Inspiring Women Who Code in DC

The DCFemTech Awards recognize powerful women programmers, designers, and data scientists based in the Washington, DC region. These amazing women are the developer award recipients for the year 2018.

Julie Bacon, Web Developer, ISL

Julie is a Front-End Developer passionate about building digital experiences on the web. Since studying Computer Science at Boston College, she’s worked for tech companies in San Francisco and DC.

Julie works as a Web Developer at iStrategyLabs where she builds web interfaces for some of the world’s biggest brands and helps organize tech outreach initiatives.

What are you most proud of from the past year: I’m most proud of co-organizing Fore_Front, a morning speaker series for Front-End Developers in DC. We’re building a community of front-end professionals to share knowledge, network and push the boundaries of our practice.

Links: Twitter

Clara Popescu BrooksSoftware Development Manager, FireEye, Inc.

I started my career in Information Technology as a software engineer; building applications in C, Java and Ruby on Rails. I have worked in consulting, start ups and Fortune 500 organizations. As a Software Manager, I am extremely proud of my team’s accomplishments over the past year. I am currently enrolled in a PhD Engineering program at College Park, Maryland and am a proud mother of two smart young girls.

What are you most proud of from the past year: I am proud of my team’s success and recognition. The trust and collaboration in the team is inspiring. I am proud of going back to school for my PhD program and learning to balance work, school and family.

Sunitha BurriAndroid Developer, Oath

Sunitha is a passionate Android developer working at Oath, who has keen interest in UI development. Instead of just focusing on coding, she usually involves in all the aspects of a product life cycle. Always works closely with product and design to provide valuable thoughts in coming up with best experience for users and also provides insights in utilizing the new tech advancements to improve the quality of product. She gave a couple of talks on Kotlin and Android Notifications in meet ups and GDG dev fest.

What are you most proud of from the past year: Though being a mobile app developer working on Android echo system primarily, stepped up, learnt Objective C and Swift languages in no time and developed features to make Alto Mail product to be consistent on both Android and iOS echo systems, which has been a concern for 2 years or so. Which in turn addressed features requested by iOS app users as well. Played an important role in delivering coupon experience in Alto Mail app by collaborating effectively with product, design and backend teams. Enjoyed a lot in giving talks on Kotlin language within the company to get the other Android developers to up to speed in implementing Android apps in Kotlin.

Melissa DePuydt,  Technical Architect, The Washington Post

Melissa is a technical architect for Arc Publishing at The Washington Post. She helped grow Arc from the earliest beta stage into the large-scale development team it is today, launching some of the world’s largest publishers on the platform. When she’s not launching websites and training publishers on Arc tools, Melissa can be found rock climbing and playing with her dog, Kylo.

What are you most proud of from the past year: Launching LA Times, NY Daily News, and Chicago Tribune on the Arc platform!

Links: Twitter

Marissa Halpert, Web Developer, ISL

After graduating from Computer Science at James Madison University, Marissa Halpert started her career as a software developer at CarMax in her hometown of Richmond, VA. Marissa moved to DC in 2016, and is currently a Web Developer at ISL (iStrategyLabs) where she focuses on front-end development and builds amazing digital experiences for ISL’s clients. When not coding, Marissa is exploring DC, obsessing over the color purple, and eating gummy bears.
What are you most proud of from the past year: I’m most proud of 2 things: a development project and Fore_Front. Through ISL, I had the opportunity to work with the National Air and Space Museum to build them a digital experience that their donor relations team could use in their donation campaign for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. At ISL, we recently launched Fore_Front, a speaker series for front-end developers. Since my coworkers and I identified the need for it a year ago, it has been a fun process to bring it to life. We created the name, a brand, website, and event to launch it. Check it out at

Links: Website, Twitter

Caitlin HenryDevelopment Team Lead, Aquicore

Caitlin is a Software Engineer and Development Team Lead at Aquicore, an asset monitoring platform for commercial real estate companies. Before working for Aquicore, Caitlin worked as a Business Technology Consultant for Deloitte. When she’s not slinging code, you can find Caitlin training for her next marathon or watching questionable reality television.

What are you most proud of from the past year: I’m most proud of the Devices and Equipment feature that Aquicore launched this year, which provided customers with a self-installation option for the Aquicore solution. This new feature completely revamped Aquicore’s business model to lower hardware installation time and operating costs, while providing customers with more value from our software. It’s incredibly motivating to see our software change the way the company does business, and to get to work with all parts of the company to roll out this new feature.

Tracy King, Front End Engineer, Crowdskout

Tracy is a Front End Engineer at Crowdskout. She is a Lead for Women Who Code, Co-founder of RecruitHer and proud member of the DC Tech community.

What are you most proud of from the past year: Developing RecruitHer (, completing the Village Capital Pathways program with the other founders and successfully filing as a C-Corp.

Links: Twitter, Website

Amber KnutsonDeveloper, The Motley Fool

With a background in English and Mass Communication, Amber learned Python in a month to be more helpful at The Motley Fool – and was able to learn alongside some amazing programmers – and continues to do so. While she learned Django in a day, she believes that she’s not special in any way, and instead fervently believes that anyone can learn to code, they just need the right starter project.

What are you most proud of from the past year: Restarting the Book Club at work.

Shorouk Mansour, Sn.Software Engineer/Team Lead, nclud

I am senior software engineer and a team lead at nclud. The founder of and a co-founder of

Links: Website


Alexis Moody. Full Stack Software Engineer, Contactually

Alexis Moody is a former theatre technical designer turned full stack engineer via Dev Bootcamp (RIP). She is passionate about using and exposing technology to enrich the lives of all peoples, especially those who have limited access to the newest technology. In her spare time she watches movies/tv shows with her fiancé and is involved in the emerging sport of quidditch.
What are you most proud of from the past year: In ~8 months, in my first full time engineering role at Contactually, I was able to show my skill to the rest of the team by working extensively on two major features and earning a promotion because of that work.

Links: Twitter

Trish O’Connor, Engineer, ISL

Trish O’Connor is an Engineer at ISL (iStrategyLabs), where she builds interactive digital and physical experiences using exciting emerging technologies like AR, VR, and Amazon’s Alexa. She studied electrical engineering at Tufts University and went on to earn her Master’s in Innovation and Management at Tufts’ Gordon Institute. When she’s not coding or soldering, you can find her knitting, watching a Disney movie, or rooting for the Red Sox.

What are you most proud of from the past year: I’m most proud of my work on the Alexa skill for the Washington Capitals Hockey Team. It was the first Alexa skill for a professional sports team and close to 17,000 unique users have interacted with the skill since its launch in October of last year. It’s cool to think that something I built reached that many people, who got to learn about individual players, get the current score of a game, or simply have Alexa “unleash the fury.” Additionally, my work coding the project, writing blog posts about it, and training at an Amazon Alexa Dev Day secured ISL’s spot on a list of Amazon’s recommended agencies for Alexa skill building.

Links: Twitter

Catherine Ordun, Senior Data Scientist, Booz Allen Hamilton

Catherine Ordun is a Senior Data Scientist with Booz Allen specializing in machine learning in the health and defense markets. She currently works on natural language processing and recurrent neural networks, and enjoys mentoring opportunities with the Booz Allen Women in Data Science organization. She is a graduate of Georgia Tech, Emory University, and George Washington University.

What are you most proud of from the past year: Technical work (I’ve done).

Links: Twitter, Website

Ally Palanzi, Software Engineer, Nava PBC

Ally Palanzi is a software engineer with a passion for design, accessibility, and ice cream. She’s actively involved in the tech community – speaking at conferences around the world on topics like accessibility and serving as a member of the DCFemTech leadership board. During the day, she’s an engineer at Nava, where she builds applications that help millions of Americans enroll in healthcare through HealthCare.Gov.
What are you most proud of from the past year: Contributing and being a tech lead for HealthCare.Gov’s enrollment application, helping millions of Americans enroll in healthcare!

Links: Website, Twitter

Taylor Poindexter, Back End Engineer, Crowdskout

Taylor Poindexter is a proud UVA Alum, the Co-founder of Black Code Collective and currently works at Crowdskout as a Back End engineer. She was named one of DC’s Top Power Women as well as DC’s Top Technologist in 2017. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, whiskey tastings, and spending time with her two amazing nephews.
What are you most proud of from the past year:I am most proud of the increased notoriety of Black Code Collective within the DC tech scene. As well as my personal growth as an engineer. My Crowdskout team continuously works together to help one another improve, and it shows.

Links: Website, Twitter

Anya Roltsch, Backend Engineer, Tista

I have 6 years of experience as a software developer; during that time I have worked with Java, Go, Ruby, and Javascript on projects ranging from video on demand systems, incident management systems, professional development systems for teachers, to my current project. I have a wonderful fiancee, Ryan, and a wonderful family. I enjoy yoga and I am getting married this winter.

What are you most proud of from the past year: I have been a primary contributor to the Caseflow project, a suit of tools that improves the processing of benefit claim appeals at the Department of Veterans Affairs and helps to deliver better services to our veterans.

Jacque Schrag, Developer, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Originally from Indiana, Jacque is a web developer and data visualizer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She works with foreign policy experts to build websites and interactive visuals that communicate policy recommendations on national security issues. She is a lover of board games, trivia, and good books.

Links: Twitter, Website

Dana Sulit, UI Engineer, Mapbox

Dana Sulit is a UI engineer and designer at Mapbox. She works on Studio, building creative cartographic tools to enable beautiful, custom map design.
What are you most proud of from the past year: I’m proud of my technical and design leadership in overhauling the approach to data-driven styling in Studio, our flagship map design application. We introduced new features that unlock more powerful, precise operations for authoring styles. As a researcher, designer, and engineer on the project, I worked with my team to create a flexible system that advances Studio as a tool for dynamic map design.

Jess Szmajda, CTO, Optoro

Jess is the CTO at Optoro, host of the DCTech Slack, and organizer of the Joy of Programming meetup. She codes in weird esoteric languages, loves chiptunes, and is looking forward to teaching her toddler the ways of code.

What are you most proud of from the past year: Grew DCTech Slack community from ~3,000 to ~4,500 people, with about 800 users actively helping each other every week.

Links: Twitter, Website

Megan Tracy, Software Engineer, Appian

Growing up in Loudoun County, VA, I most enjoyed my math classes, until I stumbled upon computer science somewhat accidentally. Once I got to UVA, it was obvious that computer science was going to be the right major for me. Now 3 years out of school, I’m very lucky to be pursuing my career as a software engineer at Appian!

What are you most proud of from the past year: Over the past 12 months, I’m most proud of the progress I’ve made as both a developer and leader at Appian. I switched focuses and learned how to be a front end developer really quickly, while also being an agile coach for my team.

Sharon Warner, Software Engineer, Nava PBC

Sharon grew up in central PA and then moved between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for college and graduate school. She now lives here in DC working to improve the veterans’ appeals process at Nava PBC. In her spare time, she enjoys running, watching musicals, and celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl victory.
What are you most proud of from the past year: Over the past 6 months, my team and I launched a web application at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to help judges prepare for their hearings more quickly. In the next few weeks, we’ll complete our rollout to all 96 judges at the board. So far, judges have prepared for over 12,000 hearings through our application. Because judges can prepare for their hearings more quickly, they have more time to prepare decisions which is helping to reduce the backlog of appeals.

Links: Twitter

Valerie Woolard-Srinivasan, Software Engineer, Panoply

Valerie Woolard Srinivasan is a software engineer at Panoply, where she works on podcast publishing software in Ruby on Rails and React. She also leads the Women Who Code algorithms group and has spoken at software conferences including RailsConf, NationJS, and Codeland. When she is not coding, she enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with her husband, who is also her best editor and advocate.
What are you most proud of from the past year: I am proud of the work I’ve done at Panoply to add new billing features to our podcast publishing platform, Megaphone. I am also proud of the talk I gave at Bath Ruby in March of this year entitled “Code and Fear: Talent, Art, and Software Development.”

Links: Website, Twitter


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