NCW Tech Announces 2021 Innovator Award Winners

WENATCHEE – NCW Tech Alliance hosted the 20th Annual Innovator Awards at the Wenatchee Convention Center and Numerica Performing Arts Center in a first-ever cinematic format on September 29, 2021. The Innovator Awards celebrates the drive, passion, and spirit of innovators in North Central Washington while inspiring those just starting their journey. During the event, innovators from North Central Washington received awards in five categories:

  • Dr. Virginia Emery, Beta Hatch (Entrepreneur of the Year Winner)
  • STOKE Space Technologies (Newcomer in Technology Winner)
  • Mario A. Godoy-Gonzalez, Red Rock Elementary School (STEM Champion of the Year Winner)
  • Nicole Warren, Danielle Johnson, Dean Barker, Sasha Cooper, Mia Lopez, Ashley Thoroughman, & Katlyn Watt, Wenatchee Valley College (STEM College Innovator of the Year Winners)
  • Peter Kyle, Cascade Christian Academy (Future Technology Leader of the Year Winner)

Following the announcement of the 2021 award winners, three legacy awards were given to honorees Andrew Metcalfe, Stemilt Growers, and Doug Merrill.

The three Legacy Innovator Award recipients were selected by the NCW Tech Alliance Board of Directors. Over 70 individuals, businesses have received innovator awards since the event’s inception in 2001. The Board reviewed all past Innovator Award winners and selected Andrew Metcalfe, Stemilt Growers, and Doug Merrill as they have continued to be innovative in technology, entrepreneurship, and STEM education, respectively.

A limited audience consisting of nominees and sponsors celebrated in person. At the same time, over four hundred viewers attended online to celebrate and recognize the nominees, finalists and hear the live announcement of the winners. As the event was moved online in August due to COVID concerns, NCW Tech Alliance and Microsoft partnered together to deliver the meals that would have been served to in-person attendees to healthcare workers in East Wenatchee and Wenatchee. NCW Tech board members delivered nearly 200 meals to Confluence Health employees.

The 2021 Innovator Award Winners were among thirty-eight individuals/organizations nominated by the community for their innovation and accomplishments in entrepreneurship, technology, or education.

Peoples Bank presented the Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Dr. Virginia Emery. Virginia is the country’s most innovative insect entrepreneur, recognized as a Visionary Grist 50 Fixer. Virginia has a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded over 20 grants and honors, and has published on subjects ranging from chemical communication to genetics to insect behavior.

Ogden Murphy Wallace presented the Newcomer in Technology Award to STOKE Space Technologies. STOKE Space Technologies is working to develop low-cost, on-demand access to and from space. They envision a future where space is even more critical to the global economy than intercontinental trade is today to preserve our planet while scaling our civilization. For more information, visit

Boeing sponsored Jody Leonard of Eastmont High School to present the STEM Champion of the Year Award to Mario A. Godoy-Gonzalez from Red Rock Elementary School. Mario Godoy-Gonzalez has been teaching in Royal City for over 30 years. He teaches students at Red Rock Elementary and has had a vital role in introducing biotechnology, molecular modeling, and robotics to the Royal School District. Mario is an advocate of his students, willing to go the extra mile to support them by writing letters of recommendation, helping them with scholarships to attend college, and advocating for DACA students. He has received dozens of honors and awards over his career for excellence in science and teaching. He recently started a STEM Academy to fulfill his desire to share knowledge and skills with kids.

Apple STEM Network presented the STEM College Student Innovator of the Year to the Student Graphic Design Team from Wenatchee Valley College, including Nicole Warren; Danielle Johnston, Dean Barker; Sasha Cooper; Mia Lopez; Ashley Thoroughman, and Katlyn Watt. Their innovative project was the development and creation of the 9/11 Spirit of America Memorial Foundation website. Through hard work and problem-solving, the students started with no content. They created a visual impact that now reaches people worldwide and provides a destination for our local community and tourists alike. As a team, they gathered information, created social media platforms, and produced a comprehensive, professional website. All seven of these students are pursuing a Graphic Design degree.

Equilus Capital Partners, LLC presented the Future Technology Leader Award to Peter Kyle from Cascade Christian Academy.  Peter has been working on a project he created called OpenChime. He started working on it when his school's IT director showed him the current bell system. The existing system is quite expensive and uses proprietary software and hardware. OpenChime is an open-source school bell system that hooks to an existing PA system. It runs on a Raspberry Pi but will also work on any computer running Linux - Peter created and coded the project by himself. This project is innovative because it will improve existing bell systems and save schools money. Peter runs his website and YouTube channel, is a full-stack web developer, programmer, and tech enthusiast.

In addition to the awards, the winners in each education category received a scholarship prize to continue their education or fund special projects. Thanks to the community’s donations, NCW Tech Alliance awarded $8,400 in scholarship money.

NCW Tech Alliance would like to thank the presenting sponsors of the 2021 Innovator Awards: Microsoft, Boeing, Equilus Capital Partners, Peoples Bank, Apple STEM Network, and Ogden Murphy Wallace. NCW Tech would also like to recognize supporting partners at Confluence Health, LocalTel Communications, Native Network, and North Forty Film Co.


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