Community WISE Kick-Off Event Raises $30,000 in Pledges!

CTE Foundation, Sonoma State University, and Community Leaders Gather to Discuss Importance of Supporting Women and Girls Pursuing STEM Education and Careers

Community WISE (Women Investing in STEM Equity), a project of CTE Foundation, made its official debut this past weekend and quickly earned enthusiastic support from local industry and community leaders.

 

Dr. Judy Sakaki, President of Sonoma State University, and her husband, Patrick McCallum, hosted the intimate gathering at their home Sunday. Dr. Sakaki shared her story of breaking barriers and overcoming gender bias throughout her career, and spoke to the need for programs that support future female leaders in the county.

Kathy Goodacre and Dr. Lynn Stauffer, co-leaders of Community WISE, provided background on the program, its Mission and goals, and future plans for investment in local initiatives that inspire and prepare girls and young women in pursuit of STEM education and careers.

Three students – Tania Deleva from Sonoma State University, Isabel Nunez-Perez from Healdsburg High School, and Miranda Pokorny from Technology High School – shared personal stories of the challenges each faced as young women forging their way through science, technology, and engineering education.

Lisa Wittke Schaffner, Executive Director of the John Jordan Foundation, and Hamish Gray, Senior Vice President at Keysight, each addressed the group and pledged their financial support to launch the program. Lisa and Hamish, both CTE Foundation Board Members, discussed the positive impacts on work force development and the local economy achieved by encouraging more girls to explore careers in STEM, and asked members of the audience to join them in the effort. Additional pledges were received following the presentation, generating more than $30,000 in pledged support.

About Community WISE

In 2016, CTE Foundation, in partnership with several local organizations and women leaders, set out to form a leadership group to address the formidable gender gap for girls and women in pursuit of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers. Community WISE was formed under the guidance of female leadership from CTE Foundation, Sonoma State University, Sonoma County Office of Education, Keysight Technologies, Straus Family Creamery, Sonic, and students in Engineering/Technology pathway programs in local high schools.

Today, Community WISE seeks to convene a coalition of local employers, education institutions, students and community leaders who will identify and invest in engaging learning opportunities that inspire and prepare more girls and young women to pursue STEM majors and careers. Community WISE believes that our STEM workforce issues can only be solved by diverse partners collaborating to create disruptive solutions that promote equity for all girls and underrepresented racial minorities.

To learn more about Community WISE, or to join the coalition, please see our program web page, or contact Kathy Goodacre at 707-708-7080.

Community WISE Members Earn Recognition for Achievements

About Community WISE: In partnership with Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation and Sonoma State University, Community WISE (Women Investing in STEM Equity) is a coalition of local employers, educators, students and community leaders who are committed to identifying and investing in strategies that empower girls and women in STEM education and careers.

Congratulations are in order for Community WISE Steering Committee members, Isabel Nunez Perez and Miranda Pokorny.

Each earned important recognition this week for their outstanding leadership, community service, and academic achievements.

Isabel was chosen as one of ten high school seniors to receive a Press Democrat Community Youth Service Award. The award recognizes students for their volunteerism and commitments to helping others. Winners receive $1,000 and were chosen from 131 nominations from 16 schools, according to Wednesday’s announcement in the Press Democrat.

Isabel attends Healdsburg High School and was recognized for her work encouraging young students – especially girls and minorities – to pursue STEM education and careers. She mentored a team of elementary school girls in a robotics competition, helping them brainstorm and program the robots while sharing her experiences as a science and technology student.  She loves to tell girls that engineering is not just for boys.

“Engineering for me is much more than numbers,” she said to a PD correspondent. “It has allowed me to resonate with my inner rebel, challenge stereotypes and be part of something bigger than myself.”

Miranda Pokorny was selected to receive the most prestigious scholarship award offered by San Francisco State University – the Presidential Scholars Distinction-in-Service Program. According to the University, the award recognizes high-achieving freshmen that have distinguished themselves as scholars and leaders in their communities, and is offered to just 5-10 first-time freshmen each year.

Miranda attended Technology High School in Rohnert Park, and is a strong advocate for girls and young women in STEM. Her personal experience of gender discrimination and bullying has led her to work with the Equal Rights Advocates, a large gender equity law firm in San Francisco, who is using her case to develop training materials and guidelines to prevent discrimination in schools nationwide.

Miranda will soon begin her studies to become a Female Rights Advocate. “When I think about the future, all I can do is smile,” Miranda said, “Because I will get the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives, and that is the greatest gift I could ever receive.”

We are so proud of these young women, and grateful for their participation on the Community WISE team. Congratulations, Miranda and Isabel!

 

About Community WISE: In partnership with Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation and Sonoma State University, Community WISE (Women Investing in STEM Equity) is a coalition of local employers, educators, students and community leaders who are committed to identifying and investing in strategies that empower girls and women in STEM education and careers.

Nearly half of the jobs of the future require competencies in STEM, and yet women account for just 24% of the STEM workforce. Women’s under-representation in STEM fields begins early, with gender gaps in STEM interests beginning in middle school and growing throughout high school, college, and career. Far too many girls and women are discouraged from pursuing success in STEM fields.

Our Mission is to invest in STEM initiatives for girls and women to enrich their learning and career opportunities. Our purpose is to build resources and lead change so that every woman and girl in Sonoma County achieves her full potential. We are committed to women’s economic self-sufficiency and we believe improving educational and career opportunities for girls and women in STEM fields will empower more women to secure economic independence through greater lifetime earnings and increased entrepreneurial opportunities. For more information, or to become a member of the coalition, please contact Kathy Goodacre, Executive Director, 707-708-7080. Or check out our Community WISE webpage.