Leading STEM Diversity and Equity Researcher to Drive Measurement and Impact Across the Organization

Watsonville, CA [June 20, 2024] – Digital NEST (the NEST), a nonprofit organization that creates sustainable and scalable technology learning centers for Latinx youth that foster economic equality, today announced the appointment of Jill Denner, Ph.D. as its first-ever chief impact officer. Dr. Denner, a nationally recognized expert in broadening participation in computing and STEM fields to include underrepresented populations, joins the NEST from Education, Training, Research (ETR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In this newly created role, Dr. Denner will spearhead Digital NEST’s design of an organization-wide research and impact agenda to inform overall strategy and program-specific needs. She will apply her expertise to develop and implement rigorous evidence-based systems that amplify and improve the organization’s program model, and bring the data to life through compelling storytelling to support fundraising and communications. Dr. Denner brings over two decades of leadership championing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

“Attracting a leader of Dr. Denner’s caliber to Digital NEST to an executive role marks a major milestone for the NEST, and is a testament to how effective we are at helping overlooked youth realize their potential,” said Jacob Martinez, founder and CEO, Digital NEST. “Her expertise in impact measurement and program development that engages underrepresented groups in STEM fields will help transform the lives of thousands more Latinx youth through our programs.”

At ETR, Dr. Denner was a senior research scientist and did applied, interdisciplinary, theory-based research and research syntheses on educational equity and STEM education in collaboration with schools, colleges and community-based organizations. She also led the Equity & Inclusion in STEM team, and received over $20 million in federal research grants.

Dr. Denner has also worked at the NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate, in the Education and Workforce cluster since 2020. She managed programs, evaluation contracts, and cooperative agreements related to program evaluation and broadening participation in computing from K-12 through higher education. Programs include Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Computer Science for All, Computer Science Graduate Fellowships (CSGrad4US), Computing in Undergraduate Education, and Broadening Participation in Computing.

“During her tenure at NSF, Dr. Denner has been a strong contributor to the Education and Workforce programs in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate, successfully leading the directorate’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, the evaluation of CISE’s Broadening Participation in Computing initiative, and the CSGrad4US fellowship program. She has been a highly valued member of the team and very well regarded by her colleagues and peers.  We wish her the best in her new journey,” said Behrooz Shirazi, deputy division director, CISE at NSF. 

“I’m thrilled to join Digital NEST to help the organization achieve their mission to increase access to technology jobs in Latinx communities. I have watched this small group of passionate individuals develop and scale its innovative model that combines technical training, mentorship, real-world work experiences and comprehensive support for youth,” said Dr. Denner. “I look forward to contributing to their data-driven efforts to tell the story and increase their impact.”

Since 2014, Digital NEST has provided over 3,700 Latinx youth with the skills, mentors and networks needed to secure internships and jobs, and chart paths to long-term financial stability through technology careers.

About Digital NEST

Digital NEST builds welcoming, dynamic technology and training centers where youth explore their passions, their talents and their futures. Our members build a strong foundation of the skills and experiences every young person needs to thrive in today’s workforce and gain a professional network of friends and mentors that will last them throughout their career. To learn more, visit DigitalNEST.org


Jessica Scadron