Battelle Celebrates Pride Month: Solver Profiles

At Battelle, we believe that teamwork, diversity, and authenticity are key to achieving groundbreaking innovations and success. To celebrate Pride Month, we want you to meet five of our outstanding staff members who represent these values of excellence. Join us as we celebrate their achievements and embrace the power of diversity!

Christopher Fugarino, Director of Talent Strategy and Enablement

Photo: Battelle solver Chris Fugarino standing with his husband brad hagemeyer Battelle Solver Chris Fugarino (right) holding his marriage license with his husband Brad (left)

I typically go by Chris. My pronouns are he/him/his, though I will also answer (on a light note) to queen 😊. Three words I’d use to describe myself are genuine, assertive, and energetic.

I went to a specialized high school in New York City focused on math and science because I dreamed of becoming a geneticist so I could grant myself superpowers (seriously). While in H.S., a constitutional law teacher helped me understand that there are no “ordinary” people, we all have superpowers, and it was up to me to discover and leverage mine. I eventually went on to become a lawyer licensed to practice in NY, a mediator, and finally a certified human resources professional. That professor set me on a path that has been incredibly rewarding, I’m grateful!

Prior to Battelle, I did some work to define my purpose and landed on, “to be at peace and to aid others in their journey towards peace or joy.” As I learned more about Battelle and the individuals that work here, I was inspired by how many people genuinely are willing to put self-interest aside to invest in the well-being of our society and our planet. This touched a deep chord within me. I’m a huge comic book and superhero fan and have an ingrained belief that we are better off when we work together, and that win-win outcomes are possible for individual people and society. Battelle embodies that mindset, from my perspective.

Society makes it easy to judge other people – Pride is the antithesis of that. The concept of Pride brings me back to that one professor who helped me understand that we all have superpowers. Rather than judge other people for their choices, celebrate your own and be proud of who you are and what you offer to your friends, your family, and to society. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts and our differences make us more, not less.  

Sean Vactor, he/him/his, Software Engineer

Photo: Battelle Solver Sean VactorBattelle Software Engineer Sean Vactor

Compassionate, Innovative, Driven

I first became drawn to Battelle during my undergraduate studies at Ohio State University, where I worked with a Battelle alum who sponsored my capstone project which was the development of a mobile application for Habitat for Humanity. This project gave me a glimpse into the culture and values of Battelle and its people who pursue the advancement of the greater good and the local community, which ultimately inspired me to join the team in 2020. In terms of my personal values, Battelle's interdisciplinary approach to problem solving appeals to me, as I believe the integration of diverse perspectives leads to more effective solutions. I appreciate Battelle's commitment to inclusion and diversity, which not only provides me with a comfortable and safe workspace as a queer individual, but also fosters a culture of respect and a sense of community among the team.

The celebration of Pride represents a collective stand against discrimination, and a powerful expression of identity. To celebrate Pride is to celebrate being your authentic self.

Amy Bruton (they/them), Sr. Government Accounting Specialist

Photo: Battelle Solver Amy Burton Battelle Solver Amy Bruton

Compassionate, resilient, authentic

With a degree in classical languages and literature, I didn’t have many clear or direct career paths to choose from. After wandering through a few different jobs without finding a good fit, I was eventually given a chance to jump into government compliance, even though at the time I didn’t have the extensive business or accounting background that everyone around me had. But a few supervisors really saw potential in me, and they patiently guided me and extended opportunities for me to learn and grow, even before I felt ready for them. I will always cherish their trust and investment in me, which boosted my own self-confidence and sense of accomplishment.

When I relocated to Columbus to work for Battelle, I wasn’t fully aware of the breadth and significance of Battelle’s work, so it has been a real privilege to integrate into the Battelle community and learn as much as I can along the way. I am a huge advocate for improving quality of life for everyone, but especially for underserved people and those who are disproportionately affected by various societal and environmental challenges we face as a country and beyond. It’s very important to me to make a positive difference wherever I can, and it is heartening to see and know that Battelle keeps this goal front and center as well. I was especially excited to learn about and get involved with the various ERGs and the Affinity Board. I was so grateful to join a company where senior leadership significantly invested in developing and maintaining a healthy workplace culture using Mission First principles. When I toured the Battelle campus and saw rainbow stickers and magnets everywhere expressing allyship with the LGBTQ+ community, I knew I had found a truly special place to work.

From my perspective, celebrating Pride is multifaceted. On a personal level, it begins with acknowledging inner truths about who we are at our core. This self-knowledge leads to valuing and advocating for ourselves, even though for many people it comes at a social cost. At a time when rhetoric against LGBTQ+ people has darkened, celebrating Pride means standing tall, arm-in-arm with countless other LGBTQ+ people and crucial allies, and proclaiming our love for and solidarity with one another. When participating in Pride parades or attending Pride festivals, seeing the large crowds of participants is such a poignant reminder to me of just how many people are in our community of LGBTQ+ people and allies and how diverse we are. It’s energizing and breathtaking—a truly beautiful thing.

Zack Lafaver (he/him), Limnology Technician Specialist

Photo: battelle solver zach lafaver with his significant other brad winckelmannZach Lafaver (right) with his partner Brad Winckelmann.

Passionate, hardworking, and adventurous.

My current manager, Chau Tran, has been an inspiration throughout my career at Battelle before I even worked for her. I would hear her speaking in meetings, and she was so involved by using her voice and ideas in every aspect to help improve the National Ecological Observatory Network program (that Battelle operates for the National Science Foundation). Our team is always pushed to think about what we want with our career and the next steps to be working on, but when we don’t know the answer, she steps back to help us find our path. I aspire to be the type of team leader that she is some day and she’s helping me along the way. With encouragement from Chau over time I decided to join new opportunities like Battelle’s Affinity Board, getting involved with Prism, and NEON’s DEI&A Integrated product team which have all been fun activities but also a great chance for professional development.

The important ecological work that I’ve been a part of was such a draw. The large-scale continental and long-term ecological project, in just the first few years of operation, has already contributed data to a variety of researchers, has made its way into many publications, and has contributed to important ecological discoveries. Being a part of this project and working with incredibly talented staff at Battelle has been so rewarding. I’ve worked with so many other passionate people. The improvements and work Battelle takes towards building a culture that attracts and retains employees is also inspiring and something I’m proud to be a part of.

For me, celebrating Pride may sound cliché but it’s the best feeling to be able to come together with my partner, friends and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community to celebrate and feel proud and comfortable about who I am with others like myself. Pride feels especially important to celebrate this year. It provides visibility to a community that has been under attack, legislatively and sometimes physically over the past year as hateful rhetoric is espoused and discriminatory anti-LGBTQIA+ laws and policies are enacted in local and state governments across the country. It’s an opportunity to come together to use our voices collectively and loud, but also have some fun despite the environment that our community is struggling with.

Zach Alexander (he/him) Talent Specialist on the Talent Strategy & Enablement Team

Photo: battelle talent specialist zach alexander and his partner skyler
Zach Alexander (right) with his partner Skylar

Passionate, Inspired, and PROUD

Battelle’s mission is the reason I came to work here. There is nothing more important in the world right now than what Battelle does. Between our ground-breaking science and technology developments like PFAS that will change the world, to philanthropic efforts and the millions of dollars we give back to the schools and community around us. I firmly believe our world would be a better place if there were more Battelle’s.

Pride Month is a time to celebrate and remember those that came before us; to reflect on the people that gave their lives so that we could stand here, wave our rainbow flags, and cheer on our community. It’s a time to celebrate and uplift the queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people in our community–to demand justice with them, and to use our voices to inspire change. It’s a time when I remember what it was like to be a closeted 15-year-old boy who thought he would never be able to just be himself. It’s a time for young queer people to see and be seen by other queer people, to understand that what they are going through is not something they have to face alone. It’s a time for young queer people to experience the love and support we share for other queer people so they can feel comfortable with themselves. It’s a time to be PROUD of being gay instead of being locked away in the closet.

Photo: scientist examining samples in the lab

June 28, 2023
Battelle Insider
Estimated Read Time
7 Mins

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