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Name: Nancy Taylor

Company: San Diego Science Alliance, which connects K-12 schools with scientists and mentors in the STEM industry

Industry: Social EnterpriseOther — nonprofit

Location: San Diego, California, U.S.

Reason for Starting: In 1995, San Diego County’s science teachers needed a mechanism to connect with local companies with expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in order to provide real-world examples of how STEM knowledge is applied in San Diego’s growing innovation economy. Teachers were desperate to answer the age-old question of their students: “Why are we learning this?” SDSA developed the region’s first asset map of resources to support K-12 STEM teaching and learning.

The Better Education for Women in Science & Engineering (BEWiSE) program of SDSA combats the underrepresentation of women in science and engineering fields. By embracing women’s diversity and addressing the biases that persist, BE WiSE is making strides in the lives of young women. The BE WiSE program has engaged San Diego’s young women and professional women volunteers in programs to inspire interest in math (STEM) for 14 years. I co-founded the non-profit organizations SDSA and BEWiSe in order to  build community partners and broader opportunities for all teachers and students in our region.

How do you define success?: SDSA reaches 30,000 teachers, students, families and community partners with opportunities to engage in learning partnerships. We have lots of data, but I personally define success in  learning about direct impact on people’s lives: hearing about college decisions, witnessing constituents’ successful learning, feeling the pride of volunteering, hugging a collaborator or mentor, making a contribution to send a bus of girls to Space X and continuing to support our work.

Biggest Success: I’d like to say that winning a National Science Foundation grant is one of my biggest successes. SDSA programs have also been recognized with two Golden Bell Awards from the California School Board Association. But the real indicators of success are the teachers, students, families and community partners who enthusiastically get involved in SDSA programs to improve their understanding of the world we live in.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?: Managing a board of directors who represent education, industry and community leaders is a challenge. It’s also an opportunity to develop a broader understanding of why & how to enhance K-12 STEM learning in public schools. Industry and education leaders now act on their new understanding of the urgency our nation faces as we compete on a global scale for STEM advancement by engaging in SDSA flagship programs  and incubating new programs and features.

Who is your most important role model?: A young Pakistani woman, Malala Yousuf is one of my most important role models. She dared to go against an oppressive culture and seek her own education. Against all adversity she remains articulate and committed to her mission to be an advocate for millions of unfortunate girls around the world who want access to education. Youth is our most important asset.

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Edited by The Story Exchange