Our Team

Mina Shokoufandeh

Co-President and Founder (she/her)

Mina Shokoufandeh is a sophomore at Tufts University in Medford, MA studying biology and biomedical sciences. As a junior in high school, Mina enjoyed learning about Software Engineering, particularly about its many applications in the biological context. Mina is very enthusiastic about fostering an appreciation for STEM and its opportunities among young women and girls and enjoys connecting this passion with her love of the medical, engineering, and biological mindsets. These passions led her to found Girls Code the World with her peer, Sydney Gibbard when they were juniors in high school. Mina is currently a Continuing Life Resident Assistant at Tufts, a role in which she supports students in both their personal and academic pursuits. She is also a Mentor for Science Club for Girls in the Medford/Somerville area, an organization that fosters confidence and literacy in STEM for girls and young women from underrepresented communities with free, experiential community-based programs. In the past, Mina has also worked as a Volunteer Research Assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research and an Intern at Drexel University’s Center for Functional Fabrics. She is thrilled to be a part of the Girls Code the World team and to contribute to the organization’s ultimate goal of getting more women involved with STEM from a young age.

Email me: mina@girlscodetheworld.org

Sydney Gibbard

Co-President and Founder (she/her)

Sydney Gibbard is a sophomore at Penn State Schreyer Honors College studying biomedical engineering and pre-medicine. When she was a junior in high school, Sydney fell in love with her AP Computer Science class and the methodical approach to solving a problem. Sydney is incredibly passionate about the intersection of science, medicine, technology, and engineering, which is why she felt inspired to found Girls Code the World with her peer, Mina Shokoufandeh. She wanted to encourage girls to develop a passion for and confidence in engineering, computer science, and science at a young age. Sydney also saw a need for attainable mentors and role models, not just professionals in the field, but also high school and college students which was the basis for developing the Aspire Program. Sydney is currently the sole College of Engineering Representative for Penn State’s student government, where she consistently advocates for underrepresented communities to administration. She has also taken part in a Malawi Refugee Crisis Research Project funded by MasterCard to identify barriers and enablers for youth to gaining economic opportunities, and through this research, has realized that a proficiency in technology opens an endless amount of doors for students all over the world. She is incredibly excited and grateful to be a part of Girls Code the Word and to continue pushing their mission forward everyday.

Email me: sydney@girlscodetheworld.org

Katie Galaska

Director of Finances and Accounting (she/her)

Katie Galaska is an audit and accounting manager with Kreischer Miller, a public accounting firm located in Horsham, Pennsylvania, specializing in not-for-profit organizations and manufacturing companies. As part of her MBA capstone project, she was instrumental in the founding of Kreischer Miller’s RISE (Retain | Invest | Support | Empower), a comprehensive program for women that provides them with opportunities to connect as a team, learn from one another, and grow their careers. Katie is thrilled to be part of the Girls Code the World organization as she is passionate about encouraging girls and women to build their confidence, get excited about their futures and to expand the skills needed in STEM fields including critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication. As the daughter of lifelong learners, she was raised doing math problems at restaurants while other kids were coloring which gave her the faith in herself to pursue any type of career, especially one using math on a daily basis! Katie currently lives in Souderton, Pennsylvania with her husband and son.

Marie Fazio

Director of Partnerships (she/her)

Marie Fazio is Assistant Dean, Operations & Faculty Affairs in the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is also the Diversity Officer at CCI and involved with the organization’s Women in Tech initiative. Marie has held various positions since starting at the College in 2005, including leading research operations for CCI. Working at Drexel, Marie has seen the impact of STEM education first-hand through her collaborations with students and faculty. Marie had the opportunity to work with Girls Code the World when they visited campus for a day trip in which the students were involved in hands-on exercises on topics such as cyber security. Experiences like these have deepened Marie’s commitment to making computing education accessible to those who may not have access to these topics, particularly young women. Marie lives just outside of Philadelphia with her husband and three cats (Tori, Charlie and Posey). She enjoys Pilates and spending time in her garden.

Kristen Aballa

Director of Curriculum (she/her)

Kristen has been an educator for over 18 years. She is currently an 8th grade mathematics teacher at the Christina Seix Academy in Trenton, New Jersey. It was through the Christina Seix Academy that Kristen met Sydney and Mina and was given the opportunity to be introduced to Girls Code the World. It was an instant connection and Kristen has been excited and proud to support the program ever since. She has witnessed first hand the impact that Girls Code the World has had on her students who have had the opportunity to participate. Taking on the role of Director of Curriculum is an honor and a privilege and Kristen is delighted to witness the program continue to evolve and positively impact so many young women. Kristen currently lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Isabella Webster

Director of Mentorship (she/her)

Isabella Webster is a recent graduate of The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA.  While there, she majored in Security and Risk Analysis- Intelligence Analytics and Modeling.  During her time at Penn State, Isabella was heavily involved in Penn State Homecoming, THON, student government, and Women in Information Sciences and Technology (WIST).  She served as a volunteer for the Women in Engineering Program Orientation (WEPO), helped teach STEM curriculum to middle school girls with the Girl Scouts of America, and participated in numerous other programs aimed at providing women and girls with access to science and technical opportunities.  She also worked as a research assistant in Penn State’s Applied Cognitive Science Laboratory. Since graduation, Isabella has worked for IBM as a technology consultant where she is also involved with several organizations supporting women working in male-dominated fields.  Isabella is thrilled to be able to serve as Director of Mentorship for Girls Code the World and, through that position, hopes to provide as many women and girls as possible with both the formal and informal mentorship opportunities needed to aid them along their journey towards success in STEM fields.

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