by Allison Jones, Director of Marketing and Communications
As the year winds down (and the Code2040 team prepares for our winter break!) many of us are reflecting on the year. So in this spirit, we asked our team to share moments that reminded them of the power, importance, and impact of our community.
Thank you for an incredible 2017 and here’s to an even better 2018.
Janet Tam, Operations and Office Manager: During the summer, I volunteered to help out at the SF Hackathon prep workshop hosted at Lyft. It was one of the best workshops that I went to during the summer because it was so amazing to see the Fellows in their element — designing, creating and collaborating on their practice pitches. Listening to each team present their ideas for a product or service that was designed to give back to their communities left me feeling so hopeful for the future that they were creating!
Julian Gutierrez, Director of Community Engagement: A few years ago, I connected with someone who was interested in being a mentor. At the time, I asked if she could go above and beyond and also get involved with our Tech Trek program, which jumpstarted her involvement with Code2040 and solidified her commitment to our mission. She has mentored multiple Fellows already, but this past summer, she approached me at a mentor mixer to inform me that she could not be happier to be matched with her current Fellow. When I asked for more details, she shared with me that her Fellow was a parent and as a parent herself, they immediately clicked on the nuances that comes with being a parent who is breaking into the industry. This was Day 1 of them meeting, and she was over the moon to know that her life experiences offered value to this Fellow.
She also informed me that due to her experience with the organization, that she advocated that her company partner with us, which they agreed to do so at the Gold Level for the 2018 Fellows Program. The engagement of one volunteer, a white female technologist, who knew nothing about us, resulted in a long-term supporter and mentor who took it upon herself to advocate for our mission to her company and facilitated a $50K partnership. That. Is. Dope. It shows me how impactful our work is to people and how it mobilizes them to feel empowered to support our work.
Halimah Jones, Executive and Programs Coordinator: So I have been a mentor over the past summer and this year and I have loved seeing my mentee grow and develop! At first I was a little worried that I didn’t have the technical expertise to help him, but after our first conversation I realized he only needed help on interpersonal issues or management. I learned as many things from him as he did from me! He reminded me that any experience is helpful and being a mentor doesn’t mean knowing all the answers. We went through various solutions and problems together and it was a joy to see him grow and receive a full-time offer.
Nora Traughber, Data and Evaluation Manager: Jordan Smith is the dream Fellows Program alumni. Works for a partner company, lives with another FP alumni, is super engaged with the community, and is always down to help out wherever he can. This year Jordan came to the SF Hackathon to document the event. He ended up making a really cool video about one of the Hackathon teams, the awesome and unique individuals on that team, and the amazing ideas they had at the intersection of tech and racial justice. What I loved about the video is that it had nothing to do with Code2040 — instead, it was all about one Black technologist lifting up and amplifying the voice of another Black technologist. At the end of the day, Code2040 is at it’s best when it’s not about us at all — when we are able to extract ourselves from the conversation and work in the background creating opportunities for people to connect and find power within each other.
Jasmine Harris, Business Development Associate: As someone who works almost exclusively with company partners, I am constantly on the phone either detailing our services for new partners or renewing/re-engaging old partners. It’s always heart warming to hear the people who’ve worked with us at previous companies and are now introducing their staff to Code2040 at their new company. But, even more, wonderful are all of the people who feel inspired to tackle diversity on all front after working with Code2040. I’ve had companies ask for resources on bringing in more women and/or queer identifying engineers. This reminds me that Code2040 is simply one expression of the ways that we can address intersection oppression.
Chris Simamora, Senior Director of Student Programs: Angelica Willis, a 2016 Code2040 Fellow at Apple, facilitated the Designing Your Career workshop for the 2017 Silicon Valley cohort towards the end of their summer. The purpose of the workshop was to build upon the “Designing Your Summer” workshop we introduced to Fellows at Welcome Weekend where we invited them to try out various career prototypes, things like informational interviews with folks in positions they thought they might want to be in. The hope of that original workshop and this follow up was to provide Fellows with a framework that would foster growth mindset. To succeed in tech, a fast evolving sector, you have to be really good at learn and grow, at experimenting and trying things out. And while the stories we often hear are framed as “I always knew I wanted to do X…” when you dig deeper, those stories are filled with twists and turns. Let’s make those twists and turns as intentional and exciting as possible.
Watching Angelica lead that workshop was a beautiful experience of coming full circle, an alum now holding space for current Fellows, sharing her wisdom about how the design thinking framework has influenced how she approaches building her career, current Fellows rapt in attention. After the workshop, a number of Fellows shared how moved they were by seeing Angelica leading the workshop and how they wanted to be in Angelica’s shoes the following year, paying their experience forward by mentoring Fellows or leading workshops.
When debriefing with Angelica after the workshop, she reflected: “Yes we want to diversity the tech industry and get more Black and Latinx technologists in the sector, but there’s also a bigger why there, which is to influence how tech impacts people’s lives. To ensure it’s for the better.”
P.S. In addition, this moment was a culmination of various strands intersecting. Two former staff members — Emily and Nadia — helped me create the design thinking curriculum we used this year.
Diedra Barber, Director of Company Culture Transformation: For Summit 2017 I co-created a session called The Path of A Diversity Champion with our community member and avid supporter Anthony Velázquez, a software engineer at Lyft. After a few rounds of Anthony graciously allowing me to interview him because he didn’t necessarily see how brilliant his championship of this work truly is, we were able to create an interactive learning session based on his work, in which we combined the idea of a panel, with hands on group activities + reflection time. Anthony’s story of the work he does to promote Black and Latinx inclusion at Lyft for him is just what ones does and for those in the audience, he was a spark, an inspiration and glimpse into what is possible AND that you don’t always have to wait for someone to ask you to do something. Sometimes it’s as simple as following your heart and thoughtful respect for humanity and differences and just doing it.