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Emily Landis is an innovative leader who encourages her community to search for the answers to life’s big questions through STEM. As Executive Director of The Lancaster Science Factory*, Emily is passionate about developing the nonprofit as a regional leader in STEM education.
Emily studied Biological Anthropology as a Graduate Research Fellow with the National Science Foundation. Her training and research in STEM was highly interdisciplinary, drawing on computer science, kinesiology, biology, and anthropology.
Before taking her current role, Emily worked at the National Geographic Society, funding scientific field research for six years. While she enjoyed the global perspective and educational reach there, she was drawn to the community-based science center because she could translate science to the public and see the daily educational and emotional impact.
“When we talk to students at the Science Factory, a popular question right now is, ‘How can I help solve climate change?’” she shared. “I think they’re motivated to study STEM to solve the big problems.”
Founded in 2008, the Science Factory’s mission is to inspire curiosity, creativity, and confidence by fostering an inclusive environment for hands-on STEM exploration.
In the 10 years under Emily’s leadership, the center has transformed, doubling the size of the exhibit hall, the annual attendance numbers, the number of staff, and the annual budget.
The center houses over 75 fun and educational STEM exhibits for pre-K to 8th grade students, and recently added a Maker Space, Outdoor Courtyard, and iconic climber—the Sky Bridge.
“The High Foundation Skybridge that opened this year is a massive legacy at the Science Factory,” Emily shared. “We were looking for an iconic exhibit that would capture the hearts and minds of our visitors so we commissioned a design that was inspired by the engineering principles of bridges. It is a true feat of engineering, and it’s awe-inspiring.”
This year, they are on track to set a new attendance record of 60,000 visitors, making the Science Factory a thriving STEM destination.
The nonprofit leader has learned much throughout her successful career and gives emerging leaders a wealth of advice.
“Take every opportunity to learn and to grow as a leader,” she said. “After 10 years in this role, I have found the longer I’ve been here, the more I understood how I can make a difference.”
“We want to inspire students of all ages to fall in love with learning and discover the world around them,” Emily added. “Once they have that curiosity, who knows how far they’ll take it?”
Emily and her team are making a difference in our community by encouraging the next generation of STEM leaders to build bridges toward a better future.
*Since the publishing of this article, Emily Landis has resigned as Executive Director after more than 10 years of outstanding service to The Lancaster Science Factory. The Science Factory Board of Directors has begun the search process for selecting the new Executive Director who will continue leading the organization forward, thanks to the excellent work Emily and the entire Science Factory team have invested into the community.
The Reach High series is introduces you to business and nonprofit leaders who are thoughtfully innovating with a spirit of servant leadership. Brought to you by High Foundation, you can find out more about their mission to be a Bridge to Opportunity for the Lancaster community at highfoundation.org.