Advocating Women in Engineering Award
Kansas City STEM Alliance
For fostering enduring partnerships that maintain a pipeline of women engineers; for generational focus that inspires; and for across-the-board engagement of young girls in engineering and STEM.
Martha McCabe is the executive director of the Kansas City Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (KC STEM) Alliance, a position she has held for more than eight years. As a collaborative network of educators, businesses, and organizations, the alliance’s mission is to inspire an interest in engineering and other STEM disciplines for all youth, especially girls and marginalized communities. McCabe’s vision is to serve this mission through creatively developing opportunities and engaging a variety of partners.
In this role, McCabe actively seeks opportunities throughout Kansas City and beyond to serve as an advocate for women and girls in engineering. To date, she has represented the state of Kansas in Washington, D.C., on a federal STEM education taskforce; briefed Congress on rethinking STEM education; and leveraged funds for Kansas City from local and national corporations and the federal government. She works daily in partnership with a powerful set of committed organizations and industry leaders to inspire the next generation of diverse students to pursue careers in STEM.
The KC STEM Alliance is the backbone organization for Kansas City’s STEM Learning Ecosystem: STEM Connect-KC. McCabe’s leadership of and work in the ecosystem in developing cross-sector partnerships has garnered national recognition by Remake Learning in Pittsburgh and has been recognized as a national best practice model replicated in a variety of cities across the U.S., most notably the Mass STEM Hub in Boston.
Previously a clinical exercise physiologist, McCabe worked at health care facilities in Kansas City and New Hampshire before relocating to Wisconsin, where she focused on health care advocacy and workforce initiatives. To address rural health care issues, she opened a federal- and state-funded Area Health Education Center (AHEC), earning the National AHEC Outstanding Health Professions Education Program Award and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Outstanding Rural Schools Initiative Award, as well as being named a Wisconsin Business Friend of Education.
She has consistently demonstrated her commitment and passion for identifying, developing, and expanding opportunities for girls in engineering; building capacity in teachers; engaging mentors; and developing a sustainable ecosystem to help STEM flourish in Kansas City. Under McCabe’s leadership, the KC STEM Alliance has participated every year in the SWE Kansas City Section’s Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED) and IGED Jr.
Her approach to community engagement is also evident in the Mentor Makers program. Now entering its sixth year, Mentor Makers matches, trains, and supports Kansas City-area women professionals in STEM fields with high school girls who are curious about STEM careers.
McCabe earned her B.S. and M.S. in education from The University of Kansas. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband, Brett. She enjoys rowing, running, and dancing at FIRST® Robotics competitions in her free time.