TITLE: Executive Director
FUNDING AREAS: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education
CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)
IP TAKE: Golden is a trained lawyer with a knack for thinking outside the box. She's looking for measurable, sustainable ways to create the next generation of Iron Men and Iron Women.
PROFILE: Paula Golden may be a trained lawyer with a history as a TV and radio host, but her true passion lies in science and engineering.
Golden, executive director at the Broadcom Foundation, is a vocal proponent of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in U.S. schools. With the backing of her foundation's $74 million endowment, she's on a mission to convince children to idolize the "devastatingly handsome" comic-book hero Iron Man and think about computer science when they text their friends.
Hooking kids on the fascinating aspects of STEM education is critical in the effort to build the next generation of Iron Men and Iron Women, she argues.
"What children and their parents don't understand at the middle school level is that without mastering the fundamentals of math and science, a child will not have the necessary knowledge essential to expand college choices that can lead to rewarding STEM careers," she wrote in the Huffington Post. "By prematurely concluding that math and science are too hard, simply not interesting, or not important to their future, kids lose out on exciting professional choices that bring with them meaningful economic opportunity."
Golden's own transition to the world of STEM education came long after middle school. With a bachelor's degree Wellesley College with a focus on English and education, and a J.D. from the New England School of Law, she followed a path in her early career toward the upper echelons of the political establishment in Massachusetts. She spent more than two years as chief counsel and deputy director at the state Registry of Motor Vehicles and another year leading the Massachusetts Seat Belt Coalition, where she advocated for child safety laws. She also developed a reputation as a political commentator, hosting her own public affairs show and consulting with Democratic candidates around Massachusetts.
But in the early 1990s, Golden's trajectory shifted. She led a coalition of engineering companies, helped raise funds for a neuroscience initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, and managed fundraising efforts for a health center in Los Angeles. She also spent time raising funds for the X Prize, a program that uses cash awards to create tech-focused competitions like building a passenger aircraft that could fly into space.
Golden's experience with outside-the-box efforts like the X Prize fits right in with the goals of the Broadcom Foundation. Her previous experience resulted in a competition of the foundation's own entitity—the Broadcom MASTERS program, which rewards middle school students who take part in science fairs.
But the MASTERS program is only the newest of Broadcom's initiatives. Golden is also looking for opportunities to partner with universities and other academic institutions to improve STEM education. While the foundation usually accepts proposals by invitation only, it does take unsolicited applications between April 30 and June 30. Winning proposals usually feature metrics that can demonstrate success or failure, and they take an approach that can be scaled up and replicated by others.