Celebrating Black Leaders in Brooklyn: Spotlight on Yamilée Toussaint Beach
We spoke with Yamilée Toussaint Beach, Founder and CEO of STEM From Dance, an organization that uses dance to empower, educate, and encourage girls of color to purse their interests in fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
We thank Yamilée for her time, and for sharing her voice with our community. Read our full interview with Yamilée below.
Who is a leader in the Black community (past or present) who inspires you?
I continue to be inspired by the pioneers. There is a certain fortitude and resilience that comes with being the first to achieve something. I think of someone like Shirley Jackson, who was the first African-American woman to have earned a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - my alma mater - and also the second African-American woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics. Hearing about her journey encourages me to be just as courageous in my work.
What local Black-led nonprofit you admire?
I am a huge fan of Opening Act, led by Zareta Ricks. They have a steadfast commitment to advancing arts equity in New York City and beyond, and they are actively centering the voices of students of color through free, high-quality theater programming. The arts have the incredible ability to foster creativity, collaboration, leadership, and problem-solving skills, and I love seeing how Opening Act's use of theater transforms the lives of the young people they work with.
How do you work to achieve equity at STEM From Dance?
At STEM From Dance, we get girls of color excited about technology and engineering. Our mission is to give minority girls the awareness and preparation for a STEM education through the creative and confidence-building aspects of dance. Girls create dance performances infused with technology - like LED costumes and animated backdrops - that ultimately prepare them for a future in STEM. I personally experienced the impact of STEM and dance by graduating from MIT with an engineering degree and pursue dance since my childhood. However, that is not the reality for many girls of color. Black and Latina women comprise only 4% of the STEM workforce. STEM From Dance amplifies the voices of girls as artists to equip them as our next generation of innovators, engineers, scientists, and techies.
Learn more about STEM From Dance here.