Dwayne Sattler, Chief Executive Officer
Dwayne joined CEF as Executive Director in April 2017. He leads the industry-focused nonprofit’s efforts to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s STEM workforce.
Prior to joining CEF, Dwayne served as the Associate Vice President for Policy at The Ohio State University, Office of Research. In that role, he directed corporate and public-sector partnerships for the Ohio Technology Consortium securing funding for research and STEM education programming.
Dwayne previously led industry economic competitiveness, workforce talent and community social responsibility efforts through his own consulting firm, Network Government Relations, LLC and the development of national workforce policy as the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Training.
Dwayne earned his Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from The Ohio State University and Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Bowling Green State University.
Brandy Gates, Chief Development Officer
Brandy joined CEF in May 2021, moving from Director of Development to Chief Development Officer. She leads our philanthropic mission to reach students early in life and ignite a passion for STEM careers. Funds raised via sponsorships and grants, developing strategic relationships with corporate and individual donors, creating community partnerships, and encouraging employee volunteerism, further CEF’s quest to reach K-8 students through CEF’s programs and prepare them to tackle real-world issues while learning about careers up and down the career ladder to become our future STEM workforce.
Prior to joining CEF, Brandy was the Events Manager at the Galveston Bay Foundation from March 2017 to March 2020, where she planned and executed multiple annual large-scale fundraising events, such as the Guardian of the Bay Awards Luncheon/Gala and Bike Around the Bay. She was also a member of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Development Team from July 2013 to March 2017 as a Director of Development for Major Gifts during UTMB’s $450 million Working Wonders Campaign. Before joining the UTMB development staff, Brandy worked in the marketing/event planning and fundraising fields for twenty years.
Brandy received both her MBA with concentrations in Marketing and International Business and her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing from the University of Houston Clear Lake.
Dr. Ferleshare Starks, Senior Manager, STEM Education Programs
Dr. Starks joined CEF in October 2021. As the Senior Manager of STEM Education Programs, she leads the design, implementation, and execution of STEM education programs and services CEF provides. Her goals are to inspire young students to step into STEM confidently and support teachers as they create collaborative, diverse, and engaging learning environments. Students deserve experiences that develop the twenty-first-century skills needed to master future studies in STEM or take on STEM careers.
Prior to joining CEF, Dr. Starks spent twenty-six years teaching 7th, 8th, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth/Space. She has been an instructional science specialist/ coach, campus administrator, district K-8 science administrator, and curriculum writer. Ferleshare graduated class of ’95 from Texas A&M University-College-Station with a B.S. in Zoology, received her M.Ed. in educational leadership, emphasizing curriculum and instruction, from the University of Houston-Victoria, and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, emphasizing STEM education, at the American College of Education. While she has received many awards and endorsements throughout her career, the most impactful was being named a 2015 State of Texas Secondary Science Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Award Initiative.
Alyson Freedman, Director of Communications
Alyson joined CEF in January 2022, and is responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of communications, marketing, and digital strategies to advance the organization’s mission, build brand recognition, provide program support, and reach new donors and partners.
Prior to joining CEF, Alyson was a consultant at ICF for 10 years, where she worked on a multitude of federal, state, local, nonprofit, and commercial clients. Alyson developed, executed, and evaluated a communications plan for a $1.4 million federal contract, leading social and digital campaigns that yielded increases across all channels and a record number of participants in agency webinars. She also created and led numerous technical training programs, developing new multimedia teaching materials used nationally by staff, trainers, and members of the public.
Before ICF, Alyson worked in publications and elections at The Pew Charitable Trusts. She received her Masters in Public Administration at The Maxwell School at Syracuse University and her bachelor’s degree in international affairs at The George Washington University. Alyson is currently the Chair of the Communications Committee for the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.
Nicole Domingues, Program Manager
In August 2023, Nicole joined CEF after many years of volunteering. As a Project Manager, she executes CEF’s programs and contributes to ongoing efforts to deliver exceptional resources that inspire the next generation of scientists.
Prior to joining CEF, Nicole spent 20 years as a middle school science teacher, curriculum developer, and instructional coach in Houston, TX. Focusing on integrating technology and innovative teaching methods, she used her expertise to foster student excellence and professional growth among her colleagues. Nicole also spent 4 years organizing and coordinating the Houston Walk for Apraxia, educating others about Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Some of Nicole’s notable accolades include receiving United States Congressional Recognition, being named the Hamilton Middle School Teacher of the Year, being inducted into the Cypress Fairbanks ISD Wall of Fame, and being the recipient of CEF’s prestigious Community Champion of the Year Award. She is proud that her students have been the Texas State Challenge winners three times. Nicole earned her Bachelor of Science in Academic Studies with a Science 4-8 specialization from Sam Houston State University.
Maheen Fatima, Project Coordinator
Maheen joined CEF in August 2022 as a Project Coordinator. In her role, she provides support to the team and contributes to CEF’s work through the implementation of You Be The Chemist programs and resources, alongside creating marketing material.
Prior to joining CEF, Maheen worked as a coordinator and content creator. Maheen received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.