Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 6:51 am | Fair 42º


Former NASA Chief Director to Speak at Girls Inc. Event

The Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara One Hundred Committee will welcome nearly 300 guests to its April 27 Scholarship Luncheon, featuring speaker Gretchen W. McClain, former NASA chief director of the International Space Station.

Gretchen W. McClain Click to view larger
Gretchen W. McClain

The event will be held under a tent at the Bella Vista Estate in Summerland.

Proceeds will help offset the $600,000 in financial assistance required to help 400 girls participate in Girls Inc. after-school and summer-camp programming at the Goleta Valley and Santa Barbara centers this year.

The event theme is Inspiring the Next Generation of Girls in STEM.

The theme honors one of the core aspects of Girls Inc. programming, which encourages girls to pursue their curiosities, and educational and career interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, where women are still under represented.

“We must support our talented young girls by giving them opportunities to explore their passions and spark their creativity and innovation; by doing this we help them build their confidence,” said McClain.

“I feel so fortunate to have worked in STEM fields that inspired and challenged me, specifically my time at NASA, exploring the unknown and working on one of the biggest challenges of our time, water,” she said.

“My career has truly been a dream, come true. My hope is I can do my part by inspiring our talented STEM girls through my stories,“ McClain said.

In addition to her nine years at NASA, during which she was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service medal, McClain was the founding president and CEO of Xylem, an S&P 500 company and global water technology company.

She earned a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah, and in 2015 received that institution’s Founders Award. McClain was also inducted into the Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame and is the first woman to receive this honor.

Girls Inc. girls from both centers will be at the event demonstrating STEM concepts and experiments to luncheon guests. The event will also feature a drawing and live auction, facilitated by Geoff Green from the Foundation for SBCC.

A small number of tickets remain available for Inspiring the Next Generation of Girls in STEM. Individual tickets are $225 each and may be reserved by calling 963-4757 or online at

Event sponsors include:

Genius - $20,000: R. Chad and Ginni Dreier, Stina Hans and Joel Kreiner, Connie and John Pearcy

Innovator - $10,000: Nurture Cottage

Trailblazer - $5,000: Belle Hahn Cohen, Perri Harcourt, Melody Taft, Montecito Bank & Trust, Women Connect4Good

Pioneer - $2,500: Betsy Manger

Mentor - $1,500: Meg Burnham, Stefanie Sohn Jackson and David Jackson, Christy Kelso, Connie Kennelly, Eileen Mielko, Val and Bob Montgomery, Phyllis Mozilo, Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co., LLP, Lynn Scarlett and Maryan Schall.

— Kristen Weaver for Girls Inc.

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