Break Through Tech recently announced that Donna White will lead its DC site. Above all, Break Through Tech is a national initiative that aims to achieve gender equality in tech. Earlier this year, Break Through Tech expanded to the DC metro area. Specifically, its goal is to propel more women and underrepresented groups into tech education, careers and leadership. Break Through Tech works in partnership with George Mason University and the University of Maryland, College Park.
A champion for women in tech
White officially started as director of Break Through Tech DC on May 25, 2021. She brings more than two decades of experience leading initiatives that focus on women and girls. Her work particularly emphasizes introducing tech tools in classrooms to create a more engaging, inclusive and individualized learning experience. Her skills additionally include scaling programs, developing curricula and nurturing talent.
“Donna has successfully overseen tech education programs and built relationships with industry partners throughout the country to expand opportunities for young women in tech,” said Debbie Marcus, senior director of Break Through Tech. “I am excited for her to work with the exceptional teams at both George Mason University and the University of Maryland to build deep cross-university partnerships, reinforce the universities’ connection to the local tech ecosystem and inspire more women to study computing and enter tech careers.”
On a mission to empower women in tech
White will play a critical role in developing the growth strategy for Break Through Tech programs at Mason and UMD. She will also lead the execution of these programs and serve as the public spokesperson for the DC initiative. Furthermore, her work will focus on developing and deepening Break Through Tech’s relationships with corporate and academic partners and volunteers.
“Break Through Tech is a crucial step in increasing opportunities for women earning computer science degrees and their future positions as leaders,” White said. “I firmly believe diversity is critical to ensuring equity in the tech field from entry-level developers to creating decision-makers as senior leadership, founders and investors.”
White comes to Break Through Tech from Black Girls CODE. Black Girls CODE is a nonprofit that works to increase the number of women of color in the digital space. While there, she served as regional program director. Prior to Black Girls CODE, White worked in education and youth leadership development with the AnBryce Foundation.
“Intentionally creating meaningful opportunities has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of my approach in driving effective programs,” White said. “I’ve spent my career working to ensure students from varied backgrounds have the level of accessibility that promotes change, not just checks a box. Young people who understand and know early in their education journey that they are valued and their experience is appreciated and supported seem to have better outcomes.”
About Break Through Tech
Launched at Cornell Tech, with support from Pivotal Ventures, Cognizant U.S. Foundation and Verizon, Break Through Tech provides curriculum innovation, career access and community building for women in tech. The program originated in 2016 as a program called Women in Technology & Entrepreneurship New York (WiTNY). It was created at Cornell Tech in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY) and a broad set of industry partners. Now, Break Through Tech is replicating the highly effective ecosystem model originated in New York City. It aims to increase women’s representation in computing graduates across the United States. To date, the program is in New York City, Chicago and the DC Metro Area.
About Cornell Tech
Cornell Tech is Cornell University’s groundbreaking campus for technology research and education on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Our faculty, students and industry partners work together in an ultra-collaborative environment. They push inquiry further and develop meaningful technologies for a digital society. Cornell Tech was founded in partnership with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the City of New York. It achieves global reach and local impact, extending Cornell University’s long history of leading innovation in computer science and engineering.
About George Mason University
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest and most diverse public research university. Located near Washington, DC, Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. For more information, visit gmu.edu.
About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state’s flagship university and one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit umd.edu.
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