Northeast Ohio Women in STEM

Northeast Ohio has quietly been at the heart of STEM innovation throughout the country, with women making many meaningful contributions. The region’s women take claim to the first non-profit in medical and bio venture capital, a patent in infrared and Ramon spectroscopy, and the first high school Science Research and Engineering Program, among many more important and impactful STEM firsts.

The women on this page are being honored as Women Living STEM recipients on October 21, 2019 based on their measurable impacts in STEM. They are celebrated as women who lead and live STEM every day through their passion for progressing the industry and supporting and encouraging girls and young women to further their interests, education and impact in all things STEM.

We defined STEM with the broadest brushstroke possible, including not only STEM disciplines, but also digital and informal arts, museums, economic development, corporate institutions and funders, just to name a few. The criteria for being on the list is:

  • Leadership: Inspires others to follow
  • Impact in the STEM Ecosystem: Ability to bring together a variety of stakeholders
  • Accomplishments/Achievements: A record of patents, publications, innovations, grants, new STEM initiatives and programs
  • Proven Role Model: Support and encouragement of girls and young women to further their interests, education in STEM.

Women Living STEM – Legacy Honorees

A tribute To Some of Northeast Ohio’s Brilliant, Innovative Trailblazers in STEM


Ruth Begun

Former NASA Physicist

Co-developed a spacecraft ion engine, played a significant role in opening doors for women at NASA, and founded a national violence research and prevention organization that provides curriculum in schools.


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Dr. Jeanette Grasselli Brown

Retired Director, Corporate Research, Analytical and Environmental Sciences at BP America, Inc.

One of the greatest contributors to infrared and Raman spectrometry and promoted careers in science and importance of scientific research through work on Ohio Board of Regents and National Committees on Science.


Frances Seiberling Buchholzer

Retired Geomorphologist and Current Biomimicry Advocate

The first female director of Ohio Department of Natural Resources and an advocate of teaching kids to develop a passion for nature and how to live compatibly with the natural world.


Margot James Copeland

Retired Chair and CEO at KeyBank Foundation

Invested in Cleveland Municipal School District’s MC2 STEM High School and created full medical scholarships for African American and Hispanic students.


Clara Rankin


A driving force in the arts – Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Institute of Music – and creator of Hopewell Residential Treatment Farm.


Helen Williams, PhD

Program Director, Education at Cleveland Foundation

An advocate for ensuring that digital literacy and computational thinking is a key tenant of the Ohio Strategic Plan for Education.

Women Living STEM – Honorees

Recognizing Women in A Broad Stroke of STEM Disciplines and Fields Who Are Leaders And Role Models STEM


STEM Professions Including Aeronautics, Math, Engineering, Research and Related Non-profits

Dorothy Baunach

Chief Executive | Digital C

With Digital C she is bringing high speed broadband to underdeveloped areas. She led the Third Frontier effort for State of Ohio, raising support for bond issue and serving on its committee. She founded the first bio non-profit that started the boom in medical and bio venture capital in Northeast Ohio, and was founding CEOs of NorTech (folded into Team NEO) and BioOhio, and was former CEO of BioEnterprise.  She was a founder of the Cleveland Water Alliance and sits on its board.

Toby Radcliffe Bothel

Director, Engineering, Design and Fabrication | TIES

She has conducted hundreds of workshops for teachers and students, judged US and International robotic competitions and introduced thousands of K-12 students to STEM. She has led the design of dozens of digital fabrication labs in Northeast Ohio and throughout the US. She also directed Naval Surface Warfare Center’s K-12 STEM Outreach Program, engaging 50 lab professionals in bringing authentic engineering projects to local school districts.

Dr. Serpil Erzurum

Chair | Lerner Research Institute at The Cleveland Clinic

She led the creation of the Populations Health Research Center at Cleveland Clinic, which analyzes the health of groups of people or communities to better serve them. She formed the Center for Therapeutics Discovery to accelerate the discovery of new drug targets and to help bridge the gap between translational research and clinical drug trials. In 2017, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. 

Andrea Lane Fields

Digital Fabrication Consultant | TIES and In-Residence Fab Lab Manager | Brady Middle School

Is a founding student at MC2 High School, where she was one of a few student leaders to travel to regional STEM schools across the state of Ohio, introducing students and teachers to hands on digital fabrication learning opportunities. She is a spokesperson for minority women in STEM with engagements including a speech at the Ohio State Senate, interview for “Deeper Learning” book, TEDxCLE talk, GE, Chevron, and  U.S. News and World Report.

Dr. Janet Kavandi

Director | NASA Glenn Research Center

In 1994, she was selected as a member of the NASA 15th class of U.S. astronauts. She served as a mission specialist on STS-91 in 1998, STS-99 in 2000 and STS-104 in 2001, logging more than 33 days in space and traveling 13.1 million miles in 535 Earth orbits. On April 6, she was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Janice Morrison

Founder and Managing Partner | TIES

Committed to providing STEM access to all, she has been a long time advocate for creating cross-sector STEM learning ecosystems. She designed MC2 STEM High School, one of the country’s first STEM schools, U.S.’s first early childhood digital fabrication lab at The Bay Area Discovery Museum; and El Maadi STEM School for Girls in Egypt. She participated in the 2018 federal STEM Summit at the White House, which resulted is new Federal STEM five-year strategic plan.

Sonya Pryor-Jones

Chief Implementation Officer | Fab Foundation

Sonya is committed to bridging the opportunity divide for women and underserved communities. She manages signature education programs and strategic partnerships for The Fab Foundation with Chevron, The GE Foundation, DARPA and others. She was honored in 2016 for her work as a White House Champion of Change. She is the founder of Fab House, a micro-community development project using digital fabrication and a global network of human capital for social change.

Lizalyn Smith

Aerospace Engineer | NASA Glenn Research Center

She served as a facilitator in the Footprints for Girls program, which provides role models for at-risk students. She encourages young professionals to participate in community organizations. As president of the Northeast Ohio chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, she established community programs and fostered relationships with corporations and other technical organizations.


Community Outreach, PreK-12, College and Related Non-profits

She leads the STEAM Capstone Program at the Upper School, which provides a coach to students with opportunities to approach real-world issues with interdisciplinary, experiential and community-based strategies while building mentor and peer relationship. She co-founded STEMteachersCLE, where teachers lead sessions and network with other Cleveland area  teachers on STEM related topics.

Dr. Patricia A. Ackerman

Founder | IndeedWeCode

Created the concept for the Taylor Academy alternative school for at-risk students in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights district, which is now at Heights High. She directs the Chalkdust Education Foundation, which offers training, enrichment opportunities and other resources for parents and students in urban communities by supporting efforts such as IndeedWeCode, a programming camp founded in 2015 for African American high school girls.

Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD

Professor | Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

She is working towards implementation of an informatics solution for the Cleveland metro area using health data in order to have population-level health impact for the Cleveland community. She is multi-disciplinary trained in biostatistics, epidemiology and genetics, and helps to facilitate data access, analysis and interpretation for many investigators across Cleveland.

Cathy Belk

President of JumpStart, Inc.

Supports JumpStart’s core mission to help minority and female entrepreneurs by managing relationships with collaborators, funders and other community partners. Young Ohio companies receiving ongoing assistance from JumpStart and its partners have created 7,199 jobs, representing $458 million in labor income, according to a report commissioned by the nonprofit business accelerator and investor. The 912 companies paid $50 million in state and local taxes in 2018.

Meredith Bond

Dean, College of Sciences and Health Professionals | Cleveland State University

Her college is removing barriers to achievement for minorities, women and disadvantaged students by finding innovative ways to increase pass rates in “Gateway” STEM courses.

Sunniva Collins

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | Case School of Engineering

An inventor on three patents, she has another nine applications pending. She has developed several engineering courses and guided students who have gone on to Ford, Tesla, SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Harley-Davidson, GE and others. 

Chelsey Cook-Kohn

Principal | John Marshall School of Information Technology

John Marshall School IT, a school in the Cleveland Municipal School District, is the first school in Ohio to focus on computer science and is leading the #CSforAll movement in Cleveland as a pioneer in IT workforce pipeline. It is also one of the first schools in the nation to focus learning around computational thinking skills, which give students a competitive edge in their future.


Dr. Pamela B. Davis

Dean of The School of Medicine | Case Western Reserve University

She has published more than 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has served in prominent roles such as the Advisory Council to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Advisory Council for National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Courtney DeOreo

Executive Director | RITE and Senior Director | Greater Cleveland Partnership

She is leading an industry-driven IT workforce alliance in Northeast Ohio. RITE has championed a regional vision of a diverse, industry-responsive IT talent pool that is an economic driver to growth, competitiveness, and prosperity for Northeast Ohio.

Marsha Dobrzynski

Executive Director | Center for Arts-Inspired Learning

She created ArtWorks, an out-of-school college and career-readiness program for high school students where they work apprenticeship-style roles in fields such as film, digital game design and theater. In 2014, she founded the Cleveland High School for Digital Arts, a year-round school that immerses students in project-based learning. She encourages middle school girls participate in STEAM Saturdays and Level Up CLE 2119 in the area underserved communities.

Emily Fein

Chief Operating Officer and Director of Girl Experiences | Girl Scouts of North East Ohio

Creates STEM experiences that support a variety of STEM badges in areas including cyber security, programming, engineering and robotics. Nearly 30,000 girls in 18 Ohio counties are exposed to these important learning programs.

Christine Fowler-Mack

Chief Portfolio Officer: Planning, Growth, Management and Accountability | Cleveland Metropolitan School District

She is leading one of the most ambitious school reform initiatives in Ohio. “The Cleveland Plan,” which won bipartisan support in the Ohio legislature before being signed into law by Governor John Kasich, drew national attention to Cleveland for its bold and aggressive approach to systemic and legislative reform. CMSD is the second largest school district in Ohio.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

US Representative | 11th Congressional District

One of her priorities is increasing minority and underserved student access to high quality STEM education during the traditional school day, afterschool, and in summer programs. She is the Chair of the STEM caucus on the Hill, and co-introduced the Advancing Girls in STEM Act to increase exposure and awareness of STEM fields for elementary and middle school girls

Sheri Homany

Associate Head of School | Hathaway Brown

She was the recipient of the National Association of Biology Teacher’s inaugural award in 1992 for Promoting Young Women in Science. She was selected to participate in the first Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers, which has been an ongoing program since 1990. She has been instrumental in helping TIES to design the STEM programs and schools for girls in Egypt.

Patricia Kelly Hunt

Founding Director | Hathaway Brown School Science Research & Engineering Program and Former Research Scientist | British Petroleum (formerly Standard Oil)

She was the founding director of Science Research & Engineering Program (SREP) at Hathaway Brown School. This is an elective program that matches high school students with research laboratories in the area until they graduate from the school. More than two thirds of the students participate in this program today. She is also a published research scientist 

Dr. Debbie K. Jackson

Associate Professor, College of Education and Human Services | Cleveland State University

Has extensive experience in curriculum redesign of teacher education programs and in STEM education. She is a co-principal investigator for several grants related to STEM education, teacher preparation, project-based instruction and computer science education.  She serves as the Faculty in Residence at MC2STEM High School where she assists with students, teachers, curriculum and the CSU partnership.

Me’lani Labat Joseph

Director of Engineering | Case Western Reserve University’s Leonard Gelfand STEM Center

She directs the annual Engineering Challenges Carnival, CWRU’s largest public STEM outreach event for pre-K through eighth-grade students and annually hosts Girls Take Flight, an event in partnership with NASA and Girl Scouts of North East Ohio that targets elementary school aged girls. She leverages stakeholder resources to provide unique and innovative STEM experiences for local youth, with a particular interest in exposing underrepresented minority students to STEM. 

Dr. Ruth Keri

Professor and Associate Director for Basic Research | Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University

She is working with the NIH to persuade them to provide their banks of tumor types in Cleveland — supporting her building of a bank of breast cancer samples from patients across the country. This is important to the drug development pipeline here in Cleveland. She is working with a team to revamp STEM graduate education at CWRU School of Medicine. She helped develop the concept of the Innovation Fund, a philanthropic program providing resources to early-stage projects.

Ann V. Klotz

Head of School| Laurel School

She founded Laurel Center for Research on Girls, which hosts a biennial symposium attended by 100 educators and advocates for girls from around the country and Canada who discuss the latest research on how to best educate girls and share best practices. Students from Pre-K through 12 participate in established STEM curriculum. She has served on the faculty for the NAIS Institute for Aspiring School Heads and the Heads’ Network Leadership.

Dr. Crystal Miller

Director of the Science Research and Engineering Program (SREP) | Hathaway Brown School

She runs the elective program founded by Patty Hunt, in which freshmen are matched with research laboratories in the area where they work until high school graduation. The students are mentored by her for two to three years – leading them to publish their work and win major national awards. She conducted a 20-year longitudinal study of graduates.

Autumn R. Russell

Executive Director, Early College Early Career | MAGNET

She runs the Early College Early Career (ECEC) program, which is the nation’s only manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program focused on helping inner-city and rural high school students connect to long-term, rewarding careers in manufacturing. She has placed 79 students in manufacturing companies, which is critical to Northeast Ohio’s future STEM workforce.

Jessie Sun

Director of STEAM Engagement, Upper School Science Faculty and Robotics | Laurel School

She leads the STEAM Capstone Program at the Upper School, which provides a coach to students with opportunities to approach real-world issues with interdisciplinary, experiential and community-based strategies while building mentor and peer relationship. She co-founded STEMteachersCLE, where teachers lead sessions and network with other Cleveland area  teachers on STEM related topics.

Kelly Zelesnik

Engineering, Business and Information Technologies Division | Lorain County Community College

She secured approval for the college’s applied bachelor’s in microelectronic manufacturing, the first of its kind at a community college. She also facilitated the redesign of the Patsie C. and Dolores Jenee Campana Center for Ideation and Invention, including expanding the Fab Lab, another community college first. She led the development of associate degree programs in digital fabrication, cybersecurity and digital forensics, and leads Society of Women Engineers’ LCCC chapter.


Digital, Informal, Museums, Music, Theatre and Related Non-profits

Maria Campanelli

Executive Director | The Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Led the expansion of early childhood STEM experiences in Northeast Ohio by providing play and hands-on experimentation environments that support the natural curiosity to observe and explore, design, problem-solve and collaborate.

Dr. Kirsten Ellenbogen

President and CEO | Great Lakes Science Center

She has worked with the National Academies on important issue facing the nation. She has been appointed to the Standing Committee on Advancing Science Communication Research and Practice, and the Committee on Learning Science in Informal Environments. She has been tapped to provide reports and testimony to the Climate Change Initiative, Chemistry in Primetime and Online, and the Committee on Science Learning K-8.

Dr. Kristen Lukas

Director of Conservation and Sciences | Cleveland Metroparks

She is responsible for the care of 350 western lowland gorillas at 49 zoos in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums — from relocation to determining which females can get pregnant. She works with staff from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International to help students conduct senior research at the University of Rwanda. She is chair of both the Gorilla Species Survival Plan and the Gorilla Saving Animals from Extinction program at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Dr. Denise Su

Director of Partnerships and Programs, and Head of Paleobotany and Paleoecology | Cleveland Museum of Natural History

She created International Women and Girls in Science Day, which provides hands-on activities and opportunities to meet museum scientists and learn about STEM-based careers. It is the capstone event of “Celebrating Women in Science – Presented by KeyBank,” a series of lectures, exhibits and special programs at the Museum. Her goal is to encourage more girls and young women to study science and pursue careers in scientific fields.


Economic Development, Parks (county, state and national) and Related Non-profits

Angela Jones

Senior Government Affairs Specialist | Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

She has represented the Sewer District on the Student Technical and Engineering (STEP) Program and Architecture Construction and Engineering (ACE). She is active in the National Association of Black Engineers and is especially focused on the program that encourages the pursuit of engineering for young people.

Joy Mulinex

Director | Lake Erie Commission

Prior to her February 2019 appointment at the Lake Erie Commission, she served as Director of Government Relations for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, where she developed and implemented the organization’s federal and state public policy platform. Previously, she managed the bipartisan U.S. House and Senate Great Lakes Task Force in Washington, D.C., which DeWine co-chaired as a U.S. Senator.

Kathleen Sarli

Director of Planning | Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency

She is the project manager for the Great Lakes Hyperloop Feasibility Study, which is evaluating the viability of an ultra-high-speed Hyperloop passenger and freight transport system linking Cleveland and Chicago and ultimately a network to the East Coast. This applies new technology to existing transportation engineering processes. It is the first Public-Private Partnership out of the handful of hyperloop corridor studies in the country.


Foundations, Individuals and Related Non-profits

Ann Mullin

Senior Program Officer of Education | The George Gund Foundation

They have provided measurable grants as primary funder of  STEM organizations and initiatives. Great Lakes Science Center received significant funding to its endowment fund and for the space exhibit for several years. They partnered with the City of Cleveland on many Cleveland Municipal School District programs.

Kirstin Toth

Senior Vice President | The GAR Foundation

She works with a variety of nonprofit and community leaders to discern solutions to tough economic and social problems. She has a special interest in the field of education and improving our public education systems. 


Corporations, Manufacturers, Healthcare and Government

Dr. Jacqueline Acho

President | The Acho Group

She advocates for progressing women in leadership roles as a featured speaker, published author and consultant. This is complimented by serving on boards including The National Inventors Hall of Fame, The Urban League of Greater Cleveland, Jumpstart, Inc., Entrepreneur’s EDGE, the Technology Commercialization Steering Committee of Case Western Reserve University, and the Advisory Boards of the Northeast Ohio Technology Council and the Generation Foundation.

Gina Beredo

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary | Nordson Corp.

In 2017, she co-founded SPARK, an event that introduced 6th through 8th grade girls to a diverse group of role models. The following year, she collaborated with the American Heart Association and renamed the event STEM Goes Red for Girls, a program that is still active.

Rebecca Blice

Senior Biomedical Engineer | Nottingham Spirk

Is the program lead on an innovation for Tactile Medical that is designed to relieve lymphedema in patients suffering from buildup due to removal or trauma to the lymph nodes. It went through an FDA clinical trial and recently launched in-market.

Ellen Burts-Cooper, PhD.

Senior Managing Partner and Chief Improvement Officer | Improve Consulting and Training Group

She established the Improve Consulting and Training Group: Bagby, Palmer Memorial Scholarship at the Cleveland Foundation, which offers college funding to graduating high school seniors from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or its inner-ring suburbs. A published author, she is vice chair of JumpStart, a facilitation leader of the Business Growth Collaborative, and mentors young women.

Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA

Principal Architect | Perspectus Architecture

As an industry leader in historic preservation and restoration architecture, she has led the establishment for historical significance and place for many Ohio buildings such as Akron Soap Company and John Carroll University’s Murphy Hall. Her work, which includes documentation of properties for the National Register of Historic Places and the Library of Congress, enables restoration projects to be financed through historical preservation and rehabilitation tax credits.

Buffy Filippell

Founder and President | TeamWork Online LLC

She founded a national software licensing recruiting platform to the sports and events industry that is licensed to more than 1,100 sports and live event organizations. She launched the first built-in gender job description analyzing tool, a welcoming platform to over 200,000 women and 200,000 minority candidates. She led national efforts with the major leagues to encourage recruitment of women into sports management.

Dr. Ka-Pi Hoh

Organizational Change Management Director | Information Solutions Strategy at Lubrizol Corp..

She was one of the founders of the ‘Women in Technology’ group at Lubrizol, which was created over 20 years ago to provide a professional forum for females in technology and science related roles at Lubrizol; this group successfully expanded as ‘Women in Lubrizol Leadership,’ supporting all Lubrizol women. Having worked overseas, she promotes STEM locally and globally. She also mentors and coaches female high school and college students pursuing STEM fields.

Betsy Kling

Chief Meteorologist | WKYC – TV

She is passionate about teaching people of all ages about science, creating and annually producing Weather Education Day with the Cleveland Indians. In 2018, she started a multi-year initiative “Growing Curiosity: Girls In STEM” to encourage and promote girls and women in STEM. During her literally hundreds of school visits, she encourages students to think about careers in STEM. 

Karen Leak

Early Career Engineer Development Manager | Rockwell Automation

She manages an early career program structured to develop next generation engineers and computer scientist by providing formalized training, guided mentorship and effectively coaching associates through execution of technical projects. Research background includes engineering analysis and work with technical groups integrating complex systems for use in the space industry.

Dr. Chelsea Monty-Bromer

Co-founder | Early Stage Tech Start-up RooSense LLC and Associate Professor | University of Akron

She is developing an in-line sensor for microbiologically influenced corrosion in oil and gas pipelines, which was previously funded by the Department of Defense. This work is now funded by the Department of Transportation under its pipeline management program. For the past two summers she has been selected as an Air Force Summer Fellow based on her work in microbiologically influenced corrosion.

Dr. Christine Moravec

Director, Research Education and Training Center | Lerner Research Institute

She is a board member and former president of Northeastern Ohio Science and Engineering Fair, a non-profit, all volunteer organization whose goal is to get young adults interested in science and engineering by participating in a science and engineering competition. The fair has been held every year since 1954 and is affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Anne Noonan

President and CEO | Omnova Solutions

She promotes STEM education at all levels, including through co-op, intern and leadership development programs in technical research, production, and regulatory fields. She places emphasis on STEM through active support and participation in organizations that prioritize STEM initiatives. She is on the boards of the American Chemistry Council and the Greater Cleveland Growth Partnership, both of which are seeking to address a dramatic shortage of workers with STEM skills.

Diana Strongosky

SVP R&D Global Supply Chair and Director of the Breen Technology Center | Sherwin Williams

She runs active training and volunteer programs for women in science, including a speakers’ bureau. 

Andrea Vullo

Public Affairs Manager | GE Lighting

She manages the public-private partnership with MC2 STEM High School and formerly served on the Friends of MC2 STEM High School Advisory Board. She is an advisory board member for Project Green Schools, which provides Students, Educators, and Administrators with environmental and STEM education programming that supports service projects and green initiatives that geared to develop future leaders through education, project-based learning and community service.