The DCFemTech Awards recognize powerful women programmers, designers, and data scientists based in the Washington, DC region. These amazing women are the devleoper award recipients for the year 2017.
Pamela Assogba, Full Stack Engineer, Vox Media
Pam is amongst other things a Software engineer at Vox Media, an illustrator, and an entrepreneur. She founded Color Coded, a safe community that provides educational programming in code, design, business, wellness, and more, for people of color.
Advice for women in tech: “Remember that your voice matters, that you belong, and that you shouldn’t have to settle for less than what you deserve.”
Aditi Chaudhry, Sr. Associate Information Security Technical, Capital One
Aditi Chaudhry is a Senior Cybersecurity Engineer in Information Security Risk Management for Capital One Financial Corporation. Aditi is a penetration tester on the dynamic testing team in Application Security. She helps protect Capital One customers by performing automated and manual penetration tests for in-house websites, API interfaces and mobile applications.
Advice for women in tech: “Don’t be held back by stereotypes. Sometimes it will get hard and you will be faced with some type of adversity. But don’t be scared or intimidated, you have the skills to overcome any challenge. Be confident and believe in yourself, believe in your brilliance and trust your intuition. ”
Lisa Chung, Senior Software Developer, Motley Fool
Lisa is a software developer at The Motley Fool, where she works on web applications and devops initiatives. In the community, she volunteers her tech skills to local nonprofits such as the job training program Together We Bake, co-hosts the Alexandria Code & Coffee meetup, and has contributed to apps for InHerSight, a local startup that promotes organizations favorably rated by women.
Lisa is elated to be named a DCFemTech 2017 Award recipient, and she is grateful to The Motley Fool for its supportive culture.
Advice for women in tech: Tech is always changing! Programming frameworks come and go – you will have to start from “Hello, World!” countless times. Put in that hard work; there are no shortcuts. When you put in that hard work, you have no reason to doubt yourself. Believe in yourself, and don’t let a setback keep you down.
Attend local tech meetups – you’ll find allies. And once you’ve found your footing, find ways to encourage others who are starting their careers.
Megan DeLaunay, Software Engineer, Intelligent Assistants, Capital One
Software Engineer at Capital One: building web tools to make NLP and chatbots a little more user-friendly, teaching 7th graders to code in my spare time.
Advice for women in tech: “Diversify your skill set and never stop learning new things.”
Courtney Eimerman-Wallace, Director of Technology , Color of Change
Courtney Eimerman-Wallace is a front-end developer, designer and UX leader who’s dedicated to using technology to improve access and create opportunities for underrepresented communities.
She is currently the Director of Technology at Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. Before Color of Change, she was the UX Lead at the United States Digital Service team at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where she lead a multi-disciplined UX engineering team in product development efforts, with a focus on brand consistency, and diversity and inclusion through accessibility.
In addition to public service, Courtney also served formerly as a board member for the LGBTQ Task Force and is currently the board Chair for LGBTTech Institute & Partnership.
Advice for women in tech: “Do what you love until its not fun anymore. If you love design, design until you want to write code. Write code until you want to product manage. Don’t be afraid to move around and learn all you can.”
Rakia Finley, Co-Founder, Lead Developer & COO, FIN Digital & Surge Assembly
Rakia Finley is the Founder & CSO of Surge Assembly and Co-Founder & CIO of FIN Digital. With over 13 years’ experience in the information technology industry, as a programmer and entrepreneur she has become an industry expert on organizational issues associated with program creation and growth.
Rakia founded Pastries and Champagne (now SATT) and additional initiatives geared toward educating future female leaders on the tools of working in male-dominated industries through honest discussion with women in leadership positions. She partnered with the Obama Administration on the White House Council on Women and Girls to bridge the gap of women entering STEM fields.
Advice for women in tech: “As women we’re natural creators we’re wired to develop, create, move and generate. If you ever question yourself, know that you already have the foundation to be an amazing person in tech. ”
Erica Geiser, Software Engineer, Social Tables
Erica is a Senior Software Engineer at Social Tables and organizer of the React DC meetup group. She enjoys learning algorithms and building reusable systems. Erica spends most of her free time doing improv and going to comedy shows.
Advice for women in tech: “Learn how to describe complex ideas/problems concisely and with sufficient context. This simple skill will amplify your other skills and make you a more effective leader, learner, and collaborator.”
Betsy Haibel, Lead Software Architect, Roostify, Inc
Betsy is a former theater technician who turned to web development when the back pain got excessive. She finds the disciplines very similar: each involves educating creative stakeholders about technical realities so that you can collaboratively realize a vision.
Advice for women in tech: There still are a lot of jobs where you’ll have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good. Where you’ll get feedback and go “is this real feedback, or do they really mean ‘be Not A Girl?'”. This is super rough and there is no making it better.
But if you work through it then you’ll be four times as good — and when you finally find a place that respects you for what you bring to the table, you will shine all the brighter. Make sure, no matter what you’re doing on the job, to cultivate a life outside of work that you care about, a strong support network, and people who recognize just how badass you truly are. That’ll help get you through the awful “twice as hard, half as good” slog without burning out.
Anita Hall, Developer, The Washington Post
Advice for women in tech: “Go for it! Don’t let anyone tell you or subtly suggest that you can’t do it! Find supporters in your community, network and flourish. ”
Lauren Jacobson, Instructor Manager, General Assembly
Lauren is the Network Director of Women Who Code DC, the largest women in tech organization in DC. In her free time, you will find her reading or biking around her neighborhood in her helmet covered in the all the stickers she can’t fit on her laptop.
Advice for women in tech: “Stereotypes in the tech industry exist for a reason, but don’t let the gender divide hold you back from exploring your interests. No matter what: you are powerful, smart, and brave and there is a community here in DC and beyond that will support you in the face of any challenge. ”
Sana Javed, Developer, National Journal
Sana Javed is a software developer with a background in community organizing and digital strategy. She currently works at National Journal, where she focuses on building online experiences and digital platforms. She gets excited about things like test-driven development, the 12-factor app methodology, and diversity in the tech field.
Outside of work, she is co-organizer of the Prince George’s Tech Meetup, a board member of the ACLU of Maryland, and a member of the Contemporary Art Purchasing Program Advisory Board at the University of Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature and a B.A. in Government and Politics.
Advice for women in tech: “You can do it. I believe in you and I’m rooting for you. If you get stuck, reach out. There’s a lot of us who are willing to help. I always try to remind myself that there is a solution out there and if you don’t know how to do it, you will figure it out with enough time #growthmindset”
Veni Kunche, Senior Software Developer, Web Informatics and Mapping – US Geological Survey
Veni Kunche is a senior software developer at the US Geological Survey. She has earned her B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She has been in tech for over 10 years and considers herself a jill of all trades.
Veni’s recent adventures are in entrepreneurship. Her latest projects are Ionic Kits which provides starter kits for mobile app developers; Code with Veni, a newsletter for women learning to code; and United Women of Tech, a platform connecting women to communities around the world.
Advice for women in tech: “Don’t strive for perfection. Go after what you want now. It’s ok to make mistakes. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take advantage of the amazing women in tech communities that are there to help you!”
Leigh Lawhon, Freelance Front-end Developer, Designer and Author TheSELFTaughtDeveloper.com
Leigh Lawhon is a frontend developer with a deep background in both design and teaching. Her ambitions are to continue to bridge the gap between design and development and to create products that make the development lifecycle more accessible.
She is the co-creator of TheSelfTaughtDeveloper.com (launching soon!) and is currently working as a freelance designer, instructor and developer. In her “free time” she raises guide dogs for the Guide Dog Foundation and is an avid practitioner of yoga.
Advice for women in tech: 1. Practice “getting it wrong” and make peace with humiliation. They are what will keep you from achieving your goals. Too often I see young women shut down when someone comes and speaks over them with authority, often with incorrect information. Let go of perfect and speak your mind, ask questions and don’t be embarrassed. You will be surprised how often you are right or close to it.
2. Don’t believe anyone who tells you “you can’t” or “you are not” until you decide you can’t or don’t want to be. Their reasons for why “you can’t” are not about you. Code is magic #$#@! fairy dust. Don’t let anyone keep it from you.
Natassja Linzau, Web Developer, National Academies of Science
Natassja Linzau currently serves as a Web Developer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where she creates and manages websites and web applications for the Cooperative Research Programs, a division of the Transportation Research Board.
Natassja is very active in the DCTech community and currently serves as the Mentoring Program Lead for Women Who Code DC.
Advice for women in tech: “Follow your heart; if this is what you really want to do, you can find a way. There are so many paths into tech and the biggest barriers are your own fears and doubts. Find opportunities to get experience and solve real-world problems, either for pay or as a volunteer.
Go to hackathons, get to know other programmers in the community (join Women Who Code DC!), and take lots of online and in-person coding classes. Work hard. Build things and don’t be afraid to break them. Sometimes we learn the best lessons from our failures and mistakes. My most important words of advice are: Don’t give up!”
Laura Lorenz, Data & Software Engineer, Industry Dive
Laura is a data and software engineer at Industry Dive, a B2B media company, where she implements and operates full-stack solutions with both the web and data teams using primarily Python tools and frameworks such as Django, Flask, pandas, and scikit-learn.
She also contributes to open source projects and conducts research with a focus on neural network implementations for NLP as a faculty member of DC-based research and education organization District Data Labs. She is an advocate of technology literacy, teaching workshops, webinars and classes in the DC area with Georgetown University SCS, District Data Labs, and NYCDA.
Advice for women in tech: 1. Just go for it!
2. Avoid thinking in “should”s and “should not”s that slow you down. Plenty of other people will be giving you that sass, so no need to get it started on your own.
3. There’s plenty in tech to interest everyone so just experiment a little. Web, data, mobile, devops, security, design, front-end, back-end, UX, UI, IoT, documentation, desktop, QA, analytics, sysadmin, data vis, kernels, distributed systems, microcontrollers, project management, etc etc on and on, and then multiply that by literally every industry because they all use technology. There’s so much to check out so find your passion!
Emily McAfee, Platform Engineer – Team Lead, Mapbox
I’m an engineer at Mapbox who focuses on designing stable + scalable global infrastructure. I help my teammates on the Platform team learn, grow, and succeed.
Advice for women in tech: “Confidence is just muscle memory – practice it.”
Katherine McClintic, Software Engineer, LivingSocial/Groupon
I’m a history teacher turned developer currently working at LivingSocial/Groupon as a Software Engineer. I’m a proud native of Washington, DC, where I teach to learn as the Director of Education for Women Who Code DC. When I’m not bug hunting you’ll find me making awful puns, practicing the bodhran, and vociferously defending the Oxford comma.
Advice for women in tech: “Find your support network, whatever form that takes. Don’t try to go it alone.”
Tammy Perrin, Lead Software Engineer / Software Engineering Manager, Attunity
Tammy Perrin is an innovative engineer, leader, and mentor. She currently serves as the Lead Software Engineer and Software Engineering Manager at big data integration and management company, Attunity. She leads engineering teams based in DC, Chicago, and Israel, working full-stack across several products and research efforts.
Tammy holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics from the University of Maryland. Tammy is also a tireless advocate for women in technology, LGBT rights, and human rights. She has been a technical mentor and volunteer for Engineers Without Borders for over 10 years and is deeply involved with Women Who Code, an organization that supports and promotes women in technology.
Advice for women in tech: “Go for breadth before depth. By learning the fundamentals well and experimenting across a variety of technologies, you’ll develop a solid foundation that provides both the big picture and the ability to see which areas excite you the most. ”
Clare Politano, Software Engineer, Social Tables
Clare is a full-stack software engineer at DC event-tech startup Social Tables, and an alumna of digital agency iStrategyLabs. When she’s not coding, she practices aerial acrobatics and yoga.
Advice for women in tech: “Define your vision and don’t be afraid to take up space or go outside the box to achieve it.”
Jennifer Safford McGerald, Principal Software Engineer, AOL Inc.
I’m a Northern Virginia native, a wife, and mother of two. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Software Engineering. I’ve worked in the Federal and Commercial sectors as both a contractor and an employee. In my spare time, I try to get away from my computer and enjoy crafting and creating things outside of the digital space.
Advice for women in tech: “The one constant in this industry is change. Work hard and don’t stop learning, because technology doesn’t stop changing.”
Rachel Shorey, Software engineer, The New York Times Interactive (DC Based)
Rachel is a software engineer at The New York Times where she works on software and data projects relating to campaign finance, congress and voting. Prior to the Times, she did open data work at the Sunlight Foundation. In her nonwork hours, she likes to run around outdoors with her wife and dog, and she writes Prime Factors, an irregularly scheduled newsletter about prime numbers.
Advice for women in tech: “Find good mentors. Mentors who are further along in their career than you are great, but I think peer mentors are undervalued. If you’ve got a good group you can bounce your thoughts and concerns off of, the community can come together to make connections, help everyone overcome obstacles, and provide support if and when you are ready to make a change.”
Liz Theurer, Senior Software Engineer, United Income
by day, number cruncher, data lover, coder. by night, arduino and raspberry pi tinkerer. otherwise soccer player.
Advice for women in tech: “learn one new thing every day”
Kristian Tran, Engineer, Deloitte Digital Engineer at Deloitte Digital and Women Who Code Event Lead
Advice for women in tech: “Find and/or build yourself a community of supportive women because the journey is tough but rewarding.”
Pamela Vong, Technical Wizard, InfernoRed Technology
In my career as a software engineer, I’ve done everything from developing mobile apps for kids to architecting whole enterprise systems to running a startup, but what I’m most proud of is getting to be a part of this amazing community for women in tech in DC. I’m grateful that it exists and that I’m able to give something back by helping run our Women Who Code DC Chapter. I hope that my efforts today will make the tech world a better place for all future generations.
Advice for women in tech: “Be the change you seek” – is a quote I keep saying to myself to keep me motivated to work hard for myself and for others.
Sabrina Williams, Director of Engineering, US Digital Service
I grew up in Monterey, CA, then hopped over to Stanford where I earned a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Computer Science. After graduating, I went to work for HP in Boise, ID where I work on printer-related software. Then I moved back to CA to work at Google, where I spent time with Chrome (Google Cloud Print), Google Glass, and Ads Engineering Productivity teams.
Most recently, I moved to Washington DC to work with the US Digital Service. In this role, I have worked worth the Departments of Education, Homeland Security, and State on projects like College Scorecard, the US Refugee Admissions program, and a tool to help visa applicants understand the status of their application. I am currently serving as Acting Director of Engineering.
Advice for women in tech: “Work hard and behave with integrity. There will be some rough days, but remember a bad day is a temporary condition. Above all, be yourself. You deserve to be your best you. Take your work seriously, but remember to have fun!!”