The Fall 2022 TechWomen Program capped off with 10 days of high-profile events including the annual Pitch Day hosted by WayMo, the [email protected] Anniversary Event with keynote speaker Assistant Secretary of State of the ECA Lee Satterfield and a DC Delegation that included a surprise visit with remarks from Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
Pitch Day was preceded by the third and final Action Plan Workshop led virtually by mentor Eileen Brewer who guided Emerging Leaders through a pitching best practices presentation, followed by breakout sessions to provide each country team dedicated practice time with their Impact Coaches.
On October 17, all 104 Emerging Leaders, Impact Coaches and community stakeholders including U.S. State Department Program Officers Angela Woods and Sydney Plunkett gathered at Google Headquarters, under the sponsorship of partner WayMo, for Pitch Day. Following a brief introduction from Samera Edwards and opening remarks from Suzanne Phillion, both of WayMo, each team delivered an impassioned three-minute pitch offering scalable and sustainable solutions they intend to implement in their home countries to fight problems ranging from water insecurity to domestic violence. Each pitch was then scored by an executive panel of judges composed of Jumana Muwafi of Synopsis, Andrew Udeshi of Chime and Michelle Peacock of WayMo.
Two days later, on Thursday October 20, more than 300 members of the TechWomen community gathered at the Juniper Dome to celebrate TechWomen surpassing 10 years of service, impact and programming. Guests including all 104 Emerging Leaders, more than 100 mentors past and present, representatives of loyal partner companies, former TechWomen staff members and special guests from IIE and the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The event kicked off with opening remarks from IIE Senior Vice President of Program Management and Government Edith Cecil followed by words from Juniper Networks Vice President and Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity Hillary Weingast.
Next up, came brief words from Emerging Leader Zanyiwe Asare of South Africa, who announced special keynote speaker Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs after declaring that “talking about the dire need for global change in this unequal world is a good thing, but bringing together over 100 women on a STEM-based program year in and year out is a phenomenal thing.”
Assistant Secretary Satterfield expressed thanks to the expressed thanks to the community before providing insights into the origins of the TechWomen program. “Inspired by former President Obama’s call for a new beginning with the Muslim world during a speech in Cairo in 2009,” Assistant Secretary Satterfield shared, “the State Department created TechWomen. Since the beginning of the program we’ve reached nearly 1000 women in Tech.”
“An essential part of our diplomacy at the State Department,” she added moments later, “is to build mutual understanding between people in the United States and people in other countries through programs like TechWomen. The idea is that we’re building a network and a community outside of traditional government to government conversations. This is where the real change happens. This is where the real work takes place. When we can create a community to approach shared global challenges.”
Following the remarks from Assistant Secretary Satterfield, long-standing mentors Jeannice Fairrer Samani, Erica Lockheimer, Anar Simpson and Beth Steinberg took to the stage for a panel discussion looking back on their most memorable experiences and advisements as TechWomen.
The penultimate event of the eveing was a pre-recorded message from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which highlighted several successful members of the TechWomen community and unveiled five surprise announcements, including the U.S. expansion of TechWomen into Chicago, Illinois and the overseas expansion into the Balkan nations, commencing with Albania and Montenegro.
To cap off the evening, the seed grant winning teams from Monday’s Pitch Day were announced by mentors Meg Gordon and Jumana Mawafi, who represented seed grant sponsor Synopsis.
Team Sierra Leone was the first of five teams awarded $3000 in seed grant funds. Their impact project, Wata Na Life, will bring clean, safe & sustainable water to the Waterloo community in Sierra Leone.
Team Palestinian Territories was announced as the next $3000 seed grant recipient to develop their Maan app, a mobile tool designed to help new parents navigate care & dismantle stigmas toward children born with disabilities such as Downs Syndrome.
Next, Team Pakistan was announced, earning a $3000 seed grant for their project Agahi, which will use mobile tech to raise awareness about climate change in response to devastating floods that hit Pakistan this year.
Team Rwanda was also awarded $3000 in seed funds for their Pitch Day project, Hatchery Hub, which will combat hunger and inflation in their economy by providing affordable, locally-made hatchery incubators to poultry farmers.
Team Morocco was announced as the final seed fund grantees, earning $3000 for their project AFITech, which will prevent environmentally & economically devastating argan tree wildfires with a solar-powered warning system.
The next week, all of the TechWomen team and Emerging Leaders, along with several delegates from the mentor community, traveled to Washington D.C. for the final week of the program. The D.C. activities kicked off with a luncheon featuring a women in leadership panel and surprise keynote speech from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who expanded on his previous announcement in a pre-recorded message shared at [email protected] on five momentous future developments TechWomen will see in coming years, including U.S. expansion to the Chicago market and overseas expansion into the Balkan nations. The following day started with regional summits and closed with an emotional Certificate Ceremony to mark their transition from ELs to Fellows. To close out, ELs engaged in an “I AM Remarkable” debriefing and goal-setting workshop followed by a farewell dinner on October 27.