We are excited to shine a major spotlight on a special group. A group of influencers, entrepreneurs and creatives locally as well as across the country that just make this city…cool. These men and women are masters of ideas and curation; they are our tastemakers, our thoughtleaders. They are the kings and queens of influence and originality and because of that, we call them The Influentials.
In this edition of The Influentials, get to know serious STEM game changer, Tiffany Johnson.
Associate attorney, Klemchuk LLP & National Society of Black Engineers DFW Professionals Chapter President
GameChanger: As an associate attorney at Klemchuk LLP, I primarily practice patent law and absolutely love helping clients protect their inventions and ideas. It’s nothing short of thrilling to be at the cutting edge of technological advancements and new ideas. As the NSBE DFW Professionals Chapter President, my role involves presiding over meetings and serving as a representative of the Chapter. I am responsible for garnering support from members of the community and fostering relationships with local companies, organizations, and educational institutions.
City/Neighborhood: I live in Fort Worth but work in Uptown Dallas.
Favorite places for fun in DFW? I can’t get enough of the spicy basil fried rice (with chicken, shrimp, and tomatoes added) at Zenna’s on Akard. The cocktails and atmosphere at Parliament are amazing. And, I love to run long distances outdoors (particularly, in Trinity Groves and across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge with my run club).
How did you get into your profession? As a native of Ft. Worth, TX, I attended the High School for Science & Engineering Professions at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School where I was thoroughly involved and held leadership roles in my school’s NSBE Jr. Chapter. While attending my first NSBE National Convention in Charlotte, NC in the year 2000, I observed a beautiful, African-American, mechanical engineer who worked for Ford Motor Company discuss the joys of her career during a panel discussion. Although I attended a high school for science and engineering professions, my perception of how an engineer looked and what a career in engineering embodied completely changed.
For the first time in my life, I witnessed thousands of African American STEM professionals and students from across the nation come together to support, encourage, and teach one another. I learned that an engineering degree would offer the earning potential and foundation for professional growth that I knew I was capable and deserving of achieving.
After graduating high school, I attended Texas A&M University on a full academic scholarship, in part, due to scholarships from NSBE. During my sophomore year at Texas A&M University, I had another “aha moment” when I listened to a patent attorney discuss her career in an engineering ethics course. I immediately knew that I would someday become a patent attorney and became obsessed with the idea of marrying an engineering degree and a law degree.
After five years of studying engineering, I earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Immediately after graduating from Texas A&M, I briefly worked as a mechanical engineer for CH2M Hill in Dallas and made a decision between choosing from three career paths. I was offered a position as Membership Director at the NSBE National Headquarters in Alexandria, VA; a position as a patent examiner in Alexandria, VA; and received acceptance into law school. I chose to attend law school and graduated with a J.D., cum laude, from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. After graduating from law school, I still found my way to the USPTO to finally work as a patent examiner; maybe it was a dream deferred. After working as a patent examiner, I entered private practice and have been practicing as an attorney since.
As president, what vision have you set for NSBE DFW this year? My strategic direction for the DFW Professionals Chapter includes increasing chapter membership and providing more professional development opportunities to our membership and the community (i.e., professional development workshops, mentoring circles, and opportunities to earn certifications) We also want to create a searchable database of local science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals and increase our presence in local schools and community programs in alignment with NSBE’s national Be 1 of 10,000 campaign, in which NSBE Nationals is committed to producing 10,000 African American engineering graduates annually by the year 2025.
Your thoughts on the current landscape for women working in the STEM industry in DFW? Women working in STEM careers are still grossly underrepresented. When you consider the number of women of color working in STEM careers, the statistics are even more astonishing. In 2016, the National Science Foundation provided Science and Engineering Indicators, in which only 29% of the science and engineering workforce was shown to include women. This hasn’t changed much since I was in college over a decade ago. For example, in my undergraduate upper level engineering courses, I was always one of few females, and often the only woman of color. Thus, my thoughts on the current landscape for women working in STEM careers is that the working environment can at times be isolating and it may be more difficult for some women to connect with their counterparts, particularly in a male-dominated industry.
Please tell us more about The Hidden Figures of Dallas initiative and event? Our chapter’s Vice President, Quanta Graves, and Professional Development Co-Chair, Racheal Hill, knew that our chapter had to take action, pay homage to the women in Hidden Figures, and recognize the “hidden figures” in the DFW metroplex. While double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics at Spellman College, Quanta was a NASA Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Scholar. Racheal graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tuskegee University and is a Solar System Ambassador for NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Thus, our chapter developed a program to honor The Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top Women of Color in STEM. Inspired by the film and book Hidden Figures, The Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top Women of Color in STEM will recognize women in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex who have made advancements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in their workplaces and/or the community.
On the evening of Saturday, March 25, 2017, we will host an event to honor the women selected as finalists and raise scholarship funds to provide to deserving graduating high school seniors and college students with ties to the DFW community who have declared a major in a STEM discipline. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is our keynote speaker and the honorary chair of The Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top Women of Color in STEM selection committee. We hope to garner effective partnerships and engage the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex in our STEM education initiatives.
CONNECT WITH TIFFANY ON LINKEDIN
NOMINATIONS: Please nominate a phenomenal woman in STEM by using the following link: nsbedfw.org/hidden-figures. The application fee is $20 per nominee. Deadline for nominations is February 17, 2017. The women selected as The Hidden Figures of Dallas will be announced on Saturday, February 25, 2017. Awards will be presented on Saturday, March 25, 2017 during our annual NSBE DFW Professionals Scholarship Fundraiser Gala. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is our keynote speaker and the honorary chair of The Hidden Figures of Dallas: Top Women of Color in STEM selection committee. We hope to garner effective partnerships and engage the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex in our STEM education initiatives.