KC STEM Alliance seeks new leader as McCabe moves to national role with PLTW

When Executive Director Martha McCabe joined the KC STEM Alliance in 2013, she quickly understood the power of connecting best practice national STEM education programs with local industry and the value of collaborating with related organizations across the city. The strategies developed by McCabe and the KC STEM Alliance team around this work became a model for regions across the country, including the formation of the Mass STEM Hub in Boston and the DFW STEM Alliance in Texas.

Beginning next week, McCabe will hand over the reins of the KC STEM Alliance as she moves into a new role as Senior Vice President of Community Partnerships for Project Lead The Way, a PK-12 in-school problem-based learning curriculum with pathways in engineering, biomedical science and computer science. During McCabe’s tenure at the KC STEM Alliance, Project Lead The Way has expanded into nearly every school district plus 14 private and charter schools in the region.

KC STEM Advisory Board Chair Kevin Truman, Dean of the School of Science & Engineering at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said McCabe is leaving the alliance in a strong position.

“Thanks to Martha’s leadership and the hard work of the KC STEM Alliance team and volunteers, the KC STEM Alliance is stronger than ever,” Truman said. “PLTW and FIRST robotics are thriving. Regional collaboration through our STEM learning ecosystem is opening doors to STEM exploration through Remake Learning Days. A cross-sector collaborative group is developing new ways to measure effectiveness through a regional data dashboard; and we continue to connect our work to regional and national initiatives and best practices.”

“Working at the KC STEM Alliance over the past 10 years has been a privilege and an honor,” McCabe said. “Collaborating with our STEM community, moving through the uncharted territory of a pandemic and managing tremendous programmatic growth have been challenging and rewarding. All of these experiences will inform my next role, making a difference on a national level.”

The KC STEM Advisory Board is beginning the search for KC STEM Alliance’s next leader and is working closely with the team to ensure a smooth transition. Director of Operations Teri Kriege will lead as Interim Executive Director as the team moves forward with its plans for academic year 2023-24. Key points of contact:

  • Allison Nelson leads KC STEM Alliance’s wraparound support for PLTW, including teacher professional development, industry connections and the Make It REAL/PLTW Senior Capstone Innovation Initiative.
  • Andrea Ellis heads Kansas City’s STEM learning ecosystem as a KC STEM Alliance consultant. Ellis has been involved with the KC STEM Alliance in multiple roles over the years, including positions on the Advisory Board and the STEM Connect-KC leadership team.
  • Christina Chandler leads KC STEM Alliance’s diversity, equity and inclusion work and guides FIRST LEGO League operations for the Kansas City region. Chandler will also oversee the Kansas City Engineering Zone and support regional school districts in their strategic STEM planning.
  • Robert Dumler is the FIRST Robotics Competition Program Delivery Partner in western Missouri and Kansas, and Phil Wood serves as the FIRST Tech Challenge contact for the Greater Kansas City region.
  • Callen Fairchild Zind manages the STEM Connect-KC online resources and serves as the regional producer for Remake Learning Days, a celebratory festival of learning in the spring.
  • Marian McClellan directs the KC STEM Alliance’s work around encouraging and supporting women in STEM.