Board of Directors
Marian (Nichols) Smothers
Chairman & President
Marian Smothers is the younger sister of Nichelle Nichols and has been a proud member of Screen Actors Guild for many years. You can see her on YouTube in the web series, “Sistah Did What?”
Marian has lived in Las Vegas since 2012 and is a past Vice President of The Speeding Theatre-Over 55, a local Senior Theatre Company. She enjoys singing and sharing her talents with the senior community through plays, outreach, fundraisers, and has performed in several Las Vegas Fringe Festival productions. She was also a past President of Kwanza Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization.
In her corporate life, she was an agent for a California Insurance company for 15 years before retiring.
Vice Chairman & Vice President
Victoria Johnson Campbell
Victoria “Vicki” Johnson Campbell is a CPA in California who has an acedemic background and lifelong interest in science, math and space, including volunteer work for Space Week in Los Angeles and as the creator and organizer of numerous anniversary events for the Apollo Program missions and astronauts, many of whom became her friends. She met Nichelle as part of these activities; and, at Nichelle’s request, organized the celebratory events surrounding the installation of Nichelle’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Vicki and Nichelle became longtime friends, participating in many of each other’s family and space related events. Having been the recipient of scholarships and science internships as a result of her acedemic achievements in both math and science at a time when women were not encouraged to enter those fields, she feels strongly about inspiring and supporting everyone to “aim for the stars” for their education and promoting the elimination of barriers to entry.
Joshua Cole is a licensed attorney with 20 years of experience. He has advised on numerous traditional and clean energy projects. Recently, he was a film and television producer on several independent projects.
Member at Large
Our Advisory Board
Any good mission requires a great crew to engage the next generation. Our advisors are Star Trek fans who were inspired to boldly go and have done amazing things with their life. They are an example of why representation and inspiration are so important to young people. They will continue the legacy of Nichelle and we are excited to have Admiral Walter Koenig leading our mission.
Walter and Nichelle had been friends for over 50 years and there is no one more qualified to lead this mission than Admiral Koenig. Over the years, they attended conventions together and their friendship grew. It was a special bond and Walter is looking forward to honoring Nichelle and her legacy by being part of the Nichelle Nichols foundation.
Walter Koenig began his acting career in 1962 as an uncredited Sentry in the TV series Combat! (1962), and in the following few years had bit roles in several television shows, until he landed the role that would change his life in ways he could never have imagined, as Ensign Pavel Chekov in Star Trek’s Original Series (Star Trek (1966)). He went on to reprise that role in all 7 of the original Star Trek movies as well as voicing the same character in several of the video games. He also had a recurring role of the quintessential scoundrel Bester on the television series Babylon 5 (1993).Koenig’s autobiography, “Warped Factors – A Neurotic’s Guide to the Universe” was released through Taylor Publishing on April 1, 1998. The audio tape reading of the book by the author has been released through Dove Video in January 1999. Koenig performed as the Shadow Guy in an episode of Diagnosis Murder (1993) and went to New York to perform in a new radio broadcast version of “War of the Worlds” in tribute to both H.G. Wells and Orson Welles. From “The Girls of Summer” to “The Boys in Autumn”, Koenig’s stage career spans thirty years and includes stops in New York with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Quince) and “Six Characters in Search of an Author” (Oldest Son).
Walter has written for the television series The Powers of Matthew Star (1982), What Really Happened to the Class of ’65? (1977), Family (1976), Land of the Lost (1974), and the animated Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973) series. This actor-writer has seen publication with the non-fiction “Chekov’s Enterprise” and the satiric fantasy novel “Buck Alice and the Actor-Robot”. He also created the three issues of the comic book story “Raver” published by Malibu Comics.
Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio
A seven years old Puerto Rican living in the South Bronx, New York, woke up to a cockroach laying eggs below her bedroom window. She jumped down from the bunk bed to determine if it was feces, larvae, or something else. She couldn’t tell what it was, so she covered it with my empty shoebox. She checked on the “white things” about 3 to 4 times daily. After a few weeks, she was in awe that several small cockroaches were hatching out from one white thing (i.e., an egg case). Even more impressive was that the freshly hatched cockroaches were white, then darkened brown within minutes. Her love and fight for STEAM access began.
She asked my teachers how and why such a life development phenomenon occurred, but their responses were, “It is not for you to know, and who do you think you are going to be, a scientist?” She remembers teachers stating that a scientist is a “college-educated man” making discoveries, not individuals like you.
That little girl knew that was not true because of Lt. Nyota Uhura (aka Nichelle Nichols) in Star Trek. Lt. Nyota Uhura looked like her Tia Isabella, who speaks different languages, is an astronaut, a scientist, and has remarkable fighting skills. From reading Stan Lee Spiderman and Xmen comics, she knew college is critical and being different is a “superpower.” She also knew people like her could go to college because, in The Cosby Show, Tony Orlando said he went to college as a proud Puerto Rican. Finally, she remembered watching Newton’s Apple on PBS, featuring the incredible geneticist Dr. Ed Lewis and his team, including female scientists. Fun fact: Several years later, she met Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ed Lewis, and he became one of her incredible mentors as a doctoral student at CalTech.
The story above is part of my scientific and educator journey. If I had more representation of my possibilities, I wonder where I would be now. It is vital to include multiculturalism and access in STEAM education to fully prepare and equip our future world changers in STEAM careers to reach above our stars. Our students should see themselves within each subject, relate to the topic, and know their endless possibilities. Dr. Mae Jemison brilliantly states, “We see science as something very elite, which only a few people can learn. That’s not true. You have to start early and give kids a foundation. Kids live up, or down, to expectations.”
Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio has over 15 years of experience as a STEAM k-12 educator, training and leading k-12 educators and fellow scientists to design, promote and facilitate JEDI-related initiatives within STEAM workspaces. Her motivation is to move the needle towards an inclusive community that recognizes all voices’ power and benefits while ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities. A community sense of belonging creates breakthrough innovations, pioneering new frontiers, and authentic learning and appreciation.
Dr. Gonzalez-Serricchio earned her Doctorate in Molecular Genetics at the California Institute of Technology, then her postdoctoral work on myotonic dystrophy at the Institute of Genetic Medicine at the University of California. She later became the co-Principal investigator and lecturer at California State Polytechnic University on sperm motility and mitochondrial defects using roundworms as the investigative tool.
Dr. Gonzalez-Serricchio is a science educator and research director (k-12th) at a private school in Southern California and the Outreach Director at the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences.
To learn more about Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio and her efforts to advocate for STEAM education and opportunities, please view the following links:
1)Inspiration through Representation; the A in STEAM with Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio
2) Latino Thought Makers: Women Who Rule
3) How To Break into STEAM Education
4) Having a Learning Difference & Persevering in a STEAM career.
5) What it’s like to be a STEAM Educator and Scientist
7) Instagram: @real_dr._g
8) TikTok: @dr_aidyl_gonzalez
Dr. Michael L. Wong
Astrobiologist, Planetary Scientist
Dr. Danielle R. Wood
Professor Danielle Wood serves as an Assistant Professor in the Program in Media Arts & Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Wood serves at MIT as the Faculty Lead for African and African Diaspora Studies. Within the Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. The research of Space Enabled designs systems that use tools from space to promote sustainability on Earth and designs approaches to support sustainability in Space.
Prof. Wood’s background includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world. Prior to serving as faculty at MIT, Professor Wood held positions at NASA Headquarters, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.
Scientist, Human Resilience Expert
Yvette is a space suit technician, space industry strategist, humanitarian, and Atmospheric | Climate Researcher. As a child of the 70s and 80s, she was raised in a Trekkie home (her brother is even named after Captain Picard!). Her parents sprinkled evenings in stargazing on the Franklin Mountains, dreaming up what new inventions and technologies humans would need to live in space. At home, her creativity was encouraged and watching Nichelle Nichols meant that anyone, even women of color, had a rightful place in space exploration and scientific discovery. Of Aztec and Mexica heritage, it was important that Yvette saw women of color in roles and careers that had a larger impact on the future of humanity.
While she had lofty aspirations of going to space, Yvette had a calling to work as a humanitarian. She spent over two decades responding to disasters, fragile contexts, and forced migrant communities across the planet. Often living in tents in the desert of Mauritania, or in the midst of active war in Afghanistan, or immediately after the earthquake in Haiti, or across the most remote of communities in Somalia supporting women’s programs. This experience rebuilding communities in active war, conflict, natural disasters, and epidemiological outbreaks is where she cultivated her human resilience expertise. Observing the behaviors and coping mechanisms of families as they overcame adverse and often traumatizing events offered a library of insights for how humans are able to survive with scarce resources, in small and crowded shelters, and maintain their dignity as they recover and build their lives anew.
Over time, she knew that this lived experience could contribute to more. When she crossed over to the space industry, she asked herself, how can I apply my human resilience and international development experience to space? She is doing that in several ways. As a consultant for private and public sector actors, she focuses on space technologies that are solving some of Earth’s challenges. As well, she offers strategic guidance to host governments on building space organizations, agencies, and human spaceflight programs. She continues to train commercial Scientist-Astronaut candidates on safely putting on, working in, testing, evaluating, and thriving in the space suit environment. Students of all ages, genders, and disciplines hail from over 64 countries. So her Trekkie dream of a diverse and equitable space future is literally unfolding!
She founded Native Sky Inc., a nonprofit providing access to space science & STEM for Indigenous youth and communities. The team, including Yvette, is comprised of 100% Indigenous women. They count amongst them a geneticist, an anthropologist, and an Afro Indigenous coder, and together they bring a multitude of fascinating pathways to space and STEM. Their first funded research supports their Sky Indicators x Climate research project focused on monitoring upper atmospheric phenomena and how it might be one indicator of climate change. She also co-founded the Legacy Series Inc., a nonprofit focused on supporting a series of suborbital and orbital all-female spaceflights that build community and contribute to Impact Projects focused on such critical areas such as women’s health, education, art, and space research.
In 2021 she was inducted into the Explorers Club as one of 16 women paving an exploration path in the new millennium to honor the original 16 women who joined the club in 1981. That same year she received the ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ award from the STEM Success Summit, an organization supporting black, Indigenous, people of color in STEM. In 2022 she was honored as one of 60 women by the World Woman’ Hour who are building a network of women actively providing opportunities and opening doors young girls around the world while contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Yvette is a trained opera singer, black-out poet, avid explorer, and enjoys capturing photos of the night sky. She loves spending time with family and has heard completely biased reports that she’s a pretty fun Auntie!
Dr. Ronald S. Gamble
Dr. Mohamed Noor
PHD, Professor of Biology
Dr. Cat Roberts
Dr. Cat Roberts is a practicing physician. She was raised by her father, who raised her right by watching Star Trek together! She credits Star Trek for never making her feel like she was limited by gender and Nichelle Nichols was a big part of that. Dr. Roberts does acting as a hobby and has played several classic Star Trek characters in fan films (Lt. Palmer, Yeoman Janice Rand, and Seven of Nine).
Catherine ”Cat” Roberts, M.D. is a board-certified radiologist sub specializing in musculoskeletal imaging. She is additionally board certified in Clinical Informatics by the American Board of Preventative Medicine (ABPM). Dr. Roberts is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt by the American Society of Quality. She is a Certified Physician Executive by the Certifying Commission in Medical Management. She holds Health Information Technology Leadership Certification from the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL).
Dr. Roberts has extensive experience establishing and monitoring national healthcare quality performance metrics. She has co-authored over 50 American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria topics on musculoskeletal imaging. She has instituted national quality metrics with the National Quality Forum (NQF) since 2010.
Dr. Roberts has both formal training and practical experience in quality improvement and clinical informatics. Six of her 73 abstracts and six of her 88 peer-reviewed publications are on quality improvement. Fifteen of her 97 national and international presentations have been on safety and quality improvement. She has authored 75 book chapters and co-authored 2 radiology textbooks. She has over 285 total publications.
Dr. Roberts joined vRad in January 2018 after over 15 years on staff at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Erin Macdonald
Erin Macdonald (PhD, Astrophysics) is a tattooed one-woman career panel for an astrophysics degree and currently lives in Los Angeles working as a writer as well as the technical consultant for the Star Trek franchise. She received her PhD from the University of Glasgow in Scotland doing research with the LIGO Collaboration on general relativity and gravitational waves. After research she moved into public education at museums and colleges before consulting for the federal government (Department of Defense and, what is now the US Space Force). Erin then followed her passion into writing and entertainment consulting where she could tell the types of stories that can inspire future generations and joined the Star Trek franchise in 2019. In addition to TV writing she is a recurring writer for the popular YouTube channel Extra Credits, and wrote and narrated the Audible Original The Science of Sci-Fi while continuing to give talks and panels on the science of science fiction at a number of popular culture conventions across the country.
Dr. Sian Proctor
Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, space artist, and astronaut. She is the CEO of Space2inspire and founder of The JEDI Space Foundation. She was the mission pilot for SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian orbital mission. She is the first African American woman to pilot a spacecraft, the first African American commercial astronaut, and the first African American to paint in space. She is also one of The Explorer’s Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World. Her motto is called Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique, one-of-a-kind strengths, and passion to inspire those within their reach and beyond. She believes that we need to actively strive for a JEDI Space: a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive space as we advance human spaceflight.
She uses her afrofuturism space art to encourage conversations about women of color in the space industry. She believes that when we solve for space, we also solve issues on Earth and she promotes the adoption of space technology for issues such as food waste and climate change.
Dr. Proctor is a geoscience professor at South Mountain Community College, in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a global leader and ambassador for the Maricopa Community College District.
Dr. Kara Brugman
Dr. Brugman is a lifelong Star Trek fan. Her favorite series is “Deep Space Nine” and she was strongly influenced by the characters Lt. Cmdr. Jadzia Dax and Col. Kira Nerys. In her spare time, she enjoys bouldering, hiking, puzzle hunts, eating, and snuggling with her foster fail cat, Kinzi.
Dr. Kayla Iacovino
Computer Science Educator
Amy Ulen is a National Board Certified Teacher who currently works for the Clover Park School District integrating computer science in kindergarten through twelfth grades. During her 32-year public education career, Amy has taught courses as varied as Shakespeare, Science Fiction, Video Game Design, and Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles. She helps her students realize that they have the power to make their dreams a reality and to create a positive impact on the world.
Ulen is a long-time Star Trek fan, and her students helped make one of her dreams a reality when they voted for her to win a walk-on role to Star Trek Enterprise through a local radio contest in 2004. That experience led to opportunities for Amy to write articles for the former version of StarTrek.com, run celebrity at a variety of conventions, and appear in Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Ulen is honored to continue her Star Trek journey with the Nichelle Nichols Foundation in support of diversity in STEAM.
Follow Amy on Instagram (@amyulen) for Star Trek photos and memories.
LaShana M. Lewis
LaShana Lewis is Founder & CEO of L. M. Lewis Consulting, a DEI, technology and nonprofit management consulting firm. She started watching Star Trek from a young age and has been a dedicated Trekker since her childhood in East St. Louis, influencing her to pursue a passion in computer engineering. When she’s not working or watching Star Trek, you can find her on the board of nonprofits dedicated to providing access to women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, immigrants, and people of color.
Ph.D. student in Aerospace Engineering
Naia Butler-Craig, a native of Orlando, is working toward her Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering and is a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research fellow and GEM fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research involves characterizing the electron energy distribution function at the inner front pole cover of a magnetically shielded Hall-Effect Thruster with a centrally mounted cathode using Laser Thomson Scattering.
In between her pressing academic schedule, Butler-Craig also works to advocate for diversity in STEAM disciplines. She engages in public speaking events, volunteers with STEAM organizations, and virtually mentors students.
Butler-Craig has also built a large following online through her social media profiles and website. These outlets bring her advocacy work to life by offering a window into the life of a doctoral student in a laboratory, testimony and Q&A videos from her living room, and quick demonstration videos on a variety of aerospace engineering topics.
Naia Butler-Craig is also the recipient of the 2020 Modern-Day Technology Leader Award and 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 award for her outstanding performance in STEM
Star Trek Host, Speaker
Author of the classic Star Trek: Next Generation Companion and Stellar Cartography maps/book set, Larry “Dr. Trek” Nemecek now takes global Trek fans backstage every month under his Trekland banner with the pioneering PORTAL 47 deep-dive live/online insider package, plus over 200 weekly visits as host of THE TREK FILES from Roddenberry Podcasts. Larry also hosts his Trekland Tuesdays LIVE each week since 2017 on his YouTube channel and—outside of pandemics— leads customized day tours of LA Trek’s on-location film sites for fans as TREKLAND TREKS. A global commentator on Star Trek most recently featured throughout the 10-part Center Seat documentary series on History Channel, his column “A Fistful of Data” just hit 23 years in the Star Trek Explorer official magazine. Larry’s own documentary The Con of Wrath is in post-production, and his Trekland: On Speaker remastered archival interview CDs is into five volumes. It’s all why the non-profit Future Society of Central Oklahoma named the ex-pat Okie a Nucleon Award winner in 2022 as the most recent inductee to the Oklahoma Speculative Fiction Hall of Fame.
Dr. David A. Williams
Dr. David A. Williams is a Research Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Dr. Williams is the Director of the Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies, the NASA planetary data center at ASU. David is currently performing research in volcanology and planetary geology, with a focus on planetary mapping, geochemical, and remote sensing studies. His research has included computer modeling of seismic wave propagation through planetary interiors, visible and near-infrared spectroscopy of the lunar surface, planetary geologic mapping of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, the planet Mars, the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, computer modeling of the physical and geochemical evolution of lava flows in a variety of planetary environments, and petrologic study of lava samples from Mount St Helens. He was involved with NASA’s Magellan Mission to Venus, Galileo Mission to Jupiter, and Dawn Mission to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. He is a Co-Investigator on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter mission. He is also a Co-Investigator and Deputy Lead for the multispectral imager on NASA’s Psyche Mission, scheduled to launch in October 2023. In 2014 David was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and asteroid 10,46Dawilliams was named in his honor. He was the Secretary of the Planetary Sciences Section of the American Geophysical Union in 2019-2020. David is a life-long Star Trek fan, and a member of the United Federation of Phoenix, one of the oldest continuously running Star Trek fan clubs in the US. Motivated to pursue a career in space science from watching TOS as a child, he now speaks about NASA space science missions, as well as the Star Trek franchise, to community groups and conventions.
Professional Voice over Talent
Jeff is a big believer in the power and influence of the human voice, he’s been working in the professional voiceover industry for over 20 years, and with his sure-footed, powerful voiceover work, he’s helped countless clients achieve their project goals, and bring a sense of control and depth to their projects.
A client once said “Jeff could tame a wild animal with his strong, heart centered voice.” Jeff met Nichelle while emceeing a charity show that she was performing at in San Diego and they became instant friends both wanting the make the world a better place.
Jeff is also the President & Founder of Children’s Holiday Magic Project, a successful non-profit that began as a class project and benefits children who spend their holidays in the hospital. With a passion for music, story telling and children, the project is his way to give back to the community each year. Nichelle and her sister Marian generously agreed to perform at the charity fundraiser in 2012 and gleefully read the story of Elmo’s Christmas! Nichelle also surprised the entire audience when she offered to sing acappella. She captivated everyone there.