Last year’s Women in Agile 2017 event was a whirlwind of eye opening experiences. Through the New Voices Program, I was given the opportunity to speak for the first time with the support of an amazing mentor – Lynn Winterboer. I was also introduced to a remarkable community of women that created one of the most inviting spaces to collaborate I have ever encountered. I was always very cautious of being involved with a group of women. I was scared I would be judged harshly. These women embraced me and helped me understand the importance of women supporting and empowering each other.
I was so positively affected by this experience that I volunteered to be a part of the committee to find the Women in Agile 2018 New Voices. I wanted to be able to “pay forward” everything that I’ve benefited from being a part of this amazing community of women. I have gained mentorship from the other women I work with that put together this great event: Natalie Warnert, Billie Schuttpelz, Jenny Tarwater and another of last year’s new voices, Joanna Vahlsing. As I work with these insightful women, I’m reminded of how important it is to continue to support each other and empower one another. I’ve gotten amazing guidance that helps me every day — like the reminder to “Coach with Curiosity” that Jenny gave me – to name just one of many.
What is even more exciting are the opportunities outside of the expanding community of women I’ve grown as a result of the New Voices Program. I was able to take the short talk I presented and expand it to a full conference talk. Thanks to the guidance I received from my mentor Lynn Winterboer, I was able to take all the lessons she gave me and use them to successfully expand my talk. I was invited to speak at AgileIndy and Path to Agility this year. The lessons from my mentors just kept coming. I was struggling to accept that anyone would benefit from hearing my story. Llewellyn Falco, who is a mentor for our new voices program this year, had this to say, “Give a talk to yourself one year ago. There will always be someone that needs the lessons you learned a year ago.” After hearing that advice I was refocused and able to have a great time speaking at both events.
This year’s Women in Agile 2018 event is shaping up to be outstanding! The theme is “The Changing Face of Agile”. We will be starting with a keynote by April Wensel, an international speaker and the founder of Compassionate Coding, a social enterprise that is bringing emotional intelligence and social consciousness to the software industry through training and coaching. After our keynote, we’ll be hosting an Open Space session. Finally, we’ll end our time together with another set of New Voices. We have three great mentors giving their time to guide our new voices this year: Faye Thompson, Llewellyn Falco, and Cheryl Hammond. Our new voices have some great topics to share with everyone: Farzaneh Orak – “What is in Your Mind is Going to be in Your Hands”, Qarina Mannaf – “How to Develop Communities of Practice for Female Leadership in the Agile Community”, and Susan Webber – “Collaborative Problem Solving in the Workplace”.