2017 ProjectCSGIRLS National Gala

The 2017 ProjectCSGIRLS National Gala was held June 3rd - 4th, 2017 in the DC metro area and featured leading guest speakers, hands-on workshops, tech talks, and a formal awards ceremony. The awards ceremony was held on June 4th at the Marriott Fairview Park. The workshops, tech talks, and panels were held on June 3rd at George Mason University.

The 2017 ProjectCSGIRLS National Gala was proudly powered by Yahoo!

Gala Schedule

Friday, June 2nd - iStrategyLabs DC Office
6pm – 7:30pm: iStrategyLabs Tour and Dinner

Saturday, June 3rd - George Mason University Innovation Hall
9am – 9:30am: Breakfast and Registration
9:30am – 10:30am: She Rocks the World Workshop
10:30am - 12pm: Women in Tech Panel Featuring Female Engineers from the DC Metro Area
12pm – 12:30pm: Lunch
12:30pm – 1pm: Ice Cream Truck Social
1pm – 2:30pm: Symantec Workshop
2:30pm – 4pm: Mapbox Workshop
4pm – 5:30pm: Data Science for Good Workshop
5:30pm – 6pm: Break Featuring Frisbees and Samosas!
6pm – 7:30pm: “She Started It” Movie Screening and Dinner

Sunday, June 4th - Marriott Fairview Park Ballroom, Awards Event and Luncheon
11am – 12pm: Check-in Time (please be on time!)
12pm – 1pm: Luncheon
1pm – 5pm: Keynote Presentations, Student Pitch Presentations, and Awards Presentation

Gala Hotel

The gala hotel is the Marriott Fairview Park. 

Address: 3111 Fairview Park Dr, Falls Church, VA 22042
Website: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasfp-falls-church-marriott-fairview-park/
Closest Airport: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)


Keynote Speakers


Megan Smith

3rd Chief Technology Officer of the United States (2014–201 7), Innovative Tech Leader, and Vice President of New Business Development at Google (2003–2014)

Megan Smith is an award-winning tech entrepreneur, engineer, and evangelist. As the third U.S. chief technology officer, Smith helped the President harness the power of technology, data, and innovation to advance the future of our nation and the world. She recruited top tech talent to serve across government and to collaborate on the most pressing issues of the day, from data science and open source, to inclusive economic growth and criminal justice reform. She focused on broad capacity building by co-creating all-hands-on-deck initiatives, including the public-private program TechHire, the Computer Science for All initiative, and the Image of STEM campaign Prior to her role as U.S. CTO, Smith served as vice president of new business development at Google, managing early-stage partnerships across the company’s global engineering and product teams. She led acquisitions of Google Earth, Maps, and Picasa, steered the shift of Google.org to include more direct engineering impact, such as Google Crisis Response, and later served on the leadership team of GoogleX , where she co-created SolveForX and Women Techmakers. 

As CEO of PlanetOut, Smith was a leader of the online LGBT community in the early days of the Internet. She drove engagement and revenue by partnering closely with top Internet companies, including AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, Netscape, RealNetworks, and others. She also worked as an engineer at General Magic on teams designing early smartphone technologies and at Apple Japan in Tokyo. Smith is an advisor to the MIT Media Lab, Vital Voices, and the Malala Fund, which she co-founded. Over the years, she has contributed to a wide range of engineering projects, including an award-winning bicycle lock, space station construction program, and solar cook stoves. Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, where she now serves on the board. She was a member of the MIT student team that designed, built, and raced a solar car 2,000 miles across the Australian outback. She has recently been elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering.


Margenett Moore-Roberts

Global Head of Inclusive Diversity at Yahoo

Margenett has enjoyed a career in Digital Media for more than 15 years, holding roles across Sales, Account Management, Operations, Client Services and Human Resources. She has been an early employee in several early stage startup companies, building strategic business units from the ground up to ensure successful execution and growth for those companies. These roles with startups gave Margenett broad visibility and experience across the entire product and operational lifecycles of companies. The experiences have proven invaluable throughout the evolution of Margenett’s career, equipping her to operate and thrive in a variety of corporate environments - large and small. 

In 2011, Margenett was the GM of Video Monetization at interClick when the company was acquired by Yahoo. Once joining Yahoo, Margenett lead the development and growth of Yahoo’s network video advertising business, a business that grossed close to $90M in revenues over 3.5 years. Most recently, Margenett has taken on the new challenge of establishing and leading Yahoo’s Office of Inclusive Diversity. As the Global Head of Inclusive Diversity, Margenett is leading Yahoo’s efforts to develop a more inclusive culture and promoting diversity as a core differentiator and mission-critical business imperative for the company. Under Margenett’s leadership, the Office of Inclusive Diversity partners with executive leadership and other key groups across the company, to leverage the power of diversity to activate new markets, unlock innovation and maximize value for Yahoo. So far, it’s been a beautiful endeavor.


Afua Bruce

Engineer and Girls in STEM Enthusiast

Afua Bruce is an engineer-by- training who's worked at IBM, the FBI, and the White House. Ms. Bruce is currently the Executive Director of the National Science and Technology Council in the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Ms. Bruce joined the OSTP after spending four years at the FBI. At the FBI worked in the FBI's Science and Technology Branch; she worked on projects with the FBI's engineers in the Operational Technology Division, worked with different IT systems like the video analytics system in the Criminal Justice Information Services, and worked with the FBI Laboratory in their explosives analytics center. Prior to joining the FBI, Ms. Bruce worked as a software engineer in IBM's Systems and Technology Group. Ms. Bruce has an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Purdue University.


Mina Hsiang

Head of the Digital Service for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Mina Hsiang currently serves as the head of the Digital Service for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and previously served as Senior Advisor to the US CTO on Health Data. In this role, she is driving efforts to make health data more useable, coordinating across the VA, MHS, and CMS to help bring value and transparency to healthcare. Prior to her current role, she was the VP of Market Strategy for Optum Analytics, where she drove new product and technology strategy for a $100M data analytics business sitting at the intersection of Providers, Payers, and Pharma. Ms. Hsiang holds an MEng and BS in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Marissa Halpert

Web Developer at iStrategyLabs

Marissa Halpert is a Web Developer at ISL (iStrategyLabs), an award-winning digital agency, in Washington, DC. She was first introduced to IT in high school and has since continued her journey in the ever changing and growing IT industry. Upon graduating from James Madison University with a Computer Science degree, she returned to her hometown of Richmond, VA to start her career as a Software Developer at a Fortune 500 company. Marissa recently relocated to Washington, DC for a new, exciting, and challenging opportunity. Her technical interests include front end technologies, user experience, and advocating for computer science education. She is passionate about closing the gender gap within the IT industry. Marissa is a National Winner of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing.



Melinda Wittstock

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Verifeed

Melinda Wittstock is a serial entrepreneur, award-winning journalist and content creator, Big Data “nerd” and social media expert. She is the founder and CEO of Verifeed, the predictive social intelligence company. 

With Verifeed, Melinda is replicating with algorithms and automated processes what she used to do to be first, right and predictive with shoe-leather (high heels, actually) as an award-winning investigative journalist on the Times of London. Joining the newspaper as a financial correspondent at age 22, she moved markets with her investigations. She covered media, interviewing Steve Jobs among others, and then became a columnist before joining the Financial Times to launch and host its daily business television programs for Europe and Asia with CNBC. She was an anchor and host for the BBC, ABC News, and MSNBC before launching her first business, the political news agency Capitol News Connection, in 2002. CNC covered Congress for 300 public radio, commercial TV stations, and newspapers nationwide, reaching 3 million people. Melinda created the crowd-sourced app Ask Your Lawmaker and also founded NewsiT.

elinda has two wonderful children and a golden retriever. She is a yoga fanatic who loves to sail, ski and travel, and is a member of the entrepreneur organizations Maverick 1000, MindShare, HerCorner and Netcito. She is writing a book on female entrepreneurship.


Sabrina Hersi Issa

CEO of Be Bold Media, Co-Founder of End Famine, Organizer of Rights x Tech, Senior Advisor to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Sabrina Hersi Issa is the CEO of Be Bold Media, a digital agency for global advocacy that produces #HackingRelief & #HackingHunger, a hackathon series to build and improve technology tools used for humanitarian relief and refugee services and Vanguard, a global donor engagement program. She is the co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to developing sustainable solutions to hunger, food security and humanitarian assistance. Sabrina organizes Rights x Tech, a gathering for technologists and activists and runs Survivor Fund, a political fund dedicated to supporting the rights of survivors of sexualized violence. Sabrina currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, where she leads research on journalism ecosystems and how philanthropy can support efforts to build diverse, inclusive media ecosystems.

reviously, Sabrina was a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute where she worked on issues related to technology, human rights and humanitarian disasters. She has worked for Afghans for Civil Society, Oxfam America, NBC News and National Public Radio. Sabrina was named to Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 list of the country’s most powerful Black Americans. She was listed on Forbes Magazine Top 30 under 30 for Law & Policy and profiled in several follow-up Forbes features on millennial leadership, technology and social entrepreneurship. Washingtonian Magazine named her a Woman to Watch as part of it’s annual Most Powerful Women issue.


Shayna Skolnik

Co-Founder and CEO of Navteca

Shayna Skolnik is co-founder, CEO, and creative mastermind of Navteca, a technology company headquartered in Greenbelt, Maryland. Navteca's core focus is creating practical applications based on new and emerging technology, such as cloud and virtual reality (VR). In 2016, Navteca was invited to SXSW Eco to showcase their 360 VR content and was selected for the Top 10 VR Video Exhibit by the Newseum in Washington, DC. Navteca has been an early leader in pioneering the use of next-generation VR technology for science and Shayna has presented VR for science at the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Supercomputing (SC16), Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), Emerging Technology Puerto Pico (EMTEC), NASA, NOAA, and the Naval Research Laboratory. Shayna leads a VR/AR for Science group at the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and she is authoring a study on scientific applications of the technology for the NASA Earth Science Technology Office. Navteca was honored by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to be named as the Subcontractor of the Year in recognition for their innovation in cloud and virtual reality. Shayna is excited about Navteca's growth and looks forward to the launch of several exciting products that will leverage VR and AR for science, education, and data visualization.


Kristian Tran

Engineer at Deloitte Digital

Kristian Tran is an engineer and women in tech advocate. Experienced with building web/hybrid mobile applications and rapid prototypes, she delivers creative and innovative technology solutions through problem solving, code, and agile methodologies. Kristian currently is a Studio Staff Engineer at Deloitte Digital, as well as an event host for Women Who Code. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from Wellesley College. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, Kristian is now based in D.C. working in the federal sector to create user-centric applications that impact citizens and government agencies.


Pamela Assogba

Software Engineer at Vox Media, Founder of Color Coded

Pamela Assogba is an insatiable mind, always learning a new skill or working on a new idea. She is a software engineer at Vox Media, and founder of Color Coded, an organization that provides educational programming for marginalized communities. On her spare time, she enjoys drawing, food, travels, and yoga.


Veni Kunche

Senior Software Developer at the US Geological Survey, Founder of Code with Veni

Veni Kunche is a senior Software Developer at the US Geological Survey. She has been in tech for over 10 years. She is passionate about getting more women into tech and supporting them on their journey. She curates, Code with Veni, a newsletter for women learning to code. She is also the founder of Ionic Kits which provides starter kits for mobile app developers and United Women of Tech, a platform connecting women to communities around the world. She tweets a lot about women in tech and learning to code. Follow her @venikunche!


Amal Dajani

Manager of Software Development at Northrop Grumman

Amal Dajani graduated from George Mason University with a BS in Computer Science and MS in Information Systems. She has over 12 years of experience in the tech field with extensive experience in Software development, and project management. She has joined Northrop Grumman over three years ago as a Software Developer/project manager. Since then, she has received her PMP (Project Management Professional) certification and Scrum Master Certification. Amal was recently promoted to Manager of Software Development, and currently manages multiple projects for the USPS (United States Postal Service) program. She is a member of Toastmasters and is her team lead in supporting employee engagement at Northrop Grumman. In her spare time, she loves kayaking, swimming, and loves to be anywhere near water.

Workshop Leaders


Patsy Manga

Founder of She Rocks the World

Patsy has always believed in the strength of women. While working in television, she produced a documentary on the history of women’s right to vote. The resilience and courage of the women, who had to convince men to give women the right to vote, made a strong impact. Inspired by these strong, resilient women, Patsy set out to counter the message that television and social media sends to girls – that they are not smart enough, not thin enough and not pretty enough. She began by holding focus groups among teenage girls to find out what was really going on in their lives. Determined to empower girls and introduce them to strong, resilient women, Patsy created The Virginia Girls’ Summit. The Virginia Girls’ Summit quickly sold out two years in a row and their teenage ambassadors, who create each summit, asked for more than just a one day event. She now leads She Rocks The World (SRTW), an online platform for teenage girls to share their voices throughout the U.S. and the world.


Meg Layton

Director of Engineering, Cyber Security Services at Symantec

Meg Layton is Director of Engineering for the Cyber Security Services team at Symantec. While her educational background began in Communications and Political Science, her passion for technology developed strongly during the 90s while telecommunications were taking off. Prior to joining Symantec she worked at a cellular telecommunications company with offices throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which is where she became interested – no, passionate – about security.  She has been at Symantec 15 years, honing skills in log management and forensics, incident response and defense-in-depth. She has security certifications and also teaches Computer Forensics at a college level while studying for her Doctorate.


Ian Villeda

Cartographer at Mapbox

As a cartographer at Mapbox, Ian bridges experience working with large data sets and passion for beautiful design. He specializes in spatial data analysis and manipulation, using tools like GDAL, PostGIS, and Mapbox Studio Classic. Ian studied soil science at Georgetown University. He was a research assistant in Belize, traipsing through the rainforest to study ancient Mayan wetland agriculture, and performed undergraduate research in spatially-explicit soil erosion models.


Kara Mahoney

Engineer at Mapbox

Kara is a member of the Mapbox engineering team focused on security, data pipelines, and making sure our APIs are ready for offline and specialized deployments. Before Mapbox, Kara developed wilderness search and rescue planning tools with DC area startup Azimuth1. Prior to that she researched natural disaster emergency response and evacuation modeling at Johns Hopkins STIRM lab. She attended George Mason University and, in hopes of consolidating forays into computer science, design, and geology, graduated with a degree in geography. Outside of work, Kara spends the majority of her time on a bicycle and is fond of wandering around on mountains.


Judy Yang

Leader of DataKind DC

Judy is an economist in the international development field and a leader of DataKind DC. She currently works on poverty related issues, from data collection and measurement to understanding it's determinants. She also has professional experience in topics including migration, the business environment, household welfare, and access to finance. Outside of work, she enjoys running, traveling, art, and being a part of the DC data community!