Yamilée has personally experienced the extraordinary benefits of a STEM education and dance. After studying mechanical engineering at MIT and being an avid dancer for 21 years, she switched gears to teach high school algebra in an under-served community in East New York, Brooklyn through Teach For America. As a teacher, her eyes were opened to the multitude of opportunities her students didn’t have access to; there was an abundance of potential that would never be unleashed. Therefore, she set out to provide students with something greater than what the school system could provide. She started STEM From Dance with the hope that a strong dance and STEM supplemental education would help to increase the number of under-represented minority high school girls across the nation who pursue a STEM undergraduate education.
Bryan Ballegeer, Board Chair
Bryan is a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, majoring in Public and Non Profit Administration. From 2011 - 2017 Bryan worked for Success Academy Charter Schools helping lead the Operations of its 48+ schools. Since 2018 Bryan has been the Vice President of Education for KI Furniture; traveling the country to assist schools in actualizing their vision of the future. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys anything and everything to do with music whether that be playing guitar, attending concerts, or writing his own songs.
Heather Barash, Board Member
Heather Barash is a young professional who studied Business, Psychology, and Economics at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. After graduation, she moved to New York City to start her career in the insurance industry at AIG. Through coursework and work experience, she’s developed an avid curiosity for STEM and took on an additional role to connect employees with technology within her company. Heather’s other passions include spending time with family and friends, traveling, hiking, reading, and dancing. Heather began dancing when she was four years old and it remains an important staple in her life. She’s excited to help underserved and minority youth build confidence and reach their potentials by intertwining STEM and dance.
Nai Beckley, Founding Board Member
Nia is the epitome of what SFD students can become. With a chemical engineering B.S. and a biological engineering M.Eng from MIT, she is a research scientist at Genentech helping to develop the next generation of oncology and immunology therapies. She attributes much her success through high school and college to the combination of a dance and STEM education, which taught her the skills necessary to become a confident and creative leader. She values the importance of education, particularly increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, and through numerous programs, has tutored and taught students from this target demographic in math, chemistry, and reading.
Jacobe Bell, Founding Board Member
Jacobe is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Masters in Urban Education from Mercy College. Having worked in education for over a decade, Jacobe is passionate about closing the achievement gap. As an Educational Consultant, she currently works directly with teachers, teacher leaders, and principals to improve school effectiveness. Her professional interests lie in curriculum design, instructional strategies, leadership development, and student engagement in urban schools. Also as an avid dancer herself for over 20 years, Jacobe is excited to be a part of the STEM From Dance community.
Caitlin Teres, Board Member
Caitlin Teres graduated from Vassar College and earned an MBA at NYU Stern School of Business. She has spent the majority of her career in the Fashion Retail sector, and currently works as a Merchandise Planner for Ann Taylor. She started dance at age four and continued with it into college where she was a member of the Vassar Repertory Dance Theater. She credits the discipline she learned in dance for her academic and career successes, and is therefore excited to be part of an organization that enriches the lives of young girls through participation in dance and STEM.
Devika Thapar, Board Member
A global professional with a career spanning Delhi, London, New York and Amsterdam, Devika’s belief in a world without borders arises from a cosmopolitan curiosity driven by human interaction. Impelled by ideas but rooted in execution, Devika is a product strategy and management executive in the emerging technology sector. Her experience and interest in artificial intelligence, education and financial services technology and product design reflects her disposition to engage with people spanning visionary disciplines. She is a traveler and hiker through countries and concepts with a passion for curation (playlists, interiors or rare coffee beans). Her background in classical and jazz dance echoes her love for movement; both individual and global. Learn more here.
Doretha Dawkins, Program Director
Doretha is a dedicated educator who enjoys building student success by creating opportunities through education. As a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. China and Asia Pacific Studies and History) and Brooklyn College (M.S. Special Education) and a 2013 Teach for America corps member, she has spent the early part of her career teaching and serving in the underserved communities of New York City. As Program Director with STEM From Dance, Doretha actively supports the organization in its use of choreography and STEM curriculum. She hopes to increase the number of underrepresented minority girls in STEM undergraduate education and STEM careers.
Rocio Cuevas, Administrative Associate
Rocio Cuevas is a graduate of New York University, she majored in Psychology with minors in Creative Writing, and Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies. Prior to joining the STEM From Dance team, Rocio worked at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, helping new students reduce and eliminate their remedial needs. Rocio is passionate about education, women’s rights, and issues affecting the immigrant community. In her spare time sheenjoys writing, exploring Pinterest, and watching DC TV shows.
Stacie Cannon, Lead Dance Instructor
Stacie Canon is a native of Portsmouth, VA. She graduated from the Conservatory of Shenandoah University in 2009 with a Bachelor's in Dance. In 2012, Stacie moved to New York City to attend Peridance Capezio Center's 2-year certificate program, furthering her studies in ballet and contemporary dance. While Stacie is currently a professional dancer for the Matthew Westerby Company, she truly enjoys the rewards of being a dance coach for STEM From Dance. Without having any prior experience with coding, Stacie was excited to learn more and help introduce students to the STEM world through dance. She understands how certain skills gained from dance can translate into skills that are necessary for young women to be successful in STEM.
Courtney Ross, Dance Instructor
Courtney Ross is a professional dancer, teaching artist, and entrepreneur, hailing from New Orleans, LA. In 2014, she graduated, with honors, from the Ailey/Fordham University program with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Dance. Upon graduation, Courtney joined Ailey II, junior company to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also been a company member of Ron K. Brown's EVIDENCE Dance company, as well had the opportunity to perform with a myriad of other choreographers. Through all of her endeavor's, Courtney's mission is to uplift and empower the next generation of girls in minority communities. She is grateful and humbled to join the STEM From Dance family.
Calvin Goah, STEM Instructor
Calvin is a Senior at Columbia University studying Computer Science. He is on the Intelligent Systems track and enjoys learning new things related to artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a STEM Instructor through STEM From Dance, Calvin enjoys the excitement and curiosity the girls in the program exhibit when new, technical challenges and concepts are presented. Outside of classes and work, Calvin enjoys singing and playing the guitar and piano.
Mikala Streeter, Computer Science Consultant
Mikala is a teacher, coder and entrepreneur. As a graduate of MIT (B.S. Computer Science & Engineering) and Stanford University (M.A. Education – Learning, Design, and Technology) and as a former high school Computer Science instructor, she loves nothing more than getting students excited about expressing themselves through code. Mikala finds designing curriculum for STEM From Dance particularly exciting because the program adds a purposeful element of movement to an otherwise sedentary endeavor. When she’s not coding or teaching someone to code, Mikala enjoys reading, binging on Netflix, and spending time with family and friends.