Denise M. Lewis
Name: Denise M. Lewis
Place of Employment: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) - Contractor
Job Title: Regional Director, District of Columbia
Education: BS, Economics, University of Maryland
MS in Education (Curriculum,Instruction and Technology), Nova Southeastern University Fischler Schoolof Education and Human Services
Denise is a dedicated educator, consultant and community volunteer. Originally from Baltimore, MD, she has extensive work experience in Corporate America, the Federal Government, non-profit organizations and public and private educational institutions. She served as an agent of change in the classroom by facilitating programs that increased teacher productivity and improved student outcomes by utilizing technology in instruction. She has acted as a professional resource, sharing best practices throughout the nation. Denise has served in the capacity of Regional Director for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in the District of Columbia since 2008. She has lead Mount Airy in Action Robotics in Washington, DC for the past six years, and is a veteran FIRST Coach and Mentor (Junior FIRST LEGO® League, FIRST LEGO® League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition). In addition, she serves as Principal and Advisor of the Mount Airy Baptist Church #3272 National Society of Black Engineers Jr. Chapter and is active with the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital and several professional organizations.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered during your career in STEM?
Some don't realize that FIRST is not about robots. FIRST is a mentoring program. The highest honors are awarded to teams that consistently demonstrate the greatest commitment to spreading excitement and passion about science and technology into their communities and schools. It's all about gracious professionalism and coopertition.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about having a career in STEM?
Here in the District of Columbia, it is pure joy to witness the continued growth of robotics teams in the inner city and to have an impact on female and minority participation in STEM fields. This growth is the result of partnerships and collaboration in the community, involving schools, government agencies, businesses and colleges/universities and non-profit organizations.
If you could give one piece of advice to a girl who is considering doing a Silver or Gold Award based on STEM or pursuing a career in STEM, what would that be?
Connect with a mentor! Utilize every opportunity to meet women who are already studying or working as professionals in the STEM field that you are considering.
Did you have STEM mentors?
Yes, I would not be where I am today without the support of other women who have walked in my footsteps, and provided advice, encouragement and guidance along the way.
If you were a Girl Scout, what is your favorite Girl Scout memory?
I have wonderful memories of the friendships and spending time with my daughters. We worked with our teen girls to create handmade Valentines one year. We tucked them into boxes of Girl Scout cookies that were donated from our booth sales, and shipped them off to a friend who was stationed in Iraq. Months later, we received touching thank you notes from the soldiers.
If you were a Girl Scout, did Girl Scouting have an impact on your decision to pursue a career in STEM?
As a Girl Scout leader, I have witnessed the impact of Girl Scouting on the confidence level of our young ladies. Our girls are now in college studying demanding STEM fields such as Biology, Neurobiology and Physiology and Biomedical Engineering.