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20 May 2021

An Interview with Andrea Delgado-Olson, #Tapia2021 Birds of a Feather Chair

Andrea Delgado Olson Photo

Andrea Delgado Olson is the 2021 CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Birds of a Feather Chair and the Founder and CEO of Native American Women in Computing and STEM.

Tell me what you are working on these days?

Next month it will be a year since I was furloughed due to the pandemic and then laid off in August.  At first, I was starting a consulting firm but I got so much traction in Native American Women in Computing that  I have incorporated the community and now we are known as Native American Women in Computing and STEM and I am the founder and CEO. I am also on the AISES Board of Directors and co-chair of the Education Committee and Chair of the Professional Development Committee. I’m starting with a clean slate and creating a new committee to engage with our Professional Development Chapters.  I’m revamping the committee structure, putting together a Professional Development Certification Workshop and working with the staff to put it on.  Lot of work and where I am going to tie in with my organization.  I am also on the board  of Indigesteam.ca.  

I have also been virtual  schooling my 9 year old daughter who is in the  3rd grade. I am launching a new company called  ZaaWink.com which automates temperature monitoring for businesses.  Temp agencies are currently filling jobs to take manual temperatures on everyone entering businesses.  All that information  is not being stored in a secure or structured way.  We are addressing this need with both hardware and software. We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign through PIcMii.com  that will offer equity in the company.  We’ll be announcing it on our website. 

What did you learn from last year’s virtual Tapia?

That being virtual can broaden an audience and make it more accessible.  But it can also highlight discrepancies and create a greater digital divide.  Access to technology is not equal.  

What impact has the Tapia Conference had on you?

Last year was my first Tapia conference. It is always scheduled  between AISES and the Grace Hopper Celebration  so I could never attend.  I heard so many phenomenal things about the conference, that’s why I got involved.  Birds of a Feather was community based and finding your community is very important to me.  It’s just what I do. I like making connections, I like to uplift someone else’s voice and give them a platform.  My goal is to amplify other voices – need more inspiration and people of color in the spotlight.

This year ‘s theme celebrates 20 years of Tapia.  What are you excited about?

I am excited for the programming. There are always great topics and inspirational speakers whether you are in person or not. There is always something to be learned and be inspired by.

What do you hope the next 20 years will bring for Diversity in Computing?

There is so much I hope for.  The stereotypes and romanticizing of being indigenous is becoming normalized. I need to keep reminding people we didn’t disappear.   I hide a logo from Jurassic Park in all of my presentations.  We are Miwok and my daughter always said that the way people spoke about us was like Jurassic Park, we were extinct but they brought us back.  Having people think that some sort of white savior brought back the Miwok people are the types of learnings that people need to unlearn and relearn the truth. I hope those narratives are changed with indigenous perspectives and voices. So much can be learned in tech and science – we are scientists and doctors and always have been and there is so much knowledge to be shared.