AMA Houston is proud to celebrate diversity in thought, leadership, and contribution throughout the year. This February, we are honored to highlight some of the Black professionals we know and admire as we celebrate Black History Month.
This week, we are thrilled to introduce you to Loretta Williams Gurnell, B.S., M.Ed., who is a STEM Influencer and Leadership Strategist, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Super Girls Shine. Super Girls Shine is a nonprofit organization that works to “provide exposure plus access with tangible opportunities for girls 10-17, in underserved and underrepresented communities in STEM, innovation, and leadership initiatives.”
- Tell us a little bit about you! What work do you do, and where do you work?
As a lady who loves the sunshine on a cool breezy day walking outside with a lot of vision and ideas, I wish I could do that more. LOL! So, as a wife, mother, business owner, nonprofit leadHER, STEM Influencer and Leadership Strategist, I find myself still having great vision and ideas, but less time to think them through outside on a sunny day. Therefore, I do it with our teams as we provide exposure, access, equity, and opportunities for girls and rising leadHERs in STEM with this promise, “SGSF is the pipeline for building and sustaining future girls and women leadHERs in STEM through mentorships, internships, and scholarships.”
The best part is that I get to see girls and women SHINE through our SUPERLady NetWORK that benefits SUPERGirls SHINE Foundation and build sustainable communities for athletes in LMI communities through GAP Management Group.
- What is the most fulfilling part of your work?
The most fulfilling part is having clear vision that literally closes the gaps through equity and access for LMI communities by collaborating with and partnering with industry leaders where SGSF provided marketable talent that is workforce-ready to fill, expand, and lead in our STEM industries across a number of sectors and entrepreneurship in STEM. And doing this with teenage sons and SUPERGirls having access with a front row seat!
- Has there been a significant experience you have had that has impacted your journey to this point?
Coming from science research, higher education development, community nonprofit leadership to the STEM classroom teaching in public/urban education, I would say the most IMPACTful point that has been on my journey is being a mother of two sons with my husband and learning from key lessons in life and poverty from my students. It was them who gave me the motivation to be innovative, honest, more authentic, and courageous in making sure our students were not alienated with opportunity, terminology, current events, and industry leaders who looked like them. With my contacts and knack for effective collaborations, I made sure through Science Fairs, industry research projects , hands-on lab experiences and industry classroom visits, our students stayed connected and tuned into what life was like in the world of STEM. In addition, because I had authentic relationships with students, they, with respect, were able to share the good, not so good, and what we all could learn from. It made for great memories and intellectual challenges for my students and myself.
- As a Person of Color in your industry, what is the most important message that you would choose to share with your industry at large?
Please see the image below; teach this lesson at home first and then live it everywhere you go. Then speak about it at the table while you are adding value and data that supports why and how you solve problems.
Equality is not Equity, yet equity builds equality!
- Who/what motivates and inspires you?
Before my mom transitioned, I promised her I would live and NOT simply exist. Therefore, that promise motivates me while my dudes (husband and our sons) inspire me. They lift me. They challenge me. They love me. They debate me because they know and want to see the best version of me as I do them. Therefore, that allows me to be my complete self when I encounter others which inspires me to be that for them too!