Mimi Lufkin - National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity
Mimi Lufkin's career path includes being a high school teacher, a teacher educator, the director of a state professional development in gender equity program, the Director of Development for a commuunity college and the executive director of a rural women's microenterprise development agency. In 1994, Mimi became the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity's (NAPE) Chief Executive Officer where she leads a consortium of state and local agencies focused on increasing access, equity and diversity in education and workforce development. Mimi has a B.S. in animal science, a M.S. in agricultural sciences and a M.A. in educational administration.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
The STEM enterprise is the critical driver of innovation in the global economy. In addition, as our society becomes more complex, STEM literacy is necessary to make informed decisions as a citizen. The United States can no longer afford to engage only a shrinking portion of its workforce in STEM careers. In the very near future 80% of the entrants into the workforce will be women and people of color – both who are significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce. If the U.S. economy is going to recover and play as a leader in the global marketplace, we must change the culture and face of the STEM workforce today.
What traits do senior leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM today?
Women leaders in positions of influence must bring their valuable perspective and experience to the table and support the advancement of other women in STEM. Leadership is using your position of power and influence to help create a culture of inclusion for everyone in STEM such as: mentoring other women to take on leadership opportunities; removing barriers for those coming after you; standing up, speaking up and solving inequities in your sphere of influence; balancing work and family through example and by supporting family friendly workplace policies; and by being a role model for the men and women who work with you and for the young women in your community. As a senior leader in STEM we all must get involved in a project that encourages more women and girls to enter the STEM pipeline.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
In my almost eighteen years with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) I am most proud of the organization membership’s tenacity to continue to push the envelope regarding equity in education and workforce development. The men and women in this organization have been dedicated to its equity mission even during times when federal and state safeguards, policies and resources have been declining. The vision of NAPE and the NAPE Education Foundation’s leadership to embark on the creation of the STEM Equity Pipeline™ in 2007 has resulted in a suite of high quality professional development programs for school and college administrators, faculty and counselors that are resulting in significant increases in the participation and completion of women in STEM programs of study.
Who is your STEM role model and why?
My personal passion regarding a women’s full participation in family, society and career was fostered early on by my parents who instilled in me the sense that I could do or become anything that I wanted to. Although it sounds a bit trite, I did believe it and internalized it, which in many ways inoculated me against the inequities I experienced and observed as a woman growing up in a society that continues to struggle with stereotypes about gender roles. I was born into a family of women with strong wills and personalities. In particular, I distinctly remember as a young girl hearing about the adventures of my Great Aunt Janey Hart – piloting her own plane to exotic places or sailing around the World – which only reinforced my inspiration that women could do anything if they only put their mind to it. It wasn’t until later in my life that I discovered her role in advocating for gender equity in STEM as one of the Mercury 13 – the first women to be trained as astronauts who were never allowed to fly in space due to the prejudices of the time. I will never forget her asking me a few years ago at my grandmother’s, her sister’s, funeral about my work and having her look at me with the most curious expression saying “We aren’t there yet, are we?”