Gloria Bell will always remember her first PodCamp Philly in 2007.
At the WordPress conference, Bell, who later joined the PodCamp team as an organizer, said she felt ” an electricity and camaraderie at that event that was just a hint of what [she] was to come to experience throughout the entire Philly tech community.”
Bell, 47, is leaving Philly after nearly three decades in the area. The Old City-based digital strategist, former O3 World operations manager, longtime PANMA member and Philly Startup Leaders events director is moving to Texas to be closer to her family. For those close to the center of the social city-side of Philly tech, she’s a familiar face: a non-developer consultant who made her slice of the broader ecosystem as much part of her life as it was part of her work.
Read on to hear more about her future plans and her thoughts on how Philly’s tech scene has grown.
What are your Philly roots?
I moved to the Philly area in 1985 with my college boyfriend. We had met at college in Texas but his family was from this area. I moved here planning on staying six months then going back to Texas. That was 28 years ago. I fell in love with this area, the city and the people and have just never left.
What are your next plans?
I am moving back to Texas to be closer to my family. I am building up my digital strategy consulting business, as well as job hunting for a digital strategy or social media position in Dallas and Austin. So if anyone has leads on a startup in either of those cities that needs a great digital strategist or social media consultant, send them my way.
Was there a specific event or moment that you realized you’d have to leave Philly?
There has always been a part of me that considered Texas home since my family is there, so the thought of moving back was always in the back of my mind. It was the deaths of a few of my relatives over the last couple of years that finally made me realize I needed to be there to spend time with my family before it was too late.
Could you see yourself coming back to Philadelphia?
Yes, absolutely. Philly will always be a part of me. I plan on being back on a regular basis to see friends and clients. For now, I am also maintaining my roles as co-founder of the Philly Women In Tech Summit and co-organizer of PodCamp Philly so I will at least be back for those events. Moving back here will always be an option.
When someone you meet from outside the region asks about Philadelphia and its tech community, what do you tell them?
Move here! If you are looking to start, relocate or work for a company, especially a tech company, Philly is a fantastic place to be. Not only is it a first class city with fantastic universities, shopping, dining, culture and outdoor activities but you could not ask for a more supportive community. The tech community in Philadelphia has managed to grow and evolve into a world-class community while it still maintains “that small town, everyone knows each other and supports each other” feel. There is something here for everyone and great people who will help you in any way they can.
What is the perception you most often find of Philadelphia?
The perception I find most often is that few people know what is really happening in Philly. I would like to see that change.
What advice or specific action would you take to improve the tech community here and retain others in the future?
Keep doing what you have been doing for the last few years. Keep working together. Remember that as each company and individual grows and succeeds, the better it is for everyone, so be supportive of each other.