Interview by Allison Grinberg-Funes
You run the IonicNYC Meetup. What advice can you give other Tech Ladies who are interested in starting a meetup?
If you’re interested in launching a new meetup, go for it! To help jump start things, reach out to other meetups with established audiences. Ask their leaders for advice on what works/what didn’t for them, and see if it’s possible to co-host an event together. You’ll find that people are more than willing to help out, more often that not. Get creative when it comes to advertising your events — find other lists where you can cross-post. Can you reach out to Facebook groups, blogs, local colleges or shops of interest? Engage with relevant folks on Twitter and let them know about your group/events. See if you can ping any relevant businesses — they may be interested in sponsoring your group.
Our biggest difficulty has been in finding a steady stream of guests to speak. We counteract this by switching up the activities from month-to-month. For example, we’ll alternate between a guest lecture and hands-on work session. We’re currently planning a weekend hack-a-thon. It works out great because people are attracted to Ionic for many different reasons — some people are more focused on getting their questions answered (ranging anywhere from beginner to advanced), whereas some are more focused on offering their expertise. The last thing we want is to let the audience grow bored.
You have a passion for contributing to the quality of STEM education. How are you getting involved and how can other Tech Ladies contribute to this effort if they’re interested?
Right now I’m looking at ways I can form bridges between the American and Cuban startup communities. I did some fundraising for StartupCuba earlier this year and am looking to travel to Cuba in the next few months. There is so much untapped potential in the market over there. I can’t wait to see what ideas spring up over the coming years.
In the past I’ve volunteered for Digital Girl, Inc which focuses on providing BedStuy youth with quality STEM learning opportunities. They’re doing great work — if you’re looking to get involved with an excellent grass-roots organization, I highly recommend you get in touch. Originally they were focused on reaching out to young girls, but they now welcome both boys and girls.
AllStarCode is another excellent organization providing young men from underserved/minority communities with access to quality STEM education. While the focus is on men instead of Tech Ladies, I feel that reaching out to today’s youth is more important than segmenting by gender. The more folks we can reach, the better!
What advice would you give to a young girl with interests in STEM?
Don’t be afraid! STEM fields are full of limitless possibilities. If there is one tool I could put in your toolbox that can provide you with economic security, intellectual challenge and a huge potential to change the world — this is it. Go for it! If any Tech Ladies have questions/comments, I’m happy to lend an ear any time.