“Your greatest legacy is the dreams you inspire in others.”
What an amazing 365 days 2023 has been. Over 1,200 students served, 22 scholarships worth $100,000, 16 various programs, and one incredible STEM for Her Day. None of this would have been possible without an amazing Board of Directors, an Active Advisory Council, and a dedicated group of volunteers.
This year STEM for Her celebrated its 20th Anniversary. What started as a small education arm has transformed into a robust organization and instrument to unlock the potential in young girls. This year alone, we provided 16 various programs. Our mentor/protégé reached a milestone with 60 mentors and 60 protégés. We launched our BioSciences program. We awarded 17 first-year scholarships, and this year provided five renewal scholarships. We worked with our students to conduct a Girls Empowered by Math (GEM) Hunt program for High School and a GEM Journeys for Elementary School students. In partnership with WUSA9 and our Board Member, Kaitlyn McGrath, we visited Digital Pioneers Academy in Washington, DC and conducted an Earth Day project as well as donated $1,000 to the school for continuing STEM education for their students. The Audi Drive Like a Girl program had a record of seven teams this year (from five the previous year). We also provided summer programs with partnerships with Beat the Bomb, where the girls were able to watch AI in action and undergo an immersive gaming experience and celebrated the FAA’s 20th anniversary of the Wide Area Augmentation System, where the girls were able to meet female pilots and experience flight simulator activities. Our fundraising efforts proved successful with our Gala raising $225,000. We launched our Sponsor a Student campaign which made $8,000 and sponsored 32 students for STEM for Her Day. Our Giving Tuesday was incredible, and we raised almost $19,000 with a generous match from PillowtalkDerm.
In the beginning of the year, my goal was to increase our Brand Recognition so that STEM for Her can expand its reach to impact more girls. This year, we were able to participate in multifarious events that reached so many facets of the community. I was fortunate enough to be able to take part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new Arts Center for Horton’s Kids in DC and speak at a Rosie Riveter’s Women in STEM Day summit, National Association of Academies of Science STEM Education event, and AccelerEd’s Women in Tech summit at the University of Maryland Global Campus. Our Board also attended Mosaic’s Women Changing Policy Luncheon to discuss the future workforce per the Chips and Science Act and attended GovCIO’s Women in Tech event. Ana Echemendia, Board Member for Programs, judged the TSA Regional Fair for Robotics and she also joined Meg Klekner, Advisory Council Lead, at the World Bank Group’s Women Symposium for “Women in STEM.” Our Executive Director, Jennifer Fortney, attended the Women’s STEM Caucus dinner, Annual State of Majority Summit, and the State of Girls in STEM Summit for the National Girls Collaboration Project and joined Lindsey Kearney at Loreal’s Women in Science Ceremony. Margo Gorra-Stockman, Board Member for Digital Marketing, participated in the Virginia Tech STEM Discovery Fair, and Audra Upchurch, Board Member for Volunteers, participated in the SheSuite Summit. The journey to making STEM For Her a universal acronym continues, but I believe our outreach this year is a great start in moving that needle forward.
As I reflect on this year, one word comes to mind – growth. Our organization post-Covid has seen an exponential growth, from increased demand for partnerships and collaborations to increased demand from schools requesting our programs. This means one thing – STEM for Her Demand is real and it is here to stay. I truly believe that this Board, the Advisory Council, and our SFH team, has the power to unequivocally unearth the true potential of our girls, to help them discover their unique talent, and to support them in their STEM journey. With our support and their talent, we can meet the demands of the future and certainly change the world.
I close with the same three words I used during STEM for Her Day – Imagine, Network, Believe. Let’s continue to introduce these girls to fields where they belong, but may not have the opportunity to ever experience, so they can imagine and view themselves as leaders and changemakers. Let us use our networks to multiply our voices, expand our reach and ensure continuous support for our students. And let us continue to make them believe they can, so they can focus on their potential rather than their limitations and focus on making earth shattering changes; instead of trying to shatter glass ceilings.
It has been an honor to serve as your 2023 Chair. I look forward to 2024, another 365 days of opportunities to inspire dreams in our students and help change their future.