We work at the intersection of compassion and action, bringing diverse perspectives and experiences to the mission of transforming STEM for all youth. Our values include purposeful passion, collaboration, inclusion, empowerment, flexibility, problem-solving, respect, and growth and learning.
Director of Research and Evaluation (she/her)
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 invested in equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
In her current role, Brenda focuses on making research accessible for practitioners in the NGCP network, building their capacity to provide equitable STEM opportunities to youth. This includes identification and dissemination of high-quality resources and exemplary practices, summarizing research in user-friendly formats, and providing research-based professional development opportunities.
Brenda has served as Co-Principal Investigator for multiple NSF-funded projects focused on equity in STEM and is the co-author of the publication, SciGirls Strategies: How to Engage Girls in STEM. Brenda received a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UC-Santa Barbara and now lives in Portland, OR.
Assistant Director of Programs (she/her)
Tara brings over 10 years of experience in museum and STEM education to her role as Assistant Director of Programs, where she leads a wide range of national STEM initiatives. She is Co-Principal Investigator of the NSF-funded Leap into Science: Cultivating a National Network for Science and Literacy, where she leads the development of the train-the-trainer network.
Tara is passionate about growing and supporting STEM projects that strive to broaden participation of traditionally underrepresented audiences in STEM. Prior to joining the NGCP team, she led professional development and outreach efforts for The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA.
Tara has a degree in Anthropology from Barnard College, Columbia University. She currently lives in Philly with her husband Shawn.
Senior Program Manager (she/her)
Emily Early is a Senior Program Manager at NGCP, serving as the network and community manager for numerous national education programs. She is passionate about creating sustainable projects and systems that address accessibility and meaningful engagement in STEM for historically excluded communities. Emily's experience includes project management, professional development and outreach programming, communications, data management, and partnership development.
Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Performance from Lycoming College and a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University's Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. While earning her Master's degree, she studied nonprofit management and leadership. She lives in Upstate New York with her partner, daughter, and a corgi named Ambrose.
Manager, Digital Operations (she/her)
As Manager of Digital Operations, Maggie works with NGCP staff, partners, and developers to keep our websites and other digital assets online and up-to-date.
Maggie has worked in informal STEM education in a variety of roles, including museum educator, program development specialist, and summer camp coordinator. Maggie has a Bachelor of Science in Geology. Her passions include science communication, shrinking the STEM gender gap, and dinosaurs. Maggie has lived all over the US and currently calls Colorado home.
Senior Researcher (she/her)
Kata Lucas is a Senior Researcher with the National Girls Collaborative Project, supporting efforts to communicate research-to-practice through professional development training, written products, and program design. She manages the program implementation for BRITE Girls Online STEM Practices: Building Relevance and Identity to Transform Experiences, an NSF AISL research-to-practice grant. She is interested in the impacts of role model engagement on girls’ STEM identity development and is passionate about communicating and integrating intersectionality and feminist research into practice. Kata has a Master’s in International Affairs from The New School.
Program and Events Coordinator (she/her)
Candid Mack has over five years of experience coordinating small business programs for adults. Throughout her professional career, she established the first Small Business Incubator and Pitch Deck Competition for Queens Public Library. Candid’s passion is to be a part of the change she wants to see. Her overall mission is to create a generation of leaders that are goal-oriented and will become successful entrepreneurs and professionals. In 2021, she served as a mentor for Intrepid Museum’s Goals for Girls program where she mentored girls in STEM in creating a mock business. Candid has spoken at different youth-based organizations educating kids on the importance of having goals. Candid received her Communications degree from St. John’s University.
Chief Executive Officer and Founder (she/her)
Karen A. Peterson has over 25 years of experience in education as a classroom teacher, university instructor, teacher educator, program administrator, and researcher. NGCP seeks to maximize access to shared resources for public and private sector organizations interested in expanding girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The overarching goal of NGCP is to use the leverage of a network or collaboration of individual girl-serving STEM programs to create the tipping point for gender equity in STEM. Currently, 33 Collaboratives, serving 41 states, facilitate collaboration between 42,500 organizations who serve 20.2 million girls and 10 million boys.
Peterson is also Co-Principal Investigator for Leap into Science: Cultivating a National Network for Informal Science and Literacy, STEM Integration into Digital Forensics Science Learning, SciGirls Code: A National Connected Learning Model to Integrate STEM Learning with Middle School Girls, and Code: SciGirls! Media to Engage Girls in Computing Pathways. All of these projects are funded by the National Science Foundation and address gender, racial, and socioeconomic underrepresentation in STEM fields. Many of them access NGCP’s national network and dissemination tools to distribute, scale-up, and/or replicate project outcomes. These projects have leveraged Karen’s expertise in STEM equity project development, effective national scale-up strategies, dissemination, and capacity building.
Peterson serves on local and national boards that develop and administer programs designed to increase underrepresented students’ interests in STEM. She has served on the Board of Directors for True Child, an independent think tank that translates research and knowledge on the impact of gender stereotypes into a range of effective interventions, policies, and other resources for the organizations and policy makers. Peterson has published in The Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering and CBE Life Sciences Education, a journal published by the American Society for Cell Biology.She co-authored evaluation reports and promising practices reports in informal information technology education for girls for the National Center for Women & Information Technology. In 2013, Peterson was profiled in STEMConnector’s™ 100 Women Leaders in STEM publication. A graduate of the University of Washington, Bothell campus, her Master’s thesis focused on gendered attitudes towards computer use in education.
Director of Digital Communications (she/her)
Raisa brings experience in Community Engagement, Digital Marketing, and Science Communication to NGCP. Raisa's past experiences include social media strategy, community outreach, digital engagement, and brand management, working in both the nonprofit and private sectors.
Raisa is passionate about creating welcoming experiences personally and digitally for all and aspiring to contribute to a more hopeful future by creating content for deeper connections with each other and our world. Supporting and increasing gender equity in STEM education and career is a personal and professional mission.
Raisa enjoys exploring the outdoors; connecting with nature, sports, and dogs; and listening to audiobooks and podcasts.
Director of Strategic Partnerships (she/her)
Nancy Scales-Coddington is passionate about creating dynamic partnerships and engagement opportunities, bringing awareness to STEM projects that broaden participation of traditionally marginalized audiences. She has worked as a STEM advocate in museums, classrooms, and public media for over twenty-three years. She is an award-winning producer, pushing boundaries in digital and social media content. Nancy is a science communicator, practicing, teaching, and lecturing at universities and organizations globally.
She has served as a science advisor and trainer on museum exhibits and PBS series including Climate Change, SciGirls, Hero Elementary, and Skillville. She has been part of the Science Teachers Association of New York State for over a decade, serving in various roles. Sharing how girls can reach their potential through a variety of available STEM career paths is at the heart of her work. Nancy calls the Finger Lakes of New York home, residing in Ithaca where you can find her outside hiking with her dog, paddling, or skiing.
Senior Program Developer (she/her)
Amanda brings over a decade of experience in education, research, and advocacy for girls in STEM to her role as Senior Program Developer at NGCP. She is passionate about breaking gender stereotypes and providing all children with equal access and opportunities to succeed within (and beyond) STEM from an early age.
Amanda is the author of the book Breaking the STEM Stereotype: Reaching Girls in Early Childhood and co-author of the ScratchJr Coding Cards: Creative Coding Activities for Children 5+. Amanda has a Master’s and Ph.D. in Child Development from Tufts University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Drama from Bennington College. She is happily married to her college sweetheart and a proud mom to two energetic children and one lazy cat.
Director of Operations (she/her)
A native to Seattle, Kathy Thomas is the Director of Operations, supporting a wide range of projects and promoting a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality. Prior to joining the National Girls Collaborative, she worked for 10 years in project management for a software company in the financial industry.
Kathy's passion to make a positive impact and participate in a more equitable and thriving workforce prompted her to search for a position in the nonprofit sector. This led her to NGCP. When asked what excites her most about her work, she replied, “I enjoy working with smart people on a shared mission to do good things and make a difference in this world. Also, there is never a dull moment. You can start the day wearing one hat and by lunch you may have swapped that hat three or four times. The NGCP way is all about continuous learning and high-quality work, which keeps things fresh and allows me to flex my creative muscles.”
Kathy is a hi-fi enthusiast and in her spare time enjoys replicating recipes from America's Test Kitchen, Maker/DIY/upcycling projects, live music, and pursuing the perfect cup of coffee.