Trish Millines Dziko - Technology Access Foundation
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Trish Millines Dziko is the cofounder and Executive Director of the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), which equips students of color for success in college and life through the power of a STEM education. Prior to founding TAF, she spent 15 years working as a designer, developer and manager in the high tech industry. Trish has also served on numerous boards of organizations that focus on children and education. Trish has received dozens of local and national awards for her work educating children of color.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
My generation did the most to advance STEM—particularly in the area of technology and bioengineering—yet we seem to be doing the least to continue building a system to launch the next generation forward on to greater things. We can’t afford to lose more minds to poverty, or to lose more jobs to nations that are better prepared. Most importantly, we can’t afford to miss out on what any one of these students has to offer.
What principles do you, as a leader; apply to your professional and personal life to advance the STEM cause?
Focus on the vision—getting 20,000 students of color per year graduating high school on time and ready for STEM related majors.
Stay close to the ground—While I keep tabs on policy, I stay keenly aware of the most important, high impact changes that need to happen in order to fully support students in their academic pursuits.
Trust my team—I supply the vision and lead the organization through whatever strategies we’ve decided on, but I’m not the one with all the ideas and all the knowledge. My direct reports educate me daily and together we chart the direction of the organization.
Educate advocates—many people don’t understand STEM or how it applies to a K-12 student. This is the one part of my job that flows over to my personal life because it is important for everyone to understand how important STEM literacy is to our children’s future and what role they can play to advocate and get involved.
Continuous Improvement—no matter how good things are, there is always room for improvement.
What is your concept of mentoring and sponsorship of others for STEM careers?
I see my role as one who opens doors and supports readiness to walk through them. I often talk about this in the context of James Brown’s song “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. Just open the door I’ll get it myself”. That’s what the students I work with need—a high bar, support to get there and opportunities to use what they know so they can grow into people who have career choices.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
The opening of TAFA cademyand the formation of a new kind of school model—Partner Schools. In Washington State charter schools are not allowed, so starting innovative schools require a different approach. In 2008 TAF partnered with Federal Way Public Schools to open a 6th-12th grade neighborhood STEM school. One of our primary goals at each TAFA cademy is to enlist students as active participants in their own education. We help students cultivate a keen awareness of the critical contributions they are capable of making in a world that knows fewer and fewer limits.
TAFAcademy impacts students by:
- Implementing a project-based curriculum focused on college readiness, STEM and civic engagement;
- Giving students the skills to become leaders and innovators in STEM-related fields and in their communities;
- Giving all students the support they need to sustain a high level of academic achievement; and
- Providing them with daily opportunities to examine the issues, topics and problems they’ll face throughout their adult lives.
- Students’ experiences in and outside of class teach them how to turn knowledge and understanding into application outside of class, through disciplined inquiry, written and verbal communication, and practice in real-world STEM environments.