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

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.

Contact Leena here: 657-234-7325

Dr. Jennifer Munoz

Senior Director of Programs

Personality type: Supporter
Favorite STEM person:
 Jane Goodall

Favorite animal: Whale Shark

Jennifer is a persistent, visionary and dedicated science education professional who shines with brilliance and practices humility as she works alongside teachers to provide access to science learning experiences. Jennifer navigated teaching in public schools for 15 years, bringing her joy and compassion to students through the productive struggle of achievement in Science classrooms grades K-12. Ultimately, she realized that her impact on science education required leaving the classroom to support educators in the difficult (and oftentimes overwhelming) development of science lessons rooted in an awareness of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. This journey led her to STEM4Real where she is excited to support teachers in this endeavor to build capacity in culturally relevant education pedagogies and dismantle bias in schools.

Contact Jennifer here: 949-424-7325

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

Operations Specialist

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 worked in corporate training and operations for ten years and also runs a nonprofit girls' empowerment program called GEMS (Gaining Emotional Mastery Skills). She lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband and son.

Nina Ladra - Stem4Real

Nina Ladra

Social Media and Graphic Design 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

IT Specialist

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

Favorite animal: Butterflies

Charmaine Eunice is a web designer & developer and a virtual assistant helping online entrepreneurs and coaches. She studied Computer Science but is a multi-passionate. She loves tech and designing, as well as helping other entrepreneurs succeed in their ventures.

Lance Lim

Communications and Media Specialist

Personality type: ISTP
Favorite STEM person:
 Leena Bakshi

Favorite animal: Dog

Lance studied Marketing Management at the University of Santo Tomas. He has been an expert in social media designing and general admin tasks. He is fond of exploring new tools that could help him improve his skills more.

The Instructional Support Team

Sonnie Dae

Personality type: INFP- Mediator * Supporter
Favorite STEM people:
 Dr. Albert Einstein & Dr. George Washington Carver

Favorite animal: Giant tortoise

A dedicated educator with close to 20 years of experience in a large urban school district, Sonnie is knowledgeable in research-based best practices for fostering equitable, culturally responsive classroom environments that support all students’ academic and social-emotional learning. She is passionate about building building teacher and leadership capacity in content and pedagogy through coaching support and professional development. A native of Louisiana, Sonnie embeds culture and history to foster a sense of belonging and relationships with students, educators and community leaders.

Rosanna Ayers

Personality type: Analyst and Introvert
Favorite STEM person:
 Billy Almon

Favorite animal: Felines

Rosanna is drawn to the power and promise of science education and believes that if we can center equity within the work, we'll realize science education's full potential. On her journey to providing equitable science experiences, Rosanna has served as the Director of Youth Education at the Biomimicry Institute as well as a county science coordinator. As a science coordinator, Rosanna supported the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards in 20 school districts and served as a regional lead for science education in six counties. She has 20 years of experience as a classroom educator, a college instructor, a director of educational programs and a county office administrator for science. Rosanna holds a teaching credential along with a supplemental authorization for Business in secondary education. Rosanna has a bachelor’s in International Business, a Masters in Educational Leadership and School Development, a Biomimicry Practitioner Certificate and an Administrative Credential for K-12 education.

Alexandra Ramos

Personality type: Controller
Favorite STEM people:
 Dr. Leena Bakshi and Marie Gorman

Favorite animal: Cats and Fairies

Alexandra have taught high school life science for 13 years in Los Angeles, in the Koreatown and Boyle Heights communities. Her schooling comes from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she earned her Bachelor's (Chicanx Studies and Sociology with an Education Minor) and Master's (Science Education and Leadership Education) degrees. Additionally, she recently earned her National Board Certification. Back then, Alexandra wanted to be an astronaut or a scientist, but she quickly realized in college that her passion was working with the youth of my community that looked and went through similar experiences. Her path toward teaching STEM came from a need in her community to experience and reclaim science in a way that validates and empowers BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.

Anna Newman

Personality type: Supporter
Favorite STEM person:
 Jane Goodall

Favorite animal: Horses and dogs

Anna have been an educator her whole life and continues to work in the field. She works to bring the love of science and the wonders of the world to all.

Tashanda Giles-Jones

Personality type: Open communicator
Favorite STEM people:
 My friend Alexandra Gutierrez

Favorite animal: I think it's easier for me to highlight what animal I DON'T like...slugs.

As an environmental educator who strives to cultivate networks of like-minded individuals, organizations and activists, Tashanda is always eager to support the learning and growth of others who are striving towards student growth, especially those teaching students in frontline communities. The skills that she posses to support innovative, place based, experiential and action focused, environmental education that is grounded in science, including the perspectives and actions that lead to environmental and human impact, are ones she have shaped over the past 15 years. 

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

Jennifer Boicic, MBA

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader in Tech

Jennifer Boicic, MBA

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.

View our 2023 Annual Report here