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The IGNITE Mission

IGNITE’s mission is to create opportunities to spark girls’ excitement about technology careers and inspire them to new possibilities. IGNITE lights them up. Girls and non-binary students in grades 6-12 from all backgrounds interact with professional women in technology careers during the school day. Young women and non-binary students glimpse themselves as innovators and entrepreneurs through stories of successful women who work and live in their communities. Working with teachers, IGNITE increases girls and non-binary students interest and participation in computer science and engineering classes.

With the growth and positive outcomes IGNITE has created, a demand for the program in elementary schools and colleges has arisen. IGNITE’s mission now encompasses girls and non-binary students at every level of their education.


How does IGNITE work?

  • Teachers are trained to become chapter leaders for a school.
  • We support chapter leaders in organizing panel discussions, field trips, and job shadows during the school year.
  • Professional women in STEM careers volunteer and share their knowledge and experience.
  • Self-identifying girls and non-binary students participate in chapter events and get inspired.
  • Supporters and corporate sponsors make it all possible.


IGNITE Programs

Panel Discussions

Women in STEM careers visit during a panel discussion to tell their stories of how they pursued their careers and can help the students see what’s possible. Girls are inspired by hearing stories they can relate to help them plan their future careers.

Field Trips

Field trips to corporations are held during the school day to introduce girls and non-binary students to how women use and advance technology daily in their work and show the many different types of STEM careers that one company can have. Field trips to community college and universities also highlight the STEM major programs, talks by professors and professional women.

Hands-on Workshops

Corporate and College field trips usually include at least one interactive workshop for the girls and non-binary students that can include programming or brainstorming or design activities. Sometimes these classes are also held at the school sponsored by a corporation.


Cathi Rodgveller, M.S.  ED

IGNITE CEO and Founder

Larisa Goldin

IGNITE Board President

Founder & CEO, Dreamclinic, Inc

unnamedRaelene Sanders

IGNITE Board Treasurer IT Project Manager at Boeing

Manisha Arora

IGNITE Board Vice President

IGNITE Board Secretary

Senior Manager, Strategic Technology Alliances at ServiceNow

Elizabeth Hunter

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Vice President of Technology Strategy Implementation at T-Mobile

Dan Rogers

IGNITE Advisory Board Member CEO of Point to Point Transportation

Julie Averill

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

EVP, CTO at lululemon

Melissa Acton-Buzard

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Founder and CEO of Chameleon Technologies

Liz Bander

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft

Marianne Marck

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

CIO at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers

Amber Zertuche

IGNITE Worldwide Regional Director of California

Catherine Blaikie

IGNITE Regional Board President of California  

Lauren Johnson

IGNITE Worldwide Program Coordinator  

Becky Fuller

IGNITE Worldwide Program Manager

Kylie Rassatt

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Product Manager for Zillow

Ed Price

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Senior Program Manager at Microsoft


Lori Longthorne

IGNITE Advisory Board Member ITS Strategic Communications Manager at Alaska Airlines

Ana Nicacio

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Senior Attorney, Microsoft Corporation

Kelly Elston

IGNITE Advisory Board Member IGNITE Alumni

Sr. User Experience Researcher at Providence Health & Services


Alexa Fleur

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Co-Founder, CritiqueIt Inc  

Holly Muenchow

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Senior Operations Program Manager at Microsoft

Uma Maheswari Anbazhagan

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Senior Software Design Engineer at Microsoft


Dr. Cheryl Ingram

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

CEO and Founder at Inclusology


Heidi Toussaint

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Staff UX Researcher at Google

Anna Beyder

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Founder of Communication Without Borders

Logan McKenzie 

IGNITE Advisory Board Member IGNITE Alumni

Licensed Relationship Manager at KeyBank

Tom Hall

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Senior Project Manager at Microsoft

Shaude' Moore

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Datacenter Security Manager at Amazon Web Services, Physical Security Operations

Michele Amato

IGNITE Advisory Board Member CTE Broadview Thomson Middle School

Kathryn Kelley

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Office Manager, Best Buy Technology Development  Center

Kristi Yankacy

IGNITE Advisory Board Member Senior Engineer, Microsoft

Venus Rekow

IGNITE Advisory Board Member

Founder of Neural Shifts

Jhileah Jackson

IGNITE Advisory Board Member



IGNITE at Microsoft: 2018-2019


Together, IGNITE Worldwide and Microsoft served an incredible 949 girls and non-binary students over the 2018-2019 school year, reaching students as early as fourth grade. That’s right, we started elementary school workshops this year and they were wonderful!

In addition to Microsoft-based workshops, panels, and tours, we also piloted mobile workshops, where we taught workshops at schools that weren’t able to attend an event at the Microsoft Reactor in Redmond, and again, what a wonderful experience! We’ll be bringing back both of those programs this year, and are excited to get started again in October!

Microsoft professionals contributed at least 200 hours of time to these students! Volunteers shared deeply personal moments and stories with students in ways that impacted us as much as them— it was a privilege to witness people sharing powerful personal stories in order to help students recognize their own power. One volunteer said, “The women speaking on the panels always come from such diverse paths to get to their current careers. I loved seeing the interest spark in the girls attending when they sense a personal familiarity with a story from one of the panelists." The first sentence illustrates one of the most powerful, but often unstated parts of the program. While IGNITE Worldwide is absolutely about encouraging girls and non-binary students to pursue STEM careers, we’re also ensuring that those of us who are currently working in STEM have a network that supports us right now, and by learning from one another, we grow.

Now, onto the fun part! Here are some of the highlights, as told by students:

  • "I enjoyed making the turtle move. It inspired me by figuring out that you can program computers to annoy your siblings." (4th grade)
  • "The panel- it gave me more info on the company. Also showed me it doesn't matter where you come from." (12th grade)
  • "Coding was the highlight. The speakers who talked about women in the workplace and how to have a better mindset. It taught me not to be scared and explore new ideas." (10th grade)
  • "It made me more interested in this field and it was great to hear from women of color about their experience and be able to relate to them as a woman of color." (12th grade)
  • “Coding is actually fun!" (10th grade)
  • “There were sooo many smart, cool and strong women.” (5th grade)
  • “I liked hearing about everyone’s backgrounds. Not all of the women at Microsoft were even interested in computer science and technology until later on. This made me feel better because I learned that Microsoft doesn’t necessarily just accept people just because they know everything, but they also look at what different people can bring to their company and [what can] help them strengthen their skills.” (10th grade)
  • “I loved that they gave us a chance to experiment with coding and learn some basics. It inspired me to attempt to change the world with code, as coding is kinda easy.” (8th grade)



IGNITE Impact Report 2017- 2018 SCHOOL YEAR


Why Does IGNITE Exist?


IGNITE Impact Report 2017-18 School Year

  • Since 1999, IGNITE has educated and empowered over 35,000 young women in middle school and high school grades to pursue education and careers in STEM
  • In the Seattle School District alone, female participation in technology classes soared from 10% to 50% immediately after girls attended their first IGNITE event.
  • IGNITE has 75 chapters across the United States and international chapters in Nigeria, Uruguay, and Uganda.


  • Since 1999, IGNITE has educated and empowered over 35,000 young women in middle school and high school grades to pursue education and careers in STEM
  • In the Seattle School District alone, female participation in technology classes soared from 10% to 50% immediately after girls attended their first IGNITE event.
  • IGNITE has 75 chapters across the United States and international chapters in Nigeria, Uruguay, and Uganda.

Schools Districts with IGNITE Chapters

IGNITE Worldwide programs are run in chapters in the following school districts.
School District
Bellevue School DistrictWashington
Bethel School DistrictWashington
Clover Park School DistrictWashington
Federal Way School DistrictWashington
Fife School DistrictWashington
Franklin Pierce School DistrictWashington
Highline School DistrictWashington
Kent School DistrictWashington
Marysville School DistrictWashington
Oakland Unified School DistrictCalifornia
Renton School DistrictWashington
San Francisco Unified School DistrictCalifornia
San Mateo Union High School DistrictCalifornia
Seattle School DistrictWashington
South San Francisco Unified School DistrictCalifornia
Tacoma School DistrictWashington
West Valley School DistrictWashington
IGNITE Worldwide programs are also run by schools and organizations around the globe! Countries with chapters of IGNITE Worldwide include:
  • Uganda
  • Ghana
  • Uruguay
  • Nigeria (Ummy Nusira Academy, Ilorin; D-Light School Ilorin; Dorfedel Academy)
  • Rwanda
  • Poland
  • Brazil
  • India
IGNITE girls at a Career Talk event held at Mariamoh Ajiri Memorial International School, Katsina, Nigeria
IGNITE Chapter in Uruguay hosting a kick-off event & workshop: Close Encounters with Biology and Archaeology

IGNITE Awards & Recognition

We are proud to have received national and international recognition for the IGNITE program. The awards we have been honored with are a reflection of the significant impact this program has had on thousands of girls. Since 1999, the program has touched many lives; from the individual volunteers, corporate sponsors, district staff, and most importantly our 35,000+ IGNITE girls.  
Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring   National Science Foundation & The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

June, 2018
KIRO Radio and WSECU Hometown Hero, Cathi Rodgveller KIRO Radio & WSECU

December, 2018
KIRO 7 News Interview with Cathi Rodgveller KIRO 7 News

April, 2018
IGNITE Interview for iHeartMedia Radio Stations iHeartMedia  

July, 2018
USA Today Article on IGNITE Teaching for the Future: Steering Girls to Science- October, 2012 Cathi Rodgveller on WIT Panel Seattle WIT Regatta

April, 2018
Unsung Hero Award National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)

Gender Equity Award 2002 Cisco

Social Impact Award 2012 Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

August, 2012
CenturyLink Service Award2013 CenturyLink

April, 2002
ACTE Article Igniting Women’s Passion For Careers in Stem

April, 2012
21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award Women eNews

Programs and Practices that Work Award National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)

March, 2007
World of Difference Award 2011 The International Alliance for Women

October, 2011
Seattle Times Article IGNITE Group Introduces Teenage Girls to High-Tech

December, 2007  

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