Isabella ACT pic 2Isabella Maki – Student Founder and Ambassador:  In 8th grade, I heard about the Girls Who Code Organization and the opportunities they provide to girls to learn computer coding.  I thought this idea sounded very cool.  I decided I would love to start a club in our area where myself and any high school girl could learn how to code.  Finally, as a Sophomore, the pieces started to fall into place and Fox Valley Girls Coding Club (FVGCC) was launched.  We were lucky enough to have Dottie and Robin volunteer as instructors who are willing to share so much knowledge and enthusiasm with our club members.  I was excited to have a total of 12 girls join us for the first year and now we have grown to 19 girls for 2017-18.  We are having a great time learning about coding, starting work on community coding projects, hearing from tech professionals during monthly web chats, and exploring what the future may hold for us with the amazing new skills we are learning.  I am looking forward to seeing what we can create and where this club will be by the time I graduate in May!

Mary Ann Maki – Communications:  “Young girls are change agents.” – Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code.  As I have seen Isabella’s interest in starting a coding club go from an idea to an actual working community club, I am convinced this is true. It has been so exciting to see the Fox Valley Girls Coding Club (FVGCC) launch in 2016. With two dedicated, highly accomplished Software Engineers, Dottie Lee and Robin Schroeder, as Instructors and a group of 12 motivated girls as charter members. Each week these girls are learning about coding, collaborating, and expanding their vision of what their future careers may look like with these newly gained skills. I am privileged to watch this group grow in their numbers and their abilities. Utilizing a 3-level teaching curriculum gives the girls opportunities to learn at varying levels, stay engaged in the club throughout their time in high school, and have the opportunity to mentor new members each year. It is my pleasure to help the club with their communications needs so that we can continue to spread the word of this club and create a real technology movement for girls in our Fox Valley community. We look forward to expanding the power and opportunities that come with learning to code!

Dottie Lee – Instructor:  Software Development is: Creative Problem Solving!  Building something that’s never been built before!  Fun!  Rewarding!  All that and more, it is a career field that embraces so many diverse talents and interests. Yet currently (and inexplicably to me…) there is a huge gender gap in the field.  As a recently retired Software Developer, my goal is to share my passion for the field with others, especially women. To this end, I joined the Illinois Technology Foundation’s Make-A-Difference Volunteer program which provides opportunities for technology professionals to give back to the community.  When Mary Ann reached out to the Foundation for help in finding someone to teach the group, I was given this incredible opportunity and couldn’t be happier. Our 12 Charter Members of the Fox Valley Girls Coding Club, our Dauntless Dozen, are an amazing group of young ladies; bright, hard-working, creative, always willing to try new things. It is so rewarding to see them jump into the coding activities, learn new things, experiment with bringing creative ideas to life, and collaborate with one another.  I am so excited about the opportunity to work with these girls and introduce them to the fascinating world of software development alongside my fellow instructor, the incredibly talented and energetic Robin.

Robin Schroeder – Instructor: Over the last 16 years, I have written software for corporations, small businesses, academia and non-profits to help them improve their processes with technology. I always had a huge interest in computers, but early in my carrier, I was very lucky to be mentored by two brilliant female programmers. Since then, the vast majority of the time, with a few exceptions, I have worked almost exclusively alongside men. The imbalance has always bugged me and I have quietly wished that there was something I could do about it. I was delighted to catch a rumor of this group during a 25N tour last October and immediately offered to volunteer. Thus far, it has been an incredible and inspirational experience introducing these concepts to the girls as well as working alongside Dottie Lee!