Girl Scouts launch STEM Workforce Development Initiative

Organizations contribute to providing girls pathways to STEM Fields


COLUMBUS — Central Ohio business leaders and public officials joined Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland (GSOH) this week to launch the public phase of the “Dream Big” campaign for a new STEM Leadership Center & Maker Space that will create solutions to fuel the workforce pipeline.

“For the past four years, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland has been Dreaming Big for girls’ futures through a project called the Dream Big Transformational Initiative, said Tammy Wharton, president & chief executive officer, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council.

“Through this project, Camp Ken-Jockety will become a STEM and In-Demand Jobs immersive campus. With access to cutting-edge programs, a safe place to learn new skills, and mentors encouraging them along the way, girls will have hands-on programs designed specifically for them, providing girls the skills and confidence needed to be our leaders of tomorrow.”

The Dream Big project includes:

A new STEM Leadership Center with community space, science and technology labs.

A Maker Space to learn trade skills like welding, mechanics and carpentry.

A new greenhouse for gardening programs including hydroponics.

Renovations to the Environmental Center to include the addition of a commercial kitchen for farm-to-table programming.

Outdoor learning spaces including a low ropes course.

Renovations to existing buildings.

In addition to Girl Scouts, the new facilities will be utilized by schools, other non-profits, and community partners. The immersive campus is designed to be a true community resource for youth and community stakeholders with its proximity to downtown Columbus.

Dream Big is the local commitment supporting the Girl Scouts of the USA’s bold goal of putting 2.5 million girls in the STEM pipeline by 2025. Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce yet are drastically underrepresented in many fields including STEM, in-demand jobs, and leadership roles. For example:

  • Just 18 percent of STEM leadership roles are held by women.
  • Women represent 15 percent of engineers and architects.
  • Only 12 percent of computer science degrees are earned by women.

GSOH is currently working with community partners to make the $16 million Dream Big project a reality. More than 59 percent ($9,455,000) of the goal has been raised to date. Battelle is the lead funder of Dream Big with a transformational investment of $3 million. GSOH has secured funding from local companies, including gifts from American Electric Power Foundation and Nationwide Foundation. The project has received the support of The Columbus Partnership.

Wharton expects to start renovations late 2022 and break ground on the new STEM Leadership Center in Spring of 2023. GSOH estimates the facility will open in the Fall of 2024. BBCO has been selected as the project architect.

Dream Big Honorary Co-Chairs include Lou Von Thaer, president and CEO, Battelle; Yvette McGee Brown, partner, Jones Day; and Lori Gillett, CEO, Corna Kokosing.

In addition, Honorary Champions, include Mary Auch, regional president, PNC Bank, Columbus; Marilyn Brown, former Franklin County commissioner; Erica C. Crawley, Franklin County commissioner; Rhoe Fields, AVP, community relations at Bath & Body Works Foundation; Alex Fischer, former president and CEO, Columbus Partnership; Wes Hall, vice president of philanthropy and education, Battelle; Lisa Hinson, president and founder, Hinson Ltd Public Relations; Michele Holcomb, executive vice president, chief strategy, and business development officer, Cardinal Health; Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, president, The Ohio State University; Darla King, president, King Business Interiors, Inc.; Gale King, former executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Nationwide Insurance; Cameron Mitchell, founder and CEO, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (CMR), LLC; Karen Morrison, president, OhioHealth Foundation and senior vice president, OhioHealth Corporation; Natasha Pongonis, CEO, O.Y.E. Business Intelligence; Julie Sloat, executive vice president and chief financial officer, American Electric Power; Barb Smoot; president and CEO Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD); Dr. Kathy Sullivan, former astronaut and administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Dr. Ann Teske, healthcare educator administrator and Katherine Zehnder, vice president, HNTB. Campaign Cabinet Co-Chairs are Shakila Ali, co-founder and co-president, Glen and Shakila Ahrens Family Foundation; Amy Franko, founder and CEO, Amy Franko Associates; and Julie Holbein, vice president, talent development, Big Lots.

“Dream Big is all about investing in the future of girls who will become tomorrow’s leaders,” said Von Thaer. “The program will provide experiences that develop skills and build confidence of girls from across central Ohio so that they can fully embrace new opportunities and build a better world.”

Video clips from today’s event, along with photos, will be updated throughout the day.

Organizations contribute to providing girls pathways to STEM Fields