An honors ceremony is scheduled for March 9 in Boise

June 15, 2020

By Paul Menser

Three women from Idaho National Laboratory are among the 50 who will be honored in March as Idaho Women of the Year, an annual celebration hosted by the Idaho Business Review.

The winners from INL are Amy Lientz, director of Partnerships, Engagement & Technology Deployment; Dr. Catherine Riddle, a radiochemistry research scientist in the Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate; and Denise L. Stephens, INL’s chief information officer and Information Management director.

The three will be honored at a reception, dinner and awards gala March 9 at the Boise Centre. A dedicated magazine featuring biographies of all nominees will be published with the March 10 Idaho Business Review.

Dr. Catherine Riddle

Riddle earned a Ph.D. in radiochemistry from University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2014. Her experience at INL dates back to spring 1999, when she was an undergraduate at Idaho State University and worked as an intern, then as a radiochemistry apprentice.


At age 36, she was not a typical undergraduate. “I recall my first day at ISU. I rode the bus down to campus that first day with high hopes of a new beginning in a career I felt I would love,” she wrote in her Woman of the Year application. “However, after finding myself in a room full of two hundred 18- to 20-year-olds, I started to question my decision to return to college so late in life. By the end of that first day, the joy and hope I had that morning had all but faded, and I found myself sitting under a tree waiting for the bus home, alone and sobbing. I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing here with all of these kids? What was I thinking? I can’t do this!’ and then I heard a little voice deep inside say, ‘Come back tomorrow.’ With mixed feelings, I came back the next day, and by the end of the week I could not imagine being anywhere else.”

Riddle enrolled to study chemistry, and credits her adviser and mentor, the late John Baker, with steering her to radiochemistry. “For the past ten years, I have honored (his) memory through my work with K-12 STEM students. I thoroughly enjoy passing on the legacy of how much fun science can be and encouraging students to never stop learning.”

After graduating from ISU in 2000, Riddle came to work at INL. She received the INL Award of Merit in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2005 she earned her first INL R&D 100 Award nomination. Ten years later, both her scientific achievement and outreach work were acknowledged with two prestigious awards. Riddle won first place in the DOE-sponsored Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Award (for students at universities with < $600 million in 2013 R&D expenditures) in 2014, and she was named the Partnership for Science and Technology Energy Advocate of the Year for outstanding leadership and dedication as an advocate of STEM education in 2015.

“I often tell my students that as a scientist, they may be the first person to perform an experiment, the first to see the results, and not just the first person at INL, but the first person on Earth,” she said. “I then tell them by that simple act of science, they will have left the world a better place than they found it. There is no greater gift for a mentor than to see a student carry on the dream of making our world better, safer, and more beautiful for the next generations.”

Denise L. Stephens

As INL’s chief information officer and director of Information Management, one of Stephens’ most notable accomplishments is spearheading the lab’s move from a legacy email platform to Google Apps for Government. Under her direction, INL was the first federal entity to migrate messaging and communications capability to a cloud provider, in accordance with federal requirements for data encryption and security, setting a precedent for other government agencies. Since INL’s adaptation, the General Services Administration, U.S. Army, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have all successfully implemented cloud-based messaging.

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The implementation of Google allows INL to keep pace with industry without a cyclical capital investment. Over 4,200 INL employees benefit from this modern cloud-based messaging and collaboration platform.

Stephens has been a strong advocate for the inclusion and well-being of women in the workplace. She was the lab’s advocate for the installation of dedicated lactation rooms at all INL facilities. In an environment with aging buildings that were largely designed for men, this is an extraordinary achievement, particularly since INL’s geographically distributed campus covers more than 850 square miles.

Since 2014, she has been the executive leadership champion of INL’s Women’s Network, a group that sponsors and coordinates the annual “My Amazing Future” event, which immerses up to 150 female junior high students in hands-on career activities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The majority of these students come from schools in economically depressed rural areas of Idaho. She engages in the event through direct sponsorship, developing opportunities to engage students in cybersecurity awareness and learn how technology contributes to solving scientific challenges throughout the nation. She encourages her staff to volunteer as leaders, experts and coordinators of the event.

A graduate of University of Missouri, where she received her bachelor’s in political science and her MBA, Stephens’ honors include:

  • Enterprise Architecture Award, InfoWorld/Forrester, 2015
  • Data+ Editors’ Choice Award, Computerworld, 2014
  • CIO 100 Award, CIO from IDG, 2014
  • Premier 100 IT Leaders Award, Computerworld Magazine, 2013
  • Secretary’s Appreciation Award for responsive IT and Cyber Security, U.S. Department of Energy, 2013

Amy Lientz

As director of Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Deployment, Amy Lientz is INL’s lead representative for university and STEM partnerships, workforce and economic development, regional affairs, communications, governmental affairs and policy, and technology commercialization. She directs teams in Idaho Falls, Washington, D.C., and Boise. She has helped move forward INL’s transformation into a multipurpose laboratory.


Before coming to INL, Lientz served as senior vice president of government, outreach and project management for CH2M Hill. She successfully led high-profile projects in business development, energy siting, municipality projects, sustainability and waste management, and natural resource and restoration initiatives. She also held senior project management and research positions with Northrop Grumman and EG&G. She is a graduate in environmental science from Boise State University and has a master’s from the College of Engineering at University of Idaho.

She leads most programs that are externally facing for INL, takes on difficult and “never-been-done-before” projects, and is a catalyst for achieving INL’s missions. Whether it involves inspiring students to consider pursuing a degree that will land a future career at INL, developing curriculum and programs at universities that match INL employment needs, or making it easier for businesses to partner with the lab, she helps to connect the dots to support and grow INL’s interests.

In the community, she serves on a number of boards, including Idaho Public Television, McClure Policy Center, University of Idaho National Alumni, Idaho Falls City Club, The Nature Conservancy of Idaho, and Idaho Business in Education.

Information about the Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year program can be found at 



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About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted June 15, 2020

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