Throughout the month of July we will be introducing LCSA’s LEAD STEM Fellows!

LEAD STEM is a yearlong leadership development experience tailored for the National STEM Learning Ecosystem leaders and emerging leaders. Combining best practices and promising innovations from top leadership training, the aim of the program is to create a new generation of individuals who are committed to advancing STEM and its core principals throughout the United States.

Today, let’s meet Willonda McCloud!

For over fifteen years, Willonda has demonstrated a deep commitment to the Lancaster community. As collective efforts to develop a STEM Ecosystem rose from the creation of the Lancaster County STEM Alliance, Willonda paired her work as director of the Bright Side Opportunities Center (Bright Side) with the mission of the Alliance.  Located in Lancaster City’s southwest neighborhood, Bright Side exists to build a strong community by providing opportunities for people to thrive emotionally, physically and intellectually. Serving a population and a neighborhood that is often under-resourced, Willonda has built strong partnerships with other community organizations in order to maximize the experiences of those who use Bright Side.

We took some time to ask Willonda about her interest in STEM, and what motivated her to apply for the LEAD STEM Fellowship. Here is what she had to say!

Why STEM?

“I have been involved in STEM since I was a kid. I had a mother who told me, yes told me, that my career would be in the computer field. Now she did not know what, but she knew it would involve a computer. She was a woman ahead of her time and she was correct.”

Did you enjoy STEM related subjects as a student?

“I enjoyed math, until I took Calculus. Then I wasn’t so sure about the math. But once I got a great tutor, calculus became manageable, but calculus is still not my favorite subject. However, Algebra, I could do that all day. I had a great teacher for Chemistry. His teaching style was very practical and applicable therefore as a student I could relate. I loved Chemistry after his class.”

Can you remember a STEM Ah-ha! moment from your youth?

“My Ah-ha Moment was in computer BASIC Programming class (a programming language that is no longer used), I was able to design a program that made a ball move across the screen. Once I typed Run (yes you had to type run to make the code work) and the ball moved, I thought, yup I can definitely do this.”

Why did you want to participate in LEAD STEM?

“As a life long learner, I am always interested in learning how I can improve and increase my skills as it relates to leadership. LEAD STEM will allow me to increase my skill set around Development in order to increase my organizations sustainability. I am also interested in learning how other organizations around the country are meeting the needs of the youth as they relate to areas of STEM. Hopefully, I am able to create meaning partnerships and collaborate to move our Ecosystem forward.”

What are your top three goals for participating as a STEM Fellow?

  • Create meaning partnerships and collaborations
  • Gain additional Development Skills
  • Learn all that I can to move the Lancaster County Ecosystem forward.

What do you do when you aren’t being a STEM Fellow?

“I run a local nonprofit organization which is an outgrowth of my church, the Bright Side Baptist Church. I sit on several local nonprofit Boards. I am the mother of a 21 and 17 year old. I enjoy traveling with my husband and my girlfriends. And when I am not doing all of that, I enjoy going to the Spa.”

What is your favorite thing about Lancaster?

“I love the fact that our local nonprofits work well together. I am also enjoying the progressiveness of our local government, our new mayor’s focus on the neighborhoods is exactly what we need at this time, and I think that is fantastic.”
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