Sunday, December 29, 2019

I can't even

Unless you've been on vacation the last several weeks on a remote island with no internet, you know who Baby Yoda is.  However, Baby Yoda is not really Baby Yoda according to the fandom.  Whatever the hell he (she?) is, Baby Yoda is so damn cute and I am obsessed.  And the memes are the best part of the whole Mandolorian fascination.  Pure gold.   
***Disclaimer:  I don't know if this George Lucas quote is fake or not but it's funny as all get out. 



***Yes, we've even seen this meme on I-35



And for those of us that prefer more of a hands-on, DIY approach:  


For more Baby Yoda fun checkout the following sites:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Getting it done in Seattle

While most people associate the Space Needle, Starbucks, and the Seahawks with Seattle, the city is also making inclusion and equity strides.  

Back in October 2019, The Port of Seattle Fire Department promoted Stephanie McGinnis from Shift Captain to the Port's first female Battalion Chief at a badge pinning ceremony.  McGinnis will oversee one of four shifts within the Fire Suppression Division that responds to emergencies and calls for the Sea-Tac Airport.  The Port has been a leader in female hiring, hiring its first female firefighter in 1980.

Women make up only 4-7 percent of all firefighters nationally. Eleven percent of firefighters at the Port of Seattle are women.  “Since I’ve started 20 years ago we’ve doubled our female firefighter ratio and I’m really excited to be a role model not only to my firefighters but any other women out there,” said McGinnis. 


There is also a renewed push to bring more women into the construction trades as Seattle’s skyline continues to grow.

The Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women program recently graduated nearly two dozen women to work in construction.

“I was in social work, and I got burned out,” said graduate Silas Follendorf.  Follendorf is working on Amazon's Block 21 project in South Lake Union.  Amazon helped finance Follendorf’s training, materials, and equipment for the roughly 12-week long course.  “I just love it so much. My life has radically changed,” she said.  Follendorf and other graduates were part of a hard hat tour at the South Lake Union site, looking at the future projects which may lie below.

ANEW Executive Director Karen Dove said there is a demand in trades for more workers, and that women hold a higher percentage of jobs than nationwide trends. “Nationally, women are only at 3% in the construction trades, in Washington we’re at 9%," Dove said.  Rough data shows more than 25,000 women are working statewide in some form of construction, which are family-wage jobs, Dove said.

Dove credited Amazon with recognizing the need for diversity and staffing as it continues to build out its 11.5 million square foot, 47-building Seattle campus. Amazon previously said it has donated $135 million to Seattle non-profits and homelessness support, along with money for public transit and education.

Women are also leading the way in construction of Seattle's new arena and it's fair to say there has never quite been a construction project like this one.
Tess Massaroni hands over a pair of earplugs and warns visitors “it's loud."  The noise is deafening.  That's because of the water jets which serve as a “hydro demo” of the building that was once KeyArena. "This is just a completely different engineering feat," said Ella Pilgrim, who moved here from Minnesota to help transform the Seattle Center grounds.
For these two women, the ringing in the eardrums is the sweet sound of progress at the site. As the site is transformed, Massaroni and Pilgrim are also trying to transform their workforce.  The project’s goal is to have women represent 7% of the overall workforce, which is about double the national average.
Massaroni is a superintendent on the project, working for construction lead Mortenson. The Marquette University alum, who graduated with a degree in civil engineering, is leading the structural demolition of the existing arena, including the installation of a temporary roof system.  "We're building a new arena underneath a roof. So many challenges with that," she joked, saying it doesn't compare with her previous gig. She, somewhat ironically, worked on an arena that was built because of a threat from Seattle. Massaroni was responsible for planning, garage build out, site work and landscaping at the Fiserv Forum -- the home of the Milwaukee Bucks.
"(That) arena in Milwaukee was a wide multiple block space, and tons of lay down area with nothing blocking our way."  That Bucks job gave her instant credibility with Mortenson, and with her peers. She stood alongside the Bucks CEO at multiple events through the course of construction. It takes less than five minutes around the temporary Seattle office to see Massaroni knows her stuff.
"One of the things I enjoy about my job is overcoming challenges on a daily basis," she said. "The mechanical electrical plumbing systems are complex, and the fire alarm, and life safety systems are super critical."
Across the way, inside the office, sits Ella Pilgrim. This also isn't her first rodeo. Her go-to book is the 'Steel Construction Manual,' which sits next to her desk.  "It's kind of the end-all-be-all for checking steel construction drawings," said the field engineer, with a smile.  Pilgrim said she kind of fell into this work, graduating from Purdue University in building construction management.
"I don't have any family in construction," she said, but "I knew I liked math and science and I knew STEM was something I wanted to do.”  That led to a gig helping with the construction of Allianz Field -- the home of the Minnesota United MLS team.    "That one didn't have a roof, this one does," she said of the obvious difference.  She's helping build out the TRS, in coordination with Massaroni. Pilgrim has a diagram, on her desktop, which shows a dizzying amount of steel.  "4,000 tons of (it) going in now, and a year from now will be pulled out," she said.
The complex procedures will help to prop up the multi-million-pound historic roof, which dates back to the 1962 World's Fair and allow for the excavation below.  Right now, outside of the roof, there is nothing that could be recognized as an arena. The grounds are essentially a blank canvas. Gone is the skateboard park, team store, and other aging buildings on the old arena's south side. By 2021, it will be the new entrance for a new Arena.
Massaroni and Pilgrim realize there are trailblazers on a project like this.  "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to prove that I know what's going on and know what I'm talking about," Massaroni acknowledged.  However, as Pilgrim said, "It doesn't matter if it's male or female you need to go out there do your job and prove yourself, no matter who you are. It's really all about doing your job and being competent."
At a recent NHL Seattle-sponsored forum at the Pacific Science Center, Massaroni and Pilgrim were acknowledged for their work on the project.  Brent Leiter, the Project Executive with Mortenson, announced that the roof was ‘fully braced and credited his company’s engineers with getting the work done after only 10 months of planning.  Steve Hofmeister, the Managing Principal for Thorton Tomasetti, made the point that the roof was the weight of the entire population of the entire city of Tacoma.  
Leiter said crews will begin pouring the foundation for the ‘new’ arena by the end of this year.
According to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Business Report, women-owned businesses bring $33 billion to Washington's economy despite only a 10 percent increase since 2014.  The report says 42 percent of businesses in the United States are owned by women and they generate more than $1.9 trillion in revenue.

"This report really demonstrates there a ton of woman who have a lot to offer the economy,” said Rohre Titcomb, the Vice President of Operations for the Female Founders Alliance, a Seattle-based group helping women launch companies.
According to the report, there an estimated 215,185 women-owned businesses in the state of Washington.  The businesses generate roughly $33.6 billion in annual revenue. The study says Washington ranks 19th in growth for the number of women-owned businesses out of all 50 states.  “I think there is always work to be done. One of the values we have here at [the Female Founders Alliance] is there’s always work to be done and no one is perfect,” said Titcomb.
Titcomb said don't forget, women are still achieving success in Washington by finding jobs at already established companies.
“There’s an increased focus in attaining and retaining top talent who are women,” said Titcomb.
Both women said the study is proof there’s a network of women looking to see their peers succeed.
“When you empower a woman, we change the world. We’re world changers,” said Engberg.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Beauty AND Brains

When most people think of pageants, they think of evening gowns, swimsuits and bad tap dancing (except for Mallory Hagan, Miss America 2013.  She totally nailed her routine to James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing"). 

But Miss America gets it.  Even before Miss Colorado 2015 and Miss Vermont 2015 eschewed typical song-and-dance performances in favor of science-related monologues (standing entertainment critics on their ear) the Miss America competition has recognized the importance of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

A couple of years ago, the Miss America Foundation began awarding $5,000 scholarships to five state winners with strong STEM backgrounds, acknowledging the need to promote science, technology, engineering, and math education, particularly among women.

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri (a personal favorite), was the first Miss America to have graduated in a STEM field, with a degree in brain, behavior, and cognitive science from the University of Michigan. During a round table discussion, Davuluri told members of the STEM Education Coalition that she was proud to be a role model to young girls.

“Being smart is cool,” Davuluri said. “I didn’t walk into a role like this overnight, and I would not be as successful without my education and degree, especially with all the meetings and lobbying that you do in this role. . . . I know, when I was in high school, STEM wasn’t an acronym that people were familiar with.”

When it announced its STEM scholarships in 2013, the Miss America Foundation said:
“These scholarships will allow women to pursue numerous careers in the sciences and mathematics, fields that continue to grow exponentially as we enter into a new age of technology and medicine. . . .  The lives of women who wish to pursue careers in STEM subjects will significantly change as they engage in dynamic careers where women can thrive and grow as humans, learners, and teachers for future generations.”
The scholarship money was nice. But STEM stole the spotlight, giving viewers an educational topic to consider alongside the glitz and hairstyles. Almost overnight, nerdy became stylish and being well-versed in science, technology, and math became cool, thanks to Kelley Johnson (Colorado) and Alayna Westcom (Vermont).  Johnson broke the mold. Rather than sing, play a musical instrument or perform a magic act, she appeared on stage dressed in nurse’s scrubs, a stethoscope around her neck. She told the story of Joe, an Alzheimer’s patient she had tended to in the hospital, and brought tears to viewers’ eyes when she recalled the conversation she had when she found him crying.

“You are not defined by this disease,” she told him. “You are not just Alzheimer’s. You are still Joe.” Johnson said she was similarly moved when Joe responded: “Nurse Kelley, the same goes for you,” calling her a “lifesaver.”  On her Facebook page, Johnson, who emerged as second runner-up, responded to the post-pageant love she and the nursing profession were receiving. “This is why I did what I did,” she wrote. “This means so much to so many people. I love you, America. Thank you for reaching out to me.” Later she added (in all caps): I was completely myself—nurses all over the nation, we have won!!”

When Westcom’s turn to display talent came the following day, she became the first Miss America contestant to perform a science experiment on the pageant stage. Combining physics with chemistry, Westcom mixed potassium iodide, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap to produce a table-dominating, foamy eruption known as “elephant’s toothpaste.”  She also mixed in a little humor: “Don’t try this at home,” she cautioned. “Try it at a friend’s home.”

Westcom, who aspired to be a medical examiner, says she took science to the stage because it reflects who she is. Proud to be labeled a “science nerd,” she labeled her Miss America platform “Success through STEM.”  “I’m so excited to be the first to bring STEM to the Miss America competition,” she told Vermont’s Seven Days newspaper. “I danced and I took singing lessons and it just wasn’t something I could invest myself into.”

Westcom travels to schools in Vermont, teaching science to young students. “When I was going to school and choosing a STEM career, I’d always been told, ‘You don’t look like a scientist’ or ‘Are you sure that’s your career choice? That’s not really for women’. Sometimes little girls can be discouraged by hearing that and redirected into a different career path, which isn’t fair.”  Westcom also thinks the Miss America Foundation deserves credit for the scholarships it provides.
“(It’s) the largest college scholarship program for young women in the United States,” she says. “That means we don’t win cars or furs coats or things like that. We win academic scholarships. That helps us pay off our loans or helps pay for school if we’re still in school. That is something not a lot of people know about.”

One of my personal favorite Miss Mississippi's, Hannah Roberts, has also been awarded STEM scholarships (in my humble opinion Hannah was robbed.  Her violin talent sounded wonky on the Atlantic City stage but having heard it in person, I can honestly say it's phenomenal).  Roberts had plans to become a pediatric reconstructive plastic surgeon and is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she majored in biochemistry with a minor in biology. She was a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for undergraduates planning a career in science.  Roberts attended medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Future Is Female

Women in STEM Who Changed the World

Who are the Women in STEM who changed the world through science, technology, engineering and mathematics?   Well, Here’s a list of amazing women in STEM who changed the world and a couple of bad ass women still putting in the work to encourage young women to pursue a career in a STEM Field: 

Katherine Johnson, NASA Space Scientist
Katherine Johnson helped pave the way for women to pursue careers in mathematics and technology. Katherine’s accomplishments are astounding, as was her graceful self-assurance that she belonged wherever her abilities carried her.

She was born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and graduated from West Virginia State College in 1937 with a BS degree in Mathmetics and French.  Being handpicked to be one of three black students to integrate West Virginia’s graduate schools is something that many people would consider one of their life’s most notable moments, but it’s just one of several breakthroughs that have marked Katherine Johnson’s long and remarkable life.  Her intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers vaulted her ahead several grades in school. By thirteen, she was attending the high school on the campus of historically black West Virginia State College. At eighteen, she enrolled in the college itself, where she made quick work of the school’s math curriculum and found a mentor in math professor W. W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to earn a PhD in Mathematics. Katherine graduated with highest honors in 1937 and took a job teaching at a black public school in Virginia.

When West Virginia decided to quietly integrate its graduate schools in 1939, West Virginia State’s president Dr. John W. Davis selected Katherine and two male students as the first black students to be offered spots at the state’s flagship school, West Virginia University. Katherine left her teaching job, and enrolled in the graduate math program. At the end of the first session, however, she decided to leave school to start a family with her husband.  She returned to teaching when her three daughters got older, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a relative told her about open positions at the all-black West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) Langley laboratory, headed by fellow West Virginian Dorothy Vaughan. Katherine and her husband, James Goble, decided to move the family to Newport News to pursue the opportunity, and Katherine began work at Langley in the summer of 1953. Just two weeks into Katherine’s tenure in the office, Dorothy Vaughan assigned her to a project in the Maneuver Loads Branch of the Flight Research Division, and Katherine’s temporary position soon became permanent. She spent the next four years analyzing data from flight test, and worked on the investigation of a plane crash caused by wake turbulence. As she was wrapping up this work her husband died of cancer in December 1956.

The 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik changed history—and Katherine Johnson’s life. In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year. She did trajectory analysis for Alan Shepard’s May 1961 mission Freedom 7, America’s first human spaceflight. In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.

In 1962, as NASA prepared for the orbital mission of John Glenn, Katherine Johnson was called upon to do the work that she would become most known for. The complexity of the orbital flight had required the construction of a worldwide communications network, linking tracking stations around the world to IBM computers in Washington, DC, Cape Canaveral, and Bermuda. The computers had been programmed with the orbital equations that would control the trajectory of the capsule in Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, from blast off to splashdown, but the astronauts were wary of putting their lives in the care of the electronic calculating machines, which were prone to hiccups and blackouts. As a part of the preflight checklist, Glenn asked engineers to “get the girl”—Katherine Johnson—to run the same numbers through the same equations that had been programmed into the computer, but by hand, on her desktop mechanical calculating machine.  “If she says they’re good,’” Katherine Johnson remembers the astronaut saying, “then I’m ready to go.” Glenn’s flight was a success, and marked a turning point in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union in space.

When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, Katherine Johnson talks about the calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Lander with the moon-orbiting Command and Service Module. She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Satellite, and authored or coauthored 26 research reports. She retired in 1986, after thirty-three years at Langley. “I loved going to work every single day,” she says. In 2015, at age 97, Katherine Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor

Augusta Ada King (née Byron), Countess of Lovelace and Mathematician
Augusta was born in December 1815 and was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron and his wife Lady Byron. All of Byron's other children were born out of wedlock.  Byron separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever four months later. He commemorated the parting in a poem that begins, "Is thy face like thy mother's my fair child! ADA! sole daughter of my house and heart?". He died of disease in the Greek War of Independence when Ada was eight years old. Her mother remained bitter and promoted Ada's interest in mathematics and logic in an effort to prevent her from developing her father's perceived insanity. Ada’s mother prioritized her mathematical education, hoping to steer Ada away from the ‘mad, bad and dangerous‘ poetic tendencies of her father, Lord Byron.

Despite this, Ada remained interested in Byron. Upon her eventual death, she was buried next to him at her request. Although often ill in her childhood, Ada pursued her studies assiduously. She married William King in 1835. King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada thereby becoming Countess of Lovelace. Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Charles Babbage, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and the author Charles Dickens, contacts which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as "poetical science"[ and herself as an "Analyst and Metaphysician".

When she was a teenager, her mathematical talents led her to a long working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, who is known as "the father of computers". She was in particular interested in Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine. Lovelace first met him in June 1833, through their mutual friend, and her private tutor, Mary Somerville.

Chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, she was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognize the full potential of a "computing machine" and one of the first computer programmers.

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage's personal notes from the years 1836/1837 contain the first programs for the engine.  Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of "poetical science" led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

She died of uterine cancer in 1852 at the age of 36.

Radia Perlman, Internet Pioneer
Radia Perlman disapproves when people call her The Mother of the Internet. But as an early computer scientist and student of MIT in the 60’s she became an internet pioneer, developing the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), an innovation that made today’s Internet possible. She also invented TRILL to correct limitations of STP. A wildly creative thinker, Dr. Perlman even developed a child-friendly programming language used by children as young as 3. She authored a textbook on networking and network security, and holds more than 100 issued patents.

Rebecca Cole, MD
Rebecca Cole was an American physician, organization founder and social reformer. In 1867, she became the second African-American woman to become a doctor in the United States after Rebecca Lee Crumpler's achievement three years earlier. For 50 years, she worked tirelessly as a doctor and public health educator while raising 5 kids. She called people on dangerous misinformation, using her own data to back her opinions up. This woman’s legacy is huge. Her peers said her cheerful optimism created an atmosphere of sunshine that made everyone happy.

She graduated from medical school in 1867 and became a public health advocate, physician and hygiene reformer in the US. An evidence-based researcher, she took issue with the biased data used to conclude that a lack of hygiene was the cause of inner city families’ high death rate from consumption. Although few records remain, we know she opened the Women’s Directory Center with Charlotte Abbey, providing medical and legal services to destitute women, was appointed Superintendent of a Home and was the esteemed colleague of the first US-educated female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell.

Cole was born in Philadelphia on March 16, 1846; the second of five children and throughout her life would overcome racial and gender barriers to medical education by training in all-female institutions run by women who had been part of the first generation of female physicians graduating mid-century. Cole attended high school at the Institute for Colored Youth,where she completed a rigorous curriculum that included Latin, Greek, and mathematics and later graduating in 1863. She then went on to graduate from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1867, under the supervision of Ann Preston; the first woman dean of the school. The Women’s Medical College was founded by Quaker abolitionists and temperance reformers in 1850 under the name of the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania and was the world’s first medical school for women. Her graduate medical thesis was titled The Eye and Its Appendages.  Rebecca's roommates in her senior year were Odelia Blinn and Martha E. Hutchings. Nearly thirty years later Dr. Blinn wrote an article about how crossing the 'color line' in Philadelphia nearly derailed Rebecca's studies at the college and her plans for a medical career.

After her schooling, Cole interned at Elizabeth Blackwell's New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. In New York, Cole was assigned the task of going into tenements to teach prenatal care and hygiene to women. Cole was a pioneer in providing these impoverished women and children access to medical care.  Cole went on to practice in South Carolina, then returned to Philadelphia, and in 1873 opened a Women's Directory Center with Charlotte Abbey that provided medical and legal services to destitute women and children. In January 1899, she was appointed superintendent of a home, run by the Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C.. The annual report for that year stated that she possessed "all the qualities essential to such a position-ability, energy, experience, tact." A subsequent report noted that:
Dr. Cole herself has more than fulfilled the expectations of her friends. With a clear and comprehensive view of her whole field of action, she has carried out her plans with the good sense and vigor which are a part of her character, while her cheerful optimism, her determination to see the best in every situation and in every individual, have created around her an atmosphere of sunshine that adds to the happiness and well being of every member of the large family.
Although Cole practiced medicine for fifty years, few records survive, and no photos of her have survived. She died in 1922 and is buried at Eden Cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania. 
In 2015, Cole was chosen as an Innovators Walk of Fame honoree by the University City Science Center, Philadelphia, PA.

Joan Clarke, Code Breaker & Cryptanalyst
Joan Clarke was born in 1917 and gained a First in mathematics from Cambridge but was denied a Full Degree as Cambridge did not award them to women at the time. She was the only woman to work in the nerve center of the quest to crack German Enigma ciphers. Because of the secrecy that still surrounds events at Bletchley Park, the full extent of Clarke’s achievements and those of her colleagues Margaret Rock, Mavis Lever and Ruth Briggs, remains unknown.

Susan Kare, Iconographer
We don’t often think about the people who make our screen experiences work so well. But there is one iconic (ahem) inspirational designer in technology. Susan Kare is a digital designer’s designer. If you have used the fonts Chicago, Geneva or Monaco, you have benefited from Kare’s excellent eye. Her most well known icons include the Macintosh trash can, the scissors, the pointing “paste” hand, and the formatting paintbrush. What a legacy.

“She is a pioneering and influential computer iconographer. Since 1983, Kare has designed thousands of icons for the world’s leading software companies. Utilizing a minimalist grid of pixels and constructed with mosaic-like precision, her icons communicate their function immediately and memorably, with wit and style,” wrote the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

February 5, 1954) is an artist and graphic designer best known for her interface elements and typeface contributions to the first Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. She was also Creative Director (and one of the original employees) at NeXT, the company formed by Steve Jobs after he left Apple in 1985 and has since contributed at Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, and Pinterest. She has worked for Microsoft, IBM, Pinterest and Facebook.

Kare was born in Ithaca, New York, and is the sister of aerospace engineer Jordin Kare.  In high school she worked at a museum for a designer, Harry Loucks, who introduced her to typography and graphic design. She graduated from Harriton High School in 1971, graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Art from Mount Holyoke College in 1975, and received a Ph.D. from New York University in 1978. She next moved to San Francisco and worked for the Fine Arts Museums. 

Kare joined Apple Computer after receiving a call from high school friend Andy Hertzfeld in the early 1980s.  A member of the original Apple Macintosh design team, she worked at Apple starting in 1982 (Badge #3978). Kare was originally hired into the Macintosh software group to design user interface graphics and fonts; her business cards read "HI Macintosh Artist". Later, she was a Creative Director in Apple Creative Services working for the Director of that organization, Tom Suiter.
She is the designer of many typefaces, icons, and original marketing material for the original Macintosh operating system. Descendants of her groundbreaking work can still be seen in many computer graphics tools and accessories, especially icons such as the Lasso, the Grabber, and the Paint Bucket. These designs created the first visual language for Apple's new point-and-click computing.  A presentation at the Layers Design Conference in San Francisco revealed that the Command icon on Apple keyboards was originally a symbol used to denote notable and interesting features at Swedish Campgrounds.

Kare was an early pioneer of pixel art. Her most recognizable works from her time with Apple are the Chicago typeface (the most prominent user-interface typeface seen in classic Mac OS interfaces from System 1 in 1984, to Mac OS 9 in 1999, as well as the typeface used in the first four generations of the Apple iPod interface); the Geneva typeface; the original monospace Monaco typeface; "Clarus the Dogcow"; the "Happy Mac" icon (the smiling computer that welcomed Mac users when starting their machines), and the Command key symbol on Apple keyboards.

Her icons drew from many sources such as art history, wacky gadgets, and forgotten hieroglyphics. On the Mac her concept for the command symbol was taken from the Saint Hannes cross, which was a symbol for a "place of interest."

After leaving Apple, Kare joined NeXT as the 10th employee and then became a designer, working with clients such as Microsoft and IBM. Her projects for Microsoft included the card deck for Windows 3.0's solitaire game, which taught many to use a mouse to drag and drop objects on a screen. She also designed numerous other icons and design elements for Windows 3.0.  Many of her icons, such as those for Notepad and various Control Panels, remained essentially unchanged by Microsoft until Windows XP. For IBM, she produced icons and design elements for the ill-fated OS/2; for Eazel she contributed iconography to the Nautilus file manager.  In 2003, she became a member of the advisory board of Glam Media (now Mode Media).

Between 2006 and 2010, she produced icons for the "Gifts" feature of Facebook. Initially, profits from gift sales were donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. After Valentine's Day 2007, the gift selection was modified to include new and limited edition gifts that did not necessarily pertain to Valentine's Day. One of the gift icons, titled "Big Kiss" is also featured in some versions of Mac OS X as a user account picture.

In 2007, she designed the identity, icons and website for Chumby Industries, Inc.,  as well as the interface for their Internet-enabled alarm clock.  Since 2008, The Museum of Modern Art store in New York City has carried stationery and notebooks featuring her designs. In 2015 MoMA also acquired her notebooks of sketches that led to the early Mac icons.

In August 2012, she was called as an expert witness by Apple in the company's patent-infringement trial against industry competitor Samsung (see Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co.),  In 2015, Kare was hired by Pinterest as a product design lead. As of 2010, she heads a digital design practice in San Francisco and sells limited-edition, signed fine-art prints. She currently uses Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to make her designs and logos. 

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Inventor and Computer Scientist
An American computer scientist, and a Rear Admiral in the US Navy, Grace Hopper invented the first programming language to use english words. She is seen as a key inventor of the language COBOL (an acronym for COmmonBusiness-OrientedLanguage) a widely used programming language. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics and earned her master’s degree at Yale University in 1930. Even though she was only 105 pounds, well under the minimum weight for joining the navy, she got an exemption and enlisted in WWII. After the war, still working for the navy, her associates discovered a moth mucking up the Mark II Computer. It was removed and she coined the term “debugging”. She then joined the UNIVAC team where she pioneered using computers for more than arithmetic. By 1952 she had invented an operational compiler, the first she knew of.  Some of Admiral Hoppers famous quotes include:
  • “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”
  • “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, “We’ve always done it this way.” I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”

Florence Nightingale, Social Reformer and Statistician
Florence Nightingale gained fame as “the Lady with the Lamp” for her heroic nursing in the Crimean War. There, she was credited for reducing the death rate from 42% to 2%. She was a visionary designer of hospital systems and pioneered the improvement of sanitation in working-class homes. She is known as the inventor of modern nursing. Her students and trainees became matrons at many hospitals and opened nursing schools of their own. She had a genius for presenting statistical data in graphic form. She developed a proportional pie chart still used today – see the Diagram of the Causes of Mortality. She used these skills to champion better health care at home and abroad.

Adriana Ocampo, Planetary Geologist
Adriana Ocampo is a planetary geologist and the Science Program Manager at NASA Headquarters.
Dr. Ocampo, a Columbian-born scientist, has worked on a number of NASA planetary science projects, including the Juno mission to Jupiter and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Born in 1955, Dr. Ocampo was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science.

Irene Au, Human Computer Interaction Designer
Irene Au created her own program of study in human-computer interaction. She built exceptional design teams for Google and Yahoo before joining Khosla Ventures as an Operating Partner.

Roberta Bondar, Astronaut Neurologist
Canada’s first female astronaut and the world’s first astronaut-neurologist. Roberta Bondar has received many honours including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, over 22 honorary degrees, and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. After her astronaut career she spent the next decade leading an international research team at NASA studying the effects on astronauts of spaceflight and re-adaptation back to Earth’s gravity.

Ginni Rometty, CEO IBM
Ginni Rometty CEO IBM. An early compsci graduate in the 70’s, Rometty joined IBM as a systems engineer. When she became SVP Marketing & Strategy in 2009, she led IBM into cloud computing, analytics, and the commercialization of IBM Watson. She has been IBM’s CEO since 2012.

Barbara McClintock, Geneticist
Barbara McClintock is the only woman to have received, by herself, a Nobel Prize for Medicine. She won the Nobel in 1983 for work that began with her discovery 40 years earlier, that genetic material is not fixed but instead is fluid. James Watson credited her genetic insights as part of his discovery of DNA. In her biography, A Feeling for the Organism, she connected new scientific and feminist perspectives. Her students adopted her mindset that science is open ended and unresolved. Dr. McClintock felt it was important to put in the caveat “this is what we know” in scientific assertions, implicitly reminding us that so much is not yet known.

Alba Colon is the NASCAR program manager at General Motors. Colon grew up Puerto Rico dreaming of being an astronaut.  While getting her mechanical engineering degree she joined the Society of Automotive Engineers, fell in love with cars and has been an unstoppable force in car racing ever since. She joined GM straight out of college and worked her way up to lead engineer for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Team Chevrolet. In that job she’s helped Chevy earn 160 race wins, six driver’s championships, eight Manufacturers’ Cup awards, among other accolades. She’s also worked as the lead engineer for drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick.

Aprille Ericsson-Jackson is a native of Brooklyn, New York. She attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology before attending graduate school at Howard University. She was the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. As she continues her career at NASA, Dr. Ericsson-Jackson is also committed to educating and inspiring more African-American students to pursue careers in STEM. 

Maryam Mirzakhani is helping us understand the complex mathematical relationships that govern
twisting and stretching surfaces. In 2014, Maryam Mirzakhani was one of only four people to receive a Fields Medal, which is regarded as the most prestigious award in mathematics since there is no Nobel Prize for math. She’s also the first woman to ever receive the award. She studies shapes and surfaces in several fields of abstract mathematics including hyperbolic geometry. Mirzakhani tackles important questions in these fields — like “how many simple closed geodesics shorter than some given length can there be on a particular Riemann surface” — by taking novel approaches to the problems that other mathematicians have said is nothing short of “truly spectacular.”

Regina Agyare is a social entrepreneur who is finding new ways to harness technology to promote social change in West Africa. Agyare graduated from Ghana’s Ashesi University in 2005 as one of the top software developers in her class with a degree in Computer Science.  After graduation, Regina was hired by a prestigious international bank in Accra as the first and only woman in the IT department. After six years in the banking/technology industry, Agyare decided to follow her passion and founded her own social start-up called Soronko Solutions, which creates and manages ventures that apply technology to promote social development.  Among the projects that Agyare has launched at Soronko include one that introduced deaf girls to technology at the State Deaf School in Ghana – including apps that help promote communication in a society where use of sign language is limited.  Agyare has led Soronko Solutions to develop a number of applications for disabled persons, as well as to promote interest in technology among girls and women.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Do Good December

If you haven't already downloaded the December 2019 "Action for Happiness" calendar, it's not too late!  Get your copy at 

This month's message is #DoGoodDecember and there's a wonderful quote from Desmond Tutu:  "Do your little bit of good where you are; those little bits together overwhelm the world."  Think about that for a second.  Whether you drop some change into the Salvation Army buckets or use recyclable bags when you do your grocery shopping or donate your time and/or treasure to a local food bank or homeless shelter, you're doing your part.  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Future Is Female

I love doing these "The Future Is Female" posts!  Every male-dominated sport that hires a qualified candidate, every time a female breaks through the glass ceiling or makes an advancement in a STEM field, is a move in the right direction!  But more on STEM leaders later. 
The big news in baseball this week is the hiring of Rachel Balkovec as a hitting coach with the minors.  She wants to be a hit with the New York Yankees — and the way to do that is to help their minor leaguers get more hits.
She was hired in November and starts work next month as a minor league hitting coach, believed to the first woman hitting coach employed by a big league team.
"She was really impressive. I really look forward to having more conversations with her," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday after talking with Balkovec at the winter meetings. "She has a really good understanding, especially when it comes to the pitch tracking."
A 32-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska, Balkovec was a minor league strength and conditioning coordinator and coach for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2011-15, then switched to the Houston Astros as Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator. She worked with the Dutch national baseball and softball teams in the past year while studying for her second master's degree.

Balkove is well aware that women have not been given the same opportunities as men in Major League Baseball. But she's past that.  "My mom always used to say, life's not fair," she explained. "So is it fair? No. Does it matter? No. You have to keep standing at that door banging on it."
All those hurdles in a male-dominated sport have toughened her.  "I view my path as an advantage," she said. “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I'm so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.”

Balkovec interviewed with Kevin Reese, a former major leaguer who is the Yankee' senior director of player development; Andrew Wright, hired in June as manager of staff development after four years as baseball coach at the University of Charleston; and Dillon Lawson, who joined the Yankees before last season as a hitting coordinator after working in Houston's minor league system.  "When I had Kevin Reese and Dillon rave to such a level about her as they did, that was all good enough for me," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Since we hired her, a major league club interviewed her in San Francisco for an open major league coaching position. So thankfully, she's still ours."

Born July 5, 1987, Balkovec played softball, basketball and soccer at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha. She enrolled at Creighton, where she was a catcher, then transferred to New Mexico and received a degree in 2009 with a major in exercise science. Two years later, she got a masters in sports management from LSU.
She moved to the Netherlands in 2018 to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam for a masters in human movement sciences, focusing in biomechanics. She was exchanging videos of Dutch players with Lawson, and her former Astros colleague asked her to interview with New York. "I think you look around at the landscape of the coaches that are being hired and it's people that really understand how people move and how to get players to better understand their own bodies," Reese said. "And then she started to get into some of this vision-tracking-type stuff, and that's all really intriguing to us, too. So it's a combination of a lot of different things. We're always looking for problem solvers and people who are trying to figure things out on their own, and I think that's basically what she's done her whole career."

Lawson had encouraged her to make the jump to coaching. As part of the research requirement for her latest degree, she had worked since August at Driveline Baseball in Kent, Washington.
"Probably the most interesting thing from a broad perspective for me, leaving strength conditioning, going to the field, is the mental side of it, where a guy's in a slump for 30 ABs, what do you do?" Balkovec said.
She was excited to work with assistant general manager Jean Afterman, a beacon for women in baseball who is entering her 19th season with the Yankees, her ninth as senior vice president. Balkovec will help Gulf Coast League players at the minor league complex in Tampa, Florida, make trips to the Yankees' complex in the Dominican Republic and do some roving throughout the minor league system.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Football is here. And it's Female!!!

Football is back baby and better than ever!  Ole Miss beat Arkansas this week but Coach's beloved (God Damn) Jets lost to the Bills 16-17 and will be holding a kicking try-out this week. 

Whether you watch your local pee-wee league, high school, college games on Saturday or the pros on Sunday, have you ever searched the sidelines looking for a female that wasn't a cheerleader or a trainer?  If you look hard enough, they're there.  And the numbers are increasing.  In communities across the country, the game is increasingly being played, coached and managed by women. And the NFL is helping those women get on the path to a career in the game they love.

Women account for nearly half of the NFL’s fan base, yet they make up just a third of league employees, according to CBS News. The league continues to be overwhelmingly male-dominated.  there has never been a woman head coach or general manager of an NFL team.  The NFL's struggle with its response to player protests and cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment are not a secret.  Now it's working to get more women working in the league.

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has seen firsthand the battles with workplace misconduct. Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was forced to step aside, appointing Tina Becker as his replacement, now one of the NFL's top female executives. "There are jobs for women involved in the NFL and they're not on the outside, they're on the inside. They're making decisions," Rivera said.

Skeptics ask how can women coach when they've never played football? Well, some of the best coaches never played the game either. Representatives from other leagues, like Major League Baseball, are already turning to the NFL for advice on how to replicate this forum for their own sport.

Anne Doepner is a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan – and one of the pioneers, rising from executive assistant to the team's director of football administration.  "I've been challenged about the fact that I want to do this job, to my face. You know, I've had people say, 'Why do you want to do this?'" Doepner said. "'And Why not?' is what I say back. … I think that a lot of women think that, that it's not a possibility or not something they would naturally consider doing because they don't see other women doing it."

Phoebe Schecter
Phoebe Schecter, like many of the women involved with the NFL, played tackle football. After attending the two-day NFL forum in 2017 where women are learning the finer points of coaching, scouting players, and the importance of dreaming big, she landed an internship with the Buffalo Bills.

"It makes you so confident, playing this sport. And you feel empowered. And then you get to come to somethin' like this and you've got these other women who experience the same things. And you just think, I can conquer the world after this," Schecter said.

She is an American and British citizen. She says "soccer" but also has an endearing twang to her Connecticut accent when she mentions her Northern "gran". She stands at a petite 5ft 3in and plays swash-buckling linebacker for her American football team. She is a woman and she has coached in the NFL. She grew up in the USA, but she did not fall in love with its (unofficial) national sport until she moved across the Atlantic.

She is one of just three women to ever coach in the NFL, but Schecter says she was much too busy with horses for the first 23 years of her life to ever get caught up in the sport that produces the world's most lucrative league.

"Horses is a 24/7 thing, it's all encompassing. I never had an interest in football. Equestrian was what I'd always done, it's what I thought I'd spend the rest of my life doing."  It was only when she moved from Connecticut to Cheshire, England to work for a member of the Dutch Olympic equestrian team that Schecter's head was turned.

"I worked six days a week, on my one day off I thought it would be good to meet people. I saw an ad on Facebook for American football and took the chance. It was the best decision I ever made.
"I had no idea what I was doing, I had zero body control. But the girls I met that day were what brought me into it more - and that I got to hit people."

In the past six years she has dropped her lifetime horse habit and replaced it with her newfound "addiction" - contact sports. As a defensive linebacker, Schecter's position involves some of the hardest hitting in the game. It is one of her favourite elements though, and she even plays in a mixed full-contact American football league where she is the only woman on her team, getting tackled by and tackling men twice her size.

"You get two types of [men] - those that say 'She's a girl, she shouldn't be here,' and they come for you, or who don't want to hit me because I am a girl," she says laughing.

She also did strength and conditioning coaching for the sport's Great Britain association and helped develop the women's team on their rise to fourth-best in the world. And, thanks to her dual citizenship, she will captain the team at this week's European Championships in Leeds alongside all self-funded teammates and volunteer coaches.

Schecter is also England captain in kabaddi, an invasion game popular in Asia which she compares to British bulldog with tackling. Watch Youtube highlights of the aggressive low tackling - or "carnage" as Schecter puts it - makes the appeal clear.
But of Schecter's wide-reaching sporting achievements, her most prolific was becoming one of a handful of women to coach in the NFL, starting with a Buffalo Bills coaching internship in 2017. A remarkably quick turnaround for someone who never even cared about American football until 2013, no? But upon meeting the charismatic 29-year-old it becomes obvious how she managed such a rise.

It is unsurprising that upon applying to five NFL teams via a diversity internship scheme, she had to turn down offers before taking up the Bills position. That two-week summer camp pushed Schecter right into the deep end. "It's very daunting. These guys know so much more than me about football, I was working with the defence team, and the head coach said, 'How do we get the players to respect you?'  "So he took my highlight reel and showed the guys. They were like, 'That's sick, she's better at tackling than us,' and since then they've been so supportive, some sending over videos for our GB teams wishing them good luck."  

But for all her enthusiasm, Schecter was plagued by self-doubt during her first tenure with the Bills and had to find ways to negotiate an imposter syndrome brought on by foreign football jargon and being the only woman on the sidelines. "At first it was a little rocky. It was an incredible opportunity and I kind of felt like other people who had been involved in the sport for much longer deserved that more than me. But I figured if I could just get all the little things down, even something as simple as if one of the guys asks me what time this meeting starts I would have the answer for them and they would start coming to me every time. It seems really minute, but when you can build up trust like that it's huge."

What has followed since - a season-long internship at the NCAA Division One college programme at Bryant University (where she slept in the head coach's basement and worked for free), consultancy work with NFL UK and even a full season at the Bills for the 2018-19 campaign - shows she must have made an incredible impression during that life-changing fortnight.

The Bills are off to a winning start to the season but Schecter will not be joining them after the European Championships. Instead, she is taking a self-imposed sabbatical in order to fully commit to developing the game in the UK.  A bold move some would say, but Schecter is as excited talking about her work with the UK Dukes, an organisation aiming to increase grassroots participation (with Schecter taking a special interest in female growth), as her time with the Bills.
"I've had a crazy moment in my life and I'm staying here for the season. [The Bills] are being so supportive.  "From day dot my underlying goal has always been bridging the gap between the US and UK. I thought it was the best time to see what I can do to help."The European Champs should be a huge opportunity for this country to see what we're doing with this sport. There's lots of positive things going on now for women in the sport, we need to ride the wave."

Charlotte Jones-Anderson
Charlotte Jones-Anderson is the Dallas Cowboys' Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer. Anderson was appointed Chairman of the Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board in 2010 and is the first woman to ever serve in that role.  In 2012, Anderson was named Chairman of the NFL Foundation and is responsible for spearheading philanthropic efforts in player care, youth football, and medical research. Anderson is the first woman to serve in this capacity for an NFL charitable institution, and the first woman to represent club ownership as leader of a major professional sports league foundation.  In March 2013, Charlotte Jones Anderson won the Individual Arts Patron Award at the Texas Medal of Arts Awards. In September 2013, Anderson was named one of SportsBusiness Journal 2013 Game Changers as a Team Leader.  Under Anderson’s guidance the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were awarded The American Legion Distinguished Service Medal, the American Legion’s highest honor, for their dedication to community service and support for the United States military.  In March 2017, Anderson was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame for Football Administration.

 Welter, Javadifar and Locust
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first NFL team to have two women as coaches on its staff, announcing the hiring of Maral Javadifar as assistant strength and conditioning coach and Lori Locust as assistant defensive line coach.  Locust and Javadifar are the first full-time female coaches in Buccaneers' franchise history.  "I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to coach at the highest level of professional football," Arians said.  "Sometimes, all you need is the right organization to offer up the opportunity. The Glazer family and our general manager, Jason Licht, were extremely supportive of my decision, and I know Maral and Lori will be great additions to my coaching staff.

"I have known Lori going back to my days at Temple University and I've seen firsthand just how knowledgeable and passionate she is about this game. I was equally impressed with Maral's background in performance training and physical therapy and I know she will be a valuable asset to our strength and conditioning program." 
Locust comes to the Buccaneers after working as the defensive line coach for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football during the league's inaugural season this spring. In 2018, Locust was a defensive coaching intern for the Baltimore Ravens during the team's training camp and, from 2017-18, worked as a defensive line/linebackers coach and co-special teams coordinator of the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks of the National Arena League.

Javadifar most recently worked as a physical therapist at Avant Physical Therapy in Seattle, after completing her Sports Physical Therapy Residency at Virginia Commonwealth in 2018. Prior to her time at VCU, Javadifar worked as a physical therapist and performance trainer in Virginia, while also serving as a guest lecturer at George Mason University.

In 2015, Jennifer Welter served as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals, working six weeks over the summer as an assistant coach under linebacker coach Bob Sanders. She was the first woman to hold such a role on an NFL coaching staff.  “I think it’s time,” then-head coach Bruce Arians said.  “I am not afraid to step out and be different. Jen is a quality coach. She has earned this. I think she can help our players get better.” 

In an October 2017 interview Welter says one of the keys to her success in football has been male mentors who believed in her potential. “When you’re the first woman, and there’s no women in the room,” she says, “a man has to open the door for you. And that’s when it really has to be about progress and working together. Because if it’s not in alignment, it’s going to be a really tough process.”

In her stint in the NFL, Welter worked with the Cardinals' inside linebackers and coached throughout training camp and the preseason as a training camp/preseason intern. She's currently an assistant with the Atlanta Legends in the Alliance of American Football.

Kathryn Smith
During the 2016-2017 season, Kathryn Smith became the first woman to hold a full-time coaching position in the NFL. She worked as a Special Teams Quality Control Coach for the Buffalo Bills, where she helped to formulate game plans and build playbooks for the team. Smith held that position for one season under then-head coach Rex Ryan.  Smith has said it's crazy to hear that she was the first woman in that position because “you don’t set out to be a trailblazer, and I didn’t know that that’s where my path was going to lead me.”

Before stepping into her history-making role, Smith worked under Ryan when he was head coach of the New York Jets as a game-day/special events intern in 2003, reports ESPN. In 2005, she became a college scouting intern for the team, and then a player personnel assistant for the team in 2007. In 2014, Ryan appointed her to an administrative assistant position, a job she also held in 2015 when Ryan moved over to the Bills.  Smith began interning for the New York Jets while attending St. John's, becoming a game-day/special events intern in 2003 and then a college scouting intern in 2005. She became a player personnel assistant in 2007. She then became an administrative assistant in 2014 and joined the Bills as an administrative assistant in 2015. The Bills promoted her to special teams quality control coach on January 20, 2016, replacing Michael Hamlin. She was the first woman to be a full-time coach in the NFL. After the dismissal of Rex Ryan, Smith was not retained by new coach Sean McDermott heading into the 2017 season.

Smith grew up in DeWitt, New York, a suburb of Syracuse, and attended the Christian Brothers Academy. At CBA she participated in lacrosse, swimming, and bowling.  After graduating from CBA in 2003 she went to St. John's University in New York City.  Smith majored in Sport Management and served as a student manager of the men's basketball team.  Smith graduated from St. John's in 2007.

Katie Sowers
Katie Sowers became the NFL’s first openly gay and second full-time female coach, reports ESPN. Sowers, 31, works as an offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, making her the team’s first female assistant coach. 

Sowers (born 1986) is an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers since 2017. Sowers began her American football career playing in the Women's Football Alliance. Upon her retirement, Sowers joined the National Football League in 2016 as a coach for the Atlanta Falcons's training camp. Upon joining the 49ers in 2017, Sowers became the first LBGT coach in the NFL when she publicly came out before the 2017 NFL season.

In 2016, Sowers worked with coach Kyle Shanahan when he was an offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, according to ESPN. Before that, she played pro football for the Women’s Football Alliance and was chosen to compete for the national team in the Women’s World Championship.

Sowers was born in Hesston, Kansas. During her childhood, she started playing American football at the age of eight. For her post-secondary education, Sowers attended Hesston College and Goshen College in the 2000s before resuming her studies at the University of Central Missouri in the 2010s. In Central Missouri, Sowers graduated with a kinesiology master's degree in 2012.

While completing her studies at Goshen, Sowers began her American football career playing for the West Michigan Mayhem and the Kansas City Titans in the Women's Football Alliance. While with the Titans, Sowers was a member of the United States women's national American football team that won the 2013 IFAF Women's World Championship. Sowers continued to play in the WFA until her 2016 retirement due to a hip injury. Sowers joined the National Football League as a wide receivers intern with the Atlanta Falcons in the summer of 2016. After her summer position ended, Sowers remained with the Falcons as an intern scout until she moved to the San Francisco 49ers in June 2017. With the 49ers, Sowers resumed working as a seasonal offensive assistant until her promotion to offensive assistant in 2019.

“There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation,” she said. “The more we can create an environment that welcomes all types of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, the more we can help ease the pain and burden that many carry every day.”

Kelsey Martinez
In 2018, Kelsey Martinez became the Oakland Raiders’ first female assistant coach in the franchise’s history. However, changes to the Raiders’ coaching staff for 2019 include the apparent departure of the first female assistant in franchise history.

Martinez, a strength and conditioning assistant, is no longer is listed as with the organization according to the team’s website. She joined the club in early 2018 under Tom Shaw, the department’s then-coordinator who was dismissed in December.

Martinez was well received within the organization. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was among those who considered her a barrier-breaking example.  “I have five sisters, and I have three daughters,” Bisaccia said in August. “For them to be able to, along with all other females, see that she’s accomplished this goal is going to give them a chance to realize, ‘Wow, this is a path I can take.’ … She carries herself extremely professionally. She’s incredibly knowledgeable in what she’s trying to teach these guys. She hasn’t missed a beat with the players." 

“Once a pro player feels like you’re knowledgeable and you can help them get better, they’re going to listen to you. And I feel like with Kelsey, that was evident right away, not only to the coaches but certainly to the players.”

In an interview with the Raiders’ website, running back coach Jemal Singleton talked about the positive impact that he hoped 26-year-old Martinez’s presence will have on his daughter.
“My daughter is five, so right now she’s at such an impressionable age that the sights and sounds she’s around will impact her really for the rest of her life,” said Singleton. “And to be in a situation here — I don’t know if it’s the first, or the only — but to get to have a female strength coach in Kelsey is unbelievable. Because now my daughter can see there’s so many different roles when you come here. You hear [play-by-play announcer] Beth Mowins on the call [during games], you see Kelsey out there working the players, and it’s one of those things as a father you want your daughter to have those aspirations to be whatever she wants to be.”

Callie Brownson
This isn’t the first time the Bills have been the NFL club that was taking a progressive step in diversifying their hiring practices on the football side of the house. The addition of Callie Brownson to their coaching staff as a full-time coaching intern this past week marks the third time in the last four years that a female is part of Buffalo’s coaching staff.

Brownson, a graduate of George Mason University, never had the opportunity to play football beyond the youth level, but played eight seasons as a safety, running back and slot receiver for the D.C. Divas of the Women’s Football Alliance. A five-time team captain, Brownson was a four-time All-American.
After coaching high school football in Northern Virginia for three years, Brownson attended the Manning Passing Academy where she served as one of 16 female coaches for the first women’s clinic. It was there she met Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens, who was impressed with her expansive knowledge base.  He offered her a two-week internship that turned into a full-time position as an offensive quality control coach, becoming the first full-time female football coach in Division I.
Coincidentally, after getting a similar two-week training camp internship with the Buffalo Bills this summer, her performance was such that again she was offered a full-year position on Sean McDermott’s staff.

“I first met Callie at the NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum in Indianapolis through Buddy Teevens, the head coach at Dartmouth,” McDermott said. “She came highly recommended by him. I was immediately impressed by her enthusiasm for the game of football and her career aspirations. During training camp, she showed a tremendous work ethic and earned this opportunity. She is very driven, professional, smart, and eager to learn.”

There was always a passion for football within Callie Brownson. From watching games as a kid with her dad, to playing youth football and even women’s professional football. But coaching football beyond the high school level wasn’t given a second thought, until she witnessed the changes in diversity hiring in the NFL.

Mount Vernon high school, Brownson’s alma mater, was where she thought her coaching career would begin and end, under famed coach Barry Wells, who recruited her to coach on his staff.
“He was the one who bridged the gap,” said Brownson. “But even at that point I had coached with him for three years and I thought that was the pinnacle. I was going to work a nine to five job and then coach high school football and that was as good as it was going to get.”
That was until she saw the work that Sam Rapoport, the NFL Director of Football Development, and former pro football player herself, was doing to expand the avenue for women to land NFL coaching positions. “They made this big push for diversity including women more in their fan base and on the football side, Jen Welter gets hired. I had played on Team USA with her, so I knew her pretty well. So the wheels started to turn. Then you see the work that Sam Rapoport started doing from the NFL league office as it pertains to diversity and at least getting women in front of people or in the door, so I immediately jumped on that train.”

Brownson attended the NFL’s first ‘Women’s careers in Football Forum’ and even met Bills owner Kim Pegula.  “I remember she met about 200 people and I was toward the back of the pack and she still had that Kim personality,” Brownson said. “All these people meeting her and probably hitting her up for a job. So someone in her position would probably be exhausted. She was just Kim. She was super happy and reaches out and grabs your hand, asks her what you want to do. She left an impression on me because there were other people there who maybe weren’t as enthused.”  Networking and making connections at the forum ultimately led to her landing a personnel and scouting internship with the New York Jets.

Now with the Bills, Brownson is grateful that there were two females hired prior to her current tenure in Buffalo. Kathryn Smith was the first full-time female coaching hire of the Bills in 2016 when she was promoted to Special Teams quality control coach. Last season Buffalo hired Phoebe Schecter as a full-time coaching intern.

“It means a lot more and comes with a heavier punch to me to continue that,” said Brownson. “It means a lot to me for the two who came before me. Kathryn Smith and Phoebe Schecter both did an amazing job so that this could continue, so I could have this opportunity to be here. If they hadn’t done a good job it may have gone another way. What they’ve done and how hard they worked and the impression they left on people in this organization is the reason why I’m even here and have this opportunity to continue that.”

And Buffalo carried their female hiring over to their personnel department even before they added Brownson, hiring Andrea Gosper as a year-long paid intern in their scouting department this past April.

She was hired not long after meeting Bills GM Brandon Beane and Assistant GM Joe Schoen at the Women’s career in Football Forum in Indianapolis this past winter. It was there that Brownson first met Gosper, and now the two are working for the same NFL organization.  “Coach Teevens and I from Dartmouth actually spoke for the coaching breakout session. Andrea was in it and was a coaching intern at the University of New England,” Brownson said. “I met her there and she was somebody who came up to us and talked to us a little bit. I met her there and then I found out she got hired here. She’s incredible.”

As much as Brownson values her opportunity with the Bills, she just wants to get to work knowing the regular season is fast approaching. She knows that performing at her best every day will only help create more opportunities in the league for women going forward.

“I hope to continue it for someone else and leave a ripple effect among other teams as well,” said Brownson. “Here’s the third woman hired on our football staff and we’re going to keep doing this, and it has been successful for us, so you should do it too.”

Jennifer Stango Garzone
Sometimes, the football players on the opposing team would think the woman on the sideline was the manager. Or they would approach her — she had to be the trainer, right? — to tape up their ankles.

“I was like, ‘Sorry, guys, uh, you’ve got to go to the trainer, not me,’” said Jennifer Stango Garzone, the first female head high school football coach in the state. “It happened more so in the beginning and not so much now.”

Garzone, an assistant football coach for seven years at Wolcott Tech, became the head coach of MCW United in February after former coach Jamie Coty resigned. MCW United is a co-op team that encompasses Wolcott Tech in Torrington, Housatonic Regional High School in Canaan and Wamogo High in Litchfield.

“Football is probably always known to be not only a male sport, but kind of a man’s man sport — so for a woman to break the barriers down, so to speak … but Jen’s not your typical woman,” said MCW assistant Damian Gwinn, who has known Garzone for four years. “She played football. She knows the game. She’s not just some random person, that there was nobody there and she was the only one available to take the job. She was more than qualified for it.”

It’s not known how many female head high school football coaches there are nationally, but Garzone, 35, is not the first. There have been female head high school coaches in Colorado, Florida, Wyoming and Tennessee. Dartmouth hired Callie Brownson as an assistant as the first full-time female coach in Division I football, and since, Brownson has become a full-time coaching intern with the Buffalo Bills.

Brownson went through the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum; both the NFL and NBA have been making an effort to hire women in coaching positions.  “I think it’s fantastic,” said Karissa Niehoff, the executive director of National Federation of State High School Associations who was formerly the CIAC’s executive director. “Obviously, she brings semi-pro experience. Her knowledge of the game is superior. She commands respect from experiential perspective.”

Garzone played football for a number of years with women’s teams, including the Hartford-area Connecticut Crush and the Danbury Wreckers.  Seven years ago, she became an assistant football coach at Wolcott Tech, where she is a social studies teacher and the girls basketball and softball coach. Wolcott Tech football merged with the other two schools four years ago.

“For the most part, it’s been a smooth transition,” Garzone said at practice Thursday at Housatonic Regional. “I think having played and doing it for as long as I have, that question (of having a woman as a coach) isn’t there in the forefront of most of (the players’) minds.”

She had always liked playing football and thought about it in high school, at Sacred Heart High in Waterbury, but it was a backup plan in case she didn’t make the soccer team. Then she made the soccer team. She played soccer, basketball and softball in high school, then at Post University in Waterbury.

One of her soccer coaches told her about the Crush.  “She called me up and ‘Hey, do you want to come play football?’ and it was a done deal from there,” Garzone said on Thursday. “It was amazing. Just the sport itself, the camaraderie.”

She paused, watching the slower MCW players finish their mile run around the track.
“Hey, make sure you put pressure on who’s in your group to get them in because some of them are still walking,” she yelled. The players who had already finished started running with the others and encouraging them along.

“Coach, what group am I in?” one asked her.
“It’s like having 47 children,” said Garzone, who has a 4 ½-month-old girl with her husband Francesco Garzone, a math teacher at Wolcott Tech.
She laughed.
“Although I’m glad I didn’t give birth 47 times,” she said.
But does it feel like that some days? she was asked.
“Yes,” she said. “With no epidural.”
The players tower over her. To them, she’s “Coach.” Or “Stango.”

Eric Hickey, a senior wide receiver, said there’s no difference having a male or female head coach.
“We always have that mentality that we have to work hard and, hopefully, come away with the win,” he said. “I think it’s the same.”

The team hasn’t won since the merger in 2016. Wolcott Tech last won a game in 2014. So most days, she’s not thinking about being the first female coach; she’s thinking of what she will do to get the team its first win. MCW will host Platt Tech on Sept. 14 at Housatonic’s field.  “When you’re the first, the eyes are watching, the microscope’s on you. It is (pressure),” she said. “I try not to think about it too much and try to focus on the task ahead.

“The only saving grace is that I’m not taking over a state championship program. I’m taking over a team that’s still looking for their first win. That makes it a little easier, but the incentive is still there to do well.”

Anne MacNeil, Housatonic’s athletic director, loves having a female football coach.
“Having another strong female is amazing, and having Jen as the coach — she’s proven herself as a leader. She’s compassionate. She’s out here for our students — that was evident since day one,” MacNeil said. “It’s good for the boys. There has never once been any inclination of disrespect. She’s the coach.”

Loretha Douglas
Dedrick Sumpter already had a star-studded football coaching staff at Williamson High School in Mobile.
Former Auburn linebacker Antonio Coleman is defensive coordinator.
Former NFL No. 1 draft pick Jamarcus Russell is the passing game coordinator.
Sumpter’s most recent hire, however, may garner more respect and attention than either of those two Williamson legends.
Loretha Douglas has been a household name in park ball coaching in the city for nearly 30 years. She is now on Sumpter’s staff, coaching the defensive line and helping with special teams.
“Most people don’t understand what a legend she is in this city,” said Coleman, who played for Douglas when he was young. “She coached some of the best athletes ever to come through Mobile. In football, in basketball – she taught everything. She taught me how to play basketball.”

Douglas is one of two female football assistant coaches in the state entering the 2019 season. Geneva County’s Melissa Tomlinson is the other. They are believed to be the first female assistants in Alabama high school football history.  Sumpter and Geneva County head coach Jim Bob Striplin have said Douglas and Tomlinson weren’t hired as some kind of publicity stunt. They were hired based on their credentials and ability to coach young people.  “Publicity? If you are from this community, you know that is not what this is,” Coleman said.  “When coach Douglas first walks into this field house, I don’t care what size a kid is, they listen to her,” Sumpter said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with publicity. She’s very intense, but she has a deep connection to our players and most of our staff because she raised them all.”  That includes Coleman and Russell.

Douglas first became involved in coaching when the Boys and Girls Club of Mobile needed a physical education director in 1991. She worked there for 16 years before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the gym. She also spent time coaching at Harmon-Thomas Community Center and Taylor Park Community Center, among other stops.

She estimates she has coached more than 1,000 kids over the years and has even given a few a place to live when they needed it.  “Some of these kids were homeless or didn’t have anywhere to stay, and she would move them in her house and take care of them,” Coleman said. “Countless kids.”
When Sumpter became head coach at Williamson in 2012, he wasn’t familiar with Loretha Douglas.
That changed in a hurry.  “When I first got here, all I heard was, ‘Miss Lo, Miss Lo,’” he said. “I heard so much about her. Once we formally met, I would ask her every year, ‘When are you going to come join us? When are you coming? We need you.’”

The formal process for Douglas joining the Williamson staff started last fall.  “I had been laid off my last job,” she said. “I just sat around the house for about a month, just wondering what my next job would be. I finally heard a voice say, ‘Get up. Why are you just laying there?’ Coach Sumpter had been asking me to come coach. I finally told him that I would.” 
Douglas applied for a volunteer position with Mobile County Public Schools in October. Later in the fall, a full-time spot became available on the custodial staff at Williamson. Douglas jumped at that opportunity. It’s all been a smooth transition.
“I never planned any of it,” she told “God just puts you in the right place at the right time.”
Coleman and Sumpter laughed at the thought that some of Williamson’s players might not respect Douglas because she is female.
Douglas graduated from Williamson in 1981. She played softball and basketball and ran track. She joked that she tried to play volleyball too, but “that didn’t work out very well.” It’s important for her to see the Lions succeed, and she believes they will this fall.  “We are going to make some noise, make an impression,” she said.  Douglas already has made an impression on hundreds of young people in Mobile.  Count Coleman in that group.
“She taught me about hard work and respect,” he said. “Everything she has taught we try to teach here. She taught me to be the best in everything I do. That is what she instills in everyone. And toughness? If you didn’t have that, you had it when she finished coaching you.”
Douglas graduated from Williamson in 1981. She played softball and basketball and ran track. She joked that she tried to play volleyball too, but “that didn’t work out very well.” It’s important for her to see the Lions succeed, and she believes they will this fall.
“We are going to make some noise, make an impression,” she said.
Douglas already has made an impression on hundreds of young people in Mobile.
Count Coleman in that group.
“She taught me about hard work and respect,” he said. “Everything she has taught we try to teach here. She taught me to be the best in everything I do. That is what she instills in everyone. And toughness? If you didn’t have that, you had it when she finished coaching you.”

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