• Our Story
  • Our Impact
  • Our Team
  • Current Chapters
  • Awards & Recognition
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How did IGNITE get started?




Cathi Rodgveller founded IGNITE in 1999 to promote equal access to career and technical education for underrepresented populations in the Seattle School District. Cathi discovered that inviting girls to informational programs where they met women working in STEM careers increased girls interest up to 50% in technology programs offered by the school district.



STEM careers are the fastest growing careers in our country, and women need equal representation. Today, this is still not the case. The latest (2014-2015) STEM statistics show women remain underrepresented in both Engineering and Technology degrees and careers. While women receive over half of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, they receive far fewer in the computer sciences (18.2%), engineering (19.2%), physics (19.1%), and mathematics and statistics (43.1%) (NSF, Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering, 2015). Women remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering (13%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%) (NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2014).



Young girls are not receiving the education and information necessary to want to choose STEM careers. IGNITE breaks down barriers for girls by providing women role models, so girls can see that women have done it before them. Professional women in STEM careers share their stories with IGNITE girls: including stories of hardships and obstacles they have overcome to be successful, so girls can see a path to any dream they have. Girls need an intervention to feel the confidence in themselves to pursue these career choices.


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.
  • Girls participate in chapter events and get inspired.
  • Supporters and corporate sponsors make it all possible.


What has been the impact of IGNITE?

  • Since 1999, IGNITE has educated and empowered over 30,000 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% since the start of the IGNITE program.
  • IGNITE has 37 chapters across the United States and international chapters in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and India.

Cathi Rodgveller, Founder and Managing Director

Cathi founded Ignite to help girls everywhere to believe in themselves and encourage each girl to strive to develop her abilities and skills. Cathi understands that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers offer women the opportunity to make their unique contribution to society while working in high paying roles, gaining confidence and in turn each one becoming a role model for the next generation.  Cathi sees her reward each time a girl understands that she is smart and capable and gains the conviction to accomplish her special dream.

Audra Eng, Director of Development and Operations

Audra has more than 16 years of experience leading and expanding teams in technology startups. Her current role as Director of Development and Operations for IGNITE merges her passion for education and nonprofit work with her extensive background in software and technology. Previously, she was the COO for EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit with a mission to ensure every public school in America has the Internet infrastructure that students need for digital learning. Prior to EducationSuperHighway, Audra has held a number of executive positions at software companies, including VP of Product Management at Atlassian, VP of Product Management for Raytheon Oakley Systems, VP of Product Management for Sygate (acquired by Symantec), Director of Product Management for ArcSight (ARST, later acquired by HP), Director of Product Management for ScanSafe (acquired by Cisco), and Director of Product Management for Internet Security Systems (ISSX, later acquired by IBM).

Board of Directors:

  • Manisha Patel, President of Board of Director
  • Lisa Sandoval, Treasurer of Board of Director
  • Aparna Vishwanathan, Secretary of Board of Director
  • Lynn Kepl
  • Karl Ruff

Manisha Patel is a Program Manager in Microsoft IT, working on IT Service Management.  She’s been at Microsoft for 8 years, both in Microsoft IT and the Windows Server and System Center team, where she worked with external customers to implement solutions.  Manisha has been an IGNITE volunteer since 2006, and on IGNITE’s Board of Directors since 2010.

Lisa Sandoval graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor in Computer Science in 2003. Since graduation, she has been the Program Manager for IT Programs at Seattle Central Community College. For the past 7 years, she has worked with IGNITE to plan the GLITTER event which hosts 80 area high school girls for a day of workshops on pursuing higher education and a career in IT, lunch and prizes.


Aparna Vishwanathan is a Program Manager at Microsoft. She is a computer engineer from University of Mumbai and has received her Master’s in Management Information Systems from Texas A&M University. At IGNITE, as a Microsoft volunteer coordinator, Aparna helps organize IGNITE events on Microsoft campus.


Lynn Kepl has over 25 years professional IT experience including; Business Process Transformation, Strategy & Planning, IT Governance, Change Management, Marketing and Communications, global client deployment and support, and Diversity advocacy. She is currently General Manager and Partner at Microsoft (18 years) and is responsible for driving an all-digital way of work at Microsoft. Lynn is also the current executive sponsor of Women in IT (WIT) for Microsoft IT (5 years).


Karl has worked in Structures engineering, CAD/CAM training, Change management and Lean quality improvement at the Boeing company. He was the Training Manager of the 757-300 program. He is the past president of the WITEA and an executive board member of WA-ACTE. He holds a BS from Western Washington University and a M.Ed. from Seattle University. Karl currently teaches Engineering Design, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Digital Electronics, and Project Management at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. His program has been designated a PRIME program by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. He and his wife have two children in college.


Table of chapters with links to their events as available

IGNITE Chapters

School DistrictNameChapter LeaderContact Information
Highline Public SchoolsWaskowitz Outdoor School & Waskowitz Environmental Leadership School (WELS)
Highline Public SchoolsTechnology, Engineering & Communications High School (TEC)
Shoreline School DistrictShorewood High School
Shoreline School DistrictShorecrest High School
Highline Public SchoolsRaisbeck Aviation
Highline Public SchoolsPuget Sound Skills Center (PSSC)
Highline Public SchoolsNew Start
Seattle School DistrictMadison Middle School
Highline Public SchoolsHealth Sciences & Human Services High School (HS3)
Nigeria ChaptersHanniel Synerg, Lagos
Bethel School DistrictGraham-Kapowsin High School
Highline Public SchoolsGlobal Connections4424 South 188th Street
SeaTac, WA 98188
Clover Park School DistrictClover Park High School11023 Gravelly Lake Dr SW
Tacoma, WA 98499
Highline Public SchoolsChoice Academy18367 8th Ave S
Des Moines, WA 98148
Highline Public SchoolsBig Picture Learning440 South 186th Street
Burien, WA 98148
Highline Public SchoolsArts & Academics Academy830 SW 116th St
Seattle, WA 98146
Uganda ChapterApoolo Na Angor
Highline Public SchoolsAcademy of Citizenship & Empowerment (ACE)4424 South 188th Street
SeaTac, WA 98188
San Francisco Unified School DistrictSOTA High School
Shoreline Community College
Renton School DistrictRenton High School
Renton School DistrictLindbergh High School
Renton School DistrictHazen High School
San Francisco Unified School DistrictGalileo High School
Franklin Pierce School District
Franklin Pierce High School
San Francisco Unified School DistrictEverett Middle School
San Francisco Unified School DistrictAptos Middle School
San Francisco Unified School DistrictAptos Middle School
San Francisco Unified School DistrictLincoln High School
Uganda ChapterWomen and Girls of VictoryAidah Ssemmanda, Founder/DirectorKagulube Village, Mugoye Sub-County, Kalangala District
Highline Public SchoolsTyee CampusKarly Feria 4424 S 188th St; Seattle, Washington 98188
Bellevue School DistrictTillicum Middle School 16020 SE 16th St
Bellevue, WA 98008
Bethel School DistrictSpanaway Lake High School 1305 168th St E
Spanaway, WA 98387
Seattle School DistrictSouth Shore K-84800 S Henderson St
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 252-7600
Seattle School DistrictSouth Lake High School8601 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 252-6600
SeattleSeattle Central CollegeLisa Sandoval
1701 Broadway 2BE3176
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 934-5575
email: lisa.sandoval@seattlecolleges.edu
ph: 206-934-5575
Seattle School DistrictRoosevelt High School1410 NE 66th St
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 252-4810
Seattle School DistrictRainier Beach High School8815 S Seward Park Ave
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 252-6350
Nigeria ChaptersKatsinaAbdulraheem AbdulhakeemNassarawa, Kwado, Behind Teachers’ house, Katsina
Seattle School DistrictNathan Hale High School
Marysville School DistrictMountain View High School4317 76th St NE
Marysville, WA 98270
(360) 653-0628
Highline Public SchoolsMount Rainer High School Sara Baker
22450 19th Ave S
Des Moines, WA 98198
ph: 206-631-7000
email: Sara.Baker@highlineschools.org
San Francisco Unified School DistrictMission High SchoolRebecca Fulop, Biology Teacher3750 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 241-6240
Rwanda ChapterMinduc Groupe Scolaire RutondeDonatha Gihana, Founder/ Director
KG 626 Street, House No.7
P.O Box 1637
Kigali, Rwanda
Seattle School DistrictIngraham High School1819 N 135th St
Seattle, WA 98133
(206) 252-3880
Highline Public SchoolsHighline Public SchoolsJulie Burr, Career Access Manager15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW
Burien, WA 98166
(206) 631-3171
Highline Public SchoolsHighline High School Sydney Williams
225 S. 152nd
Burien, WA 98148
ph: (206) 631-6700
email: Sydney.Williams@highlineschools.org
Seattle School DistrictGarfield High School400 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 252-2270
Seattle School DistrictFranklin High School
Highline Public SchoolsEvergreenRoderick Booker
College and Career Specialist
30 SW 116th
Seattle, WA 98146
Seattle School DistrictCleveland High School5511 15th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 252-7800
Seattle School DistrictChief Sealth High School2600 SW Thistle St
Seattle, WA 98126
(206) 252-8550
San Francisco Unified School District Burton High SchoolNormita Balangue, Physics Teacher400 Mansell St, San Francisco, CA 94134
Seattle School DistrictBroadview – Thomson Middle School13052 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98133
(206) 252-4080
Bethel School DistrictBethel High School 22215 38th Ave E
Spanaway, WA 98387
Seattle School DistrictBallard High School Julie Chapman
School Counselor
1418 NW 65th Street
Seattle, WA 98117
Bellevue School DistrictChinook Middle School Larry Mathews, STEM Instructor2001 98th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
Uruguay ChapterCarla Pereira, Department of Scientific Culture
Board of Education
Polish Chapter


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 25,000+ IGNITE girls.


award2NAPE Unsung Hero Award 2014

award2CenturyLink Service Award 2013

award2Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology – Social Impact Award 2012

award2USA Today Article on IGNITE: “Teaching for the Future: Steering Girls to Science”

award2ACTE Article: “Igniting Women’s Passion For Careers in Stem”

award2TIAW “World of Difference 100″ Award 2011

award2Women eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century 2009

award2Programs and Practices that Work Award 2007

award2CISCO’s Gender Equity Award 2002

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