Girlstart Announces Keynote Speaker, Women in STEM Winners, and More Details for 20th Anniversary Celebration at Game Changers


Twenty years ago—even before STEM entered the lexicon as the catch-all term for science, technology, engineering and math—Girlstart was founded in Austin as a non-profit organization addressing the gender gap in the technology industry by educating and inspiring girls in STEM.

On Wednesday, October 18, Girlstart will celebrate 20 years of changing girls’ lives with its Game Changers Annual Luncheon at the JW Marriott Austin (110 E. 2nd) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This year’s event will feature keynote speaker Martha Rook, MilliporeSigma’s Head of Gene Editing & Novel Modalities Business, who will be interviewed on-stage by SXSW director Hugh Forrest.

In a fitting choice for the 20th anniversary, Rachel Muir—who founded Girlstart in 1997 and served as its first Executive Director—will be one of four Women in STEM honored at the event. She will join Donna Patterson, IT Engineering Program Manager, Microsoft Teams & Skype for Business Clients, who is a STEM champion and ambassador; Ali Zicker, Account Director, Caravel Group, who works with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies supporting drug development and clinical trial efforts; and Joan Holman, Chief Information Officer for Strasburger, who has led information technology departments in a number of industries for more than two decades as Girlstart’s guests of honor for the group.

Chikage Windler, Chief Meteorologist for KEYE-TV, will repeat her role as event emcee, and the event will also include remarks from Girlstart Executive Director Tamara Hudgins and Deputy Director Julie Shannan.

Individual tickets, at the $100 level, are still available for the event, and can be purchased online:

Additional info about the event, including more about the Women in STEM honorees, are available on the Game Changers website:

More about Martha Rook

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.

Girlstart, founded in Austin in 1997, is the only community-based informal STEM education nonprofit in the nation specifically dedicated to empowering and equipping girls in STEM, through year-round programming that promotes girls’ early engagement and academic success in STEM, encourages girls’ aspirations and persistence in STEM education and careers, and incubates a talented and diverse STEM workforce. Its innovative, nationally-recognized programs include after-school and summer camps for students, professional development for teachers, and community and online STEM education outreach programs. Girlstart cultivates a culture where risk is rewarded, curiosity is encouraged, and creativity is expected. As a result, Girlstart girls are connected, brave, and resilient. Girlstart makes girls more successful, and inspires them to take on the world’s greatest challenges.