Eric Poe started attending CoderDojo KC during its second session, and since November 2013, he has remained an active volunteer. Today, as Director of Curriculum, Poe said he enjoys seeing the children learn and seeing “the light bulbs” come on in their early development work, as well as his own networking with other mentors.

Mentor Profile_Eric Poe (CoderDojoKC)“I enjoy seeing the kids work hard to learn something, build something out of it, and then present it after three hours,” he said. “Seeing the joy of the kids as they show off their hard work is what kept me coming back.”

Poe has worked as a Programmer Analyst for three years at Stowers Institute in Kansas City, and previously, he worked for 15 years in a public school district as a manager of information technology. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2012, as he studies in the evenings while working full-time during the day.

Poe’s hobbies outside of work and CoderDojo KC include spending time with his family, watching Kung fu movies, and studying. “I try to devote at least an hour per night of studying various topics: usually programming, but I also work on studying foreign languages,” said Poe, who also is an organizer of Kansas City’s PHP User Group.

How did your interest in coding begin?
My grandfather sent me a book on BASIC when I was a teenager. He thought it would be cool if I became a developer. I read it. I did a few things. I took a class on it in high school, and I couldn’t really see myself becoming a developer. A long time later, I started doing tech support for Gateway 2000 and learned about the Bachelor of Information Technology program at UMKC. I thought that would be a good fit for me. I went into that hoping to get more information technology knowledge, but mainly, it was just a programming thing. At some point, during that degree program, I started to enjoy the programming side of it and the challenges that it provided.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
I have recently started going to conferences as a speaker. So, that has certainly helped.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy having big problems that we can then divide into smaller problems and divide among the team. I enjoy it when people appreciate using the tools that I built for them. I enjoy the social aspects of programming, as well.

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
Figuring what people are asking for when they are asking for something – their ideas change as the project becomes more mature. It’s challenging, but I also enjoy it; it’s all the same.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
It’s OK, to try out something, but once you’ve decided to do it, go all in. Learn what you need to to get the job done, but also learn much more. I didn’t start enjoying programming until I dove into my studies and learned the whys and the whats, which allowed me to play with the code with a deeper understanding. Also, attend a local user group that deals with that topic – there you can learn from others, ask questions, and discover neat things about the topic you’re learning.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
It is a social activity. I think the lone the developer in mom’s basement is a myth, or rather, an outlier rather than the rule. In writing code, you’re writing it more for other people to read rather than just for the computer. The computer understands it, but it’s secondary.

How do you envision STEM continuing to evolve into our daily lives?
I think STEM, by itself, is not all that interesting, without the arts coming into play. I like to think of it more as STEAM, rather than STEM. Science is great, but science without playing or without imagination, doesn’t go very far.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


Mentor Profile_Dan Holmes (CoderDojoKC)The mentorship role for Dan Holmes came together quite organically in October 2015.

Holmes organizes Kansas City’s PHP User Group with Eric Poe, CoderDojo KC’s Director of Curriculum. Holmes’ daughter also was 9 years old at the time, and Poe’s daughter was already attending CoderDojo KC, “so it just seemed like something fun that we could do together,” Holmes said. His role as a mentor came next.

As a senior software engineer at The Nerdery, Holmes earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems at Ottawa University. Outside of CoderDojo KC, he enjoys playing a great deal of Minecraft with his daughter, as well as continuing to be involved with the PHP User Group as much as possible.

How did your interest in coding begin?
Certainly as a child. My first memories are either with an Apple II at school or at home on a Commodore 64 with BASIC. I remember having computer magazines that had software in them, and you would have to type them all out. I remember doing really well with the basic stuff back then.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
I’d say troubleshooting comes up all the time. I think troubleshooting can take on different forms for different technical disciplines, but it’s also a pattern of solving different things. Seeing how something works now, seeing how you want something to work from there, and breaking down the little steps down from there on things to try – challenging your own assumptions as to why something isn’t working.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Solving people’s problems. I really enjoy being able to help companies get to that next level. It’s definitely about the people and supporting the customer’s vision and where they want to take their business and how I can help them get there.

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
It’s always changing. There’s very little room for learning one thing and sticking with it. You always need to be learning that next thing because to someone else, it’s already the current thing.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
I would tell my younger self to stop worrying about everything being so perfect. People need solutions that are better than what they have now, and while perfect is still a good goal, it’s really, really expensive. … There also is so much online training, if that’s your format. For example, I like to point out to people that if you have a Johnson County Library card, you can sign up for something like Lynda. But I also recognize that not everyone wants to learn that way. Picking a little project, and picking one or two technologies, that something that you can do with what you can. You are going to be Googling a lot and reading a lot. Find what works for you.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
Solving problems with code is really just breaking everyday concepts down into itty bitty steps. At the end of the day, that’s what we do: We figure out how to large, complex systems or complex ideas, and break them down into small, repeatable steps.

How do you envision STEM evolving into our daily lives?
When I was a kid, certainly if you wanted that more advance technology education, you found yourself at Radio Shack. You found yourself getting kits to build crystal radios and electronics projects. And so, I still see the future of STEM being similar to that, in that taking components off the shelf and learning how to do it yourself, how to build little contraptions that solve a problem or doing something cool, that still doesn’t large education systems. It just requires access to the materials and ideas of what to do with the stuff. I think Raspberry Pi and Arduino are excellent for doing just that. Ultimately, the application of science and art come together in everyday ways. I hope we get to the point where doing cool things with technology is just commonplace and is no different than putting new batteries in your remote. What makes it unique are your ideas.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist at the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


Trying to decide to attend a Coding & Cocktails program? ALL levels and abilities are welcome! Follow along with Shireen as she learns how coding ends up being important – no matter what your profession is.

I’ve been out of high school for nearly eight years now, and to this day one of my biggest regrets is not taking any coding classes as an elective. Most of the students who took computer classes when I was in high school were regarded as losers, and I was already struggling socially. Not only that, the classes were filled up almost entirely by boys, which can be intimidating for teenage girls dealing with confidence issues (I’m still struggling with this, and I’m in my late twenties…). Besides, I figured I didn’t need to learn coding because I was going to major in music performance and journalism in college.

ShireenOh, how wrong I was.

When I graduated from high school in May 2009, the United States was still in a recession and social media was in its infancy. I didn’t think much about the global changes at the time because I was too busy getting ready for my next recital or audition. I rarely used social media, so I didn’t notice the potential they would have in influencing the world. I didn’t get my first iPhone until 2012.

I quickly learned how much technology had changed over the last four years when I started graduate school for journalism. I had no idea I’d have to take courses on quantitative analysis and social media in journalism school, but I did, and they were some of the most difficult courses I had ever taken in my life. And I couldn’t deny the importance of learning technology for my career field – Data and information are constantly changing and growing. As the digital world become more complex, reporters are responsible for communicating these innovations with their audiences, a.k.a. the people who are being directly affected by these changes and may not even realize it. More investigative reporters are also now using coding skills to gather data for stories they’re working on.

I finally acknowledged a couple of years ago that I needed to learn coding to become a better journalist, but I opted not to take any coding courses in graduate school because 1) they’re expensive and 2) I didn’t want to potentially ruin my GPA if coding didn’t come easy for me. I decided to wait until after completing graduate school to look for coding classes.

Shortly after graduating from journalism school, I moved to Kansas City for a 6-12 month journalism internship. Once I got settled into my new living and work situation in January, I started looking for affordable evening and/or weekend coding classes in the area. One of the first options I found online was Kansas City Women in Technology’s Coding & Cocktails, an introductory coding program for women that meets once a month. During each four-hour session, women will learn new coding skills while enjoying dinner and unique cocktails. This looked like the perfect opportunity for me. I couldn’t get off the waitlists for the January and February sessions (HTML and CSS), but I was fortunately able to attend the Command Line session in March.

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of Command Line before until I signed up for the course on Eventbrite. I just wanted to learn any aspect of coding I could. It turns out Command Line is quite powerful. Developers use it to communicate with computers to quickly, efficiently and effectively accomplish tasks to the computers’ maximum potentials. It turns out I haven’t been getting full use of my $2,000+ MacBook Pro since I bought it three years ago! I initially felt overwhelmed with all the information I was receiving all at once, but the mentors at Coding & Cocktails were very patient and friendly with me. With their help, I was successfully able to complete the worksheet by the end of the night.

At last week’s Coding & Cocktails event, we learned the basics of version control and how it allows collaboration with other developers on projects. With version control systems, such as Git, software developers are able to simultaneously work on a project without having to share the same computer to monitor what each developer is working on. They are able to communicate with each other using version control repositories, such as GitHub or Atlassian’s Bitbucket. Developers can use the Command Line to work on their version control projects, so I was able to apply the skills I learned at Coding & Cocktails last month to complete my worksheet and homework on Git in class.

I’m thankful affordable and flexible coding opportunities like Coding & Cocktails exist for novices like me. Some courses cost thousands of dollars, but Coding & Cocktails only costs $25 per session and it includes food and drinks. I also appreciate that there are several mentors available to help, and they will stick with you until you understand the concept. And since software development is still a male-dominated field, women have the opportunity to learn how to code without feeling intimidated or awkward. Another great perk about Kansas City Women and Technology’s Coding & Cocktails is there are lots of great resources listed online for anyone who wants to practice their skills outside of class. I highly recommend taking advantage of what’s available for free or at low cost. I can’t wait to learn Front End Architecture at Coding & Cocktails next month.

Admittedly, I don’t currently have any way of using these skills I’ve learned over the past couple of months outside of Coding & Cocktails. However, I know I will have to use Git or some other version control system for a journalism-related project in the near future, whether that’s developing or updating my media outlet’s website, or gathering data for a story. Hopefully, my skills will be sufficient enough for my resume to stand out by the time that happens.



The month of April is National Volunteer Month – a few weeks when we can take time to reflect and praise those who offer up their time to contribute and make a difference. Kansas City Women in Technology is a non-profit community organization, which means that a very large portion of sharing our passion with Kansas City comes from its community and volunteers. We are very grateful to those who volunteer their talents and time to help further our mission to get more women involved in tech.

If you’re already a woman involved in tech, it’s very likely you’re in a small group of women, if not the only woman, at your company or events. Our goal is to bring local women in tech together to learn, encourage young girls and women to explore tech, and guide women to boldly pursue technology careers.

With the support and expertise of the countless amounts of volunteers, mentors, speakers, leaders and innovators, Kansas City Women in Technology can proudly host programs such as Coding & Cocktails, Coding & Cupcakes, TechTalks, CoderDojo, and more to provide outlets, resources and encouragement to women and young girls throughout the Kansas City area.

Here are just a few of the various moments and reasons we have to thank those who are involved and celebrate National Volunteer Month…

It [a code-based career] might be intimidating because A. people are older than you or B. they are mostly male. But people in this field are very cool and are very willing to meet new people. –Olivia Mark, Mentor

Get involved with Kansas City Women in Technology earlier. Find a mentor outside of work to help you learn. –Sara Heins & Ashley Sullins, Mentors

For those who are getting into coding, I would say that you should jump in, get involved, and meet people. There are so many resources out there; look for those resources. I feel like my whole life changed when I got involved with Coding & Cocktails. –Ashley Holbrook, Mentor

No matter how long it takes, the journey of self-discovery is worth it. You don’t know where the end is until you find it. –Tamara Copple, Co-Director of Coding & Cocktails

Start working on projects, and do as much as you can every day. –Gabi Dombrowski, Mentor

Being a programmer is not about knowing how to do everything but rather knowing enough to get started and then being able to speak the language and know basic tools so that you can google for the rest and ask intelligent questions. –Julie Heckman, Mentor

Just try stuff out. Start building stuff. There are a lot of resources out there on the Internet that are free and accessible. –Jessica Ralston, Mentor

I would definitely recommend getting involved and finding a community to be a part of. Getting involved with KCWiT has been so much fun and getting to know people who think the same way and in bouncing ideas off of them. –Sarah Duitsman, Mentor

It’s a life skill to be able to work with technology. By knowing more about STEM, you are a better user. You can recognize usage patterns more effectively. –Bill Ayakatubby, Program Director

I knew I wanted to give back, and I knew I couldn’t be the ONLY woman programmer in Kansas City, so I built Kansas City Women in Technology to help women in tech careers network with each other, and to create a way for other women to enter the industry. –Jennifer Wadella, President & Founder

If you’re looking to give back or want to get involved with Kansas City Women in Technology and any of its programs, join our team and help further our mission to improve diversity in technology.



Tamara CoppleTamara Copple’s pathway to her career today as a Business Analyst at New Directions Behavioral Health took many twists and turns along the way – but the foundation for her passion toward technology found its roots back in her undergraduate studies in interior design, when she truly wished she were studying architecture instead.

Copple began her freshman year of college in 1990, and residential architecture served as her true passion at the time. She aspired to study architecture, “but architecture was for boys,” she said. “Girls did interior design. I think I’m probably at the tail end of a generation that felt that way.”

Back then, Copple said, she lacked the self-confidence and the support “to be whatever she wanted to be.” Her interior design-focused studies were not her true passion and calling. “I kept trying to find that next challenge. I knew that I hadn’t hit my peak yet.”

By 2002, Copple was working as a junior business analyst, and later spent more than 10 years in client relations management before returning to a business analyst role in June 2016. Today, at New Directions Behavioral Health, Copple she works on the database side, and she designs software improvements to the database so that the processes to the end user move more smoothly.

She credits her attendance at an early Coding & Cocktails session in April 2015 as the push that really helped her seriously consider a career as a computer programmer. She now serves on the Kansas City Women in Technology Board of Directors, and she is co-director of Coding & Cocktails.

Copple’s top hobbies include Dungeons & Dragons and cross-stitch. She also is continuing her computer programming education through LaunchCode in Kansas City.

How did your interest in coding begin?
I started as a junior business analyst at DST in 2002, right after I got my master’s degree. I left the junior business analyst area so I could learn more about the company and its products. I did a lot of client relations work for a long time. After a while, I realized I wanted to get back into software development, and it was about the right change in my career. My husband is a software developer, and he always encouraged me to get back into it because he said I had the skills to do it. He was always supportive; it was Coding & Cocktails and the enthusiasm that was there that really pushed me. I was actually one of the very first participants in Coding & Cocktails back in 2015. It was enough to really get me hooked.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
When we first got married, my parents knew that my husband was the techie in the family, so they called him. When I got deeply involved in Coding & Cocktails, my parents then started calling me and Matthew was completely happy to turn over that role. Also, it helps me be taken seriously when I go someplace and I ask technical questions.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
The databases are composed of little bits of information, and altogether, you can tell a story with that information and you can tell whatever story needs to be told. I really enjoy letting the data telling its story. I also really enjoy the team that I am working with – they are really smart, and they are easy to get along with. It’s a joy getting to go to work and I look forward to it every day. 

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
I am not patient person, and I never have been. I think in concepts and big ideas and broad brush strokes. Learning to pay attention to the details is a real learned behavior for me. That phrase “attention to detail” made me want to cringe most of my life.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
No matter how long it takes, the journey of self-discovery is worth it. You don’t know where the end is until you find it. All they were, for me, were bumpers – they were guard rails to tell me what direction I should be going.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
The human brain can analyze a thousand variables and make a split-second decision about how to react, like when you are in a car accident or trying to catch something falling off of a table. The act of trying to do that same thing but teach a computer how to do is where the magic happens.

How do you envision STEM evolving into our daily lives?
Technology is already as much of a part of us as breathing. We cannot live without our computers, our phones, our electricity, our vaccines – can’t live without it. The real question is about how to use technology in the right way. I’m a big proponent of knowing when the technology should end and how to commit learning to memory. My ideal world is one in which we have balanced the technology, and it gives us a comfortable living, but we don’t forget about where we came from.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist with the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


In partnership with Women Techmakers, this month’s Tech Talk was held in celebration of International Women’s Day at SMG in the Crossroads. The panel of six speakers included entrepreneurs, community organizers, and teachers. While all women work in technology in different capacities, the topics of imposter syndrome, networking, and educating yourself were aspects that affected the growth in their careers.

Rachel Hack Merlo, current Community Impact Manager at Google Fiber, began with a career primarily in advertising. Merlo described the advancement of technology and how it affects business and organizations that are not purely technology fields.

According to Merlo, instead of dreading a change in result of technology, thinking of what situations will grow from the influence such as new skills and critical thinking can be a catalyst for driving companies, and mostly people, forward.

Ann Gaffigan is the Chief Technology Officer and partner at National Land Realty. Currently running her own freelance business, the establishment and growth of which is a signal of assertiveness for the self-described “rule follower”.

Ann escribes having a past of being a rule follower and committed computer science student and employee. However early in her career, Ann found herself at a crossroad when the opportunity to leave her full time job to work on a freelance basis. Thi gave her the chance to increase her responsibilities and impact on projects while also, inadvertently, taking the company’s biggest client with as her first solo project.

“Who knows the feeling of wondering…’What the heck am I doing?’ “ Jenny Tarwater, founder of Blueshift Innovation an agile coaching and training consultancy, describes this as the feeling of “imposter syndrome”. This experience can be common when learning a new skill or pursuing a new career. A combination of education and networking is a sustainable way to continue your path during the moments when you’re second-guessing yourself.

Inspiration and passion can serve as the primary catalyst to create a new career you may not have planned on.

Donna’s current company was founded as the solution to an everyday hassle: the process of scheduling multiple appointments. DailyReel is an “appointment hub” to streamline your appointment scheduling into one place. The goal was to have the functionality of booking several appointments without making multiple phone calls or using different apps. Thus Donna founded DailyReel.

Angie Klein is a teacher that splits her time between two local high schools teaching students computer science covering topics such as web programming, computer programming, machine networking. In addition, Angie sponsors technology-related extracurricular clubs and organizations.

Describing her career path in technology as a “curvy tree”, Angie began her career as one of a 18 new-hire cohort at Cerner Corporation. Since then, Angie has also worked for DST Systems, Kansas City Southern and Kansas City Power and Light. Citing her passion for technology and her students, Angie uses that passion as support to continue despite being the only teacher in such a specific technology field at her schools.

Follow Kansas City Women in Technology on Twitter to view more of the conversation.

Join us for our upcoming TechTalk Wednesday, April 19, at the Cerner Innovations Campus with professional speaker, Lauren Shieffer, for the a seminar on conflict resolution entitled “Before it Comes to Blows”. Learn more and register on Eventbrite.



It’s been almost 7 years now that the title on my business card says “Software Developer” and yet I’m still learning new things every day. Being a programmer is not about knowing how to do everything but rather knowing enough to get started and then being able to speak the language and know basic tools so that you can google for the rest and ask intelligent questions.

Julie Coding & CocktailsI’m slowing stepping my toes into the community after being submerged in pregnancy and the first year of motherhood fog for the last two years. And I find that every time I attend a KC Women in Technology event, I come away feeling energized, refreshed, and excited. I recently had the opportunity to be a mentor at a Coding & Cocktails class and I can’t wait to return.

As a mentor, I quickly realized that I don’t have to have all of the answers immediately. Most of the time, the most valuable part was walking the student through my thinking process of how I go about debugging and figuring out how to solve the problem. My job isn’t just to get them to the right answer or get their computer to work right; I want them to feel that same rush of adrenaline from executing commands correctly and making the computer do what they asked.

The March session explored Command Line Basics which can seem a little abstract compared to HTML and CSS but being able to navigate through the command line is really helpful and will come in very handy as your programming skills increase. Typing in commands not only allows you to take control of your computer in a way that clicking with a mouse doesn’t but it also opens the door to finding patterns to your work that could eventually benefit from scripting.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely frustrating at first. But the more you use it, the more comfortable it will become. Force yourself to just use the command line instead of icons or drag and drop and clicking tools.

Could you do an online tutorial from the comfort of your own home on your couch and in your pajamas? Of course you could. But you’d be missing the best part of Coding & Cocktails which is the community and fellowship of working with other women from all backgrounds and skill levels (and the cocktails which are AMAZING!). I loved engaging with other mentors and students and finding out about their backgrounds and why they were participating. The best part is that we all have one thing in common – we want to help each other learn more!

– Julie



Jessica Ralston describes her academic and career interests as having come full circle: While she began her undergraduate studies in architecture at Kansas State University in the mid-1990s, she would ultimately graduate with a Bachelor of Arts from the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at K-State.

Jessica Ralston Coding & Cupcakes MentorFollowing a three-year career in public relations, Ralston worked as a Senior Web Technician and User Experience Designer at the American Academy of Family Physicians before working at Intouch Solutions, where today she is Associate Director, Development.

A mentor for Coding & Cupcakes, Ralston also served as a Django Girls mentor in summer 2016 and is a past Tech sHeroes mentor. She also enjoys serving as a Girl Scouts Brownie leader for her daughter, as well as maintaining the website for the PTA and PTA Foundation for her daughter’s school.

How did your interest in coding begin?
In college, I had one assignment to make a web page. At my first job, in the Shawnee Mission School District communications office, I was supposed to update phone numbers and addresses as they changed jobs. It was so disorganized that I convinced my boss to let me redesign it. I made the second version of the Shawnee Mission School District website, and as I was working on it, I guess I enjoyed it more than other aspects of my job. I really liked the creative and technical aspects of building the website. My next job was at UMKC in the School of Education, Continuing Education department. I was the marketing coordinator. At that time, UMKC had one person in charge of the website. If each department wanted a web presence, they had to do it on their own. So, I did it, and word got around. I took a couple of computer science classes at UMKC. I got my job at American Academy of Family Physicians, and I got my job as a web technician. I was there for 11 years. It wasn’t like there were classes at the time to learn front end development. Everyone I know my age basically taught themselves the material.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
I was really good at math in school, and I when I started college, I started as an architecture major. I feel like I’ve really come full circle, because architecture is technical and creative in the way that front-end development is. When I was in college, I had a couple of jobs where I basically taught myself a lot of things, through several different jobs.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
My job now is really making sure that my team knows what they need to be doing, has the support they need to get their jobs done. I feel like now, the most rewarding thing about my job is when the people on my team are successful. And, we build some pretty cool stuff, too.

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
Things are always changing – new clients, new projects, new technologies to learn how to use. But, that’s also what makes it interesting.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
Just try stuff out. Start building stuff. There are a lot of resources out there on the Internet that are free and accessible. It doesn’t have to be for a client. You can make something to just show that you know the technology.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
People don’t always realize how creative it is. It’s all about problem-solving.

How do you envision STEM continuing to evolve into our daily lives?
Of course, some people think that everything is going to become automated. With people my daughter’s age, they’ve grown up with the Internet. It’s just going to become ubiquitous, and I feel like all kids should know how to code just a little bit. It’s not magic; it’s something you can do.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist with the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


Trying to decide to attend a Coding & Cocktails program? ALL levels and abilities are welcome. Join Patrina as she starts to tackle CSS. 

Something I heard during this month’s session that resonated with me: “I know enough CSS to get by”.

Patrina CSS EventThis statement made me wonder exactly how much CSS (e.g. Cascading Style Sheets I now know)  is enough to get by. As I sat there listening waiting for more of a specific answer, I realized I would never get one. I received several different descriptions of font styles, colors, sizes, shapes, effects as well as explanations on how to manipulate them. If you are that girl (like myself) with a thousand different ideas and lack the tools to create them, learning CSS could be for you. If learning HTML (last month) is like being given an empty toolbox, then CSS is like receiving the tools. The more you use CSS the easier it becomes to locate exactly which tool to use to get your point across, solve problems in a more efficient or even beautiful way, and to understand technology as a concept that is literally limitless.

It has been eight hours (two sessions), and I am still not a tech expert. I still make plenty of mistakes. I ask questions and there are all these awesome women there to help me find a way to the right answers. I still haven’t learned how to make a website on my own, but I am learning. I am specifically getting by. with “A little help from my friends” _Lennon/McCartney.

See you at the next Coding and Cocktails in March. – Patrina



Ashley Holbrook described her first experience with Coding & Cocktails with great enthusiasm and passion.

Ashley Holbrook Coding & Cocktails Mentor“I love it. I got addicted to it the first time I went,” Holbrook said of her first Kansas City Women in Technology session that she attended in June 2016. “I was like, ‘I’m never leaving!’”

Her dedication grew so much that as of January, Holbrook is now a mentor with Coding & Cocktails. By day, she is a PrePress Coordinator at Tabco Inc. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts Technology Management at the University of Central Missouri, where Holbrook said she asked her instructors to create a special class for her that would allow her to combine her graphic design- and website creation-related passions simultaneously.

Holbrook also has a side business, creating websites and doing design work. She originally started with Coding & Cocktails to help strengthen her already-existing HTML knowledge base, but it has since turned into something larger for her long-term career goals.

Outside of Coding & Cocktails, Holbrook’s personal hobbies include knitting and yoga. She also is currently continuing her coding-related education through LaunchCode.

How did your interest in coding begin?

A long time ago – I grew up on computers. My dad was really adamant about having computers. I used to boot up DOS and play Doom, back in the day. I was fascinated by the computer, and I always wanted to be on the computer. I used to take the wallpapers from Windows, and recreate them in Paint, pixel by pixel. The coding interest started, then, with MySpace. I figured out HTML, and I had a totally decked out MySpace page. It was just sort of always in my mind, and I didn’t really pick it up again until college.

How has your technical knowledge transferred into other aspects of your life?
The problem-solving, definitely. When you are coding and creating things, you run into so many problems. Having that grit to keep going has transferred over into the everyday part of my life. It’s transferred at work, too – I run a digital press, and that thing has so many issues. I used to get so frustrated, and now I think more about how I can figure it out. That logical part has really stayed with me.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
When you work on something and you keep getting errors, and then it works, it’s such an instant gratification. I’m learning Python through LaunchCode, and that’s been a lot of fun.

What are the more challenging aspects of your career?
I think for me, I’m a really visual learner. Writing code is just looking at words. It’s then a matter of looking at how the words work together, and sometimes, that’s difficult for me to see. That’s been really challenging. I’ve printed out the code and have drawn diagrams with it and lines of how they relate to one another, and that has really helped me.

What advice would you offer your younger self today, or to someone who is looking to shift careers into one more coding-based?
To my younger self, when I made them make a class for me in college to make a website, when you feel passionate about something, just go with it. It can be scary, but eventually, when you get older, you are going to go back to that passion and what drives you. I’d just say, “Follow your passion, Little Ashley. You will get there anyway.” For those who are getting into coding, I would say that you should jump in, get involved, and meet people. There are so many resources out there; look for those resources. I feel like my whole life changed when I got involved with Coding & Cocktails.

If you could tell the general public one thing about software engineers and what it means to write code, what would it be?
Computers can be pretty dumb. As a human, you really have to think about the program that you write. Computers just take the program that you wrote and make it work really fast. That was a big lightbulb moment for me.

How do you envision STEM evolving into our daily lives?
Technology is becoming more and more prevalent in every aspect of our lives. I think that it does make our lives easier, for sure; I only just see that getting more and more. From what I see right now, there are a lot of tech-focused jobs right now, and there is going to be such a huge demand for all of this. Education is extremely important for that. I think all of the programs, such as Coding & Cupcakes, are perfect for that.

-Adrianne DeWeese

Adrianne DeWeese is a Continuing Education Specialist with the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. A member of the KCWiT Marketing & Communications Committee since June 2016, she also enjoys pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and serving as board chairwoman of Pages & Chapters, a Kansas City- and Washington, D.C.-based family literacy nonprofit organization. Adrianne is married to John Leacox, a dedicated software engineer, and she believes in equal educational rights for everyone and hopes that sharing the stories within KCWiT will inspire others to also pursue their dreams.


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