The Women in Tech Movement: Girls Who Code

The tech sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. This is because tech offers the chance to solve real-world problems and to innovate. For those who choose a career in tech, it is also an opportunity to leave poverty behind.

However, there is currently a massive divide in tech: the field is dominated by men, and women are still not even considering a career in tech.

The digital divide between those who have access to tech and those who don’t is brutal. Throughout the country, there are people who have extremely limited access to affordable internet and even to modern computers. Girls in this situation fail to develop the digital skills that their counterparts are acquiring at a young age.

There are many other problems such as bad connection with teachers and mentors due to low internet connection and its high cost, limited public transportation, and lack of courses with modern technology frameworks.

The women in tech movement aims to change that — by putting girls and women in center stage.

Girls Who Code was founded by Reshma Saujani in 2012 – teaching girls not only to code, but what resilience, bravery, and sisterhood is.

Women in Tech is another global movement supported by Google that gathers all people, networks, and organizations that are engaged in bridging the gender gap in the technology sector by Helping Women embrace Tech.

One such remarkable initiative was started by Dr. Yulia Ovchinnikova with Open Hub in the Hudson Valley area.

Who Is Yulia Ovchinnikova & what is OpenHub?

Yulia Ovchinnikova is a Russian-born American entrepreneur who is passionate about improving girls’ participation in tech. In addition to a master’s degree in computer science and applied mathematics, she has a PhD in economics. She was also one of the internet development leaders in Russia during the first decade of the 21st century. In fact, she was the first woman elected to the Russian Internet Council, through which she launched Cyrillic TLD and, most importantly, began addressing the digital divide.

Dr. Ovchinnikova’s unique educational background and work experience puts her in the perfect position to tackle the challenges women in tech face.

In 2014, Dr. Ovchinnikova followed love and relocated to Newburgh, New York. She was surprised to find many similarities between this region and Russia. Today, she still lives in the Hudson Valley, NY. Perhaps this move was fate, as it revealed to Dr. Ovchinnikova the challenges that those who live in rural America face. In particular, it highlighted to her why women and girls are underrepresented in tech.

Noticing all these problems, Dr. Ovchinnikova strove to bring a solution to the Hudson Valley. From this desire, Open Hub was born in 2017.

As a connector and entrepreneur, Dr. Ovchinnikova knows how to use technology to create opportunities and transform business. Open Hub is a community enterprise that uses a technology-driven economic development approach. By combining tech, entrepreneurship, and education, it has launched initiatives like #HudsonValleyCanCode and #HVTechFest. In addition, it has created numerous opportunities for collaboration. By matching professionals with young coders, participants are able to see their impact on real projects.

The Girls Who Code Program – Newburgh chapter

As well as being an infectious leader, Dr. Ovchinnikova is a role model for women in tech. To tackle the issue of bringing more women to the tech world, she launched a Girls Who Code program in Newburgh in 2019. This is just one of many ed-tech programs from Open Hub.

The Girls Who Code program started in conjunction with the first Hudson Valley TechFest and Youth Hackathon. This proved to be a game-changer for the region. The Newburgh girls who participated in the Hackathon developed a can-do attitude and a sisterhood along with their tech skills. They have passed on this spirit to subsequent cohorts, which has led the whole movement to go viral.

The Hackathon demonstrated that youth in the Hudson Valley is committed to solving civic problems in their area. Not only that: they have what it takes to face the challenges around employability and professional sustainability.

This has been an exciting discovery for everyone from the organizers to the young participants. They all realized that they’re aligned in the same dream of making the Hudson Valley a better place to live and work. It has also become clear that technology will be the practical tool they need to accomplish their goals.

2021 Newburgh Girls Program opens doors on February 22nd

The Girls Who Code club continues today with the 2021 Newburgh Girls program. Once again, the program will be a partnership with the Newburgh Public Library and Rowley Family Foundation and will receive support from other stakeholders, including global organizations like Google. The initiative has the same objectives as always — to create opportunities in tech for girls, to impart leadership skills, and to help develop a sisterhood of support.

Like years past, the program will have an impact on much more than just the girls themselves. The initiative affects families, neighborhoods, and the Hudson Valley region as a whole. After all, even the largest changes have to begin locally — and then they often spread far wider than anyone would have imagined.

Open Hub hopes to use the initiative this year to send the message that dreams can come true.

OpenHub Announces Three Winter Bootcamps

It’s been a long, challenging and quite unique year unlike no other, and for many, one filled with isolation, hopelessness and uncertainty. However, one common thread has surfaced among all those who have successfully navigated the new, world terrain: a willingness to be versatile and open to new opportunities and growth.

Hudson Valley based entrepreneur, Yulia Ovchinnikova, has long been aware of the dire need of acquiring strong skill sets, possessing constant flexibility and having the support of a sense of community as they relate to the job market, specifically the technology field. Even before the Pandemic set in, Ovchinnikova envisioned a thriving technology-driven economy right here in the Hudson Valley. That exciting reality included like-minded individuals, businesses and stakeholders who fused together, promoting, training and guiding one another in mutually benefitting ways, ultimately creating a booming technology “hub.”

The OpenHub eventually evolved, and has already soared in just four years. In October, 2019 technology professionals gathered for a large, productive conference; another is scheduled for the spring of 2021. There have also been two tremendously successful Hackathons over the past two years, presenting stimulating and unforgettable opportunities for creative collaboration and even prizes. Perhaps, at the epicenter of it all is the potent education piece: Bootcamp offerings.

Over the last four years, 50+ students have taken advantage of the ONLY of their kind Bootcamp offerings in the Hudson Valley in specialty areas of: Web Development and IT Support. Each one lasting 6 months, costing less than $3,000, taught by professionals actively in the field, and carrying the promise of securing a job in that area of expertise. Options are also available to take just one course for the very reasonable price tag of $500. Regardless of which course you select, you will become empowered with current technology skills delivered by top professionals in their field and have the authentic opportunity to network with like-minded people, while developing hands-on skills that can directly translate to infinite job opportunities. 

Foundations of Information Technology

Second week of January 2021 we are launching the Foundations of Information Technology course with Orange Ulster BOCES! This course is an Introduction to Digital Skills, IT Support, and Web Development, all together – 300 Hours total (60 Sessions).

If you have no idea what tech can do for you or what you can do in tech / with tech, then the Foundations of Information Technology might be the best for you as an exploration while getting the employable skills!

This program is designed to provide students with the foundational skills necessary for various entry-level roles in IT Support and Web Development. Whether that is doing in-person or remote work, at a small company or a large enterprise organization, nearly every company whose employees use computers have a need for IT support professionals and web developers.
This course will begin by teaching students’ important prerequisite digital competencies to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the skills needed to complete the course and prepare for employment. From there students will go through both an IT Support and a Web Development module, meant to give students skills and exposure to a wide variety of career pathways in the tech field. Upon completion of the course, students will have the option to share their information with top employers hiring entry-level IT and web development professionals.

Topics covered in this course include the Google suite, digital resume building, effective IT job searching, Technical Support Fundamentals (Google certification), and Web Development fundamentals including learning how to use HTML5 and CSS.
Do you have a digital resume? Would you like to have one? 🙂

IT Support Certificate

Certified by Google, who works alongside a non-profit organization, and carrying the added plus of a professional certificate upon completion, IT Support Courses are slated to start in the second week of January, 2021. Produced by Google and taught by OpenHub, this Bootcamp requires no background knowledge, and can result in an assortment of innovative and integral job pathways. Running 30 weeks, it costs $2,495.00, and has the potential to reap countless dividends.

Web Development 

Also run by OpenHub and in collaboration with SUNY Ulster in Kingston is the Web Development Bootcamp which is set to kick off in the third week of January, 2021. The only one of its kind in the Hudson Valley, this Bootcamp revolves around a curriculum that is laden with in-demand skills and is rooted upon best, most current and applicable business practices. There are a total of 6 course offerings, each which can be taken separately. No prior experience is needed, and all of the instructors are Hudson-Valley based and professionals in the Web Development field. Running 27 weeks, this exciting, very relevant Bootcamp’s tuition is $2,954.

Data Analysis

Finally, the Data Analytics Bootcamp is being offered. Led by esteemed professor Cynthia V.Marcello who teaches at two major universities, this learning opportunity is extremely intense and hands-on, resulting in priceless job skills employees in the field are seeking. Running 27 weeks, this popular Bootcamp includes a three hour weekly lecture and carries a cost of $2,950. In addition to the classes for individuals, there is also an option catering to small businesses, aimed at analyzing date to inform decision-making, answering such queries as how to get there and where to start. Tallying a total of 9 hours, it costs just $250.

Whatever Bootcamp you select, you are guaranteed to be equipped with an expansive, extremely applicable new skill set delivered by top-notch instructors. Further, upon completing any one of these unique learning opportunities, you will not only have a new arsenal of highly marketable, in-demand abilities, but the authentic opportunity to share ideas and visions with others in your selected field, growing both professionally and personally, while potentially being able to give back to the increasingly expanding technology economy right here in the Hudson Valley.
To sign up for one of these truly one-of-a-kind, inspiring educational opportunities inquire with selected Bootcamp Link:

Open Hub Hackathon Attracts Wide Range of Backgrounds, Talents and Visionaries, United by Shared Passion

Say the word “techie” and most are likely to quickly conjure up an image of an individual possessing elusive, innate technological skills that consume that person’s life. A further vision of one of these prototypes includes someone who has always known exactly what he or she wanted to do because of this unwavering passion, reserved to a few elite: The math and science types, those logical ones, and oh yes, the linear personalities. Think again!

Participants in October, 2020’s latest Hudson Valley’s Open Hub Hackathon showed first-hand, “Zoom style,” just how far off those antiquated, oftentimes derogatory, and confining stereotypes, are. Hailing from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, personalities, and aspirations, each of the participants carries an intriguing flair of authenticity, creativity and energy that is slowly redefining what it means to be a person involved in technology in today’s dynamic, quickly evolving world. They further exemplify how technology is drastically changing people’s lives by its enriching, empowering rewards, available to ALL people.

Meet Dana McMullen. Her journey is woven with flexibility, determination, an altruistic spirit and some recurring doses of fate. It begins in high school, where although she excelled in math and science, technological interest and aspirations were the furthest things from her desire to become a female rapper, along with entertainment icon. You can find traces of that talent on YouTube where she and some friends have a popular gig analogous to Salt-N-Pepa which had an impressive number of views; however not enough to generate a steady income. So, off to college she went, where a major in sociology was not a revenue wielding career path either. The panacea to her job future came when she decided to take a Computer Information Systems Class. While working at Syracuse University, fate entered her life when a colleague tipped her off to a job opening in her field of study. Before long, she was fully immersed in and passionate about her new love: an Adaptive Technology Instructor for the blind. Realizing the positive difference being able to use technology can make in changing lives, she thoroughly enjoyed this position, which also included modifying technology for others with disabilities, for close to 10 years. However, when a loved one became ill, she had to make caretaking her new priority. When returning almost a decade later to the technology field, she faced an unsettling reality of how fast it had evolved and just how unprepared she suddenly was. Enter fate number two: a Coding and Programming free Bootcamp through HackUpState opportunity was available. Although extremely demanding, the course resulted in her present position as a Web Developer Manager, who also educates others to learn the very technological skills that positively altered her life. Reflecting back on how far she has come since her days of wanting to be a singing sensation, Dana cannot be more grateful where she has landed. “Technology helps other people’s lives so much,” she stressed. “After all, if we can’t do it for that purpose, what’s the point?”

Another self-proclaimed “non-techie,” who stumbled upon the medium as a way to connect with and make learning meaningful to children, is educator Sonya Abbye Taylor. Initially using it-along with music and theatre- way back in the day to make filmstrips with students, Sonya immediately saw the huge, transforming impact it can have in most all realms of learning. As an administrator she went on to encourage her teachers to attend workshops and integrate technology as much as possible, realizing its profound enriching capability. “I truly value it,” affirmed Sonya about technology. “However, I’m still not a techie.” Presently teaching on the collegiate level, the lifelong educator specializes in teaching technology to students facing communication disorders, opening up a whole new world for them.
“Some of the services available to these students make change and going to places we never thought possible become possible,” said Sonya. “Technology can change the world, and we need to have the visionaries around who can see and make that happen.”

One of those visionary types of people is Stephen Shaffer, another Open Hub Hackathon participant who entered the world of technology in a non-traditional manner. A business major who went on to earn his MBA, Stephen has never taken a formal technology class. However, he has always possessed a very logical mind, one that has consistently queried about what can get him to an end result. Oftentimes the most expedient way is using technology, something he views as multifaceted as well as imperative to keep up with its constantly evolving changes. With a Hackathon victory to his credit, he revels in the “fun” nature they provide, something he likes to refer to as his “play time.” Attracted to the experimental appeal of Hackathons as well as the exploratory allure of technology in general, Steven wants to spend as much of his limited free time as possible continuing to engage in this wonderful “adult play time.”

Shannah White is quick to describe herself-even to this day- as more of the hippie type than a techie. Regardless, the entrepreneur found herself on the technology path for the problem-solving high she got from the immediate and tangible art of coding. A self-taught web developer, who started on a small scale, Shannah has slowly honed her abilities while staying true to her chief priority: self-reliance. Intent on avoiding the confinements of the “cooperate mold, 9–5” she worked arduously to develop her now thriving freelance website developer business. Discovering Open Hub was yet another game-changing moment in her career. Viewing the Hub as the ideal “marriage between uplifting the community and developing skills,” Shannah has joined the Hudson Valley innovative technology team as a Web Development Bootcamp instructor, who stresses real life projects, requiring creativity and critical thinking.

Not only did many of the 2020 HVTechFest Hackathon participants not fit into the traditional “techie” boxes of having a lifetime love affair with technology or even entering the field with a solid skill set, but several proved age need not be a variable. Anna Patel, now 11 years old, started to develop an interest in coding in fourth grade. Beginning with Basic Java, the pre-teen was immediately hooked, enjoying the challenge tremendously while prompted to explore more and more. Her quest led her to joining the Newburgh Girls Coding Club this past spring and summer, where her tech calling was further secured. Recently a participant in her first Hackathon in October, Anna earned the respect of the judges for both her positive attitude as well as impressive coding skill set. Now further inspired, she enrolled in Open Hub’s Web Development Bootcamp. Her present goal is to learn integral real world skills as well as critical other ones to develop professional websites. In just fifth grade now, Anna possesses unlimited, untapped potential and plenty of time to acquire priceless more skills as well as hone those she already possesses, allowing her to contribute to the field of technology in countless, exciting ways. This is just the beginning.

It’s also a new start for another youth Hackathon participant, Taylor Dinardo, a senior at SUNY New Paltz. Initially a Linguistics Major, Taylor “never, ever” thought of herself as a techie. However, one day she was posed with “a techie barometer test:” How would you tell a robot to transfer a cup of water from one hand to another? Providing a super detailed reply, Taylor also revealed her keen ability to think logically. This revelation led to her signing up for an accelerated Computer Science Master’s Program; she then went on to contribute her knowledge to younger females intrigued by technology, working this past summer as an instructor for the 180 member, country-wide “Girls Who Code,” a life-transforming experience.
“It was very reformative for me,” reflected Taylor about her teaching role. “It was an opportunity I wish was available when I was younger, so now, I want to pass on to others what I have learned.”

For still others, technology represents sheer survival, a precious pathway whose doors can invite in all kinds of possibilities. Meet Ludmila Smirnova, a professor at Mount Saint Mary College. Twenty years ago, the educator came to an awakening that technology truly is the future. It is a tool that can allow anyone in any field, including teaching to excel. With this epiphany, Ludmila relentlessly studied-day and night- all the ins and out of technology, developing a love for a field once completely foreign to her. Attempting to share that passion with her students, she ran up against a brick wall of resistance. Then, everything changed when COVID struck. Suddenly, all of her students took on roles of explorers, their creative juices organically growing; Ludmila embraced this opportunity, creating a “very creative and interactive syllabus.” Building a community through Triple Echo, the professor also had her students introduce their future selves using Flipgrid, a device that immediately attracted her charges for its engaging as well as empowering appeals. Suddenly, all were on board with the potent-dynamic and far-reaching- effects technology can have, especially on learning. “We need to teach students to be global citizens, who are not afraid of using technology, but rather than just using it, they are actually the curators of it,” affirmed Ludmila, who is a firm believer in the shared and motivating components of technology and how they can help shape as well as change the future.

Finally, there are those “techie types” like Max Pavlov; they are the ones who love to create things, seeing a product develop through each phase. Like so many others, Max’ initiation into the tech field was unique and non-linear. His first job was far removed from computers, in carpentry. However, the Pandemic, as it did with multiple thriving fields, put a slow halt on the construction industry. Max, not one to slow down, changed gears and enrolled in a Web Development Bootcamp, providing him with just enough of a baseline to create his own web projects. Pursuing this emerging passion, he learned both Cloud and AWS deployment. In fact, before he even had the chance to complete his own project, he was offered a job requiring the exact new skills he had recently acquired. Technology has been a sheer blessing to the once carpenter turned “techie,” who sees multiple commonalities between the two careers. “Both allow you to create what you want,” pointed out Max. “The only difference is there is no material cost in the programming; you have access to everything.”

Each of these HVTechFest Hackathon participants clearly reveals the changing face of those entering and passionately excelling in technology. There is no longer a specific gender, age, location, background or even innate skill set needed; rather all that is required is a curious mind, one that enjoys problem solving, creating and is intrigued by a rapidly developing field that has and continues to make positive, life-lasting changes in those it touches. Ultimately, it’s for everyone… what extent is totally up to you!
See it live on YouTube

Yulia Ovchinnikova to the web-development, coding & computing mailing list “Hudson Valley Can Code”

Learning schedule for 2019 starts Thursday, January 26th!

Hello fellow Coders!

Thank you for being a part of Hudson Valley coding co-learning & co-working group. We love connecting people in tech, we can learn from each other and build amazing things together. We believe that community development setup and collaborative approach will change the way Hudson Valley use digital technology.

Here is what we prepared for 2019:

Our 3rd Web Development Bootcamp at SUNY Ulster is continuing with JavaScript/jQuerry course (starting 2/14th) and SEO course (starting 3/21st). These courses can be taken as stand alone courses, although JavaScript has a prerequisite with HTML & CSS knowledge.

Fast Track Web Development Bootcamp 4 registration is open for this spring. Information sessions are scheduled for Wednesdays, 1/30th and 2/6th at 6:30pm, at SUNY Ulster Kingston campus. Spring semester includes three courses that focused on giving people the edge on the web development:

  • Web Dev I: Website construction principles. 5 Mondays 6-9pm, 2/18 – 3/18
  • Web Dev II: Multipage websites CSS strategies, 5 Mondays 6-9pm, 4/1 – 29
  • Web Dev III: Building blocks of dynamic websites. 5 Mondays 6-9pm, 5/6 – 6/10

We are excited to work with the best local professionals and mentors to bring you the cutting edge technologies and the best practices of using it. Together we are planning the following  specialty courses:

A. general public topics like:

  1. How to build WordPress website for my business – A-B-C series – 3 classes 2 hours each. April.
  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 101– What you need to get started – 3 hr class.
  3. How to build your first E-mail marketing campaign – 3 hr class (TBA)
  4. Optimizing your Instagram for business – 3 hr class (TBA)
  5. Video and podcast production – 2 hrs class (TBA)

B. More tech specific topics like:

  1. Digital Ocean as #1 cloud provider: What, Why and How. Learn first hand from local DO developer Sean Swehla. Don’t miss the chance: This Thursday January 24th at Grit Works. Donations of $10 will be appreciated to pay the space.
  2. Intro to Object Oriented Programming / CS – A-B-C series – 3 classes 2 hours each –  tentatively scheduled for March
  3. Intro to Python (specific scripting language, mostly used for back-end or for Data Science projects – A-B-C series – 3 classes 2 hours each. We hope to run it February
  4. Intro to Databases – A-B-C series – 3 classes 2 hours each. Tentatively scheduled for May
  5. Intro to Cyber Security and Certifications – 2 hrs class (TBA)

Coding Clubs will continue at Newburgh Free Library first Mondays of the month starting February 4th.

If you’re interested in presenting, teaching or mentoring, we are open for your suggestions.
If you have a challenge to solve – bring it to the Coding Club, meet other coders through the project hours. Let’s discuss what you want to learn, do, build. Let me know what you would like to get out of this group so I can best guide you to courses, meetups, activities. You can reply here OR e-mail me directly at

I want to take a moment to reflect on the work we’ve done at the Open Hub Project – much of it with your help.
In 2018 we accomplished:
Coding group and community is growing. We are 436 active developers, and more importantly interested to collaborate and co-learn. It is exciting to find how much knowledge we have here in Hudson Valley. It is amazing to see how many group members are willing to help each other. #HudsonValleyCanCode, and it is proven!
Two more cohorts successfully finished Web Development Bootcamp we delivered through SUNY Ulster. So happy to see people successfully using what they’ve learned!
Newburgh Free Library is a great host to run diversified introductory classes in technology. Looking back I am impressed to see how much we did. I am happy that all these courses initiated a great collaboration projects to follow!
⦁ Intro to Web Development – A-B-C series – with Dmitry Pavlov, Mark Tourtellott and Jeff Dederick.
⦁ Intro to App Development – with Tyler Walker
⦁ Intro to Javascript – A-B-C series – with Scott Lydiard
⦁ Intro to PHP / WordPress back-end – A-B-C series – with Tom Morel
⦁ Intro to UI/UX – A-B-C series with Maria Reyf
⦁ Planning your website: what are the metrics of success – with Yulia Ovchinnikova
We started monthly Coding Club. It was a really great experience with so much knowledge to exchange, and so much of co-learning! We met ten times, first Mondays of the month March to December to discuss cutting edge technologies and to brainstorm tech challenges, helping each other to learn and build. new projects.
We started with React / React Native study jam. It turned into weekly Project hours Sunday mornings.
I would love to thank you all for joining the group! Thank you for your support and mentoring, sharing the experience and spreading the word!
Our mission is bringing people together around technology, creating an environment where people learn and work together benefiting from and inspired by technology and collaboration.
We are just at the beginning of HudsonValleyCanCode movement. Let’s share the journey.
Thank you for being a part of it. Welcome to Open Hub Project world.