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New Educational Vision and Direction Announced for Organization


New Educational Vision and Direction Announced For Organization

Pittsburgh, February 11--Citing a new vision and direction for WQED’s five decades of work in education, Chief Operating Officer Deborah Acklin today announced that Jennifer Ernisse Stancil, currently the executive director of the Girls, Math & Science Partnership in Pittsburgh, has been chosen to lead the station’s educational efforts.

“Jen leaves an enormous footprint of energy, expertise and creativity everywhere she goes. Her work in expanding interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in teenage girls is known and respected globally,” Acklin said. “WQED is ready to launch new initiatives in education to young people in our region and we know that multimedia plays a major new role in education.”

In the past several years, WQED maximized its multimedia distribution by upgrading to high-definition, multicasting and adopting more online communications such as programming blogs, streaming audio and video on demand and engaging heavily in social media communications.

In its 56-year history, WQED has forged new directions in education through award-winning programs and services. Most recently, the Education Department produced the Emmy Award-winning “Teens OnQ,” a statewide workforce education program under the direction of Karen Farmer White and supported in part by the Department of Education. Other such acclaimed programs and services throughout the years included “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” and the development of the National Media Outreach Center, a community-television-education partnership.

“Imagine today’s youth and tomorrow’s economy,” Stancil said. “According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, young people are exposed to more than 7.5 hours of media and, if they are multitasking between TV, computers, games and audio, that number goes to up to almost 11 hours daily.” Stancil added that we can “transform what and how kids learn inside and outside of school with creativity and clarity about how we can best use educational media to equip our kids for their future.”

As an innovator in education, Stancil served as executive director of the Girls, Math & Science Partnership, since the program was transferred from
Family Communications, Inc. to the Carnegie Science Center in late 2005. The project uses radio, an interactive website and an on-site summer camp--among other initiatives--to encourage girls ages 11-17 to develop their interest and engagement in STEM careers. Educators nationally are engaged through webinars and professional development about new methods and curricula to level the playing field for girls in science.

Stancil developed GirlTalk Radio, a podcast series in its second season, which features 20 girls and eight cutting-edge science mentors. The show has been distributed worldwide and garnered more than one million impressions. Downloads from both seasons of the show feature women in science and technology jobs--from CIA agent to marine biologist.

The organization’s website—known as Braincake.org—has experienced exponential growth in four years, boasting more than 13-thousand members in 66 countries and receiving more than 12.5 million hits last year. In 2009, BrainCake.org received the museum community’s highest award for visitor experience with the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award. It was the first website ever to receive such an honor.

An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelors Degree in Biological Science—and work completed toward a Masters in Animal Behavior--Stancil is the co-author of a position paper on informal science education for the National Science Teachers Association. Before coming to Pittsburgh, she served as education director of McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Ala. and at Exploris in Raleigh, NC, a facility now known as Marbles Children's Museum. She also has worked as a creativity and strategic planning consultant to elite corporations such as Palm, Inc.

A sought-after speaker and author of dozens of publications and white papers, Stancil has traveled the world making presentations on such topics as creativity, educational strategy, program development, and best practices in science education and gender equity. Most recently, she served in that capacity for the Association of Science Technology Centers Conference and the Girl Scouts USA National STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering and Math) Conference.

This past December, she was invited to a small meeting of key stakeholders, government officials and policymakers for the White House’s National Council on Women and Girls, sponsored by the Obama Administration. Currently, Stancil is an Advisor to the National Girls Collaborative Project, SciGirls TV, the Pittsburgh Public Schools new SciTech Academy, and the Girls Coalition of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Stancil has been honored with many awards, among them the Junior League of Pittsburgh’s Emerging Leader, a prestigious award given by the League to only five leaders for their “commitment to building better communities for women and girls” and she was the recipient of a “40 Under 40” honor by Pittsburgh Magazine.

“Over the years, WQED has made a major impact in the field of education,” Acklin concluded. “It is time for new ideas, fresh partnerships and a vision for educational service. We are confident that Jen Stancil will help lead us to a new transformation in public service media and education.”

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WQED Pittsburgh
4802 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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