Meet STEM4Real

Meet the team committed to teaching STEM and Social Justice #4Real


As educators, we take pride in guiding students to be ready for the future. How can we do that if STEM is currently not a priority? In our elementary schools, there is a hyperfocus on Math and English proficiency and while these subjects are extremely important, many of our students of color (especially in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods) are not getting science education until 5th or 6th grade.

Furthermore: the National Science Foundation reported in August, 2019 that STEM professionals represented 23% of the total U.S. workforce. Of that 23%, Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos and Native Americans, only represented 23%.

What can we as educators do to fix this broken pipeline? 

What makes us different?

We combined standards-based instruction with equity and social justice for ALL students. STEM4Real is committed to providing socially just and culturally relevant STEM teaching and standards-based learning strategies through collaboration professional learning, culturally responsive instructional materials and diverse children’s literature. We focus on shifting teacher pedagogy by grounding our work with a social justice lens that makes equity paramount in our vision.

We believe that each and every single child, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion or creed should be able to see themselves in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Mathematics. It is through our diversity that we can embark on multiple perspectives in order to progress our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.


When I was an administrator, I had the opportunity to plan multiple NGSS professional learning events. I also attended many equity and social justice workshops. And then it hit me.

Why don’t these conversations happen in the same room? 

I took a quick look around at the current science curriculum and I did not see any people of color represented. I decided to write a children’s book, “There’s Something in the Water". The students loved it and then I realized that our mission is much bigger than this children’s book. 

We need to work with our educators to create a movement committed to anti-racism and social justice in STEM & the Next Generation Science Standards in order to make STEM #4Real!

Will you join our movement?


Meet the Team

Dr. Leena Bakshi - Stem4Real

Dr. Leena Bakshi

Founder & Executive Director

Personality type: Extrovert and Promoter

Favorite STEM people: Tyrone Hayes and Neil deGrasse Tyson
Favorite animal: Panda

Dr. Leena Bakshi studied Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley and went on to receive her teaching credential from Claremont Graduate University. The program was so influential that she returned as a professor of pre-service teacher candidates teaching STEM Methods and Universal Design for Learning. Leena was a former math and science teacher, instructional coach, and county office administrator. She currently lives in Honolulu, HI with her husband and feisty toddler girl.

Marie Gorman - Stem4Real

Marie Gorman

Director of Operations

Personality type: Introvert and Analyst

Favorite STEM people: Rosalind Franklin and Janice Lao
Favorite animal: Dolphins

Marie studied Environmental Science at the University of California, Berkeley. She then pursued a short stint as a Naval Officer for 8 years, which led her to a tour at the Naval Academy where she discovered her passion for helping students with hands-on science. She received her teaching credentials from the University of Guam and taught in Guam and Hawaii. She currently lives with her husband and two energetic and curious boys in the DMV area.

Brenda Tisdale Johnson - Stem4Real

Brenda Tisdale Johnson

Director of Partnerships

Personality type: Relator and Individualization

Favorite STEM person: Dr. Leena Bakshi McLean

Favorite animal: Giraffe

Brenda Johnson has over 30 years of experience in the nonprofit education sector. She designed and supported programs such as the Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) and trained educators on cultural competency. Her ability to develop and manage systems is paramount in our work. She seeks to foster and maintain partnerships that establish roots and build community. Her coordination and dedication to STEM education makes her the ideal person in leading our lasting partnerships!

Emily Stanley - Stem4Real

Emily Stanley

Community Relations Manager

Personality type: MBTI- INFJ, Human Design- Reflector
Favorite STEM people:
Ms. Frizzle and Mae Jemison
Favorite animal: 
Adopted pit bull named Koda who thinks she is a lap dog

Emily Stanley studied Anthropology at Davidson College before obtaining a Masters in Teaching at Queens University. She was a certified teacher in North Carolina with specialties in Elementary Education and Middle School Science, and managed the Better Together Science program for pre-K through 8th grade. She has been working in corporate training and operations for the past ten years and also runs a girls' empowerment program called BOLD. She lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and newborn son.

Nina Ladra - Stem4Real

Nina Ladra

Social Media Strategist

Personality type: Logistician
Favorite STEM person:
 Mark Zuckerberg

Favorite animal: Dog

Nina Ladra studied Mass Communications at Lourdes College Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. She has been an expert in social media graphic design and has worked with companies around the world to transform their systems and social media profiles for more than 8 years.

Charmaine Eunice Rabano - Stem4Real

Charmaine Eunice Rabano

IT Specialist

Personality type: Introvert and Analyst
Favorite STEM person:
 Ada Lovelace

Favorite animal: Butterflies

Charmaine Eunice is a web designer and virtual assistant helping online entrepreneurs and coaches. She is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science and is an aspiring Software Developer. She is multi-passionate. She loves tech and designing, as well as helping other entrepreneurs succeed in their ventures.

The Advisory Board

Dr. Lucia Perales Soto - Stem4Real


Dr. Lucia Perales Soto

Dr. Tyrone Hayes - Stem4Real


Dr. Tyrone Hayes

Dr. Crystal Bray - Stem4Real

Tech Innovation Leader

Dr. Crystal Bray

STEM4Real is a professional learning nonprofit organization committed to equity, anti-racism and social justice in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. We help schools and districts create culturally responsive STEM and NGSS professional learning using Lesson Study, Observation, Collaboration, and Leadership.

Watch the video to find out how STEM4Real went from a children's book, to a movement.