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Hernan Guaracao, founder of Al Dia, speaks before the audience at the Al Dia Leaders in STEM ceremony.
Hernan Guaracao, founder of AL DÍA, speaks before a crowd of sponsors, honorees, and guests at the inaugural Leaders in STEM ceremony. Photo credit: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News

AL DÍA Leaders in STEM 2022: Through the eyes of attendees

As AL DÍA awarded eight companies for their work in promoting diversity in STEM, we spoke with a number of individuals who attended the inaugural ceremony.

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On Aug. 10, 2022, AL DÍA held its inaugural Leaders in STEM awards ceremony, honoring eight companies for their commitment to promoting diversity in the STEM landscape. The 2022 honorees were Girls Inc, GSK, Coded by Kids, Comcast, SHPE, PECO, MathCorps, and Philadelphia Futures.

Attending the event were a diverse crowd of sponsors, honorees, and networkers. Tables had been set for each company, yet many members had left their seats to mingle with other groups.

Two honorees, Coded by Kids and Girls Inc, spoke with AL DÍA prior to the start of the ceremony to discuss their efforts to improve diversity in STEM, and why they found it important.

Danae Mobley, the Chief Operating Officer of Coded by Kids – also one of the sponsors – shared her thoughts about the importance of diversity in the tech space.

“We know that diversity really brings forth creativity, ideas, and innovation. Every group has a place at the table and we know that historically Blacks and Latinos have not been at the table, and we all need to be there because this technology touches every part of our lives and if we’re going to be consumers we need to be the designers and leaders within that space,” she said.

Coded by Kids is currently partnering with 1Philadelphia to help introduce children to STEM topics and give them ideas of what it is to them. 

Damon McWhite, program manager of 1Philadelphia, spoke as well on how important representation was for children. 

For him, introducing children to someone who looked like them and seeing them being honored and represented, they could begin to see themselves having a career in STEM.

Fellow honoree Girls Inc similarly believes that children need to have role models they can look up to in STEM, pushing to open doors for women of color. 

Natasha Andrews, the Director of Programs at Girls Inc, spoke with us and discussed how the organization seeks to improve women’s confidence in working in STEM from as young as five years old.

Andrews spoke of how few Black women and women of color were in STEM fields, so one of their goals is to introduce girls to these professionals, show them their workspaces, and to give them access to STEM workshops in order to create a “pipeline” for these children to follow and have easy access to STEM positions.

Other organizations took an interest in the awards ceremony, as well. 

Tribaja, a company that works to turn gateways into tech for Latinos into pathways, attended the event. While they were neither a sponsor nor an awardee, they came to connect with other like minded companies.

Olivia Oteo, a representative from Tribaja, spoke about what Latinos in tech meant to her and her company.

“A lot of times you don't see Latinos or other minorities in tech. So I think if there are Latinos in tech to get out there and show that, I think it will encourage younger people, and it'll make it more realistic for them. It'll inspire them. And they will say, ‘Hey, I can do that too, that job’s attainable. It's not out of my reach,’” she said.

Two college graduates, Aboudou Sore and Biruk Aregu, also spoke with AL DÍA. Both of them are graduates from Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, each with a bachelor's degree in computer and information sciences with concentrations in cybersecurity.

As this was Aregu’s first networking event, he found it an interesting opportunity to meet other individuals in the technology. For Sore, this was his third. He commented that while people of color are underrepresented in STEM, he looked forward to seeing more people from diverse and multicultural backgrounds being able to enter the field.

The award ceremony was AL DÍA’s first annual Leaders in STEM event. Sponsors for this event were PECO, Comcast, Coded by Kids, and TEDCO.

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