Monday, December 16, 2019

Hour of Code 2019

During the second day of my new job at Amazon Web Services as a business development manager for cloud intelligence specializing in artificial intelligence, I discovered that Amazon is a premiere sponsor of The Hour of Code.

From, " is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Our vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. provides the leading curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States and also organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign which has engaged 15% of all students in the world. is supported by generous donors including Amazon."

The Hour of Code is held during December in celebration of Navy rear admiral Grace Hopper, one of the founders of COBOL programming language and the engineer who coined the term "bug" to mean a computer defect after finding a moth in a mainframe computer.

Despite having missed the initial deadlines with my November start date, my fantastic and dedicated Amazon colleague Jacqueline Olliges enabled me to order swag including stickers, Amazon Future Engineer certificates of completion for students, and t-shirts for volunteers. The look on students' faces when receiving their stickers and certificates was priceless. They felt so proud having spent the hour learning about coding and imagining a future in engineering.

Amazon Future Engineer sticker
Amazon Future Engineer certificate
On December 11-13 at Philbrick Elementary in Boston, MA, kindergarten through 5th grade students participated in the international movement to teach programming and logic skills to kids. This year, Amazon sponsored an expansion of the Dance Party game, including an expanded hit song list, new characters, and effects.
Dance Party from Blain's perspective

Katia Inezian, 4th grade, creating a Dance Party scene
Aiden Alexander, 3rd grade, codes using Dance Party
Chloe Alexander, 3rd grade, finished her Dance Party level
Charis watches 5th grader Blain Assefa's creation
Using the drag and drop Sketch interface to teach programming
5th graders Blain Assefa and Yasniris

Hazel Hartung, third grade
De'Ana Florence, Philbrick science teacher and Zipei Wei, Amazon volunteer, assist 5th grade students

Dance on!

Science teacher De'Ana Florence graciously welcomed me and my colleague Zipei into her classroom. We had an excellent, memorable time and can't wait to return for next December's Hour of Code.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

All about podcasts

I've had the pleasure of being interviewed a few times recently, both on Facebook Live as well as 2 podcasts.

My first interview was with Linda Ugelow. We talked about artificial intelligence, working in tech, and working styles.

Click here to watch the video

The next was a podcast out of the Carribean run by Engel Jones. It was really fun to have this conversation with Engel, which I found out about through Bobbie Carlton's Innovation Women.

You can listen to my conversation with Engel here
Finally, I have been writing a newsletter about AI news for nonprofit professionals. Nonprofits are near and dear to my heart, as I've been a volunteer for Epilepsy Foundation of MA/RI, The Alfond Scholarship Foundation, and the Hour of Code. I recently began working as a product manager for a nonprofit Mozilla, whose parent company Mozilla Foundation (hilariously abbreviated as MoFo) believes the Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible to all.

As part of my AI newsletter work, I moderated a podcast introducing Google's AI for Good award winners.
You can listen to their stories here, Episode 18