Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. Edwin Powell Hubble


photo of STARS to STEM president Diane Swan

Diane Swan


Diane Swan earned her BS in Early Childhood Education and MS from Southern Connecticut State University. She is employed by East Lyme Public Schools, 1996-present, as an early childhood educator. 

Prior to that she worked as an educator in Kissimmee, Florida. In addition to her teaching responsibilities Diane serves as the building's science coordinator. In this capacity, she worked closely with town engineer and together they secured a grant for the Outdoor Stormwater Classroom. Since its conception, the outdoor educational experience has educated over 1000 third grade students from East Lyme and Salem about storm water runoff. 

Diane has taught a science summer camp, “Camp Phenomena,” for the past two years. Additionally, she has worked for LEARN conducting a week-long science camp that serviced regional students. Diane has run several "Simple Science” after school activities for the Niantic Center School PTA. 

She is committed to volunteering and has served as the chairperson for assemblies, fundraising and beautification for the PTA. Currently, she is a member of the Miracle League of South Eastern Connecticut fundraising committee.

Photo of Linda Raffa, Secretary Treasurer of Stars to STEM

Linda Raffa


Linda Raffa is an East Lyme resident retired from a long career in education and business.  Her experiences include Kindergarten teacher and Director/Head Teacher of two preschools. 

As well as serving in the fulfilling capacity as educator, Linda also helped manage several businesses, primarily as bookkeeper. Her volunteer work includes roles as secretary, treasurer, and president of parent/teacher organizations and various organizations.

Her most recent employment was at the Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut where she was Director of Operations.  

As former educator and devoted grandparent, Linda enjoys spending time with young children and looks forward to expanding this interest with STARS To STEM's planetarium project. 

Photo of Dr. Leslie Brown, Education and Programming Officer

Leslie Brown

Director/Education and Programming Specialist

Leslie Brown currently serves as Associate Professor of Physics at Connecticut College, having joined the college's staff in 1992.  Leslie completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Brandeis University.

While on staff at Connecticut College, Leslie has shared her wealth of knowledge at national speaking engagements.  Topics included:   "The Past, the Present and the Future of Undergraduate Research in Astronomy at Connecticut College,"  presented at the American Astronomical Society's January 2004 meeting, and also the AAS's special session on "Instrumentation for Small Observatories in 2006.

Dr. Brown has been a recipient of numerous grant awards and is adept at operating various telescopes and related technologies. She has extensive experience in the fields of astrophysics and astronomy and brings her love of education to our team. 

Gillian McMahon

Director/Collegiate STEM Liaison

Gillian is currently a junior enrolled at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. She is a graduate of East Lyme High School (Class of 2020).

In high school, Gillian was an active member of her school and the local community. In September 2018 she founded the Women in STEM club at ELHS to bring together girls with diverse interests within the field. In the club's first year, the group participated in volunteer events, job shadows at Pfizer, and held career-orientated events for young women in coordination with other clubs. The Women in STEM club connected Gillian with STARS To STEM, in its early days. 

Gillian was also a part of the Student Advisory Board, a regular volunteer at the Gemma E. Moran United Way Food Bank, a member of the National Honor Society, and a varsity basketball athlete.

In her first few semesters of college, Gillian has been busy exploring various business and liberal arts topics including business ethics, finance, information systems, statistical data analysis, economics, calculus, and philosophy as part of her introductory coursework. Gillian is planning to concentrate on management information systems and marketing.

Gillian is the Vice President of Kappa Alpha Theta, as well as, involved in the College Democrats, the Outing Club, and The Daily Free Press covering everything Terrier Hockey, all activities she loves. 

Gillian is very passionate about closing the gender gap, especially in STEM-related fields, and is excited to be a part of an all-female Stars to STEM group. 

Photo of Sachi Vora, High School STEM Liaison of Stars to STEM

Sachi Vora

Director/Collegiate STEM Liaison

Sachi is currently a freshman enrolled at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. She is a graduate of East Lyme High School (Class of 2022).  In high school, she spent her time on the E.L. Varsity Girls' Soccer Team and was captain of the E.L. Varsity Girls’ Basketball Team. In the school, Sachi was involved with many clubs including Student Senate, PRO (Peers Reaching Out), Rotary Club, and Spanish National Honors Society. She was the Junior and Senior Class Board of Education Representative. Through all these clubs and activities, she volunteered to better the community and learn from others.

In her first semester of college, Sachi has been exploring research and internship opportunities in the field of public health, data science, and biology. Sachi is majoring in Public Health with a double minor in biology and data science. She is currently on the pre-medical track.

Sachi is a member of Med Life, the Carolina-Clemson blood drive committee, the Public Health Society, the Give a Dog a Bone organization, and the Exercise Science club. Sachi has always been very interested in the sciences and giving more to the community than she receives, including this great cause.


Photo of Kyra Seurattan, Planetarium Advisor of Stars to STEM

Kyra Elliot Seurattan

Planetarium Technology Specialist

Kyra Elliott Seurattan earned her BA in Astronomy and Physics from Vassar College, and recently completed her Teaching Certification in Technology Education. She is the Technology and Engineering teacher at Nathan Hale-Ray High School in East Haddam.

Kyra has been a planetarian for over 20 years. She worked for four years as the Assistant Planetarium Director at the Travelers Sciencedome Planetarium at The Children’s Museum in West Hartford and developed programming for camps, classes, and homeschool students. She also presented shows, created animations and graphics for use in the dome, as well as explored possible technology upgrades for the theater.

In order to further focus on animation, graphics, and show production, Kyra accepted the position of Producer & Animator at the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium at Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  As a Technology and Engineering teacher, Kyra is dedicated to sharing her passion with students and their families. She believes the planetarium is a unique environment where students can learn and practice a variety of 21st century skills. The sky is the limit!

Susan Lynch

Parent Liaison

Susan Lynch comes to this organization with 15 years experience as a senior tax analyst working for H &R Block.  Her particular area of expertise is in real estate and investment procedures.  She attended Three Rivers State College earning an associate of science degree.  She spent many years as an accountant in retail at a local hardware store.  Susan is active in her children’s sports activities and supports their academic pursuits.  

Victoria Thomson

Teacher STEM Liaison

Victoria is a resident of East Lyme and has been teaching at East Lyme High School since August 2017.  She is the proud mother of two children, ages 6 and 3. Prior to teaching at ELHS, Victoria taught at New London High School for 3 years.  

Although relatively new to the field of astronomy, Victoria's formal education encompasses several areas in science.  She earned a B.S. from Cornell University and M.S. from the University of Arizona, with a focus in entomology. As a lifelong learner, her latest pursuit is in astronomy, a journey that included traveling to the Canary Islands this past summer (2019) to study astronomy for educators.  She is passionate about learning and  fascinated by the vastness of the universe.  Knowledge only has power when evidence and information is transferred to other people, particularly to our youth.  As a result, Victoria is  committed to seeing STARS to STEM reach its fullest potential.