Meet our Team


Sandy Marshall, Founder/CEO

Sandy Marshall is the founder, CEO, and visionary of Project Scientist. She’s passionate about igniting girls’ confidence that a STEM career is obtainable for any girl. Sandy began Project Scientist in 2011 with six girls in her backyard, including her then 4-year-old daughter, Ellie. Marshall was founder and executive director of The NASCAR Foundation and not looking to launch a new non-profit. However, after not being able to find an adequate science program for Ellie, Sandy started her own. Sandy and Project Scientist were honored to receive an Acumen Civic Accelerator grant. The Accelerator invests in and supports social ventures that solve pressing social and environmental issues by engaging people. A national speaker and advocate for diversity in STEM, Sandy Marshall is a trusted advisor for companies, universities, foundations, and parents on how these groups can support diversity in STEM for everyone's benefit. Sandy's favorite woman in STEM is botanist, Ynes Mexia because she proves that you're never too old to dive into STEM.

Christy Anderson, Chief Operations Officer

Christy Anderson brings more than 20 years of communication and operations experience in for-profit and non-profit enterprises to Project Scientist. As a product of girls programs, including athletics and afterschool, she is passionate about providing encouragement, support, and practical skills to girls to help them achieve their goals. Christy holds a Communication degree from Chapman University. Her favorite woman in STEM is Amelia Earhart because of her undeterred passion for aviation. She pushed against early barriers and paved the way for other women in commercial flight as well as shifted the public's perception of commercial aviation. She is also attributed to Christy’s favorite quote “Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.” 

Alicia Thunell, Operations Specialist

Alicia Thunell joined Project Scientist in 2019 as the St. Paul Market Coordinator and then transitioned to a full-time role in 2020 leading Project Scientist Program and Operations. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Business Administration with Technology Management. She understands the challenges girls face in STEM and believes Project Scientist is an amazing opportunity to inspire girls to succeed. As a mother of two girls, she has participated and led programs for youth academics and wellness programs to ensure all girls have the confidence to transform their goals into realities. Before coming to Project Scientist, Alicia worked in Healthcare Operations and Information Technology. She brings over 20 years of program and operational leadership that will contribute to the management and development of Project Scientist programs and opportunities for girls in STEM. Alicia's favorite woman in STEM is WWI Cryptanalyst Joan Clarke.

Noeleen Acosta, Director of Programs

Noeleen Acosta holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Emerson College. She spent a number of years working behind the scenes at Universal Studios and Warner Bros. overseeing various aspects of operations. After the birth of her first child, Noeleen became passionate about creating a world where all children can thrive, and has become a devoted advocate for students. She comes to Project Scientist from Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, where she served as a Product Program Manager for the largest Girl Lead business venture in the world, and carries her passion for the empowerment of girls and young women to her role here as Director of Programs. At the end of the workday, Noeleen might be found curled up with a good book, playing board games with her kids, or pushing furniture aside to make room for a little East Coast Swing dancing with her husband. She believes that small moments and persistence create lasting effects and can in fact change the world. That is why, Kati Kariko, whose groundbreaking work led to the development of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, is her favorite woman in STEM.

Kierstin Barry, Chief of Staff

Kierstin Barry holds a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience with a minor in Education Studies from U.C. San Diego. Kierstin joined the staff of Project Scientist because she’s seen firsthand how life-changing STEM role models can be to young women. For the past several summers, she has assisted Project Scientist camp staff in creating an enriching and exciting STEM environment. She is also a current teacher for Project Scientist's STEM Club. In addition to her role in STEM Club, Kierstin assists in program and special project development. In her free time, she enjoys walking, petting dogs, and reading historical fiction novels. Kierstin's favorite woman in STEM is animal physiologist and NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir.

Rebecca Sims, Program Manager

Rebecca is a STEM Girl, who received degrees in Natural Resource Conservation, Soil Science, and Plant Biology. Throughout college and graduate school, Rebecca coupled her coursework with outreach opportunities where she gained an expanded understanding on the issues that prevail in STEM education across all self-identifiers, particularly those related to gender.Rebecca is passionate about giving a young and diverse community an opportunity to explore their STEM curiosities and view a different future for themselves as she once had the opportunity to do. Rebecca is delighted at the opportunity to be a part of the amazing Project Scientist team where through advocacy, mentorship and education we can create a community where all children thrive! Rebecca's favorite woman in STEM is entomologist Dr. May Barenbaum.

Candy Alvarado, Program Manager

Candy Alvarado has served on the Project Scientist team as a teacher, Site Director, and currently a Program Coordinator. Candy holds a BA in Liberal Studies with a minor in English Literature; a Multiple Subject Credential from Cal State University, Long Beach and a lead teacher certification in Math and Science from the University of Irvine. Candy holds more than fifteen years of teaching experience working with grades K-8th. As a lead elementary school teacher she coordinated the application process to be recognized as CUSD first California Distinguished School Award. Candy also held a leadership role of mentoring student teachers from CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU Long Beach. Candy is committed to closing the gender and diveristy gap in STEM careers by inspiring young scientists to believe in themselves and never be afraid to fail. Candy's favorite woman in STEM is renowned mathematician Katherine Johnson who despite segregation and discrimination, was recognized as a key component to NASA missions.

Maria Mundaden, Marketing Specialist

Maria Mundaden began her career as an Electronics Engineer and worked in the Telecom Industry for 3 years. There she was the single girl on a 9 member team and always wished there were more female engineers. This personal experience motivates her even more to further the mission of Project Scientist in the hope that today's young girls will get to work with more female engineers and scientists in the future. Maria's interest gradually shifted from engineering towards the business side of things and she went on to get her MBA from Illinois State University and later completed a Digital Marketing Certification from the Univerity of Washington. For the past four years, she has been working as a digital marketer with social impact-focused organizations. She employs a research-based and data-driven approach to the marketing decisions she has to make on a daily basis. Maria currently lives in Seattle with her family and enjoys traveling, paddle boarding, and cooking up the next best dessert! Maria's favorite woman in STEM is 2020 TIME Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao.

Kelly O'Brien, Business Office Specialist

Kelly O'Brien has served on the Project Scientist team since 2016. Working in education for more than 10 years, Kelly has taught Kindergarten, 4th grade, 6th grade and 8th grade. A Northern California native, Kelly moved to Southern California to pursue tertiary education. Kelly holds a single subject and multiple subject teaching credential; an MA in Education involving post graduate work in English Literature; and a BA in English Literature with a minor in Deaf Education. A passionate athlete, Kelly believes deeply in fostering an active lifestyle from childhood. Kelly's favorite woman in STEM is computer programmer and network engineer, Radia Perlman.

Board Members

Stephen Hagood, Chair

Steve Hagood is senior vice president and chief information officer at Trane Technologies and a member of the company’s Enterprise Leadership Team. Steve leads the company’s global information technology (IT) organization and is responsible for the development and execution of Trane Technologies' IT strategies. With more than 30 years of experience, he has held multiple executive and financial leadership roles in the aerospace and defense, manufacturing and service industries. Steve holds a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas and is a member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He was recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal as ‘CIO of the Year’ in 2014 and 2019.

Julie St. John, Vice-Chair

Julie St. John was President of Investment Operations and Information Technology Group and was also the Chief Information Officer for The Capital Group Companies. She joined the management team of Capital in 2007 and retired in 2020. Ms. St. John holds an MBA in Finance from Florida State University and a B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of Michigan. She is a CPA licensed in Florida. Ms. St. John was recognized as one of InfoWorld’s Most Influential CTOs and has received the Gartner CIO Choice Award and the Computerworld Premier 100 CIO Award. She was included in the Wall Street Journal & Technology's Gold Book. Julie continues to serve on several boards including the board of Harvey Mudd College, a college a part of the Claremont consortium of colleges. Julie was aslo recently inducted into the 2020 IDG CIO Hall of Fame.

Stephen Jenvey, Vice-Chair

Stephen is director/vice president and Head of Business Agility for the Capital Group Companies, based in Irvine, California. Stephen has a passion for emerging technology and innovation and the positive impact they have on businesses and individuals. He is a frequent public speaker on topics such as innovation in the enterprise, digital and fintech fields. A longtime advocate for educational opportunities, Stephen has served on the board of directors for a leading progressive private school and performing arts program for at risk communities and serves as a peer mentor at Capital Group for women in STEM. He currently resides in Orange County, California.

Mary Izadi, Secretary

Mary Izadi is the Constitutional Policing Advisor for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. After graduating from UC Hastings College of Law, Mary spent over 11 years as a prosecutor with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. She brings her extensive legal experience and leadership skills with her to the Project Scientist Board. After Mary’s daughter participated in the Summer STEM Academy, it was clear that Project Scientist was going to be a staple in her daughter’s summer programs. Mary hopes to provide other young girls the same opportunity to find their inner scientist.

Holly Trotter, Treasurer

Holly is a Tax Partner in the Financial Services practice, based in Charlotte, NC and has more than 15 years of professional experience. Holly is currently focused on financial institution clients in the Southeast market. Holly combines project execution experience with a strong tax technical background.

Holly spent six years in New York gaining extensive experience in consulting, tax accounting, and tax compliance. While in NY, Holly focused on global information reporting initiatives, and assisted money center banks with their global FATCA programs. In 2014 Holly participated in My Genesis Park, PwC’s global leadership development program, which included two weeks in Shanghai and five weeks in the Netherlands.

When not at work, Holly is most likely to be spending time with her two daughters, running with a good audio book or riding her Peloton bike.

Stephanie Head, Governance Committee Chair

Stephanie has over twenty years of experience in data analytics and reporting in a variety of industries across the country and has always had a passion for STEM subjects. Stephanie currently leads the customer success data analytics for PwC's cybersecurity and resiliency software, Terrain Insights. Her background also includes forensic consulting, and social and environmental analytics for PwC's Corporate Responsibility team. Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree in Decision Sciences from Miami University in Ohio.

Chad Stephens, Development Committee Chair

Chad Stephens is vice president of innovation and development at Sealed Air Corporation. He and his group of engineers, scientists, and technologists lead the development and support of packaging solutions. Chad has a passion for emerging technology, innovation, and problem solving, and he is an engaged leader with experience managing multiple technical disciplines, culture transformation, and performance improvement. Chad is a graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in packaging science.

Lori Friedman, Member

Lori is the Chief Scientific Officer at ORIC Pharmaceuticals in South San Francisco. After earning a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Lori completed postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, U.K. and has been in biotech doing cancer research for over 20 years. A strong supporter of opportunities for women in STEM fields, Lori has served on the Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council for the American Association of Cancer Research and chaired Genentech's Women in Science and Engineering (gWISE) group. She has published 92 scientific papers and has 24 issued patents. Lori is married with two daughters and lives in California.

Betsy Grider, Member

As Chief Strategy Officer for Patron Technology, Betsy is building, acquiring, integrating, and growing businesses within live event technology. The integrated live event technology platform at Patron drives innovation with products ranging from augmented reality mobile wayfinding to timed-admission for limited capacity experiences. Prior to joining Patron, Betsy's career evolved across marketing, media, strategy, and technology, most recently building and leading the Technology Development and Integration division for NASCAR. Prior to NASCAR, Betsy started her career in sports at the Chicago White Sox and The Duke University Chronicle. Betsy is an investor in live content and entertainment properties and an advocate for women in tech.

Kathy Higgins, Member

As vice president, IT Business Management, Kathy Higgins is responsible for the development and delivery of Vendor Management, Software Asset Management, Resource & Demand Management, Immersive Technology Team Learning, Central Program/Project efforts that support transformational efforts within the Technology team. She has served in this role since 2018. A 25-year Lowe’s veteran, Kathy began her career in accounting, expanding into multiple financial areas with increasing levels of responsibility. She later transitioned to the operations side of the business, where she was charged with leading Special Order Sales, Store Selling tools and Merchandising Support functions. Since 2011, she has held several technology leadership positions, from Technology Solutions, Enterprise Program Delivery and IT Enterprise & Architecture Services. Kathy earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and computer information systems from Appalachian State University and holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license.