As the Seasons Change, Our Leaders Look Ahead
Original post published here.
This fall has certainly served as a reminder that there may be no place on earth more beautiful than the Pacific Northwest — and nowhere was this more evident than the Women Who Code Portland’s recent leadership weekend retreat. As the landscape turned to gorgeous hues of gold and russet in the Hood River Valley, the leadership team came together to celebrate accomplishments and plan for the year ahead.
Activities kicked off on Friday evening with the first of many team-prepared meals — the first was a festive taco and fajitas dinner compliments of Alex Altieri and Caterina Paun.
Following dinner, the group shared our journeys into tech, which was amazing. The drawings ranged from fairly simple to true works of art! Most poignant were the diverse individuals that the Women Who Code Portland has brought together, each with different experiences, backgrounds, skill sets and stories. The many activities we participated in over the weekend highlighted — and continually reinforced — the strength this diversity provides to the organization. Likewise, it was wonderful to see what a significant role the organization has played in so many individual lives and careers.
We were so lucky to do this all at an amazing house generously sponsored by Vacasa, a local company whose mission is to make the world of vacation rentals a simple, stress-free experience for both owners and guests. This home provided an ideal space to facilitate productive planning discussions and share unforgettable memories.
We awoke Saturday morning to a delicious breakfast thanks to Miki Demeter, Gracie Lundell and Sharlee Bryan, which gave us a great start to a fun and highly productive day!
After breakfast, we celebrated #ApplaudHer accomplishments, both professional and personal, by writing our past year’s accomplishments on post-its and presenting them.
As we learned, for many of us, these can be moments of true growth in leadership, as often we don’t feel comfortable talking about ourselves! But after having shared our journeys into tech the night before, it was wonderful to get to know each other even better.
This exercise underscored one of the global Women Who Code’s commitments to celebrating its members and their accomplishments. Locally, members are encouraged to share their successes throughout the year in a monthly newsletter and in our Slack channel, celebrating those who have received promotions, started new jobs, spoken at conferences, written blog posts, and reached other milestones. As our leaders become more comfortable speaking about their achievements, we hope to inspire members to share their successes.
Directors Caterina Paun and Richa Khandelwal then led the group through the objectives the leadership team had drafted for the coming year.
Then, we each considered the unique leadership qualities we bring to the team, which leadership skills we’d like to strengthen, and tangible ways to do so, in support of the leadership team’s objectives. Each of us drafted and shared 3–4 tangible actions and results, and selected an “accountability buddy” to follow up with and ensure progress through the coming year. It was great to see such thoughtfulness and dedication!
One of the most energizing parts of the day was a round table discussion activity, using an “unconference” format. We discussed various topics, including accessibility and inclusion of women. It was fantastic to see such lively discussions around each. Ultimately, we identified an action item in response to the discussions that will be made a part of the group’s 2019 plan.
After a full day of activities, brainstorming and planning, we enjoyed a great team dinner at China Gorge, and then returned to our Vacasa home for an evening of relaxation — hot tubbing, baking cookies, reading books, applying mud masks, and more. You know you’re among friends if you can let down your hair and walk around with a foaming mud mask covering your face!
We rounded out the weekend on Sunday morning with a pancake breakfast, complete with muffins and fruit, ala Margaret Berry and Nicole Huesman. We had a wonderful time at our palatial homestead in Hood River among the changing colors.
Thank you so much to Vacasa for sponsoring this enriching weekend for the Women Who Code Portland team! It gave us an amazing opportunity to connect, appreciate our unique gifts and those of our teammates, and build a plan that enables us to apply these gifts to continue to build a richer tech community in Portland and help support women in tech in the year ahead.