White House LGBTQ Tech and Innovation Briefing Tuesday August 23rd, 2016

I was honored to be chosen out of 3500 applicants to attend the White House LGBTQ Tech and Innovation on Tuesday August 23rd, 2016. Over 300 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people gathered to address some of our nation’s biggest issues. The goal was to bring together some of the best LGBTQ minds to help provide insights to improve government policy and process. 

 

We started the day hearing from Megan Smith CTO of the United States about various LGBTQ tech initiatives within the US government. Then stakeholders from departments hosted lightening talks about some of the issues they hope to use our insights to solve. Topics focused on women and girls, the environment, criminal justice, youth and the foster care system, healthcare, entrepreneurship and innovation, and finally tech hiring and inclusion.

We got a surprise visit from Ellie Schafer, Director of the White House Visitors Office who brought along Obama’s furry best friends, Sunny and Bo for a photo op.

After lunch we broke out into sessions based on our area of interest. I was in the tech hiring and inclusion group with a focus on STEM education. We focused our brainstorm session on the need to support Teachers who have been mandated by the Obama Administration to teach Computer Science in US schools nationwide. We ended the breakout with a rough plan for what we need to do to prepare for during the summit in November.

We ended our day with a surprise tour of the east wing of White House. It was inspiring to walk through the rooms filled with historic artifacts. Seeing official portraits of our former presidents, checking out the titles of the books in the presidential library, and just roaming the halls of our nation’s most famous landmark renewed by appreciation for our country's principals of liberty and justice for all.

Next Steps

Our Stem Education break out group is setting up a Slack channel so we can continue to brainstorm and plan our event for the Summit. I have been invited to speak and/or participate as a Summit organizer for the TechUP Inclusion + Innovation Week conference and the LesbiansWhoTech Event in SF in October. Leanne Pittsford, founder of Lesbians Who Tech will be sending more info about speaking and organizing soon.