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2018 Pennsylvania STEM Ambassador Program

Developing STEM Policy Leaders in Pennsylvania


Made possible through PSAYDN, with training support from the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) and STEM Education Coalition, and sponsorship from the Afterschool Alliance and Overdeck Family Foundation.

psaydn logoEPLCSTEM-Ed-CoalitionAfterschoolAllianceOverdeck


Application Deadline: Friday, January 26, 2018

Application must be completed electronically and submitted via email


Apply Now


The Pennsylvania Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Ambassador opportunity is a strategic way to achieve state STEM/workforce policy goals. Ambassadors advance policy goals through outreach, education, targeted relationships with policymakers and building a coalition of local and regional support. STEM Ambassadors are leaders within their organizations, interested and committed to sharing their experiences and content knowledge with influential stakeholders. They also serve as role models to inspire and encourage youth to pursue opportunities for STEM exploration in both formal and informal learning environments.

Pennsylvania’s response to the challenges of the 21st century will be determined by opportunities put forth in STEM education. Positive change in the quality of our workforce is dependent upon quality STEM education, exposure and experiences. Partnerships with businesses, schools, community organizations and government are very important for STEM education and vital for economic development and quality job growth in Pennsylvania. The creation of the STEM Ambassador program would serve to train interested and experienced individuals to proactively engage with state agencies, policymakers, business/industry leaders, education entities and/or community providers to share data, experiences, networks and policy needs.


Apply if you have:

  • A commitment to personal and professional development and leadership growth
  • A track record of making things happen – inside and across agencies/organizations
  • A strong work ethic and are considered a high performer in a professional role
  • Interest/experience in STEM through workforce, education and/or informal learning environments
  • A desire to shape Pennsylvania policy through targeted relationships with elected officials and media
  • The endorsement of your employing organization/sponsor
  • Financial support/fundraising capability for associated program costs


The STEM Ambassador Program

Employer Benefits

  • Employees who are ready to assume more leadership responsibilities
  • Expanded networks that enhance the organization’s ability to access key leaders and decision makers
  • Recognition at statewide events, such as PSAYDN’s Annual Meeting and Reception as well as Advocacy Day in Harrisburg
  • Access to state and national STEM education leaders
  • Ability to help shape state and/or federal STEM policy
  • Employee enhancement of communication skills


Ambassador Benefits

  • Contribute to the future of the STEM policy in Pennsylvania
  • Network with national, state and local leaders
  • Learn from state and national experts in the field on workforce needs, STEM Learning Ecosystems, federal and state education policy and computer science/coding initiatives
  • Sharpen public speaking and presentation skills
  • Develop exceptional leadership skills
  • Be part of a supportive network of peers and be provided a mentor through the training process


Program Highlights

  • One full-day face-to-face training in Harrisburg on March 1, 2018
  • Quarterly webinars/workshops on the following core areas:
    • Computer science/coding
    • Workforce/career pathways
    • STEM education policy (federal and state levels)
    • Partnerships in the informal and formal STEM learning ecosystems
  • Peer network community to share progress/challenges
  • Participation in state and/or regional STEM-related advocacy events
  • Workshop participation at statewide STEM conferences (i.e., STEMathon, STEM Summit)
  • Capstone experience project based upon knowledge learned
  • Assignment of STEM mentor to assist with project
  • Connections through Ambassador emeritus activities


Program Facilitation

The Ambassador program will be facilitated by PSAYDN through the Center for Schools and Communities. The STEM Education Coalition will provide consultants and presenters throughout the year. The Coalition works to raise awareness about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century. Ron Cowell, legislative/policy consultant for EPLC, is a trusted leader in education policy. Cowell served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for 24 years until 1998.

Headshot James Brown, Executive Director, STEM Education CoalitionJames Brown
Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition

James Brown is the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition. Prior to joining the Coalition, he was director of advocacy at the American Chemical Society. A nuclear engineer by training, Brown previously worked as a legislative aide for Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, was director of policy and development at the Consumer Energy Council of America, and began his career as an engineer with Newport News Shipbuilding, working on aircraft carrier construction. Brown received a B.S. from the University of New Mexico and an M.S. from Penn State, both in nuclear engineering. He also holds an MBA from George Washington University.


Headshot Ron Cowell, President, Education Policy and Leadership CenterRon Cowell
President, Education Policy and Leadership Center

Since January 1999, Ron Cowell has been the president of The Education Policy and Leadership Center, an independent, nonpartisan and not-for-profit organization based in Harrisburg. He is an experienced policy leader who also is a frequent speaker, writer and consultant concerning education policy issues. Cowell served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for twenty-four years until 1998. While in the Legislature, he served as the majority or minority chair of the House Committee on Education for 12 years. Cowell also served for 12 years as a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education and for 20 years as a board member of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.


Headshot Judd Pittman, Special Consultant to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education for STEMJudd Pittman
Special Consultant to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education for STEM

Judd Pittman has more than ten years of urban education experience, between teaching middle school in Harrisburg City School District and serving on the elected school board. Pittman is an educational consultant at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network where he focuses on professional development and technical assistance for educators and administrators in science, math, culturally responsive PBIS, formative assessment and classroom management. He serves as special consultant to the Secretary of Education for STEM. Pittman has a degree in ecology from Juniata College, a master’s degree in forest ecology from Virginia Tech University and a master’s degree in multi-cultural education from Eastern University.


Headshot Stephanie Rodriguez, Director of STEM Policy, Afterschool AllianceStephanie Rodriguez
Director of STEM Policy, Afterschool Alliance

Stephanie Rodriguez joined the Afterschool Alliance fresh off her tenure as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, where she worked on efforts to broaden participation in computer science and other STEM fields. Prior to the fellowship, Rodriguez completed her PhD in immunology at Washington University in St. Louis. While at WashU, she also directed the Young Scientist Program, a 25-year-old program that engages St. Louis public school teachers and students in hands-on STEM experiences while Providing critical resources to a community in need.


Headshot Laura Saccente, Director, PSAYDNLaura Saccente
Director, PSAYDN

Laura Saccente joined as the network director for PSAYDN in April 2015. Working with the PSAYDN steering committee, partners and stakeholders, she leads the network’s strategic vision and advocacy efforts, as well as maintains and develops public and private support. Saccente also serves on the Pennsylvania State Workforce Development Board Youth Council, statewide STEM Advisory Committee and is a partner with the Carbon-Schuylkill-Luzerne Stem Learning Ecosystem, one of five Stem Ecosystems recognized in Pennsylvania.


Headshot Winnie Black, Special Projects/STEM Coordinator, Center for Schools and CommunitiesWinnie Black
Special Projects/STEM Coordinator, Center for Schools and Communities

Dr. Winnie Black has been an afterschool leader involved in STEM since 1990. She coordinated STEM student support program for Kettering University for engineering, science and environmental majors. Black has designed and implemented head-start and K-5 literacy based STEM/environmental science project based learning curriculums. She was co-developer of the STELAR Career Development Skill Inventory. Currently, Black is co-principal investigator for the Philly Scientists ITEST grant and a National LEAD STEM for the Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne STEM Learning Ecosystem.


Headshot Caroline Allen, coordinator of PSAYDNCaroline Allen
Coordinator, PSAYDN

Caroline Allen worked for the Pennsylvania Parent Information and Resource Center, and has served as president of the Pennsylvania PTA, a member of the National PTA Legislative Committee, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education, Gettysburg College Parent Advisory Committee and faculty member at Furman University’s Riley Institute. Allen is a PQAS certified instructor and also continues to serve on the PSEA Education Foundation Board, as the Family Involvement Conference Program Chair. She coordinates the PSAYDN Afterschool Ambassador program; during the last five years, more than 83 Ambassadors have learned how to build impactful relationships with federal and state policymakers.


  • Commit to 10-month leadership/policy training
  • Participate in a full-day face-to-face training in Harrisburg on March 1, 2018
  • Attend a minimum of four virtual webinars (every other month) through November 2018
  • Share your experience and knowledge with other STEM Ambassadors through presentations, discussions, progress reports and a capstone project
  • Attend a minimum of two legislative meetings either in the Ambassador’s district and/or in Harrisburg
  • Conduct independent study and research to expand on core policy issues explored in the program
  • Participate in the spring 2018 Advocacy Day in Harrisburg and/or STEM conferences, as schedule allows


Associated Costs

The 2018 STEM Ambassador program has an annual fee of $900 to assist with program-related costs. It is also the responsibility of the Ambassador or sponsoring organization for any travel costs associated with the STEM Ambassador training and other endorsed events. The minimum required travel is a one-day training in Harrisburg, Pa. The $900 program fee may be paid for by the STEM Ambassador, employer and/or any public/private sponsoring individual/organization.

If the program fee is a hindrance to applying, contact Laura Saccente via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for sponsorship letter templates and fundraising tips to ensure a successful sponsorship. The program fee of $900 will be due after acceptance into the program, but no later than Wednesday, February 21, 2018.


Sponsorship Opportunities for Organizations

Registration opens December 2017.

Support the STEM Ambassador Program, a 10-month leadership training opportunity and a strategic way to advance state STEM/workforce policy goals through education, targeting relationships with policymakers and building a coalition of local and regional support.

Sponsorship is your chance to reach a broad audience of influential stakeholders, including administrators, state and federal officials, national experts, educators, policymakers, program coordinators, youth development staff, STEM Learning Ecosystem members, community providers, higher education institutions, families and students, among others. Each opportunity comes with a tailored array of promotional benefits. 

2018 Sponsorship Options


Limited to three

  • Company name and link on STEM Ambassador website
  • Company logo/advertisement on screens during training events/webinars
  • Company name listed on poster signage
  • Access to STEM Ambassador email distribution list for up to two mailings during program
  • Sponsor recognition on social media/STEM e-blast newsletter announcements
  • Acknowledgement at spring 2018 statewide advocacy day event at Harrisburg Capitol
  • Up to two STEM Ambassador scholarships
  • Ability to provide branded material to STEM Ambassadors
  • Opportunity to speak at the one-day training and/or a webinar



Several available

  • Company name and link on STEM Ambassador website
  • Company logo on screens during training events and webinars
  • Company name listed on poster signage
  • Sponsor recognition on social media/STEM e-blast newsletter announcements
  • Acknowledgement at spring 2018 statewide advocacy day event at Harrisburg Capitol
  • One STEM Ambassador scholarship



Many available

  • Company name and link on STEM Ambassador website
  • Company logo/recognition on screens during training events and webinars
  • Company name listed on poster signage
  • Sponsor recognition on social media/STEM e-blast newsletter announcements


Individual Sponsor


  • Company name and link on STEM Ambassador website
  • One STEM Ambassador scholarship


Other Opportunities

Sponsor a STEM Ambassador Webinar

$250 single
$600 three
$800 annual

  • Logo in webinar announcements and reminders
  • Acknowledgment at beginning of webinar by host
  • Logo on webinar event page
  • Recognition on webinar registration page


Sponsor the Afterschool/STEM Advocacy Day Event in Harrisburg


  • 6’ exhibitor table
  • Logo inclusion on registration webpage
  • Brief (2-3 minutes) podium address at rally event
  • Logo inclusion in email marketing
  • Recognition from stage during event
  • Sponsorship recognition at Legislative breakfast



Checks should be made payable to CSIU/Center for Schools and Communities and sent to:

Center for Schools and Communities
Attn. Debby Barry, STEM Ambassador
275 Grandview Ave, Suite 200
Camp Hill, PA 17011


Additional questions?

Contact Laura Saccente, Director of PSAYDN via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (717) 370-1523.


Selection Process

Applying does not guarantee acceptance in the program. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee to ensure a well-rounded cohort and prospective Ambassadors will be informed by February 7, 2018. Space is limited. All accepted 2018 STEM Ambassadors will be asked to sign a letter of agreement promising good faith efforts to fulfill the duties of an Ambassador.


Apply Now



Additional questions? Contact Caroline Allen via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




With nearly 2,700 members, the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) promotes sustainable, high quality out-of-school time youth development programs through advocacy and capacity building to enhance the welfare of Pennsylvania’s children, youth and families. PSAYDN believes all children and youth deserve access to programs that encourage positive youth development and support the successful transition to adulthood.

Since 2013, PSAYDN has trained a total of 82 Afterschool Ambassadors across the state. The Ambassador effort has resulted in legislators meeting within the district or Harrisburg offices; participating in Lights On Afterschool events; and recruiting Afterschool Caucus members. PSAYDN continues to be actively engaged with members of all Ambassador cohorts in elevating afterschool in Pennsylvania. PSAYDN is managed by the Center for Schools and Communities.


About the Center for Schools and Communities

Since 1988, the Center for Schools and Communities (Center) has been committed to improving outcomes for children and families through training, technical assistance, program evaluation, research and resource development. The Center's work focuses on prevention and intervention initiatives operated by schools, organizations and agencies serving children, youth and families.

The Center’s staff have diverse backgrounds in education, human services, community development and the law, as well as specialized skills and experience in program development and design, evaluation, training and resource development. This combination of education and experience has enabled the Center to provide customized technical assistance to support the development of innovative programs in schools and communities.