KC STEM Alliance names Dr. Chelsea Barbercheck as next director

January 9, 2024—Dr. Chelsea Barbercheck has been named Executive Director of the KC STEM Alliance, a collaborative network of educators, businesses and related organizations that champions STEM education initiatives across the region.

Professional portrait of Dr. Chelsea BarbercheckWhen she begins her new role on Jan. 29, Barbercheck will bring a wealth of experience in managing collaborative programs with multiple stakeholders. She most recently served as Executive Director for Great Plains IDEA (Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance) and was the inaugural Program Director for Boston University’s BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training), a National Institutes of Health-funded initiative to expose doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers to potential career pathways.

Barbercheck earned a doctoral degree in Microbiology, Cell, and Molecular Genetics from Oklahoma State University and completed post-doctoral research with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and Boston University.

“I’m thrilled to serve as the next KC STEM Alliance director,” Barbercheck said. “By instilling design thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for jobs of the future, this alliance is changing lives and building a foundation for innovation in our region. I am excited for what the future holds as we move forward with partners and friends to advance this work.”

Since its founding in 2011, the KC STEM Alliance has helped scale best practice STEM education programs including FIRST Robotics and Project Lead The Way and has cultivated the region’s STEM learning ecosystem known as STEM Connect-KC.

Barbercheck said Kansas City’s growth as a STEM hub brings additional opportunities for connection and collaboration: “Kansas City and the surrounding region’s designation as a 2023 Tech Hub (KC BioHub) brings a real opportunity to leverage resources for students in a way that builds long-lasting synergy for the region’s workforce development across multiple STEM fields.”

Barbercheck said she’s also looking forward to continuing the organization’s work to bridge societal gaps in STEM education. That includes, among other things, increasing a sense of inclusion and belonging in programming through intentional, focused recruiting of mentors and volunteers.

“Coming from rural America I have been fortunate to have mentors along my own path to look up to,” she said. “They have picked me up, patted my back, opened doors, welcomed me into their networks, and asked me ‘Why not?’. That is who I want to be when I grow up; that is who I want to be for the students of Kansas City – because all students need to know they have a place in STEM.”

Dr. Kevin Truman, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the KC STEM Alliance, which is an independently operated program housed at the university, will benefit from Barbercheck’s leadership.

“Dr. Barbercheck’s experiences in the biosciences and in strategic leadership of alliances connected with higher education and workforce initiatives will be a great asset,” Truman said. “I am confident the Alliance will continue to be seen as a leader in STEM-based education, recruitment, outreach and civic engagement.”