Innovator of the Week
Catherine B. Blake
Chair of TechWomen | Tech Girls Program
CEO & Founder of Sales Protocol International
In A Nutshell . . . Tell Us About Your Startup Resource.
TechWomen|TechGirls is a program of the New Hampshire High Tech Council and the first and only program in the organization’s twenty-five year history to honor women and girls in our state. What started as a whisper, “Where are the women?” became an answer to this call. The concept for this program was pitched to the board of directors in a one page vision documents loaded with facts about the need to focus on encouraging women and girls to focus on STEM education and careers in New Hampshire and in America. The vision transformed into seed funding which covered sandwiches at a brainstorming gathering and luncheon for almost seventy people who were inspired by the notion and tagged to roll-up their sleeves and help us figure out how to executive on programs that did not exist and that we had not promise of funding beyond our already spent $ 3,000. Sponsorships are rolling in beyond our wildest expectations.
What niche are you filling?
The perfect storm was brewing in a few camps. Governor Hassan recognized a gap in New Hampshire’s metrics and established a STEM Education Task Force to further study the issue and come back with recommendations. A clear gap was STEM education for girls and another was mentoring. Meanwhile, a group of volunteers came together with similar observations and wanted to do something about it. Many are TechWomen trailblazers who remember how important mentors were to their career direction and want to pay it forward through peer mentoring and mentoring youth.
TechWomen|TechGirls has six programs overall that meet the need:
Annual Awards Luncheon – Inspirational speaker will be featured followed by awards for New Hampshire’s TechWoman of the Year, TechEducator of the Year and TechGirl of the Year. The Inaugural Event is planned for April 6, 2016 at an exclusive venue with a limited number of tickets. The Speaker hails from New York City and a featured TEDx Times Square speaker. Stay tuned for details!
Girl’s Technology Day – Partnership with State of NH Department of Education to support, volunteer, publicize, and sponsor annual state-wide event where almost 1,000 girls will be connected to TechWomen and TechMen on four college campuses hosting seventy-five workshops, all run by volunteers.
TechWomen Ambassadors – November 2015 kicked off the first ever New Hampshire High Tech Council’s TechWomen Ambassadors Week where high schools in Lebanon, Nashua, Rochester, Manchester, Derry and Berlin hosted events for ninth grade girls to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with women currently working in those fields. The week was a tremendous success, drawing 89 volunteer TechWomen Ambassadors and volunteers from companies, universities and non-profits across the state, and reached 500 young women interested in STEM state-wide.
Community Partnering – Annual gathering of non-profit, government, education, and private sector leaders with the purpose of communicating STEM related programs for women and girls. The overarching goal is to drive partnerships organically and achieve collective impact in our state.
TechWomen Power Breakfast Series – Early morning gathering of TechWomen over breakfast featuring a keynote speaker focused on trending topics, their personal or career journey, and educating their peers on resources to build a community of strong TechWomen in our state. Check our web-site for details regarding upcoming speakers, location and registration. Bring a friend, or make a new one. All are welcome.
#TechWomenStart – In partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, this community of women entrepreneurs is committed to meeting monthly in a CEO circle type setting where confidential business challenges are shared and peer support provided.
Who or what was your best resource in helping your program get off the ground?
The New Hampshire High Tech Council, the State of New Hampshire’s Department of Education, the Governor’s STEM Education Task Force and too many others to name here.
What does the future look like?
The future looks very bright! What started as a dream and an answer to a need has grown into a force of over one hundred volunteers and growing, in less than one year! TechWomen | TechGirls is an idea whose time has come.
How can people get involved?
TechWomen|TechGirls is a forum focused on building a strong community of women enthusiastic about technology and supporting efforts where girls are exploring STEM as a career or area of study. TechWomen|TechGirls holds programs for professional women to connect, educate, and explore ideas around career development, technology initiatives, and innovation. The community will also deploy volunteers and mentors to support academic STEM initiatives and events for girls happening all over New Hampshire. We invite you to get involved!
The best way to connect with us is by attending one of our monthly Power Breakfast Meetings which you can find listed on the Live Free and Start events calendar. All are welcome, so please join us!
Or you can reach out to the TechWomen|TechGirls contacts: Catherine Blake, Chair of the Program, firstname.lastname@example.org or Michelline Dufort, Michelline@cooksonstrategies.com, for information on logistics and programs.
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