Tag Archives: South Africa

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  Your outdated computer gear can help them.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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Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Africa Wins!

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen with Impact Advisors

At yesterday’s TechWomen Community Event, all five Pitch Day seed grant prizes went to teams representing countries in Africa: Cameroon, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, and Kenya! All 19 presentations from Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa were so inspiring, I am sure the judges had a tough time deciding which to honor.  It was a pleasure to spend the evening with my daughter Jessica.

I am so very proud to have been one of the Impact Advisors for Tunisia! Our WAKTECH action plan to improve transportation in Tunis included six from Tunisia and three from the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Melek Jebnoun- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Raoudha Lagha- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Salma Saidi- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Salma Sayah- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Sinda Soussia- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Yosr Tammar- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Fatema Kothari- California Mentor and Impact Advisor
  • Katy Dickinson- California Mentor and Impact Advisor
  • Mercedes Soria- California Mentor and Impact Advisor

Early tomorrow, TechWomen shifts from the San Francisco Bay Area to Washington DC. What a month this has been!

Sierra Leone 2016 TechWomen

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Flag Parade

Arezoo Riahi 2016 TechWomen Seed Grants

Cameroon 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Seed Grant Award

Gaza Sky Geeks Impact Photo

Tunisia TechWomen 2016 Impact Advisors

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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69 Certified Mentors – a Different Normality

Eileen Brewer 2015 Eileen Brewer
Director, Security Appliance Team, Symantec
Mountain View, California USA

As of today, Mentoring Standard has certified 69 mentors from 16 countries in Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America. When I read down the Honor Roll, I am proud and honored to be working with such remarkable men and women.  I see in this developing community a shared commonality of excellence and generosity.  Since the first mentor was certified in August 2015,  69 have met the standard to be honored as Regular Mentors, and three have in addition been recognized as Advanced Mentors: Eileen Brewer (USA), Naira Ayrapetyan (Turkmenistan), and Dr. Kenza Khomsi (Morocco).   Mentoring Standard certifies mentors from around the world who can prove they hold within themselves the following 3 qualities:

  • Significant Mentoring History.
  • Good Reputation.
  • Respectable Professional Experience.
Naira Ayrapetyan 2015 Naira Ayrapetyan
Senior Maintenance Engineer, Petronas Carigali Turkmenistan, TechWomen 2015 Fellow
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Every day’s news is full of a fractured, fighting, frightening world.  Yet, in the Honor Roll is a different normality: successful professionals from a vast diversity of demographics, profession, and geography who are not only learning and growing themselves but have spent years helping other people to achieve their goals and grow their careers.  Many of the Certified Mentors have been participants in the US State Department’s TechWomen program, or in the Sun Microsystems Engineering mentoring program called SEED, or they are friends or relations of mentors who were.  Half of the Certified Mentors are also TechWomen Fellows: 2011-2015 mentees of STEM leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area.  That is, these are women who came to the USA to be mentees but had already been mentors themselves for many years.

This is validation of the research presented in the Lifetime Value of Mentoring 2013 project: “…patterns from key [mentoring] programs show that successful mentees will go on to become mentors and many mentors serve over and over – in a variety of programs. Mentors also become Mentees as needed. Thus, disconnected programs may be informally in the same network because of having participants in common.”  I am still working on the first Mentoring Standard data report on the 2015 cohort of Certified Mentors.

Mentor Certification documents and celebrates your past and ongoing mentoring accomplishments – it does not require you to join a new mentoring program or take additional training. Ever consider becoming a Certified Mentor yourself?

Kenza Khomsi 2015 Dr. Kenza Khomsi
Meteorologist Engineer, Direction de la Météorologie Nationale, TechWomen 2015 Fellow
Casablanca, Morocco

A page from the Honor Roll

Mentoring Standard Honor Roll 2015

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Mentor Certification – First Cohort


The interest in Mentor Certification by Mentoring Standard continues strong. We have already certified eight Regular-level mentors this month.  There are twenty-eight on the Honor Roll (and more in the queue).  I am working with the first applicant for Advanced-level Certified Mentor now.  Doing well for just four months into this program!

Many of Certified Mentors have been participants in the TechWomen initiative of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, or were in SEED (Sun Microsystems’ Engineering Enrichment and Development), two of the mentoring programs I have helped to design and create since 2001.  Countries where Certified Mentors live include: Cameroon, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and of course the USA.

I am putting together the first Mentoring Standard data report on the initial cohort of Certified Mentors now. One of the patterns I am tracking is in what formal mentoring programs they have participated. In addition to TechWomen and SEED, I have seen several each in Technovation, and Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. As we get beyond the initial group, additional programs will be referenced – not all focused on women or STEM.

Mentor Certification documents and celebrates your past and ongoing mentoring accomplishments – it does not require you to join a new mentoring program or take additional training. If you are interested in following up for yourself, read: Get Certified.



Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson – with thanks to Kathy Jenks!

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TechWomen 2015 Winding Down


We are enjoying the last bittersweet days with our dear 98 TechWomen mentors from 19 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. TechWomen participants enjoyed the Volunteer Day (tilling the soil at Veggielution in San Jose), and Community Celebration in San Francisco (hosted by Automattic), including seed grant awards presented to the six winners of the 22 October TechWomen Pitch Night presentations (hosted by Google):

  1. Team Nigeria’s “STEM in a Box” – this education project was also voted “Audience Favorite”
  2. Palestine’s “STEM Fem” – project to connect technical women to jobs
  3. Jordan’s “She Can Do It!” – focus on workforce training
  4. Egypt’s “She is Back” – project to re-employ women returning to workplace
  5. Kyrgyzstan’s “We Care” – project to improve healthcare
  6. Sierra Leone’s “Big Sisters” – to help orphans left by Ebola epidemic (collaborating with Families Without Borders

Today was the first of our visits to the US State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in Washington DC. Tomorrow is our most formal dress day, featuring lunch in the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room.

During this term, Mentoring Standard has not only provided training for both TechWomen mentors and mentees but we have also been helping program participants to become Certified Mentors. My company’s Honor Roll of Certified Mentors is growing quickly! Several of the TechWomen Emerging Leaders are now working hard to finish their submissions before they return to their home countries. Busy days!









Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen Country Introductions


The 98 TechWomen Emerging Leaders introduced themselves to us today at the Juniper Networks Aspiration Dome in Sunnyvale, California. Each of the 19 country groups had about five minutes to show a video, dance, sing their national anthem or perform a skit to tell us about their traditions and life. Most wore their national dress. They are all so beautiful and talented! We were welcomed by our staunch champion at the US State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Sheila Casey, were moved by a talk by Mitchell Baker (Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla), and even heard a video poem about women by Bulelwa Basse, the South African poet whom we met earlier this year. The day ended with our beloved IIE staff performing a medley of American dances as a gift in return.















Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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First Day with TechWomen 2015 Emerging Leaders – South Bay


99 TechWomen Emerging Leaders have arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area from 19 countries. I am one of the Cultural Mentors working with the South Bay contingent. Erin Keeley and I spent time after their orientation today – giving a tour of the CalTrain and VTA Light Rail Stations, going to lunch, and going to the market to stock the kitchens in their apartments. Hanging out with amazingly smart and capable technical women from Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe is such a delight!




Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson


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