In September of last year, a chance meeting with Christina Lewis Halpern changed my life. Christina was just about to publicly launch All Star Code. She was looking for someone to help run her new non-profit’s first event, to be held at Spotify’s headquarters a week later. In talking with her, I felt inspired by her passion, chutzpah, and big picture thinking. So, I dove in.
We met every day that week leading up to the event. And upon successfully wrapping All Star Code’s first workshop, she casually said to me with a smile, “You’re coming back Monday, right?”
I wasn’t lying about the chutzpah.
Of course I came back the following Monday. And here I am now – 4 workshops, 2 fundraisers, 1 benefit, 6 Summer Intensive weeks and 14 months of Mondays later.
In just one year, All Star Code has worked with more than 100 students from 8 different states and 56 different schools. We’ve recruited top industry professionals as teachers and mentors, and built a program that is so unique, so impactful, and so timely that I constantly find myself talking about the kinds of future leaders our All Stars are destined to become.
As the Director of Marketing and Events, I am highly attuned to the narratives that weave in and out of All Star Code. I often tell friends stories about the All Star student who shadowed me when I photographed a website building workshop. He then built an incredible website not only to showcase his own photography, but to get hired out as an event photographer himself. Or I speak of the two All Stars who created an interactive game that was such a hit at our Summer Benefit in July that the head of a museum invited them to showcase it at HIS event. More recently, I tell everyone about the All Star who came into the Summer Intensive with no prior coding experience, only to build a company with his cohorts that hosted a better-attended hackathon than our own. Christina’s chutzpah is clearly contagious.
Christina often tells anyone involved with All Star Code to “live the mission.” For me, that includes helping build an ecosystem of education and access for our All Stars, through both professional and personal resources.
When we were looking at different tech companies to host field trips for the Summer Intensive, I called my brother’s girlfriend, who works at LinkedIn. I asked her to help me plan a day-long workshop that included student pitch sessions, profile building, and a hike to the top of the Empire State Building (where LinkedIn’s New York offices are headquartered). When we hosted a fundraiser in my hometown of San Francisco, I called upon a high school friend and winery owner to donate cases of wine to the event. When we needed assistant event managers at the Summer Benefit, I called upon three colleagues who had assisted me previously on other non-profit events. And when one of their boyfriends, a computer programmer, found out about her involvement with All Star Code, he rang me up the next day with a mixture of excitement and jealousy and asked how he too could get involved. And so he became a mentor at our last Design A Startup In A Day workshop hosted by Google. I live the mission by recruiting talent and building out our ecosystem because I believe in these boys and their potential to change the world.
Our ecosystem is expanding every day. If you are reading this now, then you are already a part of it. So I ask you, how will YOU live the mission? Will you volunteer or mentor at a workshop? Will you co-host a fundraiser? Or will you do something as easy as share our newsworthy updates on social media? All such efforts carry our movement forward. We are all committed to changing the lives of our All Stars. What may surprise you is that because of your involvement with All Star Code, your life could very easily change as well.