Category Archives: Mentoring & Other Business

Extra Gear? Gifts for Sierra Leone

Gifts for Sierra Leone trip June-July 2017

My daughter Jessica and I will be visiting Families Without Borders in Sierra Leone next week with Terri Khonsari. If you have any extra laptops or smart phones we can bring – no matter how old or dead – the students will be delighted with your donation. Please contact me soon!

I have visited the inspiring and fascinating continent of Africa at least once a year since 2010. With TechWomen Delegations, I have been to Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, plus participating in Delegations to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa below the Sahara. With People to People, John and I visited Ethiopia. My only actual vacation in Africa was to Egypt in 2010 – a much longer trip than planned since our family was stranded there by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  This will be my first trip to West Africa.

I bring gifts on each trip for our generous hosts and for new friends and colleagues. For my first TechWomen Delegations, I had custom pencils made but more recently, I have brought San Francisco keychains and geeky pens and toys given away at events like the Grace Hopper Conference.  For this trip, I bought keychains, the Willow Glen Wells Fargo Bank branch gave me a big bag of red pens, and I am also bringing packages of stickers for the children.

However, the best present for the students in Sierra Leone would be empowerment and greater connection to the wider world.  Your outdated computer gear can help them.  I hope to hear from you!

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Image Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Sierra Leone Trip – Families Without Borders

Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Terri Khonsari, my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and I are traveling to Sierra Leone in a few weeks to visit the Families Without Borders school Terri manages in Makeni.  Jessica and I will be making technical and business presentations in Makeni and in Freetown. Terri and I are both long-time Mentors for the TechWomen program.  We have been discussing this trip for years.

More about Families Without Borders:

    We believe in building communities from within through education and empowerment of local youth. We begin by recruiting top students from disadvantaged families. We enroll them in a four year Bachelors Degree program of their choice complemented by a full servant leadership and personal development program. The program includes: advance computer skills, communication skills and financial management.

On Saturday, John, Matthew, Jessica and I joined TechWomen IdaRose Sylvester (with her husband Neil Hendin) and Samera Edwards at the Families Without Borders annual fundraising Gala. We enjoyed good company, good food, and good music. Jessica even learned some drumming.

Terri Khonsari Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Jessica Dickinson Goodman and John Plocher with drummers at Families Without Borders Gala 10 June 2017

Here are Hamid and Terri Khonsari with four TechWomen Fellows from Sierra Leone at the Families Without Borders Gala in 2015:

Hamid and Terri Khonsari with Sierra Leone TechWomen 2015

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Images Copyright 2015-2017 by Katy Dickinson

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CIC Article: Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail

Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy CIC Ministries, Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail Article, April 2017

It was an honor to be featured in an article by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC) called “Education for Ministry at Elmwood Jail”. The article tells the story of how CIC, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, the University of the South – School of Theology’s Education for Ministry program and I have worked together since late 2015 to create a new jail-based college-level theological education program.

We have almost completed two 9-month terms and are getting ready to expand the program into a second Elmwood jail dorm.  If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

11 May 2017 update: Another article was recently published about our Elmwood Jail program in the alumni magazine “From the Mountain” – from the University of the South – School of Theology, Sewanee Tennessee, Spring 2017 edition. The article is called “Inmates Explore Faith, Life Through Education for Ministry” by Kevin Cummings. Links to these articles:

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TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation, and Uzbekistan Trip

Kyrgyzstan TechWomen Opening Event 13 September 2016

In February-March 2017, I will join the TechWomen Delegation to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. I look forward to working Yelena Filipchik and other TechWomen Fellows in Bishkek, spending a week giving talks and making presentations to women, girls, technical startups and the STEM community.  After the week in Kyrgyzstan, Saida Yusupova has invited me to Tashkent in Uzbekistan for a few days to help give Technovation training on mentoring and leadership.

So far, I have been focused on getting my flights sorted out.  Spending hours on the Hipmunk travel site, I discovered that (depending on the day of the week) you can economically get to Bishkek from either San Francisco or San Jose, flying through Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai, Frankfurt, or Beijing.  My flights will go through Dubai. Just travel time (not counting layovers) will be about 20 hours each way.

It cost about $1,000 less to buy two round trip tickets: California-Kyrgzstan-California and Kyrgzstan-Uzbekistan-Kyrgzstan than to book a single trip.  This means I have to transfer my bag from airline to airline myself but the layovers are very long, so there is time for that.  I am still thinking about what to do during the unavoidable 19+ hour layover in Dubai coming home.

I am also reading up on what to see in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the Lonely Planet website.  The TechWomen Delegation orientation meeting by IIE is next week.

Yelena Filipchik, Kyrgyzstan, with Mentor Certificate, Dec 2016

Uzbekistan TechWomen Pitch Poster October 2016

Kyrgyzstan TechWomen Pitch Poster October 2016

Saida Yusupova and Katy Dickinson, TechWomen, October 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Introducing Harpswell Women

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

Today I ran a blogging workshop online for 18 women, of whom most were in Cambodia with the Harpswell Foundation school in Phnom Penh.  The women are college students in Psychology, International Relations Agronomy, Mathematics, Medicine, Communications, and Dentistry, among other study disciplines.

Harpswell in a Nutshell

“We operate two dormitory and leadership centers for university women in Phnom Penh that provide free housing and food, leadership training, and critical thinking skills to some of the brightest and most ambitious young women in Cambodia while they are attending universities. Our students attend 20 different universities in Phnom Penh… Our alumnae are becoming a powerful wave that will help move Cambodia into the future.”

Some of their stories:

  • Srey Pov is one of the Harpswell women who is working on a video project in her home village of Siem Reap. She says that: “…the video project brought me closer to my past dreams, and that it has given me the opportunity to share my story with other people.”
  • Somaly Soun is from Sihanoukville, which is a beautiful fishing village on the beach where they eat a great deal of seafood.  Her mother is a housewife.  Somaly is a first year student studying to be a Dentist. She says: “I want to tell the world about my community and how they live.”

We created this blog post together.  I learned of the Harpswell school from Heather Ramsey, Trish Tierney, and Amanda Schwartz of WAKE International.  I am delighted to meet these impressive students!

My “How to Blog: Best Practices” slides are on Mentoring Standard’s website.

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

Harpswell Women in Cambodia 2016

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Images Copyright 2017 by Harpswell Foundation

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Being the Only Woman in the Room

TAB, Sun Microsystems Technology Advisory Board, Greg Papadopoulos, Steve Ward, Ivan Sutherland, Danny Hillis, Dave Patterson, Mike Splain, June 2008

This week I met the Rev. Liz Milner, new CIC Chaplain for Elmwood Jail where I hold a weekly Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar in a men’s medium-security dorm. During this introductory conversation, I mentioned to Liz that I was comfortable working as the EfM Mentor in a men’s facility. After so long working as an executive in Silicon Valley technical companies, I would have to be comfortable being the only woman in the room!  NCWIT reports that only 25% of US professional computing jobs are held by women, with numbers much lower at senior levels.

For decades I designed and managed programs for Sun Microsystems such as the TAB – Technology Advisory Board, pictured above. It was an honor to work with world-class innovators and leaders like Ivan Sutherland, Greg Papadopoulos, and Danny Hillis, but with very few exceptions, they were all male.

Women in technology meet each other at conferences, like the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (over 15,000 attended in 2016 – about 90% of whom were women), or in professional programs like TechWomen or Technovation.  We keep aware of our accomplishments as a group by means of projects like the Notable Technical Women cards and posters, and by awards such as Women of Vision. Women geeks are often the only female in the room – but there are many rooms!

EfM at Elmwood Jail, Katy Dickinson, Patrick Ryan, 4 inmates, Milpitas CA, Aug 2016

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Images Copyright 2008-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Learning in Jail, Using Wikipedia

EfM at Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Sep 2016

I lead a weekly Education for Ministry seminar at Elmwood Correctional Facility (County Jail in Milpitas, California). This month, we started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes six men in Year-1 (studying Collins’ Introduction to the Hebrew Bible) plus four continuing to Year-2 (studying Powell’s Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey). We use college-level texts plus Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, and the EfM Reading and Reflection Guide, with other resources in both English and Spanish.

I am also the EfM Mentor for another weekly seminar hosted by Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA). One of the differences between my two classes is availability of outside reference materials. The student inmates do not have web access. So, I make a standing offer to print out articles from Wikipedia and other sources to supplement assigned texts. The EfM students at Elmwood are deeply curious and want to learn all they can, especially about text and biblical references and topics raised during our theological reflections.

Yesterday night, I was asked to look up the Oracle of Delphi, lyrics to two hymns, and Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. I bring in printouts  glued at the corner (staples are forbidden).  During the last year, I have provided Wikipedia articles on these topics:

Amenemope (pharaoh) Apostle (Christian) Archangel Ark of the Covenant Assumption of Moses
Baptism of Jesus Bel and the Dragon Ben Sira Bible translations into English Book of Amos
Book of Baruch Book of Jasher (biblical references) Book of the Wars of the Lord Book of Kings Cain and Abel
Cenacle Civil and political rights Code of Hammurabi Crossing the Red Sea Crusades
David Davidic line Diodorus Siculus Don Quixote Francis of Assisi
Golden calf Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Herodotus Historical criticism History of ancient Israel and Judah
Huldrych Zwingli Ignatius of Loyola Innocence Project Instruction of Amenemope Isaac
John Calvin Levite Maimonides Martin Luther Nephilim
Noah Nostradamus Oxford Martyrs Paleontology in New York Paul the Apostle
Peter Qarqar Rechabite Sanchuniathon Sirach
Sodom and Gomorrah Ten Commandments Ten Lost Tribes Tertullian Third Temple
Unknown years of Jesus Western Wall William Shakespeare Zayin .

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Oct 2016

Elmwood Jail, Milpitas CA, Oct 2016

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, with the Rev. Jennifer Bales

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