Dwayne Sattler, Executive Director

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, Director of Development

Brandy joined CEF in May 2021.  As the Director of Development, she leads our philanthropic mission to reach students early in life and ignite a passion for chemistry and STEM careers.  Funds raised via sponsorships and grants and by developing strategic relationships with individual and corporate donors, creating community partnerships, and encouraging employee volunteerism furthers CEF’s quest to reach K-8 students through CEF’s You Be The Chemist programs and prepare them to tackle real-world issues.

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 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 field for nearly twenty years.  From August 2006 to July 2013, she was the Director of Sales at Big League Dreams in League City, TX focusing on securing and executing strategic and creative events, community relations and marketing of the facility throughout the south Texas region.

Since 2009, she has been a committee member for the American Heart Association’s annual Bay Area Go Red For Women Luncheon, becoming a Circle of Red Founding Member in 2011 and Chairing the Luncheon in 2013.  She was also a Director on the League City Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors from 2010 through 2012 and a member of the University of Houston Clear Lake Alumni Association Executive Council from 2013 to 2016. Through this volunteerism, she discovered a love and need for giving back and wanting to create a lasting legacy that she could pass on to her children.  This passion has now led her to CEF.

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, STEM Education Manager

Ferleshare joined CEF as the STEM Education Manager in October 2021. She contributes to the design and implementation of our student and teacher program resources connecting student engagement in chemistry-focused STEM experiences to the real world and industry. As the STEM Education Manager, she also supports developing and expanding our strategic partner program and employee engagement opportunities by working with the CEF team to update and expand access to our Activity Guides, Essential Elements Workshops, Community Partnerships, and Challenge. Her goal is to support the organizational mission of providing accessible science programs and hands-on experiences that build excitement in K-8 students by highlighting the value of chemistry and the opportunities for STEM careers.

Before joining CEF, Ferleshare was the Elementary Science Curriculum Coordinator for the Beaumont Independent School District in Texas. She worked to build and maintain a 21st-century learner-centered elementary science program in that role. Her goal was to support teacher development through coaching and curriculum development as they created collaborative, diverse, engaging, and problem-based action-inquiry classrooms for their students.

Through the years, Ferleshare has presented at conferences across the U.S., advocating for equity in science and STEM education, demonstrating best practices, and developing teacher leaders in science. In addition, she has piloted state programs and initiatives and served on numerous Texas Education Agency committees for science curriculum, science assessments, gifted and talented performance standards, and educator certification standards. A veteran teacher with twenty-four years of experience teaching multiple science courses in grades 7-12 and leading curriculum development in K-12, she holds four educator certifications and was a Texas finalist for the National 2015 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. She received her B.S. in Zoology from Texas A & M University, College-Station, TX., M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston-Victoria, TX., and an Ed.D in Leadership with a concentration in STEM Education at the American College of Education-Indianapolis, IN.


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.


Kathrine Gerhardt, Project Coordinator

Kathrine joined CEF in September 2019. As a Project Coordinator, she helps implement the You Be The Chemist programs and resources. She also supports the development of organizational goals and hopes to help continue CEF’s work in providing quality programs and inspiring the next generation of scientists.

Kathrine received her Master’s of Public Health in Global Health Program Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation from George Washington University and her Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences and Spanish from Northwest Missouri 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.