Photo by : Konstantin Yuganov

Author : ChickTech

ACT-W Session Information


Overthrowing the Patriarchy in 3 Easy Steps

Women share more and have stronger social networks than men – let’s use those skills to push for balanced and equitable workplaces for all. Crystal will relate her experience speaking publicly about sexism and give some practical tips on talking points that resonate.

Crystal Beasley

Crystal Beasley is the CEO of fashion retailer Qcut, which makes jeans for women in 400 sizes. As a former product designer, she is unwilling to make assumptions about process or product. Crystal tests her own and other’s theories through practical experimentation. She has done such inadvisable things as traveling to Syria unaccompanied and volunteering in Cambodia during three months of monsoon season. The hardest of these has unquestionably been making jeans for women which they feel makes their butt look good.

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Don’t Call Me Sweetie: How to Build Confidence and Create a Great Workplace for Women

Unconscious biases follow us everywhere, including to work. These are the biases that have been been created and reinforced by our individual experiences. Without our conscious awareness, they come up in the words we speak and the actions we take — and they can directly impact the course of our careers. Even the most well-intentioned men and women inadvertently create tension and make biased decisions. In this talk, Smith discusses how unconscious bias in the workplace works against women. Citing both academic and personal research, and drawing on anecdotes from her own career, Smith brings awareness to the unconscious biases that hold women back. She touches on the differing communication styles of men and women, as well as The Confidence Gap, and offers solutions for men and women to break the cycle.

Kristin Toth Smith

Kristin Toth Smith is CEO of Code Fellows, a code school that seeks to close the supply-and-demand gap for software developers. She previously served as Vice President of Supply Chain and Operations at Zulily, where she led the development and scaling of supply chain, logistics, and fulfillment processes, systems, and teams. Prior to Zulily, Smith held several leadership positions in her eight years at Smith holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Additionally, she is a mentor for TechStars Seattle and on the boards of advisors for several startup companies.


Career Advancement: The System is Rigged

For a field that prides itself on meritocracy, the path to career advancement in tech continues to feel like a game of Chutes and Ladders. Why do the numbers of women in management dwindle the farther up the ladder we progress? Systemic issues within our industry are all at play – from the Confidence Gap, to hiring friends and promoting for seniority, to the dismissal of management as an important and challenging job. In order to improve the management and growth of our companies, we must first talk about the problems that exist and how to fix them.

Davy Stevenson

Davy Stevenson has worked as a software engineer and manager at multiple startups. She is well respected within the Ruby community and has spoken at over a dozen conferences all over the globe. The transition from software engineer to team lead sparked a keen interest in how to best support and encourage her team members, as well as how to make the structure and process of management within tech startups more effective.

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Lightning Talks

Telling stories, building technologies

What happens when we tell stories? How do we tell stories about the technology we build, why do some stories get told over others? How do we talk about our successes, and how do we not talk about our failures? Whose stories get heard: how do women, people of color, disabled people, and “non-technical” workers get left out of the stories we hear? In this talk, I’ll explore the role of storytelling in technology, and share what I’ve found about telling better stories.

Amelia Abreu

Amelia Abreu is a consultant who works with organizations to provide solutions for user research, user experience design, and user experience strategy. She is a PhD candidate in the Information School at the University of Washington. Find out more at

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Work Outreach Balance

We always hear “work life balance”, right? And some people say, there is no work life balance; it’s about making it all work in whatever way works for you. When I hear about this topic in reference to women, it’s undoubtedly always about having kids, having a “family”. I don’t know about all of you, but my work life balance is really “work outreach balance”. How do I remain as a women in tech, but also do outreach with more women in tech? How do I balance that? I’ll share my experiences, failures, and successes in this area, and I hope all of us doing outreach for women in tech as women in tech will get something out of it.

Jennifer Davidson

Jennifer works at Intel as a User Experience Researcher and Software Interaction Designer. She recently completed her PhD in Computer Science at Oregon State University, where she researched human-computer interaction, specifically involving older adults in the design and development of open source software. She is Interim Board President of ChickTech, and strongly believes that everyone should have a say in our technology revolution.

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In ’72: No Experience Necessary

How much power is in your pocket? Any cellphone now has vastly more memory than any early mainframe, making computers more accessible than ever before. But have barriers to a tech career decreased or increased since the rise of commercial computing? I will be telling the story of how one woman (my mother) got started in tech in the 70’s, what that meant, and how the decisions we make today can shape our future tomorrow.

Perry Eising

Born in the UK but raised in Germany, Perry Eising came to the US in 2006. Eight years prior to arriving, Perry started working in tech as a front end developer, project manager, and trainer, and is now returning to tech after studying locally at PCC and Reed College. An idealist at heart, Perry is excited to get involved with projects, causes, and people who decrease barriers and increase community around using tech. Follow them on twitter @perrysetgo or visit to get in touch.

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Keep Yourself – Change Your Company

There is a lot of talk about big companies, their statistics on women and the need for change, but what about companies that are already on the right track? What if, instead of trying to change the big companies, we supported the smaller companies who have already set the groundwork for a solid workforce? What are small companies doing differently? How can we support those companies and grow women in tech from the bottom up?

Dina Moy

Dina Moy is a serial tech entrepreneur focused on marketing and advertising. A marketing alumna of Rutgers University, Dina has over 9 years of experience helping organizations improve their marketing and business strategies across multiple industries. Dina first started developing websites at the age of 13 and has used her technical skills throughout her career and in the businesses she founded. Dina is a recent East Coaster turned Portlander where she is an organizer at Startup Weekend.

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Trans-inclusivity and trans women’s tech experience

This talk aims to provide women with tools to support their trans co-workers, as well as address the experience of transitioning on the job and how perception and career can be affected by this.

Brook Shelley

Brook Shelley is a trans lesbian woman living in Portland, OR who recently moved from Austin, TX where she grew up and works at Puppet Labs. She writes and speaks about trans and queer issues occasionally for The Toast, an upcoming book from OR Books titled Lean Out, and enthusiastically advocates for better conditions for her fellow trans and/or queer women. This would be her first time presenting at a conference.

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Agile: A Cautionary Tale

Many, if not all, developers will tell you that Agile software development processes yield better results in terms of quality, innovation, and time to market. But Agile’s success is not a given. Sometimes, it creates massive conflict with the rest of the business, and the results are usually a half-in-half-out approach, where no one is happy and the benefits sought by Agile are lessened or even lost completely. In this five-minute talk, Smith highlights what happens — for better or worse — when companies find themselves in this in-between state, and offers advice from her own experience for how to avoid falling into that trap.

Kristin Toth Smith

Kristin Toth Smith is CEO of Code Fellows, a code school that seeks to close the supply-and-demand gap for software developers. She previously served as Vice President of Supply Chain and Operations at Zulily, where she led the development and scaling of supply chain, logistics, and fulfillment processes, systems, and teams. Prior to Zulily, Smith held several leadership positions in her eight years at Smith holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from MIT, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Additionally, she is a mentor for TechStars Seattle and on the boards of advisors for several startup companies.

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Breakout Sessions – Career Advancement

Practical Advice for Establishing and Engineering Your Career

Getting your first job as an engineer is difficult, and growing a career after you’ve started in the field can be even harder. 18 months ago I was fresh out of an intensive development training program and searching for my first job as an engineer. Since I graduated my training program, I’ve spent my time growing and establishing my career as an engineer, both as a technical contributor and communicator. During this talk, I’ll share my mistakes along with practical advice, followed by a Q&A session.

Liz Abinante

Liz Abinante is an engineer living in Portland working for New Relic. Previously, she has served as co-leader for the Chicago chapter of Girl Develop It. She is infectiously enthusiastic about web development, teaching, learning, and feminism. She enjoys speaking at conferences, knitting, and a hacking away on interesting problems. Her greatest dream in life is to spend her entire day surrounded by puppies while coding.

Getting off the Freelance Roller coaster: Learn a system for selling

Most freelance technologists are great at what they do, but they suck at selling. I’m going to share what I’ve learned from highly successful business owners and put to use in my own business to take the uncertainty out of marketing. Learn how to position yourself to stand out from the crowd and developing a system for getting regular business and avoiding the freelance feast or famine cycle.

Kronda Adair

Kronda Adair is the founder of Karvel Digital, a WordPress consultancy and development business. She is a regular speaker at WordPress meetups and Wordcamps and has been invited to speak at Ada Developer Academy, Beyond the Code, Open Source Bridge, Lesbians Who Tech Summit, and others. She has given talks on WordPress deployment processes, successful site planning, starting your own business, and more. She also writes and speaks about issues of diversity (or lack thereof) in the tech industry. You can read her personal blog at or sign up for her weekly newsletter at

Practical and Purposeful Negotiation Skills

This breakout session is focused around three fundamental beliefs.
1. Negotiation is an integral part of both our personal and professional lives.
2. Mastering negotiation skills is at the heart of our personal and collective social harmony.
3. Negotiation can be learned.

Participants can expect to gain an understanding of basic negotiation skills and techniques- including salary negotiation- and the practical application of these skills in the workplace.

Sasha Anderson

Through her time on this fair planet, Sasha has discovered her passion is to bring communities together to build engagement and ownership. Bringing over 10 years of national and international nonprofit experience, she is passionate about building bridges between the business and nonprofit sectors. Outside of work, you can find her planning her next big trip, buried in a book, or exploring the great outdoors. She holds an M.A. in Coexistence & Conflict Studies and an M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University, as well as a B.A. in Sociology from Seattle University.

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Getting Started in Open Source

Learn about open source projects, how they work, and why getting involved in them can be a great opportunity for learning and career development. The first half of the session will cover the what, how, and why parts of this, and in the second half we’ll talk about resources for learning to contribute, finding a great project, and getting support for entering or continuing to work in open source.

Audrey Eschright

Audrey Eschright is a software developer, community organizer, and rabble-rouser who’s been participating in open source since she was a teenager. She founded Calagator, an open source community calendar project, and co-founded the annual Open Source Bridge conference which takes place in Portland each June.

Leading with Grace

This workshop will present and build techniques and tools to establish confidence in the trepidatious world of leadership. We will explore our own personal standpoint as a leader, including our values, key performance indicators, expectations, and uncertainties. We will discuss leadership styles and techniques that enable us to be our ideal leader selves. We will learn how to inspire and provide service to others. We will talk about the balance between being a friend and being the boss. We will discover, together, the next steps in our leadership journey.

Honey Darling

Honey Darling is a mom, and also VP of Engineering at DealerPeak. She is passionate about technology and people, and especially the intersection between the two. Honey believes in the power of collaboration, creativity, and continuous improvement.

How to “do” Talks and Workshops

Women are often told they just need to work harder, speak louder, or get out there to advance their careers. “Getting out there” isn’t about being the loudest speaker or being someone you’re not – it’s about being genuinely you and owning the knowledge and expertise you’ve earned. This hands-on workshop will give you the basics for pitching talks, running workshops, and fearlessly conquering panels. Don’t worry if public speaking isn’t your thing – this isn’t about ‘getting you out of your comfort zone.’ We’ll work on actually being in your comfort zone in a confident, capable way. If you’re ready to prepare for your own talk, panel discussion, or workshop, come and learn how!

Kristen Gallagher

Kristen Gallagher is the founder of Edify Education Design, a consultancy that creates learning experiences that people actually learn from (and enjoy!) She brings over eight years of instructional design, experience and event management, and nonprofit work to Edify. Recently, her focus has been on building educational experiences that empower people, especially young women and marginalized communities.

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Community, Mentorship, and Open Source: The Creative Path to Employment

Open up a new perspective on the skills-training to employment pipeline, and explore how to empower job prospects through engaged learning, meaningful project work, and unique resources available in Portland.

Catherine Nikolovski & Alan Osbourn

The Authentic You

This interactive workshop will give women a chance to identify what qualities they have that are unique. They will then create a profile of themselves based on these qualities and use that as leverage in the market.

Claire Hernandez

Claire Hernandez has worked in technology for almost two decades. She has held positions ranging from manager of a 70 person tech support department to the general manager of a small software company. Claire currently works at Puppet Labs, is a mentor for the Portland Seed Fund and founded and chaired the Tech Services Committee at the TAO. Claire can be found talking to various groups around town, most recently at Portland Start Up Week.

How to Impress Your Future Employer

The goal of this session is to enable participants to remove potential roadblocks in demonstrating everything they have to offer to employers in resumes, interviews, and career fairs by pointing out common mistakes and offering advice for how to impress recruiters and hiring managers. The information will be presented in a format that includes interactive audience participation and a panel of the targeted people to impress (hiring managers, recruiters) for Q&A and input.

Danielle Hubbard

Danielle Hubbard has been a software engineer at CDK Global for one year. She is passionate about helping other women find success and happiness in technology jobs.

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Getting Started with Full Stack: Control Your Apps from Back to Front

Being able to build and control your application from the ground up— back-end to front-end— is certainly appealing, and it shouldn’t be intimidating to get started on this track. While there are an overwhelming number of options for server side languages and frameworks, database and ORM, deployment platforms, and frontend toolchains, we’ll focus on a single example to demonstrate the accessibility of full stack development to every level of developer for many everyday projects. We’ll quickly spin up a simple Node.js server with Express, add client side views, touch on some database options, and deploy. Full source from the talk and expanded examples can be found on GitHub.

Jenny Louthan

Jenny is happiest when working to find the quickest and most elegant solutions to previously unsolved or complex software problems. She loves being involved in full stack application development all the way from data modeling and project scaffolding to the main dev phase, testing, deployment, and maintenance. She is an alumna of Lewis & Clark College and is currently working as a developer at Uncorked Studios in Portland.

Collaborating to Create a How-To for Tech Diversity

A roundtable discussion regarding (mis)handing of experiences within the tech community/ culture. This discussion will look at ways that things were handled well, how things weren’t, and brainstorm with attendees for ways we can work to improve the current culture. Too many guides tell women what to change about themselves, or to accept whatever we do to enact change will only benefit those who come after us. This doesn’t seem good enough, which is why we need to speak with women identifying folks and our allies to address ways we can change the current culture.

Cat Poole

Cat Poole is the Community Engagement Manager at OSH Park, a community ordering service for high quality, lead-free printed circuit boards manufactured in the USA, and shipped free worldwide. To OSH Park, she brings over eight years of nonprofit experience in social services fostering community networks and support, providing case management, thinking creatively, and managing events. In February 2014, She began hosting meetups for makers of all ages and types, from sewing to electronics to art projects as an incubator for interesting collaborations.

Up Your Game Through Coaching

Whether it’s work/life balance, having more passion and purpose in your day-to-day, or leveraging your career, coaching is about narrowing the gap between where you are and where you want to be – in any area of your life. Find out how coaching can help you become more effective, energized, and empowered, no matter the circumstances. Learn how to ask powerful questions that spark creativity, resourcefulness, and collaboration. Utilizing a super fun “fishbowl” coach approach, come have fun experiencing what dynamic coaching is all about and how it can up your game in work and life!

Dani Rukin

Dani, a long-time certified and credentialed Co-Active coach, and former Employment and Training Manager for the New York Software Industry Association, provides high-performance coaching and training to the best and the brightest around the world by inspiring them to dream big, get it done, help each other, and have fun doing it. She helps teams and individuals to innovatively and creatively identify what they want, WHY they want it, and what they’re going to do about it. She is the former Community Outreach Director on the Board of Directors for the International Coach Federation (LA Chapter), and is committed to inspiring people to be their best.

The Art of Interviewing: Learning to Tell Your Story

Effective interviewing is a critical skill for professional advancement. Most often interviewing is associated with job application but interviews are also a means of selection for internships, college admission or professional advancement programs. To interview successfully is to learn how to tell “your story” – the unique combination of professional and personal experiences that “sell” you as not only a skilled applicant but someone who be value added to an organization. This session will guide participants through the process of developing their unique story and then learn how to weave their story into a successful interview. The session will include role playing and provide ample opportunity for questions both during and at the end of the session. Session materials will include a written framework to allow participants to continue to prepare for interviews.

Dr. Karen Schwartzrock

Dr. Karen Schwartzrock has 20+ years experience in human resources, labor relations, and employee development. Dr. Schwartzrock has led recruitment and hiring for every type of technology position including C-Suite CTOs. In the course of her work she has led numerous internal career advancement programs and developed partnerships with community colleges and universities to support internship programs and the training and hiring of new employees. Dr. Schwartzrock has taught graduate level courses and conducted many workshops on human resources issues.

Debugging Impostor Syndrome

How do you get people to take you seriously when you feel like an impostor? In this dynamic and interactive workshop you will:
– Understand the science behind imposter syndrome and why it affects women more than men.
– Get mind-body tools to overcome impostor syndrome.
– Have the opportunity to join an “impostor no more” challenge with other women in tech.

Terra Soma

Terra Soma is the founder of Soma Collaborations, an innovative collaboration consulting firm in Portland, Oregon. Terra uses leading-edge tools built from the latest scientific research on team dynamics and human development to help her clients collaborate more effectively. Terra is passionate about sharing practical tools with other women because women rock and collaboration works best with diversity. She combines her real-world experience at eBay, Lucent Technologies, and with an MBA, a Master’s Degree in Information Systems Management, and certification as an Integral Facilitator.

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Tech Workshops

Beginner Command Line and Python Command Line Tooling

We will be starting with the command line at the most basic level – all you need is a laptop. About one hour will be spent familiarizing yourself with the command line and the terminal, and one hour spent learning some advanced command line navigation and regular expressions, and then a final hour learning Python-specific tooling including the complete install and configuration of pip, virtualenv, and a Python package.

Amy Boyle

Amy Boyle is a Python developer in neuroscience research lab. She is part of the development team who won Startup Weekend 2014 with PDX Shelter. She’s also given talks on PyQT at PDX Python and PyLadies PDX.

Rachel Kelly

Rachel Kelly is a Support Engineer for sysadmins and DevOps. Her passions include PyLadies PDX and broadening career access to tech, as well as getting fired up over something somebody said on the internet.

User Research for Everyone: Building Understanding with Research and Design Thinking

No matter what your job title, learning user research methods can help you to make data-informed decisions about design and development. The needs of your users are different from your own needs; their lives are probably different from yours in a key ways, too. Moreover, taking users’ needs into account at the early stages of the development cycle can improve the effectiveness of tools and help build trust with your user community. Feedback from your users can make your project stronger and help avoid pitfalls. Good research and design can uncover pain points that you didn’t even realize you were experiencing. They can also set priorities for your project.

Amelia Abreu

Amelia Abreu is a consultant who works with organizations to provide solutions for user research, user experience design, and user experience strategy. She is a PhD candidate in the Information School at the University of Washington. Find out more at

Rachael Shadoan

Rachel Shadoan is the co-founder and CEO of Akashic Labs, a Portland-based research and development consultancy, where she specializes in combining research methodologies to provide rich and accurate answers to technology’s pressing questions.

Arduino Soft Circuits with ChickTech

ChickTech will conduct a hands-on workshop for attendees to combine art and open hardware to create “soft circuits”. We’ll use the LilyPad Arduino board, LEDs, sensors, conductive thread and art supplies to make a creation that will teach you the basics of circuits and programming. You’ll get to design your own product and take it home! This workshop was a great success when we ran it at OSCON in 2014.

Christine Placek

Christine has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University. She has worked at Intel for five years as a computer architect for server processors. She is passionate about getting women involved in engineering through volunteering with ChickTech.

Prototyping a Mobile App

How to do turn an idea into a design? This workshop will help you understand what user experience (UX) is, what tools to use, how to rapidly iterate on a design, and how validate an interface. You will learn the UX process through hands-on activities and exercises. You will leave this session with a solid understanding of mobile prototyping and new skills that you can use on future projects. No technical background required.

Caterina Paun

Caterina is an product design, engineer, and entrepreneur. She spent three years as a front-end developer for a major tech company before launching a startup in San Francisco. She is currently teaching UX Design at Portland Code School.

Ruby on Rails with Epicodus

Ruby on Rails is a powerful framework for making complex and interactive applications quickly. Are you interested in learning more? Join us for an Introduction to Ruby on Rails workshop. Beginners are welcome; at minimum, you should be comfortable using computers. You’ll learn programming basics with Ruby and use those to build a web application with Rails. The computers will be provided by the conference, and all installation will be taken care of ahead of time.

Jennifer McCarthy

Javascript with Codefellows

Don’t know your for-loop from a function? Come start your programming journey with this fun, friendly introduction to JavaScript with Code Fellows instructor Stephanie Lingwood! First, we’ll explore the tools programmers use to write code. Then, we’ll learn how to create interaction in a web page. Finally, we’ll get creative and create a simple game to share with friends.

Stephanie Lingwood

Stephanie Lingwood was an educator for 15 years before succumbing to the lure of code. By day, she’s a software engineer for Shippable, where she loves microservices, CI/CD, and helping people to ship code faster. By night, she teaches JavaScript for Code Fellows, and gets excited when others discover the fun, challenge, and power of code.

HTML and CSS: your first look at coding for the web with Portland Code School

Learn the basics of HTML and CSS, the technologies that structure and style websites, and leave our workshop with your own personal résumé site.

Hanna Liebl, Angela Riggs, Stacy Fabian, Kali Kiger, Jahsie Ault, Ondine Gallatin, Brigitta Glanz, Andrea Moulding, and Natalie Guidry

Python/Django with PDX Code Guild

This class will teach you the basics of Python and Django by creating a website with a blog and a contact form. We will follow the instructor step by step to build a fully functioning website with HTML, Javascript, CSS (bootstrap), Django and python. You should be familiar with the web but no hard core coding experience is necessary.

Chris Jones

Based in Portland Oregon, Christopher Jones is a freelance developer and lover of all things tech. He has been tinkering with anything that had electricity running through it that he could get his hands on since he was able to walk. By the age of 8 he was helping neighbors fix broken electronics in exchange for lumpia (the food of the Gods). At the age of 12 he taught himself HTML and started on the long road of web development addiction.

Animation With Maya

Embark on a journey through the process of modeling a spaceship in Maya using polygons. After the model is complete we will set up a couple of obstacles and animate the ship going through or around the obstacles.

Suzanne L. Hughes

After earning a BFA at the U of O and working briefly at Cornell University, I returned to Portland and joined up with a local gaming/software company as digital animator and illustrator. It was around this time, that I met another local digital-illustrator whom I’ve been lucky enough to call my wife for the past 16 years. We have built a lovely home together where we are owned by two dogs and three cats.