Discussion Event


Friday May 4th - 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Record North

Over 1 million jobs in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Math) go unfilled. This panel will look at how we can harness the power of media to unlock potential and opportunities for women and minorities, and inspire them to pursue careers in STEAM and create an inclusive playing field.


Dr. Knatokie Ford

Dr. Knatokie Ford is Founder and CEO of Fly Sci Enterprise, an education and media consulting organization focused on leveraging the power of storytelling to promote social change, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. A national advocate for STEM inclusion, Dr. Ford works with a number of leading organizations, including YouTube, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, and the Association of National Advertisers where she serves as the STEM & Entertainment Engagement Advisor for the #SeeHer initiative.

She previously served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) during the Obama Administration. In this role, Dr. Ford oversaw development and implementation of a national initiative, the “Image of STEM,” which was designed to raise visibility and improve the image of STEM fields and careers in order to help promote diversity in the STEM workforce. This effort is listed in the top 100 S&T Accomplishments of the Obama Administration. From 2012-2014, Dr. Ford served as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at OSTP with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) where she managed concurrent projects on education technology and improving the Nation’s health care system. Prior to working at OSTP, Dr. Ford was a postdoctoral research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She also spent time in Los Angeles where she had the opportunity to work in the entertainment industry and serve as a middle school teacher in an underserved community in South Central Los Angeles.

Dr. Ford currently serves on the “STEAM” Strategic Leadership Committee for the Toy Association and was a nominee in the “Shero” category of the inaugural Women’s Choice Awards in 2017. She is also featured in the 2018 “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!” book by DJ Beverly Bond. Dr. Ford completed her PhD in Experimental Pathology at Harvard University where she studied age-related macular degeneration and received a BS/MS in Chemistry/Biological Chemistry from Clark Atlanta University.

Laurie Gaskins Baise

Prof. Laurie Baise graduated with a BSE from Princeton University in 1995. She then received her PhD and MS at the University of California at Berkeley in Civil Engineering. She started at Tufts University in 2001 and was promoted to Professor in 2015 and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2017. Prof. Baise's research is in the field of geotechnical earthquake engineering and engineering seismology. Prof. Baise’s research has been funded by the U.S. Geologic Survey and the National Science Foundation. She served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Seismological Society of America from 2011-2017. Prof. Baise has been honored by numerous awards including several teaching and mentoring awards at Tufts and the Casagrande Professional Development Award in 2008 from the American Society of Civil Engineers. While at Tufts, Prof. Baise has been involved in recruiting and retaining undergraduate students in Civil and Environmental Engineering through her role as Director of the Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree.

Han Soto

Prior to working in the entertainment industry, Han was a successful businessman in the building trades industry, created and operated a website and branding business, has worked as an independent consultant in corporate Information Technology, and has decades of retail experience.

As a devoted husband and father to a beautiful 5 year old daughter, Han is a family man who essentially raised his younger siblings and guided their education and professional careers while supporting his parents, assuming the role of head of the home, as his own father was stricken with a terminal disease.

In addition to his endless family support, Han has contributed much to international relief organizations, including traveling to remote parts of India to document the plight of blind children at a school where the boys live after being rejected from their families. He is also a leader among North American students who come from Southeast Asia, and helps provide fund-raising, scholarships, direction, and support for these 1st and 2nd generation young Asian Americans.

Han is a natural leader who has the ability to inspire and encourage people to do their very best, and his entire focus in life is to help and support people to achieve excellence in their personal lives, as well as in their families and communities, both locally and abroad.

Han is an Actor and Producer whose work spans across the lines of genre. Whether on blockbuster films such as Logan & Ender’s Game or documentaries like Feint & Watts and The King, Soto brings his blend of business sense and keen eye to whatever project is at hand. Han’s ability to bring together creative talent and resources can be witnessed by the recently completed production of The Middle Of This Nowhere, an impressive two-part music video for award winning artist, Hammock. Its stunning visuals lie in harmonic balance with the atmospheric sounds of the famed recording duo. Gripping and heartfelt. Soto’s latest documentary A Tuba To Cuba, currently making its festival run, focuses on a son seeking to fulfill his late father’s dream takes his band from the storied city of New Orleans to the shores of Cuba, where — through the universal language of music — dark and ancient connections between their peoples reveal the roots of jazz.

Future projects include producing inspirational and educational film and television projects, and helping provide to others opportunities similar to those that helped him early in his career, and continuing work with non-profits by guidance, viral marketing support, being a high visibility spokesperson and networker, and personally funding permanent projects in some of the neediest areas of the planet.

Courtney McCarthy

Courtney McCarthy is the Head of Women's and Kids' Strategy for Google's Computer Science in Media team, working to showcase more women and underrepresented groups as engineers onscreen. By diversifying and changing the perception of Computer Science in Media, Google hopes to inspire more girls to become creators of technology. Additionally, Courtney just joined YouTube's VR/AR team and is managing Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality filmmakers and creators to ensure a diverse pipeline of content for the platform.

Previously, Courtney was at Fox Broadcasting Company, working in Marketing Strategy and Media Promotions. There she helped draft campaign plans and create online promotions for Fox’s primetime TV line-up, including 24, Brooklyn Nine-Nine The Simpsons, etc. Before that, she worked in Home Entertainment at Lionsgate and at NBCU’s Focus Features.

Courtney grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA with a Bachelors in Advertising and Public Relations.

Laura Phillips