About STEM Greenhouse

Our Mission

Grow STEM proficiency in vulnerable children to cultivate education and career success

Our Vision

A diverse, globally competitive STEM community through equity in K-12 STEM education


We know that our children have their best chance to succeed if they have a solid STEM foundation. Faced daily with overwhelming need, we at STEM Greenhouse choose to take action and make an impact.

After-school STEM Programming

STEM Scholars, an after-school program making a difference.


5-Week STEM Summer Academy

Sankofa STEM Academy, a fun summer learning opportunity.


Join us in the fight for equity in education.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are at Our Core

We believe in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace where all employees, board members, volunteers, no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education, or disability are valued and respected.



We are Committed

to a nondiscriminatory approach and provide equal opportunities for employment and advancement in all departments, programs, and worksites.


We Recognize and Value

diverse life experiences and heritages, and work to ensure that all voices are respected and heard.


We are Committed

to modeling Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the students we serve and maintaining an inclusive environment with equitable treatment for all.

STEM Greenhouse Values

Along with diversity, equity, and inclusion, STEM Greenhouse believes in

Community Involvement



STEM Proficiency


Candid Gold Seal of Transparency 2024 STEM Greenhouse

the stem greenhouse Village

There is a familiar African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child.
We are honored you choose to be part of our village.


At STEM Greenhouse, we believe in representation. It is important that our commitment to diversity and inclusion is visible all the way up to our leadership team. And, we are so appreciative of these wise, passionate, and dedicated individuals who support our mission.


STEM Greenhouse

Founder and Executive Director

Leader, educator, and changemaker committed to making it easier for students of color to succeed in STEM education, pursue STEM careers, and feel supported in a way that had been absent for her growing up.

She holds a fervent belief that building positive relationships and connections are as important as the curriculum in urban K-12 education.

“One person can change generations by influencing the life of a child.”


North Carolina A&T, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Distinguished Alumni Award (2023)

Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, Role Model Education Award (2023)

Michigan Founders Fund, Community Trailblazer Award (2023)

Urban League, Nolan Grace Business Leadership Award (2023)

Grand Rapids Symphony, Dr. Malinda Sapp Legacy Award (2021)

Betty Van Andel Teacher of Excellence (2020)

West Michigan Women's Magazine, Brilliance Award in the Social Change Agent category (2020)

Grand Rapids Business Journal's 40 Business Leaders Under 40 (2015)

Milo Brown Business Giants Award (2015)

Ovell Barbee Jr.

Ovell is a distinguished Human Resources strategist and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a significant track record of leadership roles at top corporations and a passion for systemic change through a human-centered approach. His journey from a hardworking youth in Grand Rapids to an influential speaker, author of a best-selling book on DEI, and recipient of numerous accolades underscores his commitment to empowering diverse voices and fostering inclusive corporate cultures.

Ovell Barbee Jr.

Owner and Principal, Ovell Rome & Associates

Neil Carlson

Neil, his wife LaVonne, and two sons have been Grand Rapids residents since 2004 and STEM Greenhouse supporters since 2020.

Neil received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University in 2004 and served for 18 years as leader of the Center for Social Research at Calvin University. An avid follower of STEM-related research news, Neil supports STEM Greenhouse because he wants every kid in Grand Rapids to have the same fascinating opportunities he and his family have had.

Neil Carlson

Founder and Principal Consultant, DataWise Consulting, LLC

Jessa Challa

Jessa blends her technical prowess with a genuine commitment to racial equity and accessible technology. Her journey is marked by significant contributions to community-based initiatives, highlighting her unique ability to bridge the gap between digital innovation and social justice. Jessa's leadership and mentorship in technology not only drive change but also inspire a more inclusive and equitable tech landscape.

Jessa Challa

Communications Strategist, Urban Core Collective and Director of Social Impact, Casual Simulation

Alana Dachtler

Science is Alana’s love language. Curiosity about the world around her opened the door to a role as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at InterMet Systems, a Grand Rapids-based weather instrument company with a global presence. She is always striving to bring out the nerd in people and she is eager to help grow the next diverse generation of scientists.

Alana Dachtler

Vice President of Sales and Marketing, InterMet Systems

Emil Delgado

Emils brings over a decade of strategic leadership in IT operations, blending operational excellence and technical expertise with a focus on implementing innovative solutions. He drives forward-thinking initiatives and policy development with his strengths in team building and effective cross-functional collaboration, coupled with ongoing educational development.

Emil Delgado

Associate Vice President for Information Technology, Grand Valley State University

TaRita D. Johnson

TaRita's work with The Right Place includes collaborating with workforce development organizations, employers, and investors to lead strategies to ensure West Michigan attracts, develops, and retains diverse talent.

TaRita D. Johnson

Senior Vice President, Talent & Diversity, The Right Place

Jason R. Joseph, MBA

As chief digital and information officer, Jason leads strategic and operational information services with a primary focus on simplifying and enhancing the health care experience for the system’s patients, health plan members, teams and communities. Through easy-to-use digital platforms, applications, technology and medical devices, Jason and his team aim to make health more accessible and equitable. An able communicator and agile problem-solver, Jason also leads the system’s efforts in cybersecurity, analytics and emergency preparedness.

Jason R. Joseph, MBA

Chief Digital and Information Officer, Corewell Health

Ismalis Nuñez

Ismalis provides transformational racial equity strategies through individual and collective coaching to organizations in public and private education, non-profits, and corporations. She focuses on identity, leadership, and building communities that are centered on justice.

Ismalis Nuñez

Founder, Anew Collective Consulting; DEIJ Consultant & Facilitator

Stacy Paul

STEM advocate, Aerospace Engineer, and CEO of Array of Engineers. Visionary aerospace engineer with over 20 years providing innovative engineering advancements, STEM mentorship, and dynamic leadership to cross-functional teams. Serious space enthusiast, with a passion for family and creating engineering opportunities in West Michigan.

Stacy Paul

CEO, Array of Engineers

Cordell Zachery, Board President

Hailing from the Motor-City, Cordell is a young professional of color passionate about community engagement and connecting with others.

Cordell Zachery, Board President

Diversity Recruitment Specialist, Steelcase

Addressing Diversity in STEM

Formed in 2014 by Dr. Keli Christopher, STEM Greenhouse aims to address the lack of diversity within the STEM professions. As a girl in an inner-city school who lacked confidence in math, she never imagined that she would become the first Black person to get a Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Illinois and the third black woman in the world to hold a Ph.D. in that field.

The future of STEM depends on strong youth education

After working as an engineer and educator, Dr. Christopher started a science and math education business focused on fun, hands-on science and math experiences for K-12 students. Working with students throughout the greater Grand Rapids area gave her further insight to the inequality in STEM education among various districts, races, genders, and socioeconomic classes.

Support STEM Greenhouse

One of the best ways you can support our mission is by making a regular monthly contribution.