Design Connect Create Names New Leaders, Plans Expanded Programming to Help Girls ‘Engineer Their Futures in STEM’

The STEM-focused nonprofit wants to help girls become the innovators of the future.

A Dallas nonprofit is looking to help girls become the innovators of the future with an expanded lineup of programs and new leaders at the helm.

Design Connect Create, an organization aimed at helping girls become future leaders in STEM, announced plans to expand its programming, while naming Denise Strickland as its new executive director.

“We believe in the potential of all girls to empower and engineer their futures in STEM and beyond,” Strickland said in a statement.

Strickland joined Design Connect Create in 2019 as its director of programs. In addition to roles at a number of public-school systems and universities, Strickland previously serves at the director of programs outreach for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.

She takes over from previous Executive Director Wanda Gass, who is staying on with the organization as a development manager and helping with the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. In addition to her previous role as the executive director of High Tech High Heels in Dallas, Gass’ career includes being the engineer who developed the first commercially viable digital signal processor during her more than 30 years with Texas Instruments.

Joining Design Connect Create as its new director of operations is Danielle Moore, a former science teacher at Dallas ISD and physics curriculum specialist at Fort Worth ISD.

The leadership moves come as Design Connect Create is expanding its programming. The organization said its planning to develop a biotech summer camp for middle school and high school girls, adding to the coding-focused summer camp it launched last year. In 2021, Design Connect Create also created a mentoring program that pairs girls with established female STEM leaders.

According to Design Connect Create, more than 1,300 girls have gone through its programming since it was formed in 2015.

“By providing opportunities for girls to explore and investigate possibilities in STEM, especially for those who may not have the chance to do so otherwise, we are able to help them persevere and solve problems; connect ideas to real-world applications, people and possibilities; and become the STEM leaders of tomorrow,” Strickland said.

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