate Expanding Your Horizons events (math and science conferences for young women in grades 6-12), which sparked her interest in giving back to the community. She has been the co-chair of San Joaquin Expanding Your Horizons since 2014. She also is on the advisory board of the North Central Valley STEM Center.

She enjoys volunteering for outreach activities to inspire the next generation to pursue a career in STEM fields.