FIRST Announces New Hire to Lead and Expand Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Program

Dr. Janell N. Catlin Builds on the Robotics Community’s Mission to Make STEM Education More Accessible to All Students

MANCHESTER, N.H., October 28, 2020FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, today announced that Dr. Janell N. Catlin has joined its leadership team and will report to the President of FIRST as Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Catlin will play a pivotal role at the nonprofit organization, helping to support and build on its mission to serve an inclusive and diverse community.

Over the past 15 years, Dr. Catlin has had the opportunity to develop, manage and implement pivotal STEM education programs in the United States and internationally. She has worked with university leaders and faculty, K-12 schools, industry, philanthropy, community leaders, and government to develop education programs that support the needs of diverse youth and young people.

“My passion for science and education led me to the classroom, and my interest in understanding how young students are motivated to learn and engage inspired me to educational research and teacher education,” Dr. Catlin said.  “At the heart of my work across academia, industry, business, and philanthropy is the theme of doing deep work in the pursuit of advancing educational opportunity. I look forward to helping FIRST continue to expand STEM learning and engagement for all youth, and to ensure those opportunities are not hindered by a student’s zip code, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.”

Dr. Janell Catlin

Dr. Catlin will contribute to a long history at FIRST of fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion – expanding on a role left vacant earlier this year. She will build on these principles and explore, develop, and implement new strategies to increase inclusion and ensure greater access to all FIRST programs.

“At FIRST we recognize that our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is critically important to achieving our mission and making FIRST programs available to all students. We will continue to focus on initiatives that build and nurture an inclusive community and remove barriers to entry to ensure greater, more equitable access to FIRST programs,” said Larry Cohen, FIRST President. “Dr. Catlin will play a pivotal role in continuing this work and expanding our impact. We are eager to have her join the leadership team and provide her with a platform to influence the global FIRST community and our entire organization.”

Dr. Catlin received her Ph.D. and M.Phil. in Science Education and M.A. in Pharmacology, all from Columbia University, and a B.S. in Biology from Bennett College. She is extremely passionate about increasing access and inclusion for all learners in global STEM education and girls' education, and in 2019 co-authored the National Science Teacher Association position statement on Gender Equity in Science Education. She now brings this passion to FIRST, building on its concerted and organized effort to make its programs more accessible and more inclusive.

To learn more about FIRST’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, please visit


About FIRST®
FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Boosted by a global support system of mentors, coaches, volunteers, alumni, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, and build robots, then compete and celebrate at local, regional, and international events. High school students are eligible for more than $80 million in college scholarships. Learn more at