Who’s Who at first

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Becky Alseth

Chief Marketing & Development Officer, FIRST

Becky Alseth is the Chief Marketing & Development Officer for FIRST. Prior to joining FIRST, Alseth spent 9 years leading the U.S. marketing team at the leading car rental company, Avis Budget Group. In that role, Alseth oversaw all marketing efforts including brand strategy, consumer insights, advertising and media, marketing partnerships, CRM, and e-commerce. She started her career working in a series of progressive brand management roles at leading Fortune 500 companies including The Clorox Company, Nestle, and Diageo. Alseth also had the opportunity to join an Internet start-up, move.com, and a medical device company, Therasense. Alseth believes she spent the last two decades learning both the art and science of marketing, so she would be ready to join FIRST and contribute to its important mission.

A native of Montana, Alseth earned her Bachelor of Science in the technical field of Society & Technology from Montana Tech, and her MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business in Seattle.

Cheryl Walsh

Senior Director, Marketing, Media Relations and Alliances, FIRST

As Senior Director of Marketing, Media Relations, and Alliances, Walsh is responsible for traditional and emerging communications channels to raise brand awareness of all FIRST programs. Walsh joined FIRST in 2008 with more than two decades marketing and corporate communications experience. Her work for technology, education, and management consulting firms brings a combined corporate, agency, and non-profit perspective to FIRST’s brand management strategy.

Walsh has worked across all global communications disciplines including marketing, branding, corporate communications, Web marketing, and public relations. She has held a number of senior positions for Boston-based public relations agencies including Senior Vice President at Brodeur Worldwide, Vice President at SHIFT Communications, and Senior Counsel at Topaz Partners. Her industry experience includes software and hardware, telecommunications, business-to-business, management consulting, education, defense contracting, and financial services for companies such as BBN, Arthur D. Little, FTP Software, and The Hanover Insurance Group.
Prior to her corporate work, Walsh held educational public affairs positions at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst and the WANG Institute of Graduate Studies. A member of the board of directors for the United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNAGB), she holds a master’s degree in business administration from Suffolk University’s Sawyer School of Management and she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and English literature from UMASS, Amherst as well as an international certificate from Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England.

Ken Johnson

Director, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST

Ken Johnson is the Director of FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), one of two FIRST programs directed toward inspiring grades 9-12 youth towards continued education and careers in science and technology.

Prior to joining FIRST, Johnson was Vice President of Ward Hill Marketing, a technology marketing group that worked with emerging technologies in various markets including alternative energy, semiconductor process equipment, and photonics.  He has also served as Vice President for Labsphere, a photonics based organization serving both defense and commercial entities worldwide.

He has also held senior positions in technology companies involved in power systems, avionics, and medical devices.

Johnson has an undergraduate degree in finance from the University of South Florida and earned his MBA at the University of New Hampshire.

Anna Maenhout

Director, FIRST LEGO League and Junior FIRST LEGO League, FIRST

Anna Maenhout has been the Director of the FIRST LEGO League program at FIRST since its inception ten years ago. She also manages Junior FIRST LEGO League, a three-year program she piloted in 2004. Maenhout came to FIRST in 1998 with a broad background in business management, primarily in organizational and corporate communications. 

She spent more than 12 years at Digital Equipment Corporation where she held progressive assignments developing and implementing domestic and international communication strategies. Maenhout was recognized by both Digital and numerous Fortune 500 customers for her innovative and rapid response programs. Subsequently, she joined the management team of New Media Solutions, a start-up company consulting with major U.S. corporations on the use of leading edge multimedia technology as sales tools. 

Maenhout holds a bachelor’s of science in Psychology from Boston College.

Dia Stolnitz

Director, Strategic Projects, FIRST

Dia Stolnitz is Director of Strategic Projects for FIRST. She has served in a range of roles at FIRST since 1993, joining first as a consultant under a National Science Foundation grant, and then full-time to start FIRST Place, an R&D hands-on science and technology facility in Manchester for students, teachers, community and national groups. She has also served as Director of Development for the organization. As Director of Strategic Projects, she is responsible for FIRST’s key national events, managing FIRST’s research and evaluation efforts and initiatives, direction of FIRST Place to expansion, as well as assisting the President with the FIRST Board, and she is key liaison with the FIRST Executive Advisory Board. 

Prior to joining FIRST, Stolnitz was the Founder and Director of The Idia (Intervale, Design, Idea & Art) Center (Intervale, NH), a multidisciplinary art center offering exhibits, performances, special events (1989-1993). Previously she worked at Edwin Schlossberg Incorporated (New York, NY) as a Conceptual Designer of participatory exhibit programs for entertainment and educational sites, at the Museum of American Folk Art (New York, NY) as a Project Director of Special Events, and as a consultant for interactive collaborations with museums and public centers.

Stolnitz is an artist who works in photography, sculpture, and multimedia installation. She received her BA from Reed College and an MFA from Yale University. She has exhibited work nationally and is represented in several museum collections and teaches on faculty at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester.

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