About Us


Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a national organization dedicated to increasing local civic engagement by people with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Our work is guided by the following core beliefs:

  • Communities thrive when all members participate and meet challenges together.
  • Civic engagement is compatible with a successful career.
  • Effective civic engagement starts with listening to community needs and concerns.
  • People with STEM backgrounds bring inquiry-driven and evidence-based problem-solving approaches that can benefit their local communities. Specific subject-matter expertise is not a prerequisite to making a difference.

Explore some highlights of the work we do in our 2023 annual report.

In 2017, we conducted a Civic Engagement Survey in which we asked engineers and scientists about their attitudes toward and engagement with government. Read more here.

Our goals are to:

  • Increase civic engagement by people with backgrounds in STEM, including with city, county, and state government and with community-oriented non-profit and volunteer organizations.
  • Provide resources to help people with backgrounds in STEM be more effective in civic activities.

Our commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)

ESAL is committed to the belief that equity requires that leadership and decision-making bodies reflect and represent the people impacted by their actions. When civic participants can identify with the people in their government, it is more likely that they will find inspiration and opportunities to serve. Therefore, ESAL carefully considers diversity in all of our content and programming and strives to feature people from all geographic backgrounds, at every career stage, with expertise across the breadth of STEM disciplines, having differing abilities, and who have a diverse set of identities, including racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, gender, and sexual orientation.

As an organization, we also recognize that ESAL will be able to provide more representative content and programming if our own leaders and volunteers are reflective of the diversity in our local communities. Toward this end, we recognize that we have more work to do, particularly with respect to building an organization with greater representation from people who identify with groups that have been and continue to be marginalized both in the STEM community and more broadly.

Learn about some of the progress we have made from our most recent JEDI assessment

Organization history

The creation of ESAL was motivated by the experience of founder Arti Garg. After spending several years in Washington, D.C., first as a legislative adviser in Congress and then as an analyst in the White House, life brought her to California where she began working as a technologist. Missing her connection to government, she successfully applied for an appointment to a standing task force in her city, Hayward, California.

Arti found that her professional and community work intersected in a way that allowed her to impact policy issues that mattered to her and make a difference at the local level. To help other STEM professionals realize these local opportunities exist, she worked with other engineers and scientists who have worked in public policy to create Engineers and Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL).

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