Strategic Approach to STEM Equity in the State of New Jersey

button-download-workshop-files Strand: Increasing access and equity in CTE and STEM
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 10:45 – 12:00 pm
Room: Williamsburg


As part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Pathway Network of New Jersey, the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education directed the establishment of a subcommittee to address increasing equity in STEM for the State of New Jersey. The group is comprised of experts from academia, non- profits, industry, and elementary education administrators with practical experience implementing STEM programs. A description of the strategic approach and lessons learned will be provided.


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Nannette Wright, Ph.D.
Systems Engineer Principle
Lockheed Martin

Biography: Dr. Nannette Wright has over 20 years of experience working Department of Energy and Department of Defense programs such as Ballistic Missile Defense, Homeland Security, and Coast Guard programs. She is a Senior Technical Auditor for Lockheed Martin Corporate Internal Audit. Nannette is responsible for evaluating programs across the Corporation to ensure processes and controls are in place to manage technical risks and maximize opportunities. Nannette received her PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Texas and Masters of Science Degree in Health Physics from Purdue University. Since 2014, Dr. Wright has served as Chairman of New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund Board of Directors. She is also the NJ lead for equity in STEM initiative. Nannette also serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit organization Urban Promise.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)


As part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Pathway Network of New Jersey, the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education directed the establishment of a subcommittee to address increasing equity in STEM for the State of New Jersey. This focus is critical to prepare New Jersey for an innovative, competitive, inclusive, and prosperous workforce. In order to find innovative ways to increase student access and have successful engagements with underrepresented groups, it is necessary to bring together a diverse group of STEM champions. The vision of the group is to ensure these groups within the State have equal access to STEM programs. To accomplish this goal, the subcommittee identifies programs available to bridge the STEM gap, communicates the opportunities to targeted groups, and highlights the success of STEM equity programs within New Jersey. The group is comprised of experts from academia, non- profits, industry, and elementary education administrators. All the team members have practical experience in implementing STEM programs focused on underrepresented groups and a passion to make a difference. The committee has developed an “ABC” approach to knock down barriers for underrepresented groups focused on Access, Bridges, and Communication. The lead of this committee will describe the key tenets of forming a successful team, strategy for development of the focus areas, and highlights on the subcommittee’s progress. The presentation will also describe some of the challenges associated with this work and provide lessons learned to date. Anyone who has been involved with large scale initiatives with a wide range of stakeholders will appreciate learning about the systematic methodology used to drive the subcommittee goals and lessons learned shared in this presentation.

SciGirls Strategies: Gender Equitable Teaching Strategies for High School STEM and CTE Educators

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Increasing access and equity in CTE and STEM
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 1:45 – 3:00 pm
Room: Williamsburg


Want to motivate and inspire more girls to consider non-traditional careers in STEM and the trades? Learn how to use research-based gender equity strategies to spark girls’ futures!


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Brenda Britsch, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist

Biography: Brenda Britsch is a Senior Research Scientist with the National Girls Collaborative Project, a national initiative aimed at increasing equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Brenda believes in the potential of research to transform practice and works to make research accessible to a broad audience of educators and other professionals working to diversify the STEM pipeline.

Dr. Britsch has been working with SciGirls for over ten years, changing the way millions of girls think about STEM. As a principal investigator on the SciGirls Strategies project, Brenda has created curriculum and overseen project implementation which, to date, has helped 49 educators create more gender equitable classrooms.

Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)

ldefenbaughPresenter 2

Leah Defenbaugh
STEM Outreach Manager

Biography: Leah Defenbaugh manages local outreach efforts for students, parents, and educators. She organizes and executes trainings for educators and STEM professionals, and implements SciGirls programming in formal and informal learning spaces, including after school programs, schools, and museums. She previously lead youth program initiatives at the YMCA of Greater Minnesota and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Milwaukee.

Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)

Presenter 3

Alex Dexheimer
Senior STEM Coordinator

Biography: Alex Dexheimer has seven years of experience working in formal and informal K-12 education where he has promoted gender equity in STEM/CTE classrooms through professional development and classroom activities.

Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)


SciGirls Strategies: Gender Equitable Teaching Practices in Career and Technical Education Pathways for High School Girls is a three-year professional development initiative developed by Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) to help career and technical education (CTE) educators and guidance counselors recruit and retain more girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) pathways, specifically in technology and engineering. SciGirls Strategies includes a media-rich hybrid professional development short-course for CTE teachers and guidance counselors in the use of gender equitable and culturally responsive teaching and advising strategies. In addition to the course, the participating high school educators and counselors are connected to female STEM role models recruited by local STEM industry partners and project advisors and are required to incorporate role models into their classes or school events. The role models are trained on research-based practices for role models and effective strategies for encouraging girls in STEM. TPT also produced a series of 12 short-form role model videos featuring diverse female technology, engineering, and CTE professionals for use by counselors, educators, girls and families. These Regional Emmy Award-winning videos feature the women at work and at home, describing their challenges and successes.

This interactive session will be led by SciGirls Strategies Principal Investigators and Senior Personnel who have decades of experience in the equity in STEM field, specifically in developing and delivering high-quality professional development to educators focused on gender equitable and culturally responsive strategies. The session will focus on the course itself and the impact of the course on participating educators and counselors, with a particular emphasis on educators’ and counselors’ integration of role models (live and video) into their schools and classrooms. Presenters will share details of the course design and content, including how the course was revised throughout the three years based on facilitator and student feedback and evaluation findings. Significant learning and revision occurred throughout the three iterations of the course resulting ultimately in a resource-rich hybrid (face-to-face and online) experience that focuses on each participating teacher or counselor’s strengths and provides the opportunity and support for them to grow in the areas they select based on a comprehensive self-assessment.

Presenters will share a variety of resources utilized throughout the SciGirls Strategies project, including relevant research articles and engaging online content, as well as resources and materials developed specifically for the project. Presenters will also share the process for recruiting and training female STEM role models for the project and how participating educators incorporated these role models into their classes. Session participants will also view and discuss a selection of the role model videos developed for SciGirls Strategies that feature female STEM role models working in a variety of fields and are available online at no cost.

Cracking the Code – Success Strategies for Women in STEM

button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Increasing access and equity in CTE and STEM
Time: Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 8:15 – 9:30 am
Room: Williamsburg


At the Douglass Project for Women in STEM at Rutgers University, we have created and implemented replicable, proven strategies to improve the engagement, retention and completion rates for undergraduate women in STEM. These strategies, centered on “Living Learning Communities”, can be implemented in secondary and post-secondary education environments, and have demonstrated most success in the residential, post–secondary educational environment, specifically for undergraduate engineering majors.


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Sally Nadler, SPHR
Assistant Dean – Douglass Project for Women in Math, Science and Engineering (Interim)
Douglass Residential College, Rutgers University

Biography: Sally is a well-respected energy and workforce development professional within NJ. Prior to her retirement from PSEG, she had over 30 years’ experience in a diverse range positions. As the Manager of Workforce Development, Sally was responsible for overseeing all talent acquisition pipeline initiatives for PSEG including the college relations and diversity outreach functions. These included the company’s recruitment initiatives for women, people of color, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Sally then worked with NJIT and the NJ Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network register the MechaFORCE™ – Registered Internship Manufacturing Program (M-RIM).Sally serves on the NJ State Employment and Training Commission, and on the NJ Council on Gender Parity in Labor and Education, which she is now chair. She holds an AAS degree in Management from Middlesex County College, a BS in Management from Rutgers Business School, and a Master of Arts in Leadership from Bellevue University.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Facebook)


The Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science, & Engineering offers innovative programing for all aspiring female scientists, mathematicians, and engineers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Established in 1986, the Douglass Project is an award-winning, visionary program dedicated to supporting women interested in the STEM majors by:
1. Enhancing educational experiences and providing academic development and leadership opportunities.
2. Encouraging students to recognize and have confidence in their abilities and attain their educational goals.
3. Providing community and support systems that foster competence and achievement in STEM.
Housed at Douglass Residential College, we help students succeed in their academic endeavors through individual advising, structured research programs, career development workshops, leadership training, alumni and industry connections and student involvement opportunities.

One of the cornerstone programs of the Douglass Project is The Reilly Douglass Engineering Living-Learning Community (“Reilly DELLC”) which was implemented in fall, 2012 as a strategy to increase the retention and persistence of the women engineers enrolled in Douglass Residential College and the School of Engineering at Rutgers University. For the last six years, the community has accomplished this by utilizing research-based initiatives for expanding students’ knowledge in academic and professional settings. The Reilly DELLC has also offered intentional programming focused on community building that provides unmatched opportunities for educating a student holistically, academically and professionally. In particular, vicarious learning opportunities are more likely to lead to increased self-efficacy for women, which is defined as the strength of a person’s belief in her ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Thus, the Reilly DELLC has offered many opportunities for hands-on and proactive learning in both academic and professional contexts. The Reilly DELLC is a joint partnership of Rutgers’ Douglass Residential College and the School of Engineering. The department of Douglass Residential College that oversees daily operation of the Reilly DELLC is the Douglass Project for Rutgers Women in Math, Science and Engineering (“the Douglass Project”), with staff member Mrs. Nicole Wodzinski serving as Director of the Reilly DELLC.
Students who participate in living-learning communities (“LLCs”) report higher levels of satisfaction with their college experience compared to their peers who do not participate in such programs. The Reilly DELLC’s multilayered mentoring model provides participants with the support and verbal persuasion of engineering faculty, staff, administrators, and students. These efforts have resulted in a high retention rate, high academic achievement, and excellence in research. The National Study of Living Learning Programs reviews student outcomes with a longitudinal study and finds that LLCs can facilitate a smoother transition for first-generation college students, provide lasting positive effects on students’ academic self-confidence and civic engagement, and provide positive second-hand effects for non-LLC students living in the same residence hall. Therefore, the LLC not only aims to serve the first-year members of the program, but also offers opportunities for women in the program for all four years and includes non-LLC students to benefit from programming and experiences as well.

Multi-layered Mentoring – Reilly DELLC aims to increase female role models in engineering through our mutli-layered mentoring programs. Participants in the Reilly DELLC receive mentoring from a variety of sources. The community’s Faculty Mentor, Dr. Helen Buettner, is a Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and a Professor of Biomedical Engineering. In addition to mentoring participants, she has developed and enhanced the Introduction to Engineering course, which all of the participants take. The first-year cohorts are also mentored by a second-year engineering student in residence, called a Peer Academic Leader (PAL). The PAL assists first-year students with transitioning to the college environment and strengthening relationships within the community. Our PAL for the 2016-2017 academic year was Cassidy Schneider, who is majoring in Bioenvironmental Engineering. Cassidy is a Reilly DELLC third year participant and an undergraduate researcher in the department of Bioenvironmental Engineering. The PAL for the 2017-2018 academic year is Cora Lopresti, a Reilly DELLC sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering. She has been working with her PAL mentor to prepare for the new class moving in this fall.
First-year students in the Reilly DELLC are also mentored by two graduate students enrolled in Rutgers’ School of Engineering. The graduate mentors provide overall support to our first-year students through individual and group mentoring. They also plan programs designed to keep the community engaged. The graduate students also work with the students through the Engineering Explorations course with Dr. Buettner. The Reilly DELLC’s two graduate mentors for the 2016-2017 academic year were Vyshnavi Karra and Catrice Carter. Vyshnavi is a Reilly DELLC alumna and currently working toward her Master’s degree in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. Catrice is a Rutgers School of Engineering alumna and has been working in STEM outreach for several years. She is currently working on her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. The 2017-2018 Graduate Mentor Program will welcome back Catrice Carter and new Reilly DELLC alumna Sara Wengrowski. Sara has been an active member of the Reilly DELLC community and will continue to mentor current students during her graduate work at the Rutgers School of Engineering.
The sophomores, juniors, and seniors that are part of the Reilly DELLC also engage in a strong mentoring program. For the 2016-2017 academic year, sixty-four upper-year mentors were engaged in mentoring thirty-two first-year students in engineering. The mentors participate in at least two trainings each semester and meet with their mentees at least twice a semester. Based on the feedback provided from the members of the Reilly DELLC, the peer mentoring has helped to foster peer engagement and provided guidance in career preparation, choosing majors, finding research opportunities, and utilizing professional development opportunities.
Introduction to Engineering Course – In addition to mentoring, the participants receive direct instruction in a 3-credit course that creates an environment to explore engineering design projects in small teams. This year, the class created interactive exhibits to encourage the interest of middle school girls in engineering fields. In each course period, students interacted with their Faculty Director, Dr. Helen Buettner, and peer mentors from the Reilly DELLC. While this course has many important academic components, it also provides students with a low-stakes experience to explore different engineering topics and majors. This course, populated by female representatives from different engineering fields, allows women the opportunity to visualize themselves in each of those roles. The literature shows that faculty engagement can enhance student experience and outcomes, and the Reilly DELLC takes advantage of commonality in the interests of students and faculty to make connections starting in this course and perpetuating this practice outside the classroom. The class works in small groups to create a hands-on project culminating in a presentation at the end of the semester. The goal of the project is for the groups to represent a field of study within engineering. The presentation also encompasses the challenge of creating a mini-lesson to middle school students with a hands-on activity. Groups must create a budget; anticipate questions, and brainstorm why this activity might encourage girls to pursue engineering courses. This course has been so successful that the School of Engineering is looking to implement a similar syllabus for their entire first-year introductory engineering course.

Hands on Activity – Once the research based concepts and success strategies used by the Douglass Project in its living learning communities are shared, Ms. Nadler will lead and facilitate workshop participants through a lively and engaging strategy implementation working session to be able to take away the key success factors and implement them within their campuses and schools. This action planning, goal-setting activity will have three main objectives:
1. Set retention targets for women in STEM specific to your individual institutions
2. Create a recruitment strategy and implementation plan
3. Identify and engage potential education and industry partners for outcomes and placement
This way each person that attends the workshop will not only learn about these success strategies, but will have a specific action plan that they can implement once they return from the conference.

In the wrap up, we will also share about how we are taking these proven strategies and expanding them at Rutgers to include both the addition of Computer Science and Biology majors.


button-download-workshop-filesStrand: Increasing access and equity in CTE and STEM
Time: Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 9:45 – 11:00 am
Room: Williamsburg


This presentation will focus on the implementation of the EE-STEM II Grant Project at River Parishes Community College.


ezenonPresenter 1

Esperanza Zenon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Physical Science
River Parishes Community College

Biography: Dr. Esperanza Zenon is an Associate Professor of Physical Science at River Parishes Community College (RPCC). She is the current Division Coordinator for Math and Natural Sciences, the Chair of the Center for Teaching Excellence Committee, and she is a member of the Online Course Review Committee. She is very passionate about equity for girls in STEM and serves as the Louisiana Team Leader for the LaSTEM Girls Collaborative Project and the LASTEM Equity Pipeline Project, two NSF-funded projects that work to promote positive equity outcomes for girls in STEM and Tech careers. Dr. Zenon is also involved in several other NAPE projects, including the EESTEM II Grant Project, and NAPE’s Executive Committee. Dr. Zenon has a Master of Arts degree in Physics from Wayne State University, and a Ph.D in Science/Mathematics Education from Southern University.

Social Media: (LinkedIN)(Twitter)(Facebook)

Presenter 2Moore_Bio

Keisha Moore

Biography: Keisha Moore is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and has lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana since 2005 post-Hurricane Katrina. Since 2005, Keisha has been working in the healthcare field in various capacities such as critical care, long-term acute care, and home health. She was given an opportunity to educate high school students in the field of nursing and is currently serving as the program coordinator of nursing and allied health at River Parishes Community College. Keisha has a passion for community service and is currently serving in various capacities within her community. She received her Associates of Science in Nursing and is currently enrolled in a bridge program to attain her Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Nursing Education.



River Parishes Community College faculty will share the step-by-step process of an action research project which focused on growth mindset and which meets the goals of NAPE’s EE-STEM II Grant Project. Each of the presenters will share information on the professional development that was provided via NAPE at Stark State College, and how that training was used to investigate and impact their own classroom practice as it pertains to growth mindset. Each presenter will share information on the instruments that were used to determine their own biases, their current classroom practices, their students level of awareness regarding growth mindset, and their students level of engagement regarding growth mindset. Copies of these instruments and other resources used in this project will be provided to the session participants. Each presenter will also share information on the data-driven “treatment” that was implemented in their classes in hopes of influencing the students’ awareness of growth mindset. The data gathered from these instruments as it pertains to each presenter’s classes will also be shared. Any results and conclusions that have been gleaned from this action research project, as well as information on any future research projects will be shared.