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Founder & CEO of GoldieBlox set to speak March 14 as part of The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series

Founder & CEO of GoldieBlox set to speak March 14 as part of  The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series

The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series, presented by the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center in Benton Harbor, and the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber welcome Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, 2023. The event will be held in the Mendel Center Mainstage.

During her presentation “When ‘No’ Leads to Innovation,” Sterling shares her entrepreneurial journey of how she disrupted the pink aisle with toys and media designed to get girls excited about engineering. She will share how she and her team overcame rejection by thinking audaciously about how to challenge stereotypes and combat the status quo, all in the name of helping close the gender gap in STEM.

Sterling is a driving force in the STEM industry, a powerful voice for women, and a leader for the next generation of female engineers. While enrolled in engineering at Stanford University, Sterling was concerned with the absence of women in her program. She learned female engineers made up only 14 percent of the industry at the time. Traditionally, young girls have not been encouraged to play with toys rooted in problem-solving and building activities. This overall lack of exposure to these concepts at a young age has led to fewer young women pursuing STEM careers. After graduating, Sterling knew that needed to change.

Sterling disrupted the toy industry by creating GoldieBlox, a multimedia toy company designed to foster creative exploration, ignite creativity, and develop spatial skills in young girls. She believes that creativity is crucial for impressionable female youth, and GoldieBlox exposes them to their fullest potential.

Sterling was told several times that girls were meant to stay in the "pink aisle" of the toy store, enforcing the notion that they are meant to play with dolls and princesses while boys are given building blocks and trains. Defying claims that girls tend to demonstrate less interest in science, math, and engineering, Sterling challenges others to look beyond stereotypes to see the potential of what women and girls can achieve.

Using her passion, rejection, and drive, Sterling has created a world where girls can have more than a princess phase– they can be "makers."

About Debbie Sterling & GoldieBlox
Sterling is the Founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, the award-winning children's multimedia company known for challenging gender stereotypes with the world's first girl engineer character. GoldieBlox's Kickstarter campaign led to $1 million in sales, was sold in Toys "R" Us, and was a best-seller on Amazon. The app now has over 1 million downloads and more than 1 million toys have been sold across more than 6,000 major worldwide retailers.

GoldieBlox was named one of the World's Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company in 2014 and was awarded the 2014 Educational Toy of the Year by The Toy Industry Association.

Sterling is an engineer, entrepreneur, spokesperson, and one of the leaders in the movement toward getting girls interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). She was named TIME's "Person of the Moment," InStyle's 50 Most Badass Women, LinkedIn's "Top Voice,” Fortune's "40 Under 40," and she was honored by the National Retail Federation as one of 25 "People Shaping Retail's Future." In 2015, Debbie was inducted as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship under the Obama administration and honored by the National Women's History Museum with a "Living Legacy" Award for her work to empower girls around the world.

Sterling received her degree in Engineering from Stanford University in 2005.

Reserved seats ($30 - $60) are on sale now at, by calling 269-927-8700, option 1, or by visiting the Mendel Center Box Office in person. The box office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

High school and college students are invited to attend a free Student Q&A session with Debbie Sterling at 6 p.m. in Grand Upton Hall. Registration is strongly encouraged at

This event is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Edgewater Automation, and Indiana Michigan Power.


About The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series
Established in 1943, the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan has brought more than 430 world leaders, policymakers, experts, and other newsmakers to the region. Its goal is to provide unique opportunities for personal and community growth. By presenting national and international speakers from a wide range of fields and expertise, this non-partisan series is dedicated to the discussion of social, economic, and public policy questions important in today’s complex society.

About the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber is the largest chamber in Southwest Michigan, leading the charge for sustainable growth for our evolving region. It is committed to maximizing the region’s talents, vision, and trailblazing spirit to continue building upon the strong foundation of existing business, while attracting new commerce and talent to our area. It is the “Voice of Business” in Michigan’s Great Southwest and works to achieve economic prosperity throughout the region.

About the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center
The Lake Michigan College Mendel Center raised the curtain on its first Mainstage season performance in the fall of 1992. Since then, it has presented Mainstage season performances to more than half a million patrons in the 1,559-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre. Grand Upton Hall, first opened in 1979 and fully renovated in 2019, is a 13,700-square-foot venue serving the community as the host site for meetings, banquets, trade shows, weddings, and other celebrations. The 229-seat Hanson Theatre, which was renovated in 2020, hosts numerous Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Department performances as well as a variety of Mendel Center and community events.

The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.

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Mendel Center 2022-2023 Season Sponsors
Stage Side Sponsors
: 1st Source Bank, Honor Credit Union, Huntington National Bank, Kruggel Lawton CPAs, Meijer, Silver Beach Pizza, Silver Harbor Brewing Company, Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, Sturgis Bank, TPC Technologies, Wales Wealth Management Group, Whirlpool Corporation.

Platinum Sponsor: Brookview Montessori School, CK Catering, Hungerford Nichols CPA + Advisors, Imperial Furniture, Insurance Management Services, JVIS USA, Pier 33, Siena Heights University, United Federal Credit Union, Wolf Financial Advisory.

Media Partners: 97.5 Y Country, 98.3 The Coast, The Herald Palladium, The Lake 95.7 MailMax, News/Talk 94.9 WSJM, Rock 107 WIRX, Sunny 101.5, SuperHits 103.7

Preferred Partner Hotels: The Inn at Harbor Shores and The Boulevard Inn & Bistro



Posted January 25, 2023

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