CHANGES Member Profiles

Michael Acosta
Advocacy Coordinator, CHANGES

Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande

Michael Acosta has over thirty-five years of experience in business management, strategic planning, engineering design and development, and economic development throughout his career with IBM and UTEP. He has extensive organizational leadership experience with strong skills in project management, public relations, oral and written communications, speaking in public, interpersonal interactions, fundraising, and relationship building.

Mr. Acosta has extensive experience in organizational advancement, development, and fundraising. He was successful in obtaining, and was the PI (Principal Investigator) on major grants at UTEP totaling over $3.5 million dollars. He was also PI for an additional $400,000 grant to initiate the BNSL (Bi- National Sustainability Laboratory) in 2004.

Michael is currently working with Workforce Solutions Upper Rio Grande, regional workforce development organization in El Paso, Texas, as the Consultant for their STEM Programs

From 2006 to 2012 Mr. Acosta served as the National President of MAES (the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists).

Polina Bakhteiarov
CHANGES Executive Committee Member

Great Streets

Polina Bakhteiarov is the Executive Director of Great Streets, the District of Columbia’s commercial revitalization initiative to transform emerging corridors into thriving and inviting neighborhood centers. Prior to joining the Great Streets team, Polina was a Program Manager with the Executive Office of the Mayor - Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, where she oversaw a portfolio of real estate and business development projects, affordable housing initiatives, and internal agency operations. She was hired into the Program Manger role after completing 18 months in the Capital City Fellows Program with the Government of the District of Columbia, during which she worked on the Mayor's 20-year sustainability initiative (Sustainable DC), as well as performance management in the public safety domain.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Polina’s educational background is in urban planning, civil engineering, and community development. Today, Polina is President of the DC Metro Professional Chapter of MAES - Latinos in Science and Engineering. This newly revived chapter is focusing on Joint Student Chapter development with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) at local universities in the DC metro area, with the goal of empowering these college chapters to "reach down" and mentor students in grades K-12, encouraging them to plan for college studies and careers in STEM. Polina also serves as the Vice President for Community Outreach for the Washington DC Professional Chapter of SHPE. In December 2013, she was elected to be the inaugural Regional Junior Representative (RJR) for SHPE's Region 4 in order to establish, maintain, grow, and promote SHPE Jr Chapters and programming along the East Coast (from Maine to Virginia) and in Puerto Rico.

Hattie Carwell
Coordinator, CHANGES

Museum of African American Technology (MAAT) Science Village

Hattie Carwell is Co-founder and Executive Director of The Museum of African American Technology (MAAT) Science Village in Oakland, Calfornia. She creates programs and exhibits to share the African Americans role in technical developments and the fun of science. Since 1983, she chairs the Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology and reently served as President of the National Technical Association and the Northern California of Black Professional Engineers.

As a health physicist with the U.S. Department of Energy, she provided radiation safety program oversight at several National Laboratories. At the Department’s Berkeley Site Office, she served as High Energy and Nuclear Physics Program Manager and later as Operations Lead managing Environmental. Health and Safety oversight for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She served as a nuclear safeguards group leader at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. She is a graduate of Bennett College and Rutgers University.

Kathy Dixon
Communications Coordinator, CHANGES

University of the District of Columbia

Ms. Dixon is a licensed architect with more than 20 years of experience involving various building types and facilities. She has been involved in every stage of the construction process and has experience in educational, commercial, residential and government projects. A graduate of Howard University’s School of Architecture, Ms. Dixon continued her secondary education at UCLA, matriculating with a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, with a focus on Housing and Community Development. During her career, Kathy has worked on a number of educational facilities in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.

Most recently, Ms. Dixon designed civic facilities and faith-based institutions including fire stations, churches, family life centers, schools and senior housing.

Kathy is the current National President of National President for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). She also served as secretary of the Washington D.C. NOMA Chapter for two terms. Ms. Dixon is active in her church as a Trustee and is a board member for the Harambee Community Development Corporation which recently opened a senior housing complex in Alexandria, VA. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC.

Njema Frazier
Records Coordinator, CHANGES

National Defence University
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

Dr. Njema Frazier is a physicist in the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and visiting professor at the National Defense University, College of International and Security Affairs (CISA) in Washington, D.C. Over the past decade, Dr. Frazier has supported NNSA’s Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship programs and initiatives. Prior to joining NNSA, she spent four years as a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science.

Dr. Frazier received her Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from Michigan State University, conducting her doctoral research at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab where her work focused on “Properties of Shell-Model Wavefunctions at High Excitation Energies.” She did her undergraduate work at Carnegie Mellon University, where she obtained a bachelor's degree in physics.

Dr. Frazier also recently established her own LLC – Diversity Science – to support the advisory, speaking, STEM education, and outreach activities in which she is frequently engaged.

Ashanti Johnson
Communications Coordinator, CHANGES

Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP)

Dr. Ashanti Johnson is the President of the Institute for Broadening Participation and the Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment for the University of Texas at Arlington's Division of Faculty Affairs. Dr. Johnson received her B.S. (1993) in Marine Science from Texas A&M University-Galveston (TAMUG) and her Ph.D. (1999) in Oceanography from Texas A&M University (TAMU). She was the first African American student body president at TAMUG. She is also one of the first female African-American chemical oceanographers in the country, and the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in oceanography from TAMU. She has served as a faculty member for the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, the Savannah State University Marine Science Program, the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science, and most recently the University of Texas at Arlington Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her areas of research specialization include: 1) aquatic radiogeochemistry, 2) professional development of students, and 3) science and engineering diversity-focused initiatives. Her aquatic radiogeochemistry research activities focus on the utilization of various biogeochemical indicators to interpret past events that have impacted the marine, estuarine and freshwater environments in the Arctic, as well as in coastal regions of Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Dr. Johnson’s professional development and diversity-focused scholarly activities are designed to facilitate research and professional development experiences for students representing diverse socioeconomic, cultural, gender, racial and academic backgrounds. She currently serves as the director of one of four NASA One Stop Shopping Initiative (OSSI) Broker-Facilitator Corps, as well as the director for the NASA and NSF-funded Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success in Earth System Science Initiative. She is also the PI of the NSF-funded Pathways to Ocean Science Project and Co-PI of the NSF-funded Pathways to Engineering Project. While an assistant professor at the University of South Florida, Dr. Johnson served as the PI and director of the NSF-funded Florida-Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation USF Bridge to the Doctorate Program and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Minority Ph.D. Program in the College of Marine Science. She also co-directed the NSF-funded USF College of Marine Science OCEANS Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 Education (OCEANS GK-12) Fellowship Program, and facilitated the establishment of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl's Spoonbill Bowl Regional Competition at USF College of Marine Science.

Dr. Johnson has served on the NSF Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education, American Geophysical Union Committee on Education and Human Resources and Subcommittee on Diversity, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Education Committee, International Safe Water Conference Steering Committee, Digital Library for Earth System Education Annual Planning Committee, Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station Advisory Board, University of Maine’s ADVANCE Rising Tide Center Advisory Board, COSEE: Ocean Systems Advisory Board, Maine Physical Sciences Partnership Advisory Board, MentorNet Geosciences Advisory Board and the Howard University Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Program External Advisory Board. Her recent service activities include serving on the steering committee for the American Academy of Microbiology’s “Training the Microbiologist of the Future Colloquium”, being on the executive committee of “CHANGES - the Coalition of Hispanic, African and Native Americans for the Next Generation of Engineers and Scientists”, and participating in the White House Workshop on STEM Minority Inclusion, as well as the White House Forum on Minorities in Energy.

In her “Women Exploring Oceans” interview Dr. Johnson reveals how she initially became interested in the oceans by watching Jacques Cousteau, and how that interest was strengthened after interacting with a female marine biology graduate student who spent a day with Ashanti, then a fifth grader, discussing the oceans. Dr. Johnson still cherishes the childhood memory of that summer day and has throughout her college and professional career frequently shared her interest in the oceans with children, teachers, community leaders, college students and federal government officials.

Dr. Johnson has received numerous honors and awards and has been published in many scientific and education journals. In January 2010 she received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at the White House in recognition of her professional development and diversity-related activities. On February 1, 2010 she was recognized by, an NBC product, as one of 100 History Makers in The Making and more recently she was profiled in the Black Enterprise Magazine March 2011 Issue’s “Women In STEM” Feature Story. Dr. Johnson’s activities have been highlighted in numerous newspapers, on several websites, and by Fox and ABC television affiliates. Dr. Johnson also enjoys her role as wife and mother, and is active in her church, sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.) and local community.

Victor McCrary
Advocacy Coordinator, CHANGES

Morgan State University

Dr. McCrary is the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (VPR&ED) at Morgan State University. He focuses on developing a university-wide research strategy, increasing external support for the University’s research efforts, and championing an entrepreneurial culture among the research faculty at Morgan State. Duties also include working to strengthen the University’s relationships with other universities, industry and national laboratories, e.g. the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and other research HBCUs/MSIs— with an eye toward future proposal collaborations. Finally, the VPR&ED is responsible to further augment the University’s intellectual property portfolio and has direct oversight over the University’s externally funded contracts, grants, and technology transfer. The for VPR&ED is the University’s initial point of contact for research and technology development partnerships with industry, government, and other research universities and research institutions.

He received his doctoral degree Howard University in physical chemistry and an Executive Masters of Science & Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in May 1995.

Richard Morley
Financial Coordinator, CHANGES

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)

Richard Morley is a transformational leader who began his career as a high school and college teacher to most recently as a very successful entrepreneur in the private sector. Richard has led the revitalization and growth of various public entities and brings a set of unique skills and background to SHPE. He has nonprofit sector credentials, including the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and a Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG), two of the highest in nonprofit leadership.

Richard’s lifetime work has been dedicated to creating excellence in education and to lifelong learning. Recently he led the turnaround and growth of two significant community nonprofit organizations. At Mt. SAC Foundation the largest community college west of the Mississippi and one of the largest, most prestigious Hispanic serving institutions in the country and at the Irvine Valley College Foundation, Richard led efforts to raise money for hundreds of thousands of dollars for scholarships and programs, including significant dollars for STEM scholarships. From growing his own business from a small startup to becoming one of the largest boutique training and marketing firms on the West Coast, Richard brings significant knowledge of corporate training and curriculum design that provides context for excellence in all of SHPE’s programs. His knowledge and skills in nonprofit operations and financial management will greatly benefit SHPE in establishing a more streamlined and transparent organization.

His network expands nationwide and includes: corporations, higher education, government, foundations and individual donors that greatly support SHPE’s mission of growth and sustainability.