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Meet Our Team

Anne Kaplan, Vice President of the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development and Anne Birberick, Vice Provost, serve as co-directors of the P-20 Center.

Kathleen Almy

Mathematics Research Associate

Kathleen is a mathematics research associate for the P-20 Center. She leads projects for state agencies related to transitional and developmental math initiatives focused on improving student and teacher experiences and increasing completion rates. Prior to joining the P-20 Center, she was a mathematics professor with 20 years of experience in high school and college classrooms. Her degrees include a B.S. in Mathematics Education from Southern Illinois University and an M.S. in pure mathematics from NIU. Kathleen is passionate about making math enjoyable, meaningful and relevant.

Mary Baker

SmartSpace@NIU Director

Mary is the director of SMARTspace@NIU, which provides free virtual standards-aligned STEAM learning opportunities for pre-K-12th grade learners. Mary ardently promotes student creativity through online problem-based learning opportunities to help learners collaborate, engage in STEAM activities, develop innovative solutions to authentic problems and make connections across multiple disciplines. Mary has a B.F.A. in graphic design, a M.F.A. in studio art, as well as a M.Ed. and an Ed.S. in educational technology.

Marilyn Bellert

Associate Director

Marilyn manages the Center for P-20 Engagement in her position as associate director. Since 2001, she has built a P-20 program that is now recognized across the region, state and national levels for the diversity and quality of its initiatives, including STEAM Works programs, the Northern Illinois Regional P-20 Network for college and career readiness and professional development activities for educators. In FY 15, P-20 Center activities engaged more than 100,000 residents of the region. Marilyn loves working every day with the highly energetic and creative staff of the P-20 Center and seeing the transformational impact of their activities. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in English.

Jeremy Benson

STEM Outreach Educator

Jeremy develops content for STEM Outreach programs. He shares his passion for STEM with tens of thousands of students each year as a presenter for STEM Outreach’s in-school and STEM Saturday programs. During the summer, he serves as camp director for our STEM summer camps. Throughout the year, Jeremy regularly presents his workshops on using LEGO Robotics in the classroom to high school teachers from all over the country at national meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers and loves exploring the intersections of science and music and sharing those with others. Jeremy has bachelor’s degrees in both communications and physics education and earned his science teaching certification from NIU.

Paulette Bowman

Administrative Assistant

Paulette provides administrative support for university-wide P-20 programs including STEAM Works. Paulette earned her bachelor’s degree and a graduate certificate in technical writing from NIU. She uses her eagle eyes and attention to detail to make sure eyes are dotted, tees are crossed and bills are paid while continually making connections across programs. Paulette also serves on the NIU Executive Support Team, helping to connect us to the rest of the university. She relishes the challenge of meeting staff needs before we know we have them.

Kristin Brynteson

Director of Professional Development

Kristin is the director of professional development for the P-20 Center. She supports interdisciplinary STEAM education through annual events such as edcamp Northern Illinois and the STEAMing it Up! conference, as well as ongoing professional development opportunities throughout the state. Kristin also works with state partners to support educators as they use data, technology and open educational resources to support student success. For over 15 years, Kristin has enjoyed helping in-service and pre-service teachers become fearless with technology while they explore innovative ways to impact student learning. She is a former industrial engineer with a M.S. in engineering and an Ed.D. in instructional technology from NIU.

Hannah Carmack

Content Creation Manager

Hannah is a communications associate for the P-20 Center. A recent graduate of NIU, she enjoys volunteer work and spends most of her time connecting reluctant readers and bookworms alike to the world of literature and science. She has a number of poetry publications, all of which regard living with ulcerative colitis. Although living with an auto-immune disease is difficult, she finds power in using her writing as a way to convey the world that people with disabilities live in to people who may not fully comprehend it.

Alan Clemens

Senior Research Associate

Alan is a program evaluation and instructional design specialist for the P-20 Center. He comes to us after over 15 years as a member of the faculty of NIU’s College of Education and years of experience as a technology consultant, system designer and support specialist for schools and corporations. He is a lifelong Huskie, having received his B.A. in political science, M.S.Ed. in instructional technologies and Ph.D. in instructional technologies all from NIU. His core commitment is to student success at all levels, and volunteers with Junior Achievement, regional youth soccer programs and is chair of the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In his spare time he is an avid sports and event photographer.

Amy Jo Clemens

Senior Research Associate and Assistant Director

Amy Jo coordinates projects spanning cradle to career as a senior research associate in the P-20 Center. She leads initiatives for teachers and providers in birth-3rd grade and high school and higher education activities in career pathways. Amy Jo also delivers professional development for implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Her experience in state educational policy and program delivery includes serving as an assistant superintendent for Illinois State Board of Education and regional superintendent in Lee and Ogle counties. Her degrees from NIU include an M.S.Ed. in secondary education and an Ed.S. with an Illinois Superintendent's license. Amy Jo believes that building systems that drive lifelong learning is at the foundation of true educational excellence and the Center for P-20 Engagement is a leader in that work across the state.

Judith Dymond

Coordinator, NIU Center for Economic Education/STEM Outreach Associate

Judith serves as coordinator for the Center for Economic Education and is an Outreach and Engagement Associate for STEM Outreach. She connects K-12 schools to the university through professional development for educators in economics and she conntects addults and students to the university by leading the STEM Cafés program. Prior to coming to NIU, Judy spent 10 years as a K-12 administrator in Illinois and Ohio, and 23 years teaching middle and high school reading and language arts in Illinois and Wisconsin. She holds numerous K-12 certifications including superintendent in addition to a doctorate in educational leadership from National Louis University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Judy is passionate about connecting K-12 schools and the community to learning opportunities.

Sara Finnigan

Program Assistant

Sara is the program assistant for STEAM Works, providing critical support for all of our programs. She specializes in volunteer coordination, event planning and logistics. She has played a starring role in several STEAM Works films with her beloved cat Birdie. Sara has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from NIU and shares her passion for critical thinking with everyone around her.

Gillian King-Cargile

STEM Read Director

Gillian is the director of NIU’s STEM Read program, which introduces young readers to the science, technology, engineering and math concepts behind popular fiction books. To do this, STEM Read creates free online lesson plans, interactive games, videos, collaborative writing prompts and live events that bring science and stories to life. She is the author of The Toy and the Twister and The Toy and the Tide Pool, books one and two of her Stuffed Bunny Science Adventure Series. These picture books tell fun, fast-paced stories that incorporate STEM concepts aligned with Next Generation Science Standards for Kindergarten through second grade. King-Cargile holds a B.A. in film production and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Southern Illinois University.

Kim Likier

Media Associate

Kim is a media associate for the P-20 Center. Kim has an avid interest in rhetoric, specifically regarding gender and sexual identity, but is otherwise an eclectic consumer and producer of media. In this position, they create videos (and sometimes photographs) for promotional, instructional and documentation use. Because visual media are pervasive and impactful, they are interested in creating videos that engage with children of all genders in order to increase interest in STEAM-related fields. They hold an M.A. in communications from NIU, a J.D. from NIU College of Law, and a B.A. in German from Carthage College. Their dog, Bean, is pretty great.

Tracy Rogers-Tryba

Research Associate

Tracy is a research associate at the Center for P-20 Engagement. She contributed to the development of Huskie Hack, a new program focused on digital literacy involving computer coding and hacking skills for innovative community problem solving. Her prior extensive international experiences in Africa, South America, Europe and the South Pacific with the National Security Agency uniquely qualify her work on global projects, including community building through collective impact and dialogue activities, serving as co-investigator on an economic and entrepreneurial education program in South Africa, as well as assisting in the development of several new summer camps on coding and curriculum on global leadership skills. With her dual B.A. in international relations and communications and an M.S.Ed. in adult and higher education, she continues to learn, engaging in coursework on her Ed.D. in community development.

Pati Sievert

STEM Outreach Director

Pati is the director of STEM Outreach, a P-20 Center initiative which provides STEAM programming to tens of thousands of people throughout northern Illinois and from around the world each year. With a broad background in formal and informal education, Pati began at NIU in Physics Outreach in 2002, and has led STEM Outreach efforts at NIU since the office was formally established in 2006. She holds a B.S. in design from the University of Minnesota; she also holds an M.S. in physics from NIU and teacher certification in physics. Pati has a special passion for encouraging girls to explore STEM fields for fun and for careers.

Sam Watt

STEM Educator

Sam  is a STEM educator for the P-20 Center. After teaching physics and hands-on projects to students in both Illinois and China, he has a variety of experience in both education practices and in working with kids of all ages. He develops curriculum and projects throughout the year for Saturday classes, summer camp and lessons for teachers in the classroom. Sam is an NIU alum with a B.S. in physics and a certification in secondary science. As an Eagle Scout himself, Sam is interested in bringing STEM to Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of all ages.

The P-20 Center is located in Lowden Hall 307 at Northern Illinois University. Email us at or call 815.753.1403.