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Organization Profile: CODE2040 TechSistas

CODE2040 is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways to educational, professional, and entrepreneurial success in the innovation economy for underrepresented minorities with a specific focus on Blacks and Latino/as.

CODE2040’s flagship program is the summer Fellows Program, which places high performing Black and Latino/a software engineering students in internships with top tech companies and provides them with a leadership development curriculum.

TechSistas is profiling CODE2040 and some of the women who comprise the program. To give to CODE2040, click here. These sistas are always in the process of raising funds to support their good work!

Laura Weidman Powers:  Co-Founder, Executive Director

LWeidmanPowersTwitter:  @laurawp

Laura is the co-founder and Executive Director of CODE2040, a nonprofit which creates pathways to success in the innovation economy for Blacks and Latino/as. She brings to this work a background in entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, youth development, and technology. Laura has started two organizations in the education space, one nonprofit arts education organization in West Philadelphia that is currently celebrating its 10th year, and one for-profit tutoring company that gave rise to a book. Laura first explored the tech space as a project manager in a small web development shop in New York and, most recently before CODE2040, she served as VP of Product at a consumer web startup in Los Angeles, redesigning the product development process to be inclusive of engineers.

Laura is a 2013 Echoing Green and Open Society Foundations Black Male Achievement Fellow and a 2013 Stanford Social Innovation Fellow. The Root named her one of the 100 Most Influential African-Americans in 2013 and Goldman Sachs named her one of the 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2013. Her work has been covered by The New York Times, Forbes, NBC, Bloomberg, Fast Company, NPR, and others.

She has a BA cum laude from Harvard College and a JD and an MBA from Stanford University.

Ingrid Avendaño, University of Pittsburgh

IAvendano2013 Fellow
Twitter: @ingridavendano

Ingrid is an Electrical and Computer Engineering and Art major at the University of Pittsburgh, and worked at Jawbone doing R&D work on the acoustic engineering team as a Fellow. Initially she started college as an art major exclusively, but switched into engineering after a $20 bet to learn how to program. Since then she has become involved in hackerspaces and the maker movement, and did research work at Carnegie Mellon University in industrial design and robotics. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Ingrid grew up in Minnesota, yet spent majority of her childhood in Southeast Asia. In her free time Ingrid creates interactive paintings with reprogrammable circuits embedded into canvases, tinkers with wearable electronics, 3D printers and 3D modeling.

Alex Cattron, Stanford University

ACattron2012 Fellow
Twitter:  @AndTheyLoveIt

Hailing from Detroit, MI, Alexandria Cattron is a graduate of Stanford University.  She received her BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Human-Computer Interaction.  At Stanford, she worked on projects involving the Microsoft Kinect including a gesture-based navigation system and a full-body animation storytelling game.  Alexandria is passionate about creating software that fulfills users’ needs and is easy to use.  She hopes to discover a new design opportunity that leads her to found her own startup.  After graduation she joined eGain as a software engineer working on the company’s newest web applications.  Alex is currently the CTO and Co-Founder of Benjii, a financial services platform that helps minority-owned businesses raise capital.

Janeth Moran-Cervantes, CSU Channel Islands

JMoranCervantes2013 Fellow
Twitter:  @JM0110

Janeth Moran-Cervantes is a second year Computer Science Masters student at California State University Channel Islands, where she also graduated with her BA and double majored in Computer Science and Mathematics. As an undergrad, she focused on mathematical and artificial intelligence related research projects, one for which she won first place in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences category for her presentation and research at the CSU Research Competition. At the same time, she worked a part time job and tutored high school AVID students for five years. She is currently a teaching assistant for an Introduction to Programming class. She spent her time as a Fellow on Jawbone’s Algorithms team as an intern.

Shola Oyedele, Stanford University

SOyedele2013 Fellow
Twitter: @breakowt

Shola Oyedele is a senior studying Science, Technology & Society with a concentration in Computer Science at Stanford University. Although originally from Maryland, Shola spent the 2013 summer working at Docmunch as a Front-End Developer. On campus, she holds leadership positions in her local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and in Stanford’s Women in Computer Science Club. Shola enjoys staying active, and her main interests in tech are mobile computing, search, design, and innovation in developing countries.


Amy Quispe, Carnegie Mellon University

AQuispe2012 Fellow
Twitter: @amyquispe

Amy Quispe graduated from the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. She is the founder of ScottyLabs, a student-driven technical resource group which hosts hackathons and weekly hack sessions, provides technical education for the community, creates APIs for school data and otherwise advocates for innovators at Carnegie Mellon.

Amy is a hackNY and CODE2040 alumna from the summer of 2012. She was also a speaker and mentor for Girls Who Code, and was a featured speaker at New York Tech Meetup’s “Conversations with Women in Tech.” After graduating in 2013, she joined Google as a developer programs engineer.



The First 10

If you have not heard one of these women speak about her expertise in the field of tech, you are missing out. This list is in alphabetical order by last name, not a ranking in any way.

Jennifer Argüello:  PROUD GEEK


Jennifer Argüello, Sr. Tech Advisor, Kapor Center

Twitter:  @engijen
Oakland, CA 

Jennifer is a speaker and thought leader on women in technology and Latino/as in STEM with a mind for the geeky and a heart for social change. For almost two decades she has been a leader in organizations focused on the advancement of women and minorities in STEM. Her work has resulted in much industry recognition, recently being named a 2013 Silicon Valley Latino 40 under 40 Latinos2Watch in Science and Technology, 2011 Femmeonomics Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech2010; and 2010 National Association of Professional Women: Professional Woman of the Year.  Jennifer is a Silicon Valley native and dual citizen of Costa Rica and the United States. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from UC San Diego. When not in the office she can be found in nature or on a soccer field.


Sandra Begay-Campbell:  REAL-LIFE APPLICATIONS


Sandra Begay-Campbell, Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories

Albuquerque, NM

Begay-Campbell is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories and is a former Regent (Trustee) for the University of New Mexico. Sandra leads Sandia’s technical efforts to assist Native American tribes with their renewable energy developments. Sandra received a Bachelor of Science – Civil Engineering degree from the University of New Mexico. She worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories before she earned a Master of Science – Structural Engineering degree from Stanford University. Sandra is recognized in a book profiling women engineers, “Changing Our World: True Stories of Women Engineers.” Begay-Campbell is included in the chapter “Women in Power”, which describes her effort to provide electricity through solar panels and other alternative energy solutions to hundreds of remote tribal members on the Navajo Reservation. Honored with awards for her work, Sandra is a recent recipient of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s Life-time Achievement Award; the University of New Mexico’s 2007 Zia Alumnus Award; the 2005 UNM School of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Stanford University 2000 Multicultural Alumni of the Year Award. She was also selected as a recipient of the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Women from the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women.



Catherine Bracy: DEMOCRACY GEEK

Catherine Bracy, Director of Community Organizing, Code for America

Catherine Bracy, Director of Community Organizing, Code for America

Twitter:  @cbracy
Oakland, CA 

At Code for America, Catherine Bracy oversees the nonprofit’s community network-building initiatives, including its volunteer program and international partnership program. A resident of Oakland, California, herself, she is preoccupied with bringing together local governments and technologists in a concerted effort to make better cities for everyone.

Until the end of 2012, she ran the Obama campaign’s technology office in San Francisco. She also worked on outreach for Tech4Obama, the campaign’s technology affinity group. Previously, she worked at the Knight Foundation where she managed the 2011 News Challenge to fund digital innovation in journalism.


Kimberly Bryant: THE LONG GAME

Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls Code

Kimberly Bryant, Founder, Black Girls Code

Twitter:  @6gems
Oakland, CA

“When I was first introduced to computer programming as a freshman in Electrical Engineering, Fortran and Pascal were the popular languages for newbies in computing and the Apple Macintosh was the new kid on the block. I remember being excited by the prospects, and looked forward to embarking on a rich and rewarding career after college.

But I also recall, as I pursued my studies, feeling culturally isolated: few of my classmates looked like me. While we shared similar aspirations and many good times, there’s much to be said for making any challenging journey with people of the same cultural background.

Much has changed since my college days, but there’s still a dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions, an absence that cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields. Lack of access and lack of exposure to STEM topics are the likelier culprits… <<read more>>



Kathryn Finney, Founder, Digital Undivided

Kathryn Finney, Founder, Digital Undivided

Twitter: @KathrynFinney
New York, NY

Kathryn Finney is the founder and managing director of DID. Recently, Kathryn was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in increasing the number of women and people of color in the tech world. She has also been honored as one of the 40 Stars under 40 by Black Enterprise, a Top Woman in Money by AOL, and with a Black Innovator Award from Blacks in Tech (BiT) at SXSW. An honors graduate of Yale University and Rutgers University, Kathryn has been featured in more than 1,000 media outlets, including “Today,” “Good Morning America,” The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise, New York Magazine, Forbes and InStyle. She currently serves as editor-at-large and in an advisory role at BlogHer. She’s also the CEO of TBF Group, LLC, parent company of the highly influential brand The Budget Fashionista, which reaches a global audience of more than 13 million unique visitors a year… <<read more>>


Omoju Miller:  THE ACADEMIC

Omoju Miller, Portfolio Manager, Google

Omoju Miller, Portfolio Manager, Google

Twitter: @OmojuMiller
Berkeley, CA

Omoju is a PhD candidate at The University of California at Berkeley, an, artificial intelligence researcher passionate about creativity and cognition especially with regards to education.  She is also a Start-Up advisor working in the social entrepreneurship space while also serving as a portfolio manager at Google. Omoju is the curator of TEDxEuclidAve. In addition she is a member of the AI group at ICSI and a BEST Labber.

She is the author of the paper “Towards Computational Thinking of Metaphors in HipHop,” which can be found here.




Natalia Oberti Noguera: ANGELS AMONG US

Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder, Pipeline Fellowship

Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder, Pipeline Fellowship


Twitter: @nakisnakis
New York, NY

Dubbed “The Coach” by Marie Claire, Natalia (aka Ms. Oberti Noguera) is Founder and CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women that’s changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. Natalia holds a BA in Comparative Literature & Economics from Yale. She has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Mashable, Reuters Money, TechCrunch, The New York Times, and Fast Company’s Co.Exist Change Generation series. Natalia was named to the Forbes list “Top 20 Women for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter,” as well as Latina.com’s “25 Latinas Who Shine in Tech.” Women’s eNews recognized her as one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for 2012 and Business Insider included her on its 2013 list “The 30 Most Important Women in Tech under 30…” <<read more>>


Luz Rivas: DIY

Luz Rivas, Founder, DIY Girls

Luz Rivas, Founder, DIY Girls

Twitter: @LuzRivas
Los Angeles, CA

Luz is the founder of DIY Girls and has a background in engineering, STEM curriculum development, program management, and educational research. Luz grew up in Pacoima, a neighborhood of Los Angeles, where she first became interested in engineering and computer science as a fifth-grader after learning to program in Logo. She’s excited to be working and involved in professional organizations that are engaging children and youth in engineering. Luz has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Mandela Schumacher-Hodge: EDTECH ENTREPRENEUR

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, Director, Startup Weekend EDU

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, Director, Startup Weekend EDU

Twitter: @MandelaSH
San Francisco, CA

Mandela is the Director of Startup Weekend Education. This year, the former Lead Teacher, PhD Candidate, and Edtech Founder, joined UP Global to head the worldwide initiative that helps educators, parents, students, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers create viable companies in the emerging education and learning markets. Most recently, Mandela was named to the 2014 Forbes “30 Under 30 in Education” list, a distinction that recognizes her influential accomplishments at the intersection of education, technology and entrepreneurship.




Raquel Vélez: ROCKBOT


Raquel Vélez, Robotics Engineer

Twitter: @rockbot
San Francisco, CA

Raquel Vélez (aka “Rockbot”) is a Senior Software Developer at npm, Inc. in Oakland, CA. She has previously worked at institutions such as Caltech, NASA JPL, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and various universities in Europe. In her off time, you can find her baking, teaching NodeBots not to fall off of tables, and speaking. Also, hanging out with her hilarious husband and two cats dressed in dog suits.