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


Founding Board Member and President of the organization, Diane Swan earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education followed by a Master of Science from Southern Connecticut State University. Her career as an educator began in Kissimmee, Florida Public Schools. Currently she is employed by East Lyme Public Schools, 1996 - present, as an early childhood educator. 

In addition to her teaching responsibilities at Niantic Center School, Diane serves as the building's science coordinator. Her collaboration with the East Lyme town engineer secured a grant for an Outdoor Stormwater Classroom. Since its inception, over 1000 third grade students from East Lyme and Salem have learned about storm water runoff and its impact on the environment. 

Diane taught a science summer camp, “Camp Phenomena,” for several years. Additionally, she worked for LEARN conducting a week-long science camp for the region's students. Diane produced and presented "Simple Science” after school activities for the Niantic Center School PTA. 

Diane is committed to community service and chaired the PTA's assembly, fundraising and beautification committees.  As a volunteer for the Miracle League of Southeastern Connecticut, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for special needs children to participate in recreational, educational, and cultural activities, Diane assisted with fundraising for the organization's cause.

Photo of Linda Raffa, Secretary Treasurer of Stars to STEM

Linda Raffa


Founding Board Member and serving as Secretary and Treasurer of the organization, 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. 

Her most fulfilling role was that of an educator.  In addition, Linda helped manage several businesses, primarily as bookkeeper. Her volunteer work includes roles as secretary, treasurer, and president of parent/teacher organizations and other various organizations.

More recently she was employed at the Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, currently known as the Niantic Children's Museum, where she was Director of Operations.  

As a 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 Kyra Seurattan, Planetarium Advisor of Stars to STEM

Kyra Elliott

Planetarium Technology Specialist

The planetarium's technology specialist is Kyra Elliott, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Astronomy and Physics from Vassar College and completed her teaching certification in Technology Education through the Alternate Route to Certification program. 

Kyra has been a planetarian for over 20 years. As Assistant Planetarium Director at the Travelers Sciencedome Planetarium at The Children’s Museum in West Hartford, she developed programs for camps, classes, and homeschool students. She also presented shows, created animations and graphics for use in the dome, as well as explored and recommended 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! 

Photo of Dr. Leslie Brown, Education and Programming Officer

Leslie Brown

Education Director

Board of Directors member 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 Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees 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.

Leslie 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


Also a member of the Board of Directors, Gillian is currently a senior enrolled at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. She is a graduate of East Lyme High School (Class of 2020).

Gillian was an active member of her high school and the local community. In September 2018 she founded the Women in STEM Club at East Lyme High School to bring together girls with diverse interests within the field. In the club's first year, the group participated in volunteer events, job shadowed 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. Gillian was also a member 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.

Gillian explores various business and liberal arts topics including business ethics, finance, information systems, statistical data analysis, economics, calculus, and philosophy as part of her coursework with a concentration on management information systems and marketing. Gillian is the Vice President of Kappa Alpha Theta, participates in the College Democrats, the Outing Club, and covers Terrier Hockey in The Daily Free Press

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 organization. 

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

Sachi Vora


Board of Director Sachi is currently a sophomore 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. 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.

Currently, Sachi explores research and internship opportunities in the field of public health, data science, and biology. Sachi majors 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 had a passion for the sciences and strives to give more to the community than she receives.  She is proud to be a member of STARS To STEM, Inc.

Susan Lynch

Financial Advisor

Susan Lynch comes to this organization with a wealth of experiences in various areas of finance including income tax analysis, real estate and investment procedures, medical billing, and real estate appraisals. 

Susan attended Three Rivers Community College and earned an Associate of Science degree.  She spent many years as an accountant at a local hardware store, was a tax specialist while employed by H &R Block, completed medical billing and insurance claims for Fort Hill Pharmacy in Groton, and currently operates as an appraiser of real estate for Burns Appraisal, LLC.  

Susan is active in her children’s sports activities and encourages their academic pursuits.  Her dedication and support of STARS to STEM demonstrates an ongoing interest in community-related initiatives.