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Students make some noise with the 35th annual The Tech Challenge

Will build COVID-19 recovery plan, lead ambitious strategy to reach 100 million people by 2039

Oct. 6, 2020, San Jose, CA — Katrina Stevens, who oversees a $200 million portfolio of grants as director of learning science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, has been chosen as the fourth president and CEO of The Tech, the organization announced today. Stevens, who has 25 years’ experience across the education ecosystem, will guide the strategy for reopening The Tech Interactive in downtown San Jose and for implementing the organization’s 20-year vision to develop problem-solvers locally, nationally and globally. 

“Our search committee had an impressive pool of candidates from all over the world,” said Christopher DiGiorgio, The Tech’s board chair and interim CEO. “Katrina stood out for her understanding of The Tech as the Silicon Valley treasure that it is, coupled with her deep knowledge of the larger education ecosystem. As a results-oriented, empathetic leader, Katrina is the ideal person to lead our efforts to deepen our local impact and bring our programs to the world.”

Stevens will be the first female leader of The Tech, which was founded in the early 1980s; The Tech Museum of Innovation opened in 1998 and was renamed The Tech Interactive in 2019. She replaces Tim Ritchie, who became president of the Museum of Science, Boston, earlier this year.

“The spark that ignites a young person’s passion often happens in informal learning spaces like The Tech Interactive,” Stevens said. “I’ve always cared deeply about bringing that joy into more structured education.” 

Stevens’ career in education has been focused on two key areas: equity and outcomes. She believes The Tech can help diversify the STEM workforce and ensure people from all backgrounds are able to play a role in the development of technology.

At the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, some of the 67 project grants Stevens oversaw included: 

  • The development of infrastructure enabling PBS Kids to better measure the impact of its educational programming.
  • Support for the EF+Math program that uses an inclusive R&D approach to co-designing practical solutions that prioritize the voices and lived experiences of the teachers and students the program aims to serve. 
  • The creation of 100 open-source physical science assessments aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.

Before joining Chan Zuckerberg, Stevens was deputy director and senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology in the Obama administration. There, among other projects, she led the Future Ready Schools movement to help district leaders implement best practices in digital learning, part of the ConnectED initiative to connect schools, teachers and students to high-speed internet. 

Previously, Stevens co-founded an educational technology company; served as a strategy consultant to educational nonprofits; worked as an ed-tech journalist and co-founded the #EdTechChat on Twitter; and was a classroom teacher, department chair, program director and interdisciplinary curriculum leader. She is writing a book on the barriers to motivation, and how educators can help students overcome them, to be published in Spring 2021. 

When The Tech Interactive closed its doors in March due to the pandemic, its staff pivoted quickly to provide resources to educators and students learning from home, reaching millions of people through its Tech Interactive at Home website for educators and families; new virtual formats for The Tech Challenge engineering design competition and Tech Academies professional development program for educators; a partnership with Discovery Education; community outreach; virtual events; and social media. 

“One of The Tech’s most relevant attributes right now is offering high-quality resources to learn about science and engineering in a meaningful way at home,” said Stevens, who will be the first educator to lead the organization. “Teachers are in need of not just lesson plans, but a way of teaching they can trust to meet standards and inspire their students in a socially distant world. I’m looking forward to helping bring these resources to more corners of education.”

Stevens lives in San Carlos with her partner, Chip, and their COVID rescue dog, Clover.

She will join The Tech In November.  

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Katrina Stevens will start her new role as the president and CEO of The Tech in November.

A family creates an inflatable creature, one of the many activities offered at The Tech Interactive at Home and The Tech Interactive en Casa. The Tech continues to serve its community with high quality STEM resources including activities and lesson plans that can be done with simple materials at home.

About The Tech Interactive

The Tech Interactive is a family-friendly science and technology center in the heart of downtown San Jose. Our hands-on activities, experimental labs and design challenge experiences empower people to innovate with creativity, curiosity and compassion. The Tech is a world leader in the creation of immersive STEAM education resources to develop the next generation of problem-solvers locally, nationally and globally. We believe that everyone is born an innovator who can change the world for the better.

Inspiring the innovator in everyone.