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Karen Harper serves as President of Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST), a non-profit organization focused on broadening the participation of women and historically under-represented minorities in STEM.  She leads the organization as a member of the Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC), a collaborative partnership between academia, industry, not-for-profit organizations, and government that aims to broaden STEM literacy and develop a diverse and agile future workforce.  Ms. Harper manages the Strategic Outreach Initiative and ensures STEM outreach activities are supported and performing high-quality work; drives alignment to DSEC fundamentals that frame the overall DSEC strategy; and monitors the strategic initiatives of 24 partners to expand the pool of traditionally underrepresented and military connected students.

Ms. Harper also directs the engagement of BEST’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) portfolio with the Department of Defense Education and Workforce Development for Advanced Manufacturing.  She has 34 years of federal government experience in human capital management, workforce planning, and project planning and execution.

President Emeritus

John Yochelson, president emeritus, contributes a wide range of high-level policy experience including 21 years of leadership with Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST), the presidency of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, an appointment to the President’s Export Council, and membership on the management team of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Under his leadership, BEST coordinated the nation’s first and most comprehensive search to identify effective diversity programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics across the full spectrum of pre-K-12 and higher education.  Mr. Yochelson remains actively engaged in the areas of development and execution of STEM program activities with particular focus on education and workforce development in cutting edge technologies.

Financial Advisor

Diane Peluso, financial advisor, is the founder of DMP Consulting with expertise in providing all aspects of accounting, finance, auditing, bid & proposal, administration and contracting services to Government and commercial contractors. She has over 35 years of direct experience in managing personnel and programs responsible for government contracts, grants and accounting compliance. Ms. Peluso possesses in-depth understanding of government job cost accounting, indirect rate computations, and bid & proposal efforts and has been directly involved in all types of proposal submissions, negotiations and awards. She is also a professor at San Diego State University teaches Government Financial Management. Ms. Peluso has managed the financial portfolio for BEST since 2003 and has provided unparalleled experience in all aspects of accounting, finance, and auditing.

Senior Staff Accountant & Project Control Administrator

Stephanie Peluso, Senior Staff Accountant & Project Control Administrator, has 10+ years of experience providing small defense contractors with the necessary operational, accounting, auditing, and contractual expertise to enable them to successfully conduct their business with the Federal Government. Most of her experience lies in managing administrative details for BEST on various multi-million-dollar government grants.  Current responsibilities include audit preparation, indirect rate computation, assisting on incurred cost proposal submissions, and contract bid/proposal and award management.  
She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with a concentration in Financial Services, from Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I.

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