Heidi Olinger, Chief Executive Officer and President, Board of Directors
Heidi Ann Olinger is the founder and chief executive officer of Pretty Brainy and serves as president of the Board of Directors. Heidi launched Pretty Brainy in 2008 with the goal of designing innovative learning that respects girls’ genuine interests and evaluation of science, technology, and math. Pretty Brainy received its first funding to develop STEAM-inspired apparel for girls, which in 2009 won the highest honor from the Mom’s Choice Awards®. In 2010 Heidi led a pilot workshop in The STEM of Fashion Design™ that resulted in Pretty Brainy fully pivoting in the direction of designing and delivering experiential learning steeped in real-world implications and outcomes. Consistent with this new direction, in 2013 Pretty Brainy became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of Empowering Girls to Gain STEAM.
Heidi’s education includes degrees from the Universities of Wisconsin and Colorado and post-graduate work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Future of Learning Institute at Project Zero. At the University of Colorado she also served on the faculty and was part of the leadership team under the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs that was rethinking how students learn and the practices that produce authentic critical thinking. A key focus of her pedagogy and service to profession was helping minority students find their voice and place of belonging at the university. In addition to her work in higher education, Heidi has been honored by the Boettcher Foundation and others for teaching excellence in the K-12 classroom. She is the author of Fashionably Mashed: The STEM of Fashion Design, lauded by top educators as a “21st century learning goldmine,” and leads the creation, writing and development of the Pretty Brainy curriculum.
With more than 16 years’ teaching experience in K-12 and higher education, Heidi also has served as an instructor for the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps for Learning (I-Corp-L) and was honored in 2012 when InnovatioNews named Pretty Brainy “an educational leader for STEM education.”
Board of Directors
Meena Balgopal, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Science Education
Department of Biology
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO
Eulanda Sanders, Ph.D.
Donna R. Danielson Professor in Textiles and Clothing
Iowa State University