“I overheard someone in [GDI] leadership say something to the effect of ‘this is what they need – they need our space’ kind of like to say like ‘to find each other’ – this is ‘what they need, black women in tech need this’. As if we weren’t going to find each other at Google I/O, a predominately white event with very little people of color. Like we weren’t going to run into each other?”
Valerie Phoenix is a self-taught technologist who loves jumping between the UX Universe and Coding Cosmos to create user-centered digital experiences. By combining her passions of art, psychology, and, tech, she hopes to find the perfect balance between tech and humanity to create a better human experience for all.
To help spread the finical wealth offered by the tech industry, Valerie founded Tech By Choice a nonprofit that is working to increase diversity in the tech industry by providing low to no cost events for individuals in protected groups.
“This is completely heart-breaking. What was once an area that I could really enjoy is now the same area that causes immense harm. It forces me to look back on four and half years and ask what did I even do? Was that even a net positive?…it feels like a waste of time.”
Kristen Seversky is a product-owning, design-thinking, code-writing, people person. She’s a passionate problem solver with a love for people and technology. Few things make her happier than building better solutions for any given problem. She knows the world needs more efficiency and inclusivity thus she happily contributed ten years as a software developer with a blend of design thinking. Kristen enjoys wearing many hats and rarely shies away from a new challenge. She has tons of energy and is constantly seeking the right environments that let her run full speed.
Kristen is formerly the co-founder and co-leader of the Girl Develop It – Rochester chapter, which was started in 2014. She rarely missed any of the 90 events and taught various languages in the first two years as the chapter grew. GDI aside, Kristen has spoken to incoming Computer Science freshmen women, STEM teachers, and participated in panels devoted to women into tech. In 2018, she was honored as the Digital Rochester’s (now TechRochester) inaugural Emerging Technology Professional Woman of the Year and continues to engage in conference planning and networking events in the local community.
When not at her laptop, she can be found in her Oculus set (she might have a computer separation anxiety), boating on the Great Lakes or Finger Lakes with her husband, playing with her dog, powerlifting in her gym, and feeding her curiosity for all elements of life.