getWITit’s Pittsburgh leaders had big plans for the group when it launched in late 2019. The national nonprofit with local chapters has a mission of inspiring and supporting more women in the tech industry.
Then the pandemic hit.
“We were definitely hurt from a COVID point of view in membership [by] starting in 2019,” said Tatiana Imler, getWITit’s community engagement committee co-manager. “Going into 2020 it just really hurt the development of the chapter where it kind of only took off more in 2021.”
In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, the growing local chapter announced new leadership, as it also looks to launch new programming to drive membership in 2022.
The org said this week that Taryn Malavite would serve as the new Pittsburgh chapter president and Cheroc Slater would take over as the new VP. Former chapter president Jennifer Apicella — who is also the president of Build412 Tech and the director of strategic partnerships and programs for the Pittsburgh Robotics Network — was announced as the new director of engagement for getWITit’s national organization. Malavite is also a senior IT manager for Duquesne Light while Slater works as the senior customer success account manager for Microsoft.
Recent efforts to grow engagement for the Pittsburgh chapter included increased programming last year, with three happy hours (two in-person, one virtual) to bring members together as well as events tailored toward building specific career skills, like crafting a tech-focused resume. Imler, who is also a consultant product owner for Transcendio Talent, said that the organization also launched a social media spotlight series for its members in 2021, to highlight the work they do and encourage others to join.
The organization itself is free and open to everyone, said Imler and her fellow community engagement committee co-manager Sara Onusko, who is also a business intelligence developer for Duquesne Light. The two underscored that it’s not only open to women, but any allies looking to advance the getWITit mission. That expansive outreach will be a big part of the Pittsburgh chapter’s 2022 plans. (getWITit also has chapters in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.)
In addition to continuing networking efforts from before, “we’re also looking to start a ‘coffee with getWITit’ series,” Onusko said, “more of an intimate gathering for women in tech — leaders, female founders and other women that are emerging into the tech fields just to get to know each other share some of their stories and experiences.”
Each month, getWITit will also look to host speakers from different backgrounds and skill levels in tech to discuss certain trends or topics. That will pair well with the planned launch of the organization’s intro to technology series, Onusko added — an overview of different domains of the tech industry, like software engineering and product management. And, if all goes according to plan, getWITit will look to host its first conference in Pittsburgh by the end of the year.
But the main goal is increasing getWITit’s membership level, which is currently around 80 to 100 for the Pittsburgh chapter. Involvement can range from being on a listserv to volunteering to help grow the organization, Imler said, but she and Onusko hope to see more active rather than passive interest in growing the chapter. That’s important, they argued, because as Pittsburgh continues to build its tech prowess, it will need to include all voices in that success.
“Our organization definitely could help the greater Pittsburgh tech community be more diverse,” Imler said. “Saying you’re diverse in terms of how things look or in the members that you represent or who joins you is one thing. But another is, are we having the conversations around pushing that diversity in that field? And that’s where I think we can make a difference.”
Those interested in joining or volunteering with the local getWITit chapter or learning more about their upcoming programming for 2022 can do so here.
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-