Game Changers

Austin, Texas

October 18, 2017

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

JW Marriott Austin

Women in STEM Awards

Honoring Outstanding Women in STEM

The Game Changers Annual Luncheon is a special celebration honoring women who have made a significant impact in STEM.


The event’s goal is to support STEM education for girls, and raises vital funds to support Girlstart’s core initiatives including our free after school STEM programs. Learn more about Girlstart After School.

2017 Keynote Speaker
Martha Rook

Head of Gene Editing & Novel Modalities Business, MilliporeSigma

Martha Rook is the head of the Gene Editing & Novel Modalities Business of MilliporeSigma.  Her group develops and provides tools and services supporting drug development from CRISPR tools for discovery through products and services for cell & gene therapy manufacturing.  Martha has previously held a variety of roles at MilliporeSigma including Head of Novel Therapies, Director of Stem Cell Bioprocessing and Head of Upstream & Sensor Technologies. Martha received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from MIT and holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Texas A&M University.  She pursued post-doctoral studies in neuroscience as a Lefler Fellow at Harvard Medical School and has worked in the clinical diagnostics field at Variagenics and Quest Diagnostics prior to joining MilliporeSigma in 2005.

Event Emcee
Chikage Windler

Chief Meteorologist CBS Austin

Chikage Windler is the Chief Meteorologist at CBS Austin. She has worked as a broadcast meteorologist for 16 years at stations in Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington, DC, Dallas, Indianapolis and Norfolk, Virginia, and served as a fill-in meteorologist at ABC’s Good Morning America and ABC World News. Chikage caught the “weather bug” growing up in Oklahoma, the heart of Tornado Alley and loves sharing her passion for weather with everyone she meets.


Women in Stem

Rachel Muir

Founder of Girlstart

Growing up, Rachel Muir was told girls “weren’t good” at math and science. When she realized how many other girls had the same experience she decided to do something about it. At age 26, she jumped in and started Girlstart in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later Girlstart had won numerous grants, awards and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show. She veered away from the typical ED or CEO titles, and her business cards said, Rachel Muir, Girlstart, Fearless leader. Today Rachel trains people into confident, successful fundraisers. Her passion for fundraising is so intense she has been registered as an alternative energy source by the Department of Energy.

Sanjoli Sur

Girlstart Alumna and PhD Student of Biomedical Engineering

Sanjoli Sur is a PhD student of Biomedical Engineering in the joint program at the Georgia Institute of Techology and Emory University. Starting with a background of electrocardiology work during her undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, Sanjoli has transitioned to working on potential biomarkers and therapeutics for atherosclerosis which is the primary cause of heart attack and stroke. Her work involves the utilizing standard biological lab techniques along with cutting edge big data approaches to unlocking the secrets of how heart disease affects the genome.

Donna Patterson

IT Engineering Program Manager, Microsoft Teams & Skype for Business Clients

Donna is not only a STEM Champion and Ambassador, but she has also benefitted from a program in her youth. She started her career in the Chemical Engineering field and has reinvented herself to transition into Computers, High Tech and now enjoying the software and applications world of Microsoft. She has shared and honed her skills as she travels internationally providing leadership, business expertise, and STEM training in Africa and most recently Jamaica.

Ali Zicker

Account Director, Caravel Group

Ali Zicker is an Account Director with the Caravel Group, a medical education and communications consulting agency. In her role, she consults with several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies by supporting clients with drug development, clinical trials, strategical and tactical planning and launch. Ali received her Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin and did a post-doctoral fellowship researching breast cancer as a DoD Breast Cancer Era of Hope Scholar at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Ali has worked in the biotechnology and clinical diagnostic fields as a scientist and Director of Product Management at Thermo Fisher and Natera prior to joining the Caravel Group.

Joan Holman

Chief Information Officer, Strasburger

Joan Holman, the Chief Information Officer at Strasburger, has been in the legal industry since 2013. Joan is responsible for all strategic and operational aspects of Information Technology, Litigation Support, the Legal Library, Marketing Technology and Technical Training for the firm. Joan has over 20 years of experience leading Information Technology, Strategy, Development, and Operations for several public and private companies in the Environmental Services, Telecommunications and Financial Services industries. Joan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Texas at Dallas.


Outside of the workplace, Joan spends her time promoting STEM initiatives and giving back to her industry and community through her efforts as a member of the national board for the Society of Information Management and SIM DFW Chapter Board. She is an Executive Host for the DFW Technology Ball. She is active involvement in the Dallas Executive Women’s Roundtable and previously served in a number of leadership roles in the Dallas chapter of the Association of Women Executives. In August 2016, Joan was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of its 2016 “Women in Technology.” for her contributions to the technology community both professionally and philanthropically.  Joan was also a finalist for the 2017 CIO of the year for DallasCIO.


We are now accepting in-kind donations for our Mystery Boxes, which will be sold to guests during the luncheon.

Click HERE to download the Mystery Box donation form.

Mystery Boxes are filled with great prizes valued from $25 (and more). Last year’s donors included Eliza Page, Uchi Restaurants, milk + honey, and more! It’s a great way to get the word out about your business at the same time your in-kind gift supports Girlstart.

Presenting Sponsor

Platinum Sponsors



Gold Sponsors








Silver Sponsors





Bronze Sponsors














2017 Host Committee

Honorary Co-Chairs Teri and Chris Taylor

Michelle Ashworth

Alissa Bayer

Tricia Berry

Natalie Brader

Valerie Cason

Stephanie DeBrow

Runi Duvall

Cat Garza

Hannah Giles

Becky Harmonson

Katelena Hernandez Cowles

Dena Holliday

Karen Kelly

Jennifer Lowry

Erin Morales

Denise Raper

Lindsey Strobel

Marisa Tom

Karen Weir

Catherine Wilkes

David Wilkes