The DCFemTech Awards recognize powerful women programmers, designers, and data scientists based in the Washington, DC region. These amazing women are the designer award recipients for the year 2017.
Ashleigh Axios, Design Exponent, Automattic
Prior to joining Automattic as Design Exponent, Ashleigh was the Creative Director and a digital strategist for the White House during the Obama administration.
In addition to her work at Automattic, she is a frequent speaker, a national board member for AIGA – the professional association for design, an advocate for the ability of design and designers to help create social change, and an editorial board member for Design Observer. She formed DotGovDesign, an initiative and annual conference connecting and empowering U.S. government designers.
Advice for women in tech: “Go for it! Seek out those who inspire you and stay connected; the company you keep will make all of the difference.”
Liz Rose Chmela, Founder & Creative Director, Made by We
Liz Rose Chmela is the founder of the social impact collaborative: Made by We. She’s a spare-time screen-printer, member of the AIGA Design Continuum Fund Scholarship committee, and mama to a sort of chunky min pin / dachshund named Jasper.
Liz Rose is dedicated to working on projects that have a social impact aspect, while collaborating with as many other creatives as possible. Her passion lies in finding unique design solutions to complex social challenges, in particular, those related to global health and equality.
Advice for women in tech: “When I first started Made by We, someone close to me told me that eventually the ‘real world’ would catch up to me and I would be forced to compromise on my values. They thought I would be better off staying where I was, where the status quo couldn’t let me down.
My advice to other women considering a career in tech is to play by your own rules, set your own standards and don’t be afraid to change this industry for the better. If you refuse to fit the mold and stand up for what you believe in you’re doing it right.”
Jessica D’Amico, Designer, Founder, Owner, Just Jess & Peers Conference
Web entreprenerd and tech conference organizer based in D.C.
Advice for women in tech: “Ask for what you want! You’d be surprised at how often this works. Beyond that, ask for help when needed – offer it when you can. Don’t let a single bad experience stand in your way – most people in development are generous, curious and eager to share. Reciprocate.”
Laura Ellena, UX Research Manager, Ad Hoc
Laura Ellena is the User Experience Research Manager at Ad Hoc, a small software company that focuses on helping people interact with government. Her team works to include the people who will use what the team builds, making sure their needs and feedback help drive design and product decisions.
Previously, she worked on police open data as a 2015 Code for America Fellow. She is interested in plain language and hearing strangers’ life stories on public transit.
Advice for women in tech: “Find other women in tech to be your mentors and friends, and trust your instincts on how potential workplaces and colleagues make you feel.”
Ngan Hoang, Front-End Designer, Vox Media
Ngan Hoang is a Front-End Designer at Vox Media in Washington, DC who is passionate about diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry. At Vox, Ngan leads design and helps build products and platforms on the Branded Content Team that tell powerful and engaging stories for their brand partners.
When she’s not creating thoughtful user experiences, she fills her time traveling, cooking, reading and experimenting with 35mm film cameras. You can most often find her devouring doughnuts or by following the echoes of terrifically placed puns.
Advice for women in tech: “Find a mentor if you can (I have many!). And don’t ever be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. It’s one of the best ways to learn :)”
Audra Koklys Plummer, Head of AI Design, Capital One
I’m Head of Capital One’s AI Design team. My team is responsible for designing the human-like characters, experiences, and conversations for our AI-powered intelligent assistants, AND, we’re changing banking for good for millions of our customers.
My work includes voice design for Capital One’s Alexa skill on Amazon Echo, as well as the character development and design of Eno — the first US banking intelligent assistant that uses the latest in natural language processing and artificial intelligence technologies.
Prior to joining Capital One I spend 20+ years working as a filmmaker at studios like DreamWorks, LucasFilm, and Pixar Animation Studios.
Advice for women in tech: “Be brave, be kind, and know when to make your relationships a priority both at home and at work.”
Amy Lee Walton, Senior Designer + Cartographer, Mapbox
Amy Lee Walton is a multidisciplinary designer that walks the fine line between design and code. Currently, at Mapbox, Amy Lee brings visual narrative and systems-based design to her cartographic practice. Amy Lee’s work can range from designing beautiful thematic maps to educating others on how to leverage the Mapbox platform to querying open source datasets.
Amy Lee holds an MFA in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she coalesced graphic design with physical computing, generative and creative code, and digital fabrication. She’s passionate about engaging in acts of collective, social good, cultivating your personal network, and championing diversity and inclusion at your workplace.
Advice for women in tech: “What do you see yourself working on in the next 3 months, 6 months, next year? Ask yourself this when you get stuck or are feeling particularly stress. Keep the future in your sights and remind yourself how what you’re doing now (in your career) is leading you to what you want to be. If it’s not lining up, maybe your vision has changed or you just need a reset.”
Catherine Madden, Founder / Designer , Relay by Catherine Madden
I’m a designer and illustrator who loves data and storytelling. In the fall of 2015 I left my job in management consulting to focus on developing a more personal and human-centered approach to visualizing data and guiding clients. I am constantly doodling, and use my iPad to draw ideas, design concepts, sketchnotes, and silly illustrations.
When I’m not doodling I am teaching others how to do so– either with clients in live workshops, with online students through my Skillshare classes, or with Higher Achievement middle school students in our visual thinking seminar.
I grew up around DC and currently live in Dupont with my husband and two dogs.
Advice for women in tech: “Technology isn’t just about software/hardware/coding, etc. There are people on either side of the tech equation– both creating and using tech products. So, regardless of your role/speciality, you will benefit tremendously from developing soft skills like communication, listening, and persuasion.
Additionally, wherever you end up working will turn into a kind of bubble. It’s really important to get out to talk with different types of people and explore different environments than the ones you are used to every day. “
Hareem Mannan, UX Consultant, Excella Consulting
Hareem is a UX Consultant at Excella Consulting, a graduate of UXDi at General Assembly, and a proud taco and dad joke aficionado.
Advice for women in tech: “Surround yourself with mentors who elevate and inspire you!”
Laura McGuigan, Designer in Chief , Atypical Notion + a stealth-mode startup
Laura is an experience designer, having spent the last 10 years focused on creating beautiful, user-centered digital, print and environmental projects and products. She believes that the best experiences are created when they are considered across multiple touch-points in a beautiful and cohesive manner.
Advice for women in tech: “That great idea you have? Just do it. The rest will come later.”
Chloe Negron, Senior UX Designer , Nclud
Chloe Negron is a Senior Experience Designer at nclud, the provocative creative agency. She helps organizations better understand their user base by building digital experiences that align audience goals with strategic business initiatives. Prior to nclud, she led the User Experience Design Immersive program at General Assembly, where she taught design-thinking best practices to inspire change and help people build awesome digital products.
Before that, she led mobile product design at The Washington Post, where she created apps with clean visuals, simple experiences, and lots of emojis and gifs. She has worked with Google, Apple, and Amazon to craft awesome people-focused products, and her work has been regularly recognized by the Webbys and the Society for News Design.
Advice for women in tech: “Dive in head-first, and surround yourself with people who empower and challenge you. Learn from the people you admire as much as you can: Seek out a mentor in the field and ask them a million questions so you have a really solid picture of how to set your goals. And then immerse yourself in the industry — consume as much as possible.”
Shelly Ni, Designer, Nava PBC
Shelly is a designer at Nava, building software to improve the veteran experience at the Department of Veteran Affairs. In 2015, she served as a Code for America Fellow tackling procurement in Pittsburgh.
Previously, she co-founded Propel, a civic start-up improving the food stamp application experience, and Kickstarted The League of Ladies, a feminist superhero underwear line. She has an MFA in Interaction Design from the School of Visual Arts, and a degree in Product Design from Stanford University.
Advice for women in tech: “Find a real world problem and share your progress digging into it with the world. You’ll find more people out there who want to constructively engage with your work than you expect.”
Alisha Ramos, Design Lead, Nava PBC
Alisha is a designer at Nava PBC and the Founder of Girls’ Night In, a company helping boss women enjoy a fun and relaxing night in.
Advice for women in tech: “Switching my career into technology was the best life decision I made. It’s an incredibly rewarding field with a ton of opportunity for women to make a difference.”
Alesha Randolph, Senior Designer, Vox Media
Alesha Randolph is a UX/UI designer & developer currently working at Vox Media, Inc. as a Senior Designer in their advertising department. She has had her hands in many aspects of the design realm, from magazines & flyers to apps and websites, for over 15 years.
She is now currently gearing her efforts towards diversity & inclusion in tech by being a role model for women, POC & LGBTQ youth who have an interested in design & tech.
Advice for women in tech: “A woman’s power is never solely in her womb. Technology needs our voices and our experiences in order to create solutions for people who have experiences like ours, so let’s change the world together!”