Kate Polokonis, 
Interim Executive Director

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Kate is a former teacher with experience in St. Louis public schools and out-of-school STEM programs. Her experiences in the classroom led her to return to graduate school to study social and economic development and social policy as a way to foster change in the systems surrounding education and child wellbeing.

Kate received her MSW from The Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. During her graduate career, Kate focused on workforce development. She project managed the launch of Starkloff Disability Institute’s DREAM BIG program, a career-exploration camp for teens with disabilities, from pilot program to full implementation. At Ready by 21, she supported the Regional Youth Employment Coalition and led the research on regional short-term credentialing programs that formed the basis for the online portal Blueprint4Careers. 

Kate has led community-organizing efforts to end the school-to-prison pipeline and implement anti-racist and restorative disciplinary policies in districts throughout the St. Louis area. Kate was a Tomorrow Builder Fellow at WEPOWER where she focused on improving governance and coordination in St. Louis’s early-childhood system. Kate is a life-long St. Louis resident and passionate about promoting racial and economic equity in her hometown.

Samantha Minor,
Community Coordinator

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Samantha is a St. Louis native.  She is a product of the Saint Louis public school system and a graduate of Saint Louis University.  Samantha holds a Bachelors of Arts in Interpersonal Communication with a minor in Special Education.

She has always found an interest in all things science. Samantha has a very hands-on approach to learning science and teaching it. “If the concept can be brought to life in the mind, then it will stick with you forever.”

She is also very passionate about early childhood education.  She truly enjoys cultivating an environment that allows young minds to grow and explore. With this passion, Samantha was lead to be an Early Childhood Specialist, serving in the 24:1 footprint. In this role, she trained childcare providers on developmentally appropriate practices within the classroom and assisted providers in receiving their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.

Samantha comes to us from Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, where she served as a Community Troop Manager.  In that role, she formed relationships with staff members of many public schools within the St. Louis Region. She used those relationships to provide direct- service programming on topics such as character building, financial literacy, and STEM. Samantha enjoyed taking the topic of the month and bringing it to life for the that girls she served. 

In her new role, as Community Coordinator, she plans to continue bringing life to STEM concepts, sharing resources with schools and community partners to enhance the knowledge of today’s youth and improve diversity in the world of STEM.

Haley Wilson,
AmeriCorps VISTA

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Haley serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA supporting STEMSTL. Her role is to support the overall operations of the STEM Ecosystem by establishing and facilitating a management system for Salesforce, the ecosystem workgroups, and the ecosystem’s communications strategy.

Haley has a diverse background of experiences. Prior to STEMSTL, Haley worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Psychology at Missouri State University. During her time at MSU, she was involved with the Brain and Behavior Lab working on investigating the relationship between dispositional Mindfulness and Sensory Gating, measured via EEG. In addition, she also worked on projects to assess Kindergarten Readiness in Springfield Public Schools, and the prevalence of outlier reporting in psychological journals between 2012 and 2017. Haley graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Chemistry, Biomedical Science, and Music from Missouri State University in 2018 and is currently working toward finishing her master’s thesis in Experimental Psychology.

She is passionate about STEM and STEM education and is always looking for opportunities to help others.  When not working for STEMSTL, Haley loves to sing in choir, crochet, and take care of her two cats.  

Sarah Kolberg-Shuler, 
AmeriCorps VISTA

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Sarah serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA supporting STEMSTL. Sarah’s role is in managing the ecosystem’s communications and storytelling strategy, including STEMSTL’s social media content, website, and newsletter. 

Sarah completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology at George Washington University. During her undergraduate experience in Washington, DC, she gained a wide variety of experience. At GW, she worked as an undergraduate Research Assistant in the Sustainability Department researching oyster population decline in the Chesapeake Bay. Outside of school, Sarah interned at Earth Day Network, where she worked on a variety of projects that involved anything from writing and editing content to facilitating outreach and communication with government officials. After Earth Day Network, Sarah spent her summer with August Jackson where she gained digital marketing experience and contributed to AJ’s social platforms. 

Sarah is a born and raised St. Louisan and is passionate about creating a more equitable St. Louis. As someone who chose a STEM education path, Sarah is dedicated to STEMSTL’s mission and hopes other St. Louis kids from any and all backgrounds have the opportunity and support to get involved in STEM as well.

Learn more about STEMSTL.

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