Community Manager
Community Manager

Welcome! (Re)introductions and a call to action

Hello!

As promised, we have created a group for all of us women who met at the Chicago SWUG last week. It was so refreshing to see so many of your faces and hear your stories. I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce ourselves, get familiar, and share a bit more about what you'd like to get out of this group.

I'll go first:

Known IRL:

  • Danielle Gaitan but most people call me Dani

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • danielleh... I put a lot of thought into it as you can tell. I got married 3+ years ago but didn't get around to legally changing my last name until this year. Given my online persona, I didn't want to confuse folks even more by changing my username.

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • Law & Order
    • Remember, I'm the weirdo who has a Criminal Justice degree and I'm fascinated by the criminal mind.
  • Golden Girls
    • Because if I wasn't married, that would be me and my girlfriends. Also, I love roasting my friends. They say your meanest friends are the ones who care the most, or something like that right?
  • Will & Grace
    • FWIW I am toooooootally Karen.
  • I could keep going on, these just came to mind first.

At least one (non-tech) thing do you do to relax:

  • Traveling
    • I have about 10 full-fledged trips planned in Excel including everything from the flights, to dinners, to excursions. I have a tiered system for each trip as well (If I want to spend X amount, here's my hotel options, destinations, etc.) I've also planned trips for friends and family.
  • Dirt bikes
    • I have 3 bikes: Kawasaki 110, Honda, Grom, and a Yamaha 140.
  • Cooking
    • My family has owned multiple restaurants so I really didn't have a choice but to learn how to cook and learn hospitality. It helps when you have over 100 years of recipes.

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • Probably the last vacation I went on where we did absolutely nothing except get a good tan, drink, and sleep on the beach.

What you'd like to get out of this group:

I'd like to understand how we (THWACK/SolarWinds) can support, champion, and create a natural dialogue to discuss women in tech. Eventually, I'd like to see each and everyone one of you more frequently on the boards, sharing your success, owning your expertise, and being recognized. It is a personal goal of mine to have more women on the MVP roster so I'm hoping this grassroots program gets each and every one of you more involved in the tech community at large.

Known IRL:

    • Cheryl Matrasko

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • cmatrask - Using it so long - maybe I should change it to "Aikido-Girl", "Aikido-Mama", "Tech-Chick" or maybe because I'm older - "Tech-Moma". (LOL!!!)

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • Sense8!!!
    • I loved this series!!! It had a wonderfully varied, talented and interesting cast and story!!!
    • I loved that some of it was filmed here in Chicago!
    • I loved the multi-culture cast and filming locations!
    • It broke my heart it had to end.
    • Love Lana and Lilly Wachowski and their work on everything.

At least one (non-tech) thing do you do to relax:

    • Martial Arts
      • Aikido since 1965 and instruct it here in Chicago. Occasionally instructing seminars and attending seminars.
      • Kung-fu (Northern Shaolin Long-fist, Seven Stars) for 13 years.
      • Aiki-Jiujitsu
      • Love fishing - it's peaceful!
      • Listening to audiobooks and music while driving

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • Doing something to help a total stranger because it was the right thing to do and it made a difference for him. And it was good because no one needs to know except that person and I. I think this person will remember and pass it on to someone else in need. Hugs.

What you'd like to get out of this group:

I would love to interact and exchange with my colleagues here! Love to get different points of view in tech, career paths, advice, etc.
I had a wonderful time at Chicago SWUG!!!
Thank you everyone for all of your time and effort making it a great SWUG!!!


Known IRL:

  • Kathleen Walker

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • kwalker... I have some dorkier handles for other things, but thought I would go the professional route here.  In hindsight I should have at least tried to be more creative!

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • Murder, She Wrote - this is one of my favorite shows of all time for some reason.  When I'm traveling nothing makes me happier than stumbling onto a MSW marathon - will sacrifice sleep to watch Jessica!   

 

At least one (non-tech) thing do you do to relax:

  • Running
    • I have three kiddos so it can be hard to relax - or find time to myself.  I like the solitude of running, but also like how when I am doing it on the regular I fell strong.  Because it's so hot most of the year in TX I am usually out very early.  I've come to also enjoy the quiet time in the house before everyone else gets up once I get back.
  • Reading
    • I am an avid reader.  I am usually reading a few books at a time - some with my eyes and some with my ears.  I am 52 books to my 60 goal for my Goodreads challenge.  I'm always looking for my next read, so send over your favorites.  

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • I achieved a career goal I've been working towards a long time.  That feels awkward to say even though it shouldn't.     

What you'd like to get out of this group:

  • I am interested in connecting with more women in tech so we can learn from and support each other.     

Known IRL:

  • Briana Bienkowski - But a lot of people call me Bree

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • brianab - Pretty simple my first name and last initial - I would love to change it though.

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • Terra Nova
    • I mean come on a TV where people from the future TIME TRAVEL back to the past and live with dinosaurs. Tell me what could be better?
  • Surface
    • A TV Show about a teenager and his new friend a sea creature. It was so cute and pure.

At least one (non-tech) thing do you do to relax:

  • Read WebToons
    • Basically Comics but on my phone and free
  • Cosplay (Yes I am a huge Nerd)
    • Although this is not relaxing ALL the time - it is something that brings me a LOT of joy and happiness.
  • Video Games
    • I am not a huge gamer but I do have a PS4 and some great games. Recently started to relive my childhood and playing Spyro Remastered

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • I went to Mexico last year and it was great. My first time at an all inclusive resort. I just sat on the beach and drank yummy fresh fruit smoothies. It was amazing to do nothing for a week.
  • Going to my first conference ever! Seriously SWUG was my first conference and it was a BLAST. I had so much fun.

What you'd like to get out of this group:

  • A safe place to ask questions where I dont feel like I am being judge for asking "Stupid Questions"
  • Hear peoples stories. At the conference hearing all your stories really inspired me to strive to be my best self and to not back down from something just because I feel intimidated. I am still new to my position and a lot of the times I feel like I lack some knowledge but I wont be set aside. I will work my butt off and show them I can be just as smart (Or even smarter) than others here
  • I want to empower each other - when one of us gets one of those paper-cuts I want them to be told "They are wrong" or "You are so much more" I strive to make anyone's day more positive and is a huge topic for me. I want to inspire others! 

brianab​ do you have any pictures of you cosplaying!? I'd love to see them!

No question is a stupid question, or should make you feel dumb or insignificant. Questions are tools to help us learn, and learning is how we get better. Everyone has to start from somewhere, and there are plenty of people who have been in the same boat as you at some point... Even if they've forgotten where they started.

Known IRL:

• Kellie

Explain your THWACK handle:

• Meech:  My last name is Mecham, and my dad was always called ‘Meech’. When I came to SolarWinds, a few customers and colleagues started calling me that and I liked it and so kept it (even though my last name is spelled with one ‘e’, not two).  My dad died two years ago so it’s an even more important connection with him and with how I grew up.

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

Sports Night—a show not so much about sports but ironically, about men and women producing a sports show, the interaction of men and women—all with Aaron Sorkin’s snappy dialog.  It was his first TV show, I think.  See Season 1, Episode 5, Mary Pat Shelby, for why I love how this show brings up difficult things and treats them with respect.

At least one (non-tech) thing do you do to relax:

• Read like a fiend. Anything, everything. I travel with books and DanielleH and ams.norman can attest that I will go to bed early at conferences to have my reading time. Right now I just finished Euphoria by Lily King, (spectacular fictional account of Margaret Mead’s life between three lovers at a key time in her life an evolution as an anthropologist), just started Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, and am reading Robicheaux, a mystery novel from James Lee Burke, one of my fave mystery writers.

• Camp. Well, I guess it’s glamping if I have a trailer with AC, heat and my own potty, but, whatever. We eat well, take lots of long and short walks, nap, listen to audiobooks, watch fireflies and deer and other critters and check out the local birds. (If you are a birder and come to Texas, go to Kickapoo Caverns State Park in winter, where you will be amazed at all the birds, but shocked by the amount of deer ticks you’ll get).  Texas has great state parks!

• Supper Club with some of the women I work with. It fulfills so many things for me: connection, a safe place to talk about careers and professional and personal aspirations, a place to get advice and challenge and be challenged, and mostly, an opportunity for camaraderie with some of the most special people I’ve ever worked with, all from different functional areas. We have a few people from UX, a UX Manager, a Product Manager, a Dev Manager in our group.  Also, for two of us, our spouses are “anti-foodies” and so it’s an excuse to go to nice restaurants and have a fancy cocktail and not hear “why am I paying so much for this little portion?” or “why is food placed in a tower shape a thing?” or “why can’t we just have a burger at home?”.

• Like Danielle, I love me some crime dramas—esp. Evil Lives Here but anything on ID Channel!

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

• Co-leading Women@ SolarWinds, an internal group of women supporting and networking with each other at work.  I know that sounds boring, but we’re posed to make some real changes, already have made some real changes and I feel a sense of empowerment here and in the world that I want to share with others.

What you'd like to get out of this group:

• I want to see a woman up there presenting at a SWUG.  I’m more than happy to help anyone with a presentation, just reach out.

• I want to see women MVPs.

• I want exactly what Jacqueline references—women helping each other up and holding the door open for those who come after.

Known IRL:

  • Ashley Warren. My position at the Tire Rack is... well I can't remember my actual title, but the implied title for myself is "IT Infrastructure Analyst".

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • abby.warren: My Tire Rack name followed by my last name. Pretty generically business professional.

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • The Cobert Report. I know he is still on TV, but I liked the fictional Stephen Cobert, not so much his real self.

At least one (non-tech) thing you do to relax:

  • Since kids came along, I have a hard time remembering what I do to relax. I spend so much time to their needs and all the tidying. The 2 year old uses his words to constantly ask me to pay attention to him and the 7 month old has figured out that cat food has a flavor. I do occasionally watch Greek with my BFF after the kids go to bed. I was never in a sorority, so its fun to see how it might have been like.

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • I got to sleep a full night thanks to SWUG last week. No baby monitor, no crying/feeding at 2am, no crazy early obligations.
  • Seeing our baby go from rolling around to crawling.
  • Having my BFF move in with us. She needed a change, so I told her she is always welcome at our place. I don't have to go very far to have someone to hang out with.

What you'd like to get out of this group:

  • Feeling like I'm not so alone in the world of IT. My co-workers mostly do their own thing and the people above me ask very little of what I am doing in/out of work.
  • Learn more about what other people in IT do. I do not know anyone outside of work that does IT, so it will be nifty to hear about what goes on.

abby.warren​, I relate so much to the not remembering what I do to relax, and I only have one kiddo! I just told my coworkers yesterday that I'm not sure about #2 because I haven't forgotten how exhausting babies are. I bet that night of sleep felt amazing!

If you're up for sharing, I'd love to hear how you became Abby at Tire Rack when your name is Ashley.

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I joke that I get naps nowadays because I get woken up after a couple of hours of sleep. I am Abby at Tire Rack because everyone (at the time I was hired in) was required to have an Allias. TR wanted to make sure that customers did not have a problem contacting the correct person. Because of that, everyone was required to have fname@tirerack.com. Since Ashley was already taken, I had to pick a name. Abby worked, since it's my moms name. We recently redefined that policy to require only customer facing people to have unique names. People behind the scenes get first initial, last name for their username. Everyone in my dept. has since changed themselves to this format, but I like being unique .

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Hey everyone (again)!

DanielleH​ I love that you dirt bike!! I used to have a Kawasaki when I was younger! They're SO much fun.

ams.norman​ I've never heard of The Newsroom, but I'll have to check it out! Your summer sounded like it was hectic, but in a good way.

Known IRL:

  • Paige Barnes, although everyone has still been calling me Medley (I recently got married and had my last name changed). I'm a "Network Support Specialist" for Macomb Community College, but I've been the one to recommend, install, and manage our SolarWinds environment.

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • medleyp812; I'm glad I'm not the only super creative person here. It was my work e-mail before I got married. Medley was my last name, P, and our e-mail policy puts three random numbers in.

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • Oh man this one's hard. I don't watch a whole lot of shows or movies. One that I used to like a lot and thought had a lot of potential was Firefly.
  • I got really lucky with two shows that have recently have been resurrected: Dragon Ball (with Super) and Fairy Tail. If you don't know what those are, it's because they're Anime. But not the weird kind.

At least one (non-tech) thing you do to relax:

  • I love to game. My husband has his consoles upstairs, and I have mine downstairs (so I have the cool little "man cave"). I tend to like FPS and RPG's the most, but I'll try out just about any game. Fun fact, my gamer tag is PMED2743. Like I said, I'm really, really creative.

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • I had an AMAZING summer. Got married in July, and our honeymoon in August. That was both of our first real trips out of the country in our adult lives. Terrifying and amazing. We went on a 12 night Mediterranean cruise, with a 3 day stay in Barcelona, Spain before the ship left.
  • Aaaaand a close third was the Chicago SWUG . Seriously though, that was one of the best conference-y experiences I've ever had. SolarWinds did an amazing job providing content that the community wanted to see, and other pieces that were relevant and that we may not have necessarily wanted to see, but needed to. Plus, the staff was wonderful AND THE PARTICIPANTS WERE TOO!!!

What you'd like to get out of this group:

First of all, thank you for getting this group started. I'm glad there's a few of us (and hopefully more soon) that can band together to brainstorm, share stories (both good and bad), and just have a place to hangout. I would LOVE to help get younger kids (both boys and girls) involved in tech. I recognize that there are so many more men than women in this field, but we need people in this field more than anything else. There is such a shortage of talented people that can help us grow this industry, that I feel personally responsible for getting young kids involved. I feel, probably because I work at a Community College, like we're in a place that actually can help and make a difference, and that's being underutilized. With that being said, if anyone needs any help with anything, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I genuinely enjoy helping people and watching people succeed.

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Congrats on your wedding!! That honeymoon sounds like a dream ❤️

Just popped in to say I LOVE FAIRY TAIL If you need someone to gush with, just let me know.

Thanks yumdarling​! It was wonderful.

I will for sure take you up on your offer!!!

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medleyp812​, your trip sounds absolutely magical! What a dream. I'd love to find ways to get more kids involved in tech. My sis teaches computer science at the collegiate level, and shares this mission as well, so it's a regular topic of conversation with us. I'm looking forward to sharing ideas here!

ams.norman​​ the trip was a blast! And if you ever need someone to bounce ideas off of for it let me know!

Hi, all!

DanielleH I'm available to dispose of any leftovers from your cooking adventures.

Known IRL:

  • Abigail Norman. In my SolarWinds life I lead product marketing for our network management portfolio.

Explain your THWACK handle:

  • ams.norman -- It's straightforward. My pre-married last name was Smith, and my initials were AMS. So ... ams.norman

One show you'd resurrect from the dustbin:

  • The Newsroom. I'm a sucker for Aaron Sorkin dialogue

At least one (non-tech) thing you do to relax:

  • My weekly dream is to find a few minutes one of the weekend mornings to sit in a chair with a book and a hot cup of coffee. It doesn't happen as much as I would like. I have a 3 year old and a lot of family nearby -- these are both blessings, but also mean we don't leave a lot of time for "relaxing" -- weekends are often spent running my daughter to dance class, watching a nephew or niece's tennis match or soccer game, going to Pilates class with my sister, visiting at my parents' house, or some other adventure. I can't tell you any of the hip spots in Austin, but I can give you a review of all the restaurants with playground. As an alternative to the book-and-coffee combo, I'll find alone time and a little exercise by going for a run a few mornings a week.

Life highlight from the past 3-6 months:

  • It was a pretty great Summer of travel. I got to do two different Florida beach trips (Rosemary Beach and Captiva Island, my special place), travel back to my hometown (Athens, Georgia area) twice for weddings, and visit my brother and his family (Raleigh, NC) and watch our children play together. Then see all your beautiful faces in Chicago! We also screened in our back porch and can now enjoy the cooler weather mosquito-free. w00t.

What you'd like to get out of this group:

I want to help amplify your voices. There are a million things that I can say here -- representation matters. Diversity matters. Hearing more voices than what has traditionally been in the room matters. There is a lot of work to be done, but one thing I can do is to help make space for your voices to be heard. You don't have to talk more if you don't want to. You aren't required to carry the burden of representing an entire group instead of just yourself. But when you want to talk, I can help amplify your voice, and I can encourage others to listen.

I think Julie Pagano was the one who popularized the  "death by a thousand papercuts" phrasing back in 2013, but the problem still exists and I'm sure we all have our stories to share. I want this space to be here for people who experience a "papercut," and need to tell someone who will commiserate instead of dismissing it. I want this space to be here for people who have a success story they want to share. I want us to be here to cheer each other on and lift each other up. I want this space to be here to talk about how we can find our allies and educate them in how to help us. And I want this space to be the starting place for how we find a way to reach out and welcome anyone else who may feel marginalized or unwelcome or just unique in the space who are looking for a supportive home.