From the first time that Catherine Avon learned about Girls in Tech, D.C. she was hooked. She recognized there was a great deal of potential in supporting and mentoring women and girls to achieve their goals and positively influence their work experience in the tech industry, so when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to accept the leadership role of co-managing director.
“Running the local Girls in Tech chapter is very rewarding and a lot of fun,” said Baan Alsinawi, co-managing director of GIT, D.C. “I wanted to make sure we are able to advance the organization’s mission and to provide a significant impact on the community and, in order to do so, I am happy to announce that Catherine Avon will be joining me as the co-managing director of the D.C. chapter.”
Please welcome Catherine to her new role and to learn more about Catherine and her aspirations for the local chapter, read the full Q&A below.
What interested in you taking on the co-managing director leadership role?
Baan Alsinawi, co-managing director, is an inspiring leader and collaborator and we share a passion and vision for growing Girls In Tech, D.C. to serve women and girls in the DC/MD/VA metro area in an impactful way. We have a diverse, energetic and creative volunteer advisory board in a range of career fields and stages, and I’m looking forward to growing GIT D.C. with its leadership.
What excites you the most about Girls in Tech, D.C?
I believe strongly that our D.C. region’s tech ecosystem is reaching a tipping point for incredible innovation and growth. We are a vibrant mix of entrepreneurs, incubators, venture capitalist and angel investors, government leaders and policy makers, nonprofit pioneers, cybersecurity experts, data scientists, communications and networking titans, and global corporate leaders.
Our ecosystem’s impact is drawing significant attention and investment. Universities including Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, George Mason, and the University of Maryland are racing to educate the next generation of technologists here, offering new campuses and groundbreaking programs locally.
Our region has also garnered attention worldwide with Amazon’s announced investment in its second headquarters location here. We’ve also attracted a local presence of other U.S. “Big Tech” companies such as Facebook and Apple and have many industry-leading businesses here who are continuously innovating, such as Capital One, Hilton, Cvent, Alarm.com, and (my favorite) ICX media, founded by my husband, Michael Avon.
GIT D.C. is able to extend programs, information and experiences from Girls in Tech’s global chapter reach – we are at 47 chapters worldwide – but also to design our chapter’s mission to meet the specific needs of our own region.
With the rapid growth and investment here, we can partner with incredible leaders and experts to broaden opportunities to serve women who have a range of career maturity and skills. While we are eager to support and mentor young graduates, we are equally excited by the prospect of helping women re-join the workforce after a caregiving or other “life” pause, and offering skill development and community support to local economically disadvantaged women.
Have you held other leadership roles that prepared you for this role?
I run my own consulting business, Stratford Consultants, which focuses on helping companies innovate and differentiate business models and strategic programs in today’s climate of continuous digital disruption and rapidly shifting opportunities. My clients have ranged from small start-ups to Fortune 50 businesses in a broad swath of industries.
Accordingly, I’m really comfortable with ambiguity and love a white page. I think it’s fun to envision possibilities and then collaborate with smart people to bring them to life.
What are your goals for GIT DC?
We have a lot of big ideas, but the core is that we want to lift up women by offering skills, community, and leadership in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology. We want to take a service-minded approach in our work, where we engage our diverse membership to share experience, insights, and skills with women at all life stages in the context of solving a problem or addressing a shared purpose.
For example, we are planning to extend GIT’s global program “Hacking for Humanity” to D.C, a two-day code-a-thon where developers, designers, scientists, students, entrepreneurs, educators and mentors work together to build apps that solve social problems. Our chapter will partner with local nonprofits to solve social problems local to our community.
Where do you think the greatest opp lies for the organization?
There is deep interest in DC to engage more women in entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation. Women face a lot of “frictions” nationwide that contribute to disparities in leadership representation, salary gaps, and other known imbalances. Our chapter wants to take a practical approach to address these challenges. We plan to offer five “tracks” for our members including the empowerment, D.C. fundamentals, bootcamp and special interest group, mentorship and community impact tracks.
What appeals to you about the tech industry?
Technology has an amazing ability to drive efficiency and improvement to a process or business model (eventually). Sometimes the chaos in the middle is painful, but I become ridiculously excited when I observe a client (or a business in my daily life) push through an outdated, bureaucratic process and offer an elegant tech-driven solution that empowers customers to have more control and a better experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ha! I seem to be spending much of my “spare” time lately as driver and sports spectator for my busy sixth and eighth grade children.
That said, I love to travel, read, ski, and hang out with my family. I’m currently encouraging my family to become certified in SCUBA diving so I can start going on dives again!
If you have ideas to share with Catherine, she would love to hear from you and she can be reached at [email protected].