Thursday, October 5, 2017

Changing of the Guard: Welcome to the New ABI President and CEO

At the opening keynote of this year's Grace Hopper Celebration, eighteen thousand technical women got to meet's new President and CEO, Brenda Darden Wilkerson. She introduced herself as a warm, eloquent, and passionate lady. She and outgoing CEO Telle Whitney made a touching video in which Telle passes the proverbial torch to Brenda, heralding an exciting new era for the organization.


I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Telle over the last number of years. A talented computer scientist, she took on the commitment of heading up the then-called Institute for Women and Technology in 2002 when her dear friend Anita Borg fell ill. Though CEO might not have been a role she expected to have, Telle embraced the challenge and lead the institute through incredible growth and impact.

I first met Telle when I was assigned as a Hopper volunteer for an ABI advisory board meeting during Grace Hopper in 2010. I was then invited to be part of the board and got to know Telle more over the years. Some of my fondest memories of her are on the dance floor, where she was always ready to bust a move with me like we were the best of friends.


I had the chance to meet Brenda Tuesday night before GHC started. The ABI advisory board no longer exists, but I had the chance to attend the Systers leadership dinner with the Anita|Bees committee. Brenda addressed our relatively small group with such warmth that I couldn't help but immediately like her. That she has such an impressive background, and founded the original 'computer science for all' initiative, just makes it all the better.

I'm also tickled that we had a bonding moment over breastfeeding. I was nursing my six-month-old Henry when she was going to introduce herself. After noticing what I was doing, she told me about her own experiences with her babies. I love connecting with folks on a personal level like that, no matter how "high-up" they are.


I think everyone can agree that great things lie ahead for I hope that Telle enjoys her well-earned retirement, and I hope that I'll have a chance to dance with Brenda someday as well.

If you'd like to learn more about Brenda, check out her interview on the website.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tips for GHC First Timers

Just in time for your last-minute packing, here are some amazing tips for first-timers to GHC written by fellow committee member Faye Cheng.

GHC Swag

01) Push yourself out of your comfort zone

GHC provides a unique and invaluable opportunity to form genuine connections and conversations with fellow attendees. This conference brings together people from all over the world, and you can explore various tech-related topics and conversations with pretty much anyone -- and chances are they’re equally excited to chat with you too! Everyone has a unique background and experience, and you can certainly learn something meaningful from each encounter. So don’t be afraid to charter your own path and make GHC your own experience: Go to sessions by yourself! Say hi to someone new in line! You never know what opportunities you’ll find, what memorable conversations you’ll have, or what interesting and inspiring people you’ll meet.

02) Come prepared

The Expo floor is one of the main events at the conference, and it is fairly easy to feel overwhelmed. Whether you’re looking for an internship, a job offer, or new connections, it is always a good idea to prepare ahead of time to put yourself in the best position possible. I would recommend becoming extremely familiar with your resume (and have more copies than you think you’ll need!), and practicing your elevator pitch (which should contain references to key experiences on your resume). You’ll want to discuss experiences that make you stand out, and your passion for a particular project or involvement will help your conversation be more memorable. Recruiters are going to be meeting with many interested candidates, so it is in your best interest to help them identify what opportunities you’re interested in and what experiences you have that are relevant for them.

03) Remember who you meet

It is a good practice to keep in touch with the people you meet to maintain connections and follow-up after the conference. GHC is a very hectic and busy time, so don’t be discouraged if people aren’t the most responsive right after the conference. Though it may seem a bit outdated, business cards are a really quick and easy way to exchange information with the people you meet (and is more professional than using your phone). An efficient way to keep track of the people you meet is to immediately jot down key points from your conversation on the back of their business card, which you can later reference in your follow-up.

04) Be comfortable, and be ready to walk a lot

You’re going to be on your feet for most of the day and walking all over the convention center. You should wear whatever makes you the most comfortable. I would highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes and bringing a light jacket. While it will certainly be warm outside, convention centers tend to crank up the AC quite high.

05) Pack lightly

I am definitely guilty of over-packing for trips, but one piece of advice is to leave a lot of room for the incredible amounts of swag you’re going to be bringing back from the conference. Companies will be giving out more t-shirts than you’ll ever need, so make sure you have room for everything for the trip home!

Systers: Your Global Community

“Until Systers came into existence, the notion of a global community of women in computer science did not exist.”    — Anita Borg Lo...