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Critical Contributors - Special Event


Critical Contributors – Advancing Diversity in the Science and Engineering Workforce
Texas State University Panel Discussion, Thursday, October 16
7:00PM – 9:00PM

The persistent racial, ethnic, and gender group underrepresentation in the STEM workforce represents the loss of talent. As National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins stated, “Chronic and woeful underrepresentation in the workforce leads to the inescapable conclusion that we are missing critical contributors to our talent pool.”

The industry panelists who join us on October 16 will share their own personal stories and professional journeys in the science and engineering workforce. Their stories will reflect the power of a full inclusion of excellence that underpins this year’s Common Experience Theme. Most importantly, they will inspire Texas State students to join the talent pool of critical contributors that increases and values diversity and cultural competence in the scientific workforce.

"Meet and greet" reception to follow with our panelists and special guests from Tokyo Electron America.



Natalie Cofield – President & CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce

A millennial who found inspiration at the nexus of business, community and politics, Cofield has carved a niche for herself as an entrepreneur, advocate, and speaker on all things start-up and diversity. A converted management consultant, economic fellow, and economic development director, she currently serves as the President & CEO of the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce where she is also the Founding President of the Austin Black Technology Council and Founder of Walker’s Legacy, a national women in business collective. Her work has been featured in Forbes, BusinessInsider, Black Enterprise, Essence and Ebony among others.

Through her many roles, Cofield has established relationships between Austin and global markets such as Israel, Brazil, Kenya and South Africa among others, that have successfully led to formal partnership agreements and trade missions. Domestically, she has worked to establish Austin as a ‘mecca’ for minorities in technology through aggressive national outreach campaigns and the cultivation of strong relationships within the Austin technology eco-system. Formerly, Cofield also served as the founder of the District of Columbia’s $100,000 venture capital backed Business Plan competition which ran successfully for five years.

Cofield serves on the board of the CleanTX Foundation, Biodrill, a renewable energy technology firm, and is a member of the President’s Council for the US Black Chamber, Inc.  In 2010, she testified before the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and authored "The Pursuit of Entrepreneurship: A Guide for African American Entrepreneurs." In 2013, Cofield was named the Technology Diversity Evangelist of the Year by Google and one of the Top 10 Black Innovators by MVMT50, an initiative of South by Southwest.  In 2012, she was named a 20/30 Something to Watch in Austin, Texas by Austin Monthly.

Cofield is a graduate of Howard University and the Baruch School of Public Affairs in New York. An honors Information Systems graduate from the Howard University School of Business, Cofield has spoken for global technology companies including IBM, Dell, Applied Materials, Google, and Facebook among others.

Dawn Jones – Intel
External Affairs Manager

Dawn Jones is currently the Texas External Affairs Manager for Intel Corporation. While Dawn began her career 17 years ago at Intel as an Administrative Assistant, she has worked her way up holding several different key roles including Arizona Media Relations Manager and Corporate Spokesperson. She is currently responsible for maintaining a positive corporate reputation in the Texas community, partnering with school districts to create education programs supporting STEM, driving community engagement and volunteer opportunities for employees, media relations and government affairs.  Recently Dawn completed a 6-week rotational assignment in South Africa where she created a project plan for the Intel ® She Will Connect program which focuses on digital literacy training for 5 million African women.

Board service: Austin Partners in Education, Austin Technology Foundation, Skillpoint Alliance (serves as the Co-Chair of the STEM workforce Council), Austin Chamber Education committee (serves as the chair of the Education Progress Reports).

Education: B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University and M.S. in Communications Management from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University

Shelley Gretlein – National Instruments
Director, Platform Software & Customer Education

As director of platform software and customer education, Shelley Gretlein is responsible for acquiring and retaining successful engineers and scientists with world-class software platform needs. She leads a dynamic team of engineers, marketing professionals, and learning experts to ensure each NI software user is successful and productive. In addition, Gretlein works with R&D leadership to define current and future generations of platform software.

Since joining NI in 2001 as an applications engineer, Gretlein has held multiple leadership positions including manager of ANSI C and .NET software products in the Technical Product Marketing Group. Gretlein was also an integral part of the Real-Time and Embedded Software team where she helped facilitate the launch of the LabVIEW FPGA Module. In addition, Gretlein was senior manager of the Software Business Group where she led the adoption of the NI software platform.

Gretlein is involved in industry consortia on robotics and industrial control and embedded forums. She serves as a graphical system and embedded design consultant for various publications. She has a passion for empowering engineers who are solving the world’s grand challenges and is active in Girlstart, FIRST Robotics, and other STEM-related groups.

Gretlein holds a dual bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering management with minors in French and mathematics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. She also holds several Executive Education completions from the University of Texas, the University of California at Berkeley, and Northwestern University.

Gretchen Edelmon – National Instruments
Courseware Development Group Manager

Gretchen Edelmon works on the Academic Marketing team at National Instruments where she manages courseware development projects designed to allow students to “Do Engineering” from Kindergarten through college. She holds BSEE and MSEE degrees from Texas Tech University and has background work experience in curriculum development, classroom instruction and design engineering.

After 15 years in the Austin high tech industry, Gretchen became a middle school teacher. She focused on finding ways to engage students in STEM topics at an age where they often feel that STEM is just not “their thing.” Through her experiences developing real-world relevant materials for her classroom, she realized many educators could benefit from materials that empowered them to effectively incorporate STEM concepts into their own classrooms. With this goal in mind, Gretchen returned to National Instruments to develop curriculum using NI products.

Nada Noor – Intel
SoC Architect Engineer

Nada Noor is a System-on-Chip (SoC) Architect Engineer at Intel in Austin, Texas. Her early interests in STEM fields lead her to pursue admissions to the Dearborn Center for Math, Science and Technology (DCSMT), a STEM magnet school for high school students. This early exposure to STEM cultivated her aspiration to become an engineer. Upon graduation, Nada entered the University of Michigan - Dearborn where she completed a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her university experience included an internship in IC Design at Xilinx in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also maintained active involvement on campus to promote engineering among women. This ranged from leadership roles in Alpha Omega Epsilon, a professional engineering and technical science sorority, to teaching assistance for the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program for teenage girls.


In her current role, Nada enjoys the challenges and learning opportunities associated with SoC development from technical specification to cross-team communication. She values project commitment and the ability to trace a product from idea to realization. Nada believes that technical background coupled with management skills are the keys to success in the engineering world. She is currently enrolled in the MSE Engineering Management program at the University of Texas - Austin. Nada continues her community engagement through various mentorship and volunteer opportunities.

Sponsored by:

College of Science and Engineering

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