2017 Winner of the Systers Pass-It-On Award
Michelle is from San Francisco, CA. Last year, to provide people without their own computers the opportunity to learn some programming skills, Michelle started organizing intro-to-coding workshops for low-income women and non-binary femme adults at computer labs in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco (an area next to well-known tech companies and famed for its poverty). While some attendees weren’t sure what “coding” referred to, others have wished for years that they could afford to quit their jobs and earn computer science degrees. Every single attendee has indicated that they wanted to attend another workshop, and many have said some version of, “Coding is so much easier and so much more interesting than I thought it would be.”
Michelle started a project called Techtonica. The long-term goal is to have companies fully cover students’ training and living costs and then hire them. She started using her time, energy, skills, and company connections from leading two women-in-tech communities to bring together the people who need to build more diverse teams and the underrepresented people who just need the opportunity to learn technical skills that are highly-employable.
“Feeling empowered by tech skills has made me passionate about helping underrepresented people join, feel comfortable in, and stay in the software industry,” Michelle said.