Chris McEntee - American Geophysical Union
Executive Director and CEO
Ms. McEntee has made her mark as an association leader and innovator, building a record of achievement in leading large organizations through changes in strategy, governance, membership, programs, and the fluid public policies that confront them. She is an American Society of Association Executives Fellow and recipient of the Women Who Advance America award. McEntee was also named to Crain’s Chicago Business “Under 40 Movers and Shakers”.
McEntee holds a master’s degree in Health Administration from The George Washington University, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Georgetown University, and is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Advanced Executive Program.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
A solid and thriving STEM community is essential to building the foundation for public wellbeing and our nation’s economic future. AGU’s mission focuses science for the benefit of humanity. With the strains placed on society by a growing population and limited resources to maintain a healthy ecosystem, we must create and sustain a steady pipeline of talented people who can rise up and conquer these challenges, both now and in the future.
What about STEM gives you passion?
Globally, we face so many difficult challenges – ensuring that families have access to a clean and adequate water supply, providing communities with efficient, effective, and sustainable sources of energy, establishing and supporting a foundation on which business can thrive. Our long term success in solving these problems hinges on the strength of our STEM workforce. STEM, at its core, is about problem solving and solutions, about making a difference in communities around the world and helping to build a better, more sustainable future. The opportunities for students considering a career in STEM, or for those who are just starting out in their career, to have a broad societal impact are practically limitless. That is an incredibly inspiring message, and we need to use all of the resources at our disposal to share it as broadly as possible.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
It’s our breadth and depth of programming that truly makes me proud. AGU offers an assortment of opportunities that expose students, teachers, and life-long learners to the freshest, most accurate scientific knowledge and the excitement of discovery. Our multi-staged approach to educational outreach includes activities that make Earth and space science fun and interesting for a variety of audiences and age ranges. It also includes research competitions for high school students, networking and mentoring opportunities for undergraduate/graduate students and early career scientists, along with programming to strengthen the skills of instructors at all education levels. And, with all of these initiatives, we strive to reach a broad array of groups to ensure that the Earth and space science talent pool reflects our nation’s diverse population.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
AGU is undertaking a new innovative effort to support two-year colleges. Two-year colleges play a vitally important role in the higher education system in the U.S.—including attracting a large population of students from underrepresented groups—but when it comes to STEM, many students from these institutions do not finish their degrees or succeed in transferring to and completing programs at four-year colleges. Fixing this ‘leak’ in the STEM pipeline is at the heart of a new effort we are putting together: Unique Research Experiences for two-year College faculty And Students (URECAS). Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, URECAS is intended to support and foster the educational careers of two-year college students, and ultimately create pathways for them to enter the workforce. URECAS planning will bring together two-year college Earth and space science faculty who are conducting research with their students and faculty from four-year programs who have successfully transitioned two-year college students. This allows us to increase awareness of existing Earth and space science research programs, helps us to identify relevant barriers to participation for both students and faculty, and begin to foster best practices for creating a career pipeline from early interest in a science career through doctorate level study.