Wendy Merchant, P.E.
Founder + Executive Director
Professional Mechanical Engineer
Wendy founded Girls in STEM with the express purpose of helping close the gender gap in STEM fields by bringing her enthusiasm, determination and resources for encouraging and supporting girls to seek a STEM related career prior to post secondary education. Wendy graduated with a BS in Architectural Engineering from the University of Wyoming and is a licensed mechanical engineer. Her background includes 20 years of experience working in the Colorado design and construction industry as a consulting mechanical engineer designing building systems including; HVAC, plumbing, fire protection and building automation control systems.
In 2013, Wendy moved in a different direction following her passion to give back to the community founding the not for profit Girls in STEM. Leveraging her talents, experience and extensive network of professional women working in STEM related careers, Girls in STEM works directly with high school and middle school students to provide real world mentoring, career exploration, networking and job shadowing opportunities. In her free time, Wendy also enjoys being outdoors skiing, golfing, gardening and spending time with her family.
Business Systems Analyst at ViaSat Inc.
Shelly is a Business Systems Analyst with 16 years of high tech experience. In the past, she maintained and operated credit card processing hardware, networks, and data centers, as well as 9-1-1 call routing and delivery networks. Today, Shelly works for ViaSat Inc., developing software solutions for satellite internet customers.
The first time Shelly Sousa disassembled a computer (and reassembled it while her concerned mother watched), she was captivated. That experience was the foundation for a lifetime of work and play with technology. Shelly now strives to provide hands-on STEM activities to students and encourage exploration via kinesthetic learning. Her goal is to make sure that students with a passion for STEM are provided with the access, opportunity, and mentorship to follow their dreams.
At ViaSat, Shelly champions STEAM programs which empower employees to bring “Rocket Science 101” to local Colorado schools. Shelly is also a board member of ViaSat’s Women in Technology group. WIT hosts annual events which invite students to ViaSat offices to meet with employees and learn about working in STEM careers.
When she is not pondering the wonders of satellite communications, you may spot Shelly on a Colorado trail. She is an amateur astronomer and geologist who enjoys treasure hunting. At home Shelly can be found in her technology kitchen whipping up Raspberry Pi and Arduino recipes.
President/Director of Suncor Energy
Christina Henderson is the President and Director of Suncor Energy USA Pipeline Company. She has worked for Suncor for more than 15 years, holding a number of positions in both Suncor’s Upstream and Downstream divisions, spanning from process engineering to product trading, to plant operations and transportation. She has held leadership positions with the company for 11 of those years and is one of only two U.S.-based employees to transfer to Suncor’s Oil Sands operations in northern Alberta, Canada. While there, she oversaw one of the extraction plants at the 5,000+ employee facility.
Christina was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for Girls in STEM, a non-profit organization that partners with schools to expose middle and high school-age girls to STEM careers, and to provide role models and mentors to young girls who may seek STEM professions in the future.
Christina holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. She has two young spunky daughters that keep her on her toes. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and trying to ski.
Karen Ramon, MBA
Board Treasurer + Operations Director
STEM School Math/Business Teacher + Founding Board Member
Karen Ramon is the Business department chair and serves on the school leadership team at the STEM School Highlands Ranch. She works to develop our future STEM and entrepreneurial workforce as an advisor to FBLA and the MIT Entrepreneurship Launch team which placed in the top 12 internationally at their final pitch presentation at MIT Sloan School of Management in the Spring of 2017.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Colorado State University and her MBA from the University of Houston. She has 16 years of teaching experience at the middle school, high school, and higher education level teaching mathematics and business courses. She also spent a few years working in the human resources and training department in the banking industry.
She is a founding board member and the current treasurer and director of operations. Together along with our other board members she enjoys helping young girls have a place to start exploring STEM careers in an environment with all girls!
XEUS Program Manager at United Launch Alliance
Melissa Sampson is a Program Manager in the Advanced Programs group, developing ULA’s next generation technology. She currently leads the XEUS (eXperimental Enhanced Upper Stage) program, a commercial, large lunar lander. Prior to joining Advanced Programs, she was the Building Leadership and Sustaining Talent (BLAST) program facilitator, coach and mentor, and has been involved throughout the company as a manager from supply chain to continuous improvement. Previous to her aerospace career, Dr. Sampson worked in the Governor’s Office of Maryland, program management, space station payloads, sales, and lobbying.
She has been involved with STEM for many years, both through ULA and through other volunteer organizations, such as Girls in STEM and GSTEM. Being a vocal advocate for what engineers do and possible careers is a passion.
Melissa was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for Girls in STEM, which is a non-profit organization partnering with schools enable middle and high school-age girls to discover STEM careers, and to provide role models and mentors to young girls who may seek STEM professions in the future.
Melissa earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado and her B.S. in Chemistry from the College of William and Mary. She is a certified ULA Lean & Six Sigma Black Belt and is an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certified coach. Her hobbies include golf and skiing.
Board Fundraising Chair
Jen Thomas is a seasoned nonprofit executive with 15+ years of increasing responsibility in nonprofit management and a lifelong passion for mission-focused work. She devotes herself personally and professionally to organizations making a measurable impact. After over a decade with cancer-related causes, Jen is now concentrated on building a revolutionary center for the holistic education and empowerment of people with autism, gifted children, and other exceptional learners.
Jen most recently served as Director of Program and Development for MyLifeLine, an organization that empowers cancer patients and caregivers to build an online support community of family and friends to foster connection, inspiration, and healing through free, personalized websites.
Prior to MyLifeLine, Jen served as Executive Director for Texas 4000 for Cancer, a leadership development organization for students cycling 4,000+ miles from Texas to Alaska, raising money and awareness for the fight against cancer.
Originally from outside of Philadelphia, Jen spent time in Austin and now resides in Denver with her husband, Britton. Outside of taking risks and conquering fears, Jen enjoys experiencing live music, taking road trips, climbing mountains, practicing yoga, connecting others, and finding strength and hope in adversity.
Director at Earth Tech, Inc
Over the course of his 22 year career, his professional experiences have been diverse, and include the full spectrum of architecture, engineering, and technology-driven solutions from program management and team leadership to strategic planning and full-scale program implementations. Most recently, his focus has been on the development of city-driven smart technology solutions that address infrastructure demands stemming from increased city urbanization. By targeting environmental, public safety, transportation mobility, and social sustainability improvements, he has been able to stand up new, innovative, and sustainable Smart City solutions.