Innovation Days 2021 content is still available! Register to view it.

NextFlex Events

Bringing The FHE Community Together

The Future of the Workforce: Meet the Change-makers

NextFlex Roundtable: Mission College and STEM Learning & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion




About this Event

FF Judges

NextFlex staff and special guests provide encouragement to students during a virtual FlexFactor Final Pitch earlier this year.

Join us for a virtual roundtable where we will discuss the complex relationship between technology, STEM sector education and employment, socioeconomic opportunity, and diversity/equity and inclusion. The discussion will feature representatives from government, government agencies, industry, education, and the nonprofit sectors who will lead us through a conversation on why each of the areas is important and how they interact to hinder or promote progress.


Sep 29, 2021 10:30 AM Pacific Time

  1. Welcome and Introduction: Emily McGrath, NextFlex
  2. Remarks by The Honorable Alex Lee, California State Assembly
  3. Technology Needs Perspective: Karen Bradford, NASA Ames Research Center
  4. Industry Perspective: Dr. Sarah Mastroianni, Dupont
  5. Perspectives on STEM Learning and DEI: Dean Jeff Pallin, Mission College
  6. NextFlex Perspective: Courtney Power, NextFlex
  7. Discussion of STEM, DEI, and the Future Workforce: All, moderated by Emily McGrath
Register Back to Events

Stay up to date with the latest from NextFlex

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Emily has a diverse background that includes experience across government, industry, and education. Prior to working at NextFlex, Emily served as the Executive Director of a workforce development non-profit for Veterans focused on helping Transitioning Service Members translate specialized training in military technologies to skills needed by the private sector. Emily also worked as a GIS Analyst for the Department of Energy; managed policy campaigns for the Environmental Defense Fund; co-founded and launched an ecotourism-based start up with a small community of Civil War Veterans in El Salvador; and created education and training courses for rural communities in the Brazilian Amazon. Emily serves as Director of the Board for a Bay-Area skincare company called Samudra Skin & Sea and is a youth group mentor for a local high school. She attended Colgate University and Portland State University, where she holds degrees in Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Alex Lee (李天明) was elected in November 2020 to represent California’s 25th Assembly District, which includes the Alameda County communities of Fremont and Newark, and the Santa Clara Communities of Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara. He uses his voice to advocate for South Bay Area residents in Sacramento as the youngest state legislator.

Alex has called the South Bay home for this entire life. He is a graduate of Milpitas High School and UC Davis, where he serves as Student Body President. Previously he has worked for California State Senator Henry Stern in Sacramento and Assemblymember Evan Low.

Ms. Karen Bradford currently serves as the Director of the Partnership Office at NASA Ames Research Center and has served as a civil servant for 30 plus years. Prior assignments at NASA Ames include Center Chief of Staff for over 11 years, Resource/Management Analyst for the Center Director’s Office within the CFO office, Associate Director for the Astrobiology Strategic Analysis and Support Office (ASASO) with duties that included serving as the Lead Project Manager for the Astrobiology Science Conference 2006, and Executive Assistant to Dr. Baruch Blumberg, Nobel Laureate and Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) where she helped plan, implement, and served as project lead for the first NAI Minority Institution Faculty Sabbatical.


Dr. Sarah Mastroianni is the analytical lab manager and innovation portfolio champion in DuPont’s Adhesive group in Metro Detroit. She supports research & development, manufacturing, and automotive customers as part of DuPont’s Mobility & Materials division. Sarah earned her BS in Chemical Engineering, with minors in Environmental Engineering and Music, from Lehigh University and her PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware. Throughout her academic and professional career, she has been a passionate STEM advocate and ambassador, leading and supporting numerous K-12 outreach programs through various organizations, including the Society of Women Engineers. She has also led and supported various recruiting efforts and is currently co-chairing DuPont GOLD (Growth Opportunities Leading in Diversity), a recruiting program that also seeks to support and expand the pipeline for doctoral scientists from underrepresented minority groups through mentoring and professional development.

Jeff Pallin is a graduate of Boston University and the University of Wisconsin in the field of mathematical logic and recursion theory. He left academia to pursue his passion for music, and this led to a management career in the Audio-Visual Industry. During this time, he returned to Boston University to earn his MBA and then relocated to the Bay Area to manage the Western Hemisphere operations of a Japanese electronics firm, sitting on the Board of Directors for Strategic Planning in Japan. After nearly 20 years, he started a small consulting practice and began teaching graduate courses in management at several Bay Area Universities. His consulting and teaching led to research on the effect of Social Media and Paid Search in brand and product promotion in the digital world. His move into education administration followed, first at UC Berkeley as Chair of Business and Management at Extension, and then at the San José-Evergreen Community College District as Dean of Workforce and Economic Development. He is passionate about the role of industry engagement in education. Now at Mission College as an academic dean, heading the Business, Technology, and Kinesiology Division, Pallin is committed to helping students succeed and move to the next step in their lives. In the next 10 years, community colleges in California will change in significant ways. Traditional funding for the colleges, based on enrollment and head count, is giving way to a new paradigm - student success. And Pallin asks these questions everyday: How do we promote social justice, diversity, inclusion, and equity? How do we function as engines of economic development? “We live in interesting times” is often cited to refer to a current challenging situation, and it sure makes sense to use it now when we think about the world in 2021. Dean Pallin offers it now to characterize how we can all work together to help the members of our community thrive.

Courtney Power is the Portfolio Manager for NextFlex's suite of learning programs. In that role, she is responsible for the strategic implementation and expansion of FlexFactor, Flex2Future and FlexMil. Courtney graduated with her Bachelors in Biochemistry from the United States Air Force Academy and subsequently earned her Masters in Chemistry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. After serving the Air Force on Active Duty, Courtney transitioned to working in education, encouraging underserved students to consider STEM careers and pathways. She is passionate about providing equitable opportunities to all students, especially those who are military-connected.