Community Voices

Connecting Community in the Midwest

In our efforts to highlight Voices of the Community, we are proud to feature two of our Midwest Community Leaders, Cecilia (Ceci) Fischer-Benitez and Teodora (Dora) Szasz. They both joined our HiredNow event, supporting the tech community in the Midwest on Friday, July 17th.

Ceci learned about our Chicago local community back in 2018, when she attended her first event, Intro to SQL.

“ I’d been looking at learning a new skill and that came up on my radar so I decided to check it out. Later that year, I ended up going to Grace Hopper Celebration for the very first time and loved every minute of it. It was such an inspiring event and I was empowered to get more involved in this community and see if there were opportunities to volunteer with my local community. Then to my surprise in January 2019, the leader of Chicago at that time was transitioning off her role, and there was an opportunity to join and rebuild the team in Chicago, so I went through the onboarding process and became one of the Chicago leaders.”

Teodora joined the local community in 2018 as well, after moving to Chicago a couple of years earlier.

“Ceci was very kind to introduce me to the team and to opportunities for volunteering inside the community. This year, I co-organized Covid-19 Epidemic Data Visualization Workshop on May 20th. Also, I interacted and got to know other AnitaB community leaders. I am looking forward to learning more about and contributing to our wonderful community.”

While the pandemic has impacted their momentum with in-person events, together they are working to organize more online events, reaching out to women in tech that need mentorship and guidance.

“After the workshop that we organized in May, there were many people reaching out for support with their projects. We are providing them mentorship through video calls and chats.”

Being a part of this community has empowered them in meaningful ways.

Dora describes the AnitaB.org community as, “a place where we can dream big. The energy around Grace Hopper Celebration and the other events that we organize is one that I didn’t see in other communities so far: is energizing, motivating, supporting. I learned from AnitaB.org that I am ENOUGH and I can trust my abilities of learner and teacher. And I learned that I am not alone – it is very easy to reach anyone in the group and they were just so supportive and patient with my questions.”

Ceci shares how being a leader of our local community helps her create authentic opportunities to connect.

“Since I began my own journey in tech I wanted spaces like these to be able to ask questions, to have introductory workshops, to connect with other women in my city that were doing similar things. It has been a great resource for me, I feel supported and at the same time I feel like I am also giving back and doing my part to help someone that is looking to get in the industry.”

AnitaB.org is grateful for the many talented women, such as Ceci and Dora, who power our communities around the world. They are looking for folks to get involved in Chicago as volunteers, and invite folks to join the community in Mobilize. If you’re part of a company who’d like to partner and/or participate in an upcoming event, please reach out at chicago@communityanitab.org.