Today is my last day as Executive Director of Girl Develop It. After nearly five years leading the organization, I am leaving GDI the same way I started: filled with gratitude.
I’m grateful that my own involvement as a Girl Develop It student, and later local chapter leader in Philadelphia, set me on a path to becoming the organization’s first full-time employee and first Executive Director in 2014.
My passion for this community has grown over the years just as exponentially as the community membership itself has grown. But it was first cemented in that very first class where I sat in the summer of 2011 surrounded and inspired by diverse women from all backgrounds, eager to learn to code.
I’m also grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to come in at the ground floor and build an organization alongside so many passionate and incredible people. What started as a truly grassroots effort became a nationwide movement because of the drive and dedication of women across the country banding together to create communities of support and empowerment.
I’m especially proud to have grown the organization’s budget 93%, enabling the hiring of a talented and diverse full-time staff, who together with a robust chapter leadership network, launched 33 new chapters between 2014 and 2018 – totaling an astounding 63 US cities with GDI chapters bringing people together to learn. Today, GDI has a membership of 110,000+, a 633% increase from 2014. With a well-loved brand and positive impact to show, we forged innovative and sustainable partnerships with corporate sponsors like Salesforce, Google, Benefit Cosmetics, Cars.com, and more.
In 2017, with the support of Capital One and Barclaycard, I was grateful for the opportunity to launch the prison program in partnership with Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, the first of its kind in the country teaching incarcerated women, one of the nation’s most underserved populations, coding skills .
From the beginning, GDI set out to fight for inclusion, equity, and diversity for women and underrepresented groups who were left out of technology education. The stories of students who completely transformed not only their careers, but their lives will continue to inspire and propel me forward — stories like the grandma from Atlanta who built an app to support domestic violence victims; the stay-at-home mom from Fargo who grew her coding skills and found the confidence to apply for (and get) her first development job; and the entrepreneur whose idea to build an online marketplace that helps campers book unique experiences turned into a company that now employs more than two dozen people and was featured in Fast Company.
While growing the organization into what it is today certainly had its challenges, I wholeheartedly believe in this mission and GDI’s ability to deliver on it. Finally, I’d like to share my immense gratitude for my leadership team and everyone who I’ve worked with who helped to build GDI over the years. Thank you for letting me be a small part of leading it. I look forward to seeing where this movement goes next.
Did you know that Girl Develop It is celebrating a huge milestone this month? Over the past five years, we have taught 60,000 students to code across our 50+ chapters. That’s huge!
Here are a few highlights of our upcoming celebration:
#GDIday: Tuesday, January 12th will be the big, fun start to our month-long celebration. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as we share inspiring messages from thought leaders and heroes in the community. Please RT and spread the word!
Thunderclap: Join hundreds of thousands of GDI fans in a collective message about #GDIday. Sign up here before 12pm EST on Tuesday 1/12
Reddit #AskMeAnything (AMA): On GDI Day 1/12 at 12pm EST, Girl Develop It Executive Director, Corinne Warnshuis and Co-founder/Advisor Vanessa Hurst will be on Reddit answering questions about learning to code, our 50+ chapters around the US, and more. We’d love for you to join the conversation.
Follow along and join in!
Tell us: What’s something you’ve built lately? How Girl Develop It has made an impact on your life?
Spending a little time reflecting back on my 2015 felt really positive overall. Some of the numbers surprised me (hi, one entire day spent giving advice/mentoring folks over coffee) and I feel really excited about some others — I spoke at six conferences and visited a ton of cities (in 14 states) this year. Also, celebrated a few happy milestones.
Perfect is the enemy of done. My goal in writing this is to get it done. So, here it is:
2015 in numbers
news results in which my name appeared (via Google News)
conferences I attended, including: NCWIT Summit, WITI Summit, Philadelphia Women in Tech Summit, WordCamp Philly, TechHire Community Action Summit, ELA Conf (more below)
Of 13 total, there were…
conferences at which I had the opportunity to speak. This was definitely my biggest year speaking at conferences, averaging one big event every two months, with plenty of smaller presentations/shout-outs to GDI in between. (I also declined a keynote offer that would have been my largest conference speaking event yet — including this note here, because:impostor syndrome.)
Qualcomm Women’s Collegiate Conference – keynote: Kicked off the year with my first keynote at a conference for ~55 talented young women studying CS, CE and EE from universities across the country and 50 STEM-interested middle school girls from the San Diego area.
Lesbians Who Tech – panel: “Building Powerful Communities in Technology” — This may have been my favorite conference of 2015, maybe ever. So many fantastic, brilliant speakers. Intersectionality was a huge topic here. Met plenty of awesome folks. The programming was top notch. Also :raised_hands: US CTO Megan Smith is the most inspiring. ED I aspire to be more like: Leanne Pittsford.
White House Tech Meetup: Definitely consider this as one of most exciting professional milestones of the year/my life. I. spoke. at. the. White. House! And I was invited to speak by US CTO Megan Smith (again: hero). On top of that, my apparel designer best friend designed and made a dress for me for the occasion, covered in artichokes.
GitHub’s CodeConf: Spoke here about Girl Develop It’s successes with our open source initiatives. Met a ton of awesome people/Githubbers here, and the talks were diverse and all very good. Felt okayyy about my talk, but this made me want to try to work more on my stage presence. I had a 4:30pm time slot, which, admittedly…is a difficult time to hold people’s attention.
Tech Inclusion– panel: “How Bootcamps and Code Schools are Changing the face of Engineering” — GDI is neither of these, but it was a good conversation. Enjoyed this inaugural inclusion and diversity-focused conference and met some great folks.
Dreamforce – Thanks to an invite from the very badass, lovely Mary Scotton, I had the chance to speak (during the first session of the first day)! DF15 wins for the time I felt most comfortable and gave what I think was my best talk yet. (Time slot is key.)
Girl Develop It Leadership Summit:more on this below!
number of events in which I played an organizer or host role. (Down about 150% from 2013/14. :sigh of relief:)
Galentine’s Day: a casual get-together of talented, driven women from various sectors in Philadelphia who are inspiring on February 13th, aka Galentine’s Day. (Thanks, Leslie Knope.)
Ignite Philly 15: We invited Ariell Johnson to speak and she blew us away with her story and ambitious project: building a comic/coffee shop hybrid in Germantown. Colorlines.com recently featured her as one of 15 Remarkable Women of Color who Rocked 2015.
Mogulette & GDI Philly gathering: bringing together women of color entrepreneurs and coding students
Girl Develop It’s annual Leadership Summit
This event was huge for connecting our leaders — to each other, to our mission and vision of change for the world. I have unlimited gratitude for the invaluable guidance and mentorship of our cofounder, Vanessa Hurst, in helping making this event amazing…and of course for her year-round support. Huge thank you to Gretchen Kastetter, Jen Myers, Cara Jo Miller, Kristen Curtze, Sylvia Pellicore, Brenda Jin, and LeeAnn Kinney and all of the leaders who spoke at the Summit.
Here’s a great recap of our wonderful annual summit, courtesy the very awesome Paul Searle:
Ignite Philly 16
states I visited, including: AZ, CA, DC, DE, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN. First time in Tennessee! We loved Nashville and had a chance to spend some time on an 18th century farm 45 minutes south of the city, near Franklin.
Rad Girls: Published a Rad Girls profile of Margherita Urbani, an incredibly talented Philadelphia-based illustrator. This was sadly my only Rad Girls interview in 2015 (down from half a dozen interviews in 2014!). Hope to find more time this year to interview women who inspire me (and will inspire you). Know of someone I should interview? Let me know!
Bold is Beautiful campaign:partnered on a large-scale fundraising campaign with Benefit Cosmetics called Bold is Beautiful. For Girl Develop It, this partnership was our largest to date and one I am very proud of. We worked with them on a number of events, calling on participation from chapter leaders in multiple cities and requiring an incredible amount of coordination. All so worth it. Grab a tissue and watch the campaign video for highlights of the four amazing orgs (GDI, Step Up Women’s Network, Girls Inc. and Dress for Success) that benefited from the proceeds of the campaign
Got really into biking. Started doing 20+ mile rides on weekends on the lovely Schuylkill River Trail. Went on an epic bike-camping trip to French Creek State Park, logging by far my longest ride ever: over 120 miles in two days with some badass gals, Cat, Laura and LeeAnn.
Check out Girl Develop It board member and VP of Engineering at Stripe, Marc Hedlund talk about the importance and urgency of getting more women into tech now in this trailer for the CODE documentary:
You have to be impatient. Whatever it takes to move the number now, we have to do that.
Well, I’m excited to see this doc.
It’s really amazing to be at the forefront of this industry-wide movement. Since our founding in 2010, Girl Develop It has grown — in a very grassroots, bootstrapped way — to the size that we are today: bringing thousands of women into tech each month.
Look out for forthcoming stats and stories on the women who we’ve helped transition from non-tech to tech careers, who’ve received promotions and who’ve changed their lives through GDI’s programs — now in 40+ cities in the US.