Published: January 10, 2024

Temple LesterRACINE, WI – Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin is proud to announce a successful 11th Annual Girls Empowered by Math & Science (GEMS) Conference, held on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

This year's landmark event, was proudly sponsored by SC Johnson, American Association of University Women-Racine Branch, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Racine Unified School District, PPG Foundation, Inclusity, We Make T-shirts,United Way of Racine County, Community State Bank, Summit Credit Union, Gateway Technical College, Educators Credit Union, Ameriprise and SAFE Haven of Racine, featured 550 middle school girls from the Racine Unified School District. Students participated in campus tours, interacted with a college student panel, and engaged in three STEM workshops.

Jessica Safransky Schacht of United Way of Racine County, Keynote speaker Temple Lester, and Chancellor Lynn Akey"The GEMS Conference represents a unique and educational opportunity for young girls to grasp the significance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in shaping their future careers," said Jeanette Brown, CEO of Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin. "Hosting this conference for over a decade underscores our commitment to empowering girls with the tools they need to be resilient, complete their education successfully, maintain good health, and seize control of their destinies."

The conference featured keynote speaker, Temple Lester, a remarkable teen entrepreneur and STEM advocate, as well as interactive and engaging hands on workshops for 8th grade girls. Attendees had the chance to hear from women experts in the STEM field and learn about the exciting STEM career opportunities available to them.

Students conduct research with cockroaches during the 2024 GEMS Conference"I am honored to be the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual GEMS Conference” said Temple Lester, keynote speaker. “Empowering young girls to explore the exciting world of STEM is a cause close to my heart. Together, we can inspire the next generation of innovators, and I look forward to sharing my journey and passion for STEM with these remarkable young minds."

Robin Smerchek, GEMS Conference Chair, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, "We are thrilled to host the GEMS Conference, offering 550 middle school girls in the Racine community a unique opportunity to explore their passions within the STEM landscape. The hands-on workshops allow them to experience potential educational and career avenues in STEM fields. Our gratitude extends to our partners, sponsors, and volunteers for their unwavering support in making this conference a resounding success."

Dr. Lynn Akey Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, shared her sentiments, saying, "We are thrilled to continue our enduring partnership with Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin and the GEMS Conference for the 11th consecutive year. At UW-Parkside, we are deeply committed to enhancing diversity and inclusivity in STEM fields. Events like the GEMS Conference are pivotal in inspiring the next generation of young girls to pursue their passions in these fields. We eagerly welcome 550 girls to our campus, providing them with a valuable opportunity to engage with college students and STEM experts."

About Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin:

Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Through research-based programming and a network of supportive adults, Girls Inc. of Southeast Wisconsin helps girls navigate their way to academic and personal success. For more information, visit

About UW-Parkside:

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is committed to high-quality educational programs, creative and scholarly activities, and services responsive to its diverse student population, and its local, national, and global communities. We are a dynamic learning community grounded in academic excellence and focused on student success, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. The campus serves as a premier comprehensive public institution and a destination of choice, serving as a focal point of local, regional, and global progress.

Media Contact:    

Rebecca Osmolski 

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