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Senior Advisor

Dr. Carlos Rodriguez, senior advisor and nationally recognized for his STEM evaluation and research expertise focused on formal/informal, federal and private initiatives, and programs to accelerate, motivate, and improve the success of students in STEM education. Dr. Rodriguez is an expert and chief research scientist with more than 25 years’ experience in the evaluation of programs that provide students with exposure to STEM careers in the United States technical and educational workforce. Additionally, Dr. Rodriguez has expertise in the development of analyses, methodologies, and metrics to assess the effectiveness and impact of student and teacher centered educational STEM activities tailored to individual types of STEM activities that enable continuous improvement and further development of future STEM activities.

Senior Advisor

Katherine E. Bihr, Ed.D., BEST Senior Advisor, Education, and Development, has spent over 30 years in education, working in K-12 public education, the non-profit sector, and the university setting.  Dr. Bihr's expertise ranges from program development, leadership, and creating sustainable, equitable learning environments for youth. As the Vice President of Programs and Education for the TGR Foundation, Bihr provided direction that led to the development of the TGR Learning Lab and the Earl Woods Scholar Program while managing a multi-million-dollar budget. Through this work, she shared this work with educators by designing a professional learning program and a digital resource for educators to use with students. Before joining TGR Foundation, she served as a middle and high school administrator, earning multiple awards, for school operations and programs. Dr. Bihr was the 2019 Chair of the STEM Funders Network, a national organization providing resources to help teachers, parents, and out-of-school providers better inspire and prepare youth in STEM. Bihr also serves as adjunct faculty for the Organizational Leadership Doctorate at the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education.

Senior Associate, Professional Development

Jason A. Porter, M.S. Ed., BEST, Senior Associate, Professional Development, has spent more than 20 years in education at the university, K-12, and non-profit sectors, focusing on teaching, STEM program development, educator effectiveness coaching, and conducting professional learning workshops for educators. Mr. Porter brings practical experience as a STEM research scientist to the professional learning efforts he leads with educators. Mr. Porter has also supported students as they prepare college applications, workforce STEM programs, and STEM enrichment experiences while mentoring other educators as they help students with similar application efforts. In addition to being a published author and presenter, Mr. Porter holds a Master of Science in Education from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He also has an Instructional II 7-12 Biology teaching credential with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, two micro-credentials for supporting the development of inquiry learning environments, and a certificate as an English as a Second Language tutor.

Andrew-John "AJ" Hickman consults for BEST by contributing databases and maps of Minority-Servings Institutions (MSIs) to BEST's partners.  He provided technical support to the Department of Defense (DoD) and its Advanced Manufacturing Program by evaluating MSIs for DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs) through an extensive analysis of MSI websites and course catalogs. He also supported the DoD Diversity Management Operations Center (DMOC) through his analyses of MSIs for factor-based recommendations, for university profiles, and for operational proximity reviews. He is focused on supporting data-driven decision-making through his work.  AJ enjoys learning languages, including Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, as well as programming languages such as Python, Ruby, and JavaScript. He studied and taught in Japan for 7 years before consulting with BEST.
Outreach Coordinator

Margaret Smith-Pope, outreach coordinator, and retired from the federal government with 25 years of logistics planning and coordination experience. She spent 12 years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) preparing operational plans and procedures for special events and dignitaries and was responsible for organizing and leading teams in guest operations planning and in developing strategies for developing major agency programs of national scope and impact. Since 2014, Ms. Smith has managed, coordinated, and executed logistics requirements for all BEST student and teacher outreach events reaching over 4000 students, and nearly 500 educators.

Graphic Designer / Photographer

Michael Porterfield is a senior graphic and web designer with over 20 years of experience. He has worked over 10 years at NASA and has been an avid photographer for over 30 years.

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