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Xan Black Headshot

Ecosystem Leader Wants to Ensure That Every Child Has Goals, Hope and Pathways

Xan Black has a quote at the end of her emails from Winston Churchill. It reads, “Never, never, never give up.”

While they were Churchill’s words, they are Xan’s life and work.

Xan, who retired in March as the executive director of the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, TRSA, has now joined TIES and the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice to coach leaders of the 94 Ecosystems and to share what she learned in her years of building a thriving STEM Ecosystem made up of more than 180 stakeholders.

“My greatest hope is to encourage ecosystem leaders and share the things I’ve learned so that they can go further and faster in serving students, teachers and families across the SLECoP,” Xan said.

Xan will be starting with Ecosystems that have reported trouble with securing funding, gaining partnerships or establishing their work. She is also joining and helping to lead numerous other discussions, focused on such topics as building trust and relationships with businesses. 

In fact, she is helping organize a webinar for the Community of Practice at 1 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday, May 25 titled “Recruiting/Engaging More Business Partnerships.”

Jan Morrison, founder and president of TIES, said she asked Xan to join the team because of her vast experience building and sustaining a strong Ecosystems. “Xan is what we all want to be when we grow up. She is an accomplished engineer, a doer, a connector, a person who doesn’t settle and, as we all know, someone who will never, never, never give up,” Jan said.

Xan’s own STEM journey began as a Petroleum Engineer in Oklahoma. She then transitioned to education, working first as a substitute teacher and then volunteering in her children’s schools.

She eventually went back to college, earning a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis on Middle and Secondary Education. She taught middle school and high school Math, Physics and Pre-Engineering. 

She then moved to a position with Tulsa Community College as the lead for the Tulsa Alliance for Engineering which grew into the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance. 

Throughout her career transitions, she said she has been fueled by a fundamental belief in the right of every child to have hope, quality education, goals and pathways to achieve them.

“I worry about children who do not have hope. I don’t want to miss a single child. I want to be a part of the huge movement that is working to create a world in which students are encouraged, to learn and grow. I want every student to have a desirable goal, see a clear pathway to that goal and a cadre of adults cheering like mad for them,” Xan said. “I will be the one with face paint on leading the cheer!”

Xan said she was pleased to join the TIES team because of her long-held admiration for its work. “I’ve always been so grateful to TIES and the SLECoP for the critical role they played in the formation of TRSA. When I saw a chance to share the things I’ve learned along the TRSA journey with our fellow STEM ecosystems across the country, I jumped at the chance!”

Xan said she is sensing a new appreciation for work of educators and the critical role of that work in the lives of students. “Thanks, in large measure, to the work of TIES and the SLECoP, I sense a new awareness across the country that education isn’t something that will happen strictly at school, but rather there are countless vignettes for learning – grand and small – and that we each have the amazing opportunity to put our shoulder to the plow and make the dream of high quality education for all a reality.”