Redefining the Future of STEM
To provide underrepresented students with STEM access and education through robotics engineering and computer science. We also aim to develop soft skills like leadership, teamwork, oral presentation, and written presentation.
RYAN MICHAEL DAZA
Ryan "Mike" Daza serves as founder and Executive Director of Capitol City Robotics, Inc, a 501(c) non-profit that serves to expose underrepresented students to robotics and programing. He also is founder and Director of Operations at Capitol City STEM, LLC, a robotics and coding educational program that exposes K-12 students to science and technology while inspiring them to pursue a STEM career. He has a vision of the future that is resonant with diversity and inclusion in the science and technology fields. He sees an environment where people of all ethnicities and genders work together to make STEM a safe and productive place to work and make the world a better place to live.
Mike graduated college from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received his Masters at the George Mason University in economics. He worked with professors and lawyers gathering data pertinent to legal cases and publishing articles in political economy. He has published several articles and developed new systems in data collection. With the oncoming notion that technology is the future and his two children coming to elementary age, he decided to take the risk of becoming an entrepreneur and founded two STEM based institutions to better prepare his family and those who traditionally have not been given the chance for this future.
Valerie is a non-profit organization executive with over 15 years of experience in non-profit fundraising, marketing, strategy, and innovation.
Valerie currently works at Challenger Center, a non-profit education organization focused on igniting the potential in K-12 students. Challenger Center develops experiential science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs that inspire over 250,000 students worldwide each year. At Challenger Center, Valerie leads the organization’s efforts to identify and establish strategic partnerships with individuals, corporations, foundations, schools, and government entities. She also leads in the development of the organization’s long-term strategy, including the development of new revenue streams that support Challenger Center’s educational mission. Ms. Fitton-Kane is the staff liaison to the Board Development and Governance Committee and the Strategy Committee of the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Senior Leadership team, providing direction on all strategic and operational issues to ensure an effective and coordinated effort to meet Challenger Center’s goals.
Prior to joining Challenger Center, Valerie managed innovation projects at Oxfam GB, led fundraising teams at Sabin Vaccine Institute and LIFT, and spent several years as an Information Technology consultant in the private sector. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, a Bachelor of Science in decision and information sciences from University of Florida, and a certificate in nonprofit management from Northeastern University.
LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vfittonkane/
KENNETH F. HARRIS II
Recently acknowledged by Forbes Magazine amongst the world’s youngest and most impactful individuals in the field of science, Kenneth F. Harris II is known for delivering thoughtful and dynamic leadership on programs of critical national and international importance.
Mr. Harris is the Database Lead Engineer for the NASA J2 Joint Polar Satellite System. In this role, Mr. Harris is responsible for developing procedures and implementing processes between the Flight Team, Instrument Vendors and Spacecraft Vendors. The attainment of which leads to the successful flight and data collection of the J2 Satellite Mission. The database utilized by both the ground system and flight team will allow the satellite to be monitored and controlled from the Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC).
Prior to this role, Mr. Harris served as the Deputy Lead Integration Engineer for the James Webb Space Telescope’s Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM). Mr. Harris led a team of 10 engineers to successfully integrate ISIM, the main payload of JWST, to the Backplane of the Optical Telescope Element (OTE) Primary Mirror. This was performed in North Americas largest cleanroom, the Space Systems Development And Integration Facility (SSDIF). Mr. Harris’ leadership on the JWST program ranks him as one of the youngest African Americans in NASA’s history to lead an integration effort on a multi-billion dollar satellite mission.
Since joining NASA in 2008 as an intern, Mr. Harris held positions of increasing responsibility including; Mechanical Engineer, Integration & Testing Lab Manager, Deputy Lead Integration Engineer, Senior Systems Engineer, and Database Lead Engineer.
Mr. Harris’ honors and awards extend beyond his professional service to recognition of his tremendous leadership in the STEM field and international community. A proud son of an Engineer Mr. Harris champions the importance of early STEM exposure and engagement. In 2018 Mr. Harris delivered a TEDx Talk to over 500+ students concerning the power of mentorship and guidance. He was recognized as the Next Gen for Industry in 2019. Mr. Harris has appeared as a featured keynote speaker at a number of professional events, conferences, & symposia.
Mr. Harris graduated with honors from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering; he then completed a Masters of Science from Johns Hopkins University in Engineering Management.
A lifelong Maryland resident Mr. Harris, his wife & their two dogs reside in Prince George’s County Maryland. When not leading space programs or inspiring students to realize their full potential, Mr. Harris enjoys fine cuisine, traveling internationally, and owns and operates a wedding photography company.
Dominique Taylor is the SVP, People Operation at AXIOS, a new media company delivering vital, trustworthy news and analysis in the most efficient, illuminating and shareable ways possible. She believes culture and diversity are key drivers of a company’s success, that both are set in the formative stages of a company's life-cycle and that HR can be a force for good.
After graduating from Georgetown University, she spent the first half of her career as a consultant focused on Workforce Management before making the leap to work “in house” when she joined EverFi, a DC-based Ed Tech company. At EverFi she built out the Talent and Culture function as the company grew from 75 people to over 400, raised a Series C, acquired another company and won a myriad of awards ranging from DC’s Coolest Companies to Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work. She then joined 1776 for the opportunity to work with startups and entrepreneurs around the world to inform their culture and diversity strategies at a critical juncture in their company’s life-cycle.
When Dominique is not designing and implementing culture and diversity initiatives, she can be found trying to bring order to the approximately 578,962 Legos her three sons have accumulated in her house. Success has eluded her.
ELIZABETH FUSCALDO CHROUST
Liz Chroust is a strategy and management consultant with nearly 20 years of experience advising private, public sector, and non-profit entities around the world. In this capacity, she works with organizations to develop short and long-term strategies, streamline business operations, better link performance to resources, and effectively engage and connect stakeholder audiences and needs - all in an effort to help organizations and their people to perform at their best. Liz is also a mother of two young boys with ceaseless energy and a zest for life. Their family hobbies include pretty much all sports, traveling, cooking, and helping others. Some of Liz's biggest beliefs center around kindness, inclusion, and exposing her boys to every opportunity available to them. In her "free time," Liz also volunteers within the community, including Junior Achievements, Food Corps DC, and DC Public Schools. Liz, her husband (Casey Chroust), and their sons live in NW Washington DC.