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About GOKiC

Inclusive. Authentic. Technical.

It’s who we are. GOKiC started in 2016 in Seattle when a group of friends saw an opportunity to strengthen their communities and impact children’s lives. We believe engineering education can help kids of color reach their full potential. We use integrated curriculums that teach computer science and robotics alongside gender and racial equality. We are driven to close the digital literacy gap through intersectional STEM education. 

Strategic Plan

Vision

We work towards the liberation of BIPOC youth from systemic racism and sexism so they can live, love, and enjoy life as they please and stay in balance with the world.

Mission

Our mission is the liberation of BIPOC youth through technology and mentorship, by developing decolonized tech education programs to nurture community leaders of change.

Values

We intentionally work to:

  • Center BIPOC cultures and communities

  • Foster long-lasting relationships

  • Utilize a decolonized approach

  • Use Danza as a framework

  • Create innovative tech education to support problem-solving

  • Design for equitable experiences

  • Seek out and implement youths' and elders' ideas

Meet the Team

The majority of the GOKiC teaching and volunteer staff look like the students we teach. This allows us to connect with the kids in our programs more easily and authentically, and it’s another part of what makes our programming different.

Leading our efforts is a board helmed by People of Color. Our leadership brings diversity of thought and experience to our organization. We are proud to have Women of Color, members of the LGBTQ community, first generation immigrants and youth, students, and college graduates on our team.

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Founders and Board Members

Pedro Perez

Executive Director

As a critical race theorist, Pedro intersects his technical skills with anti-racist and anti-sexist theory, and builds new tech ed curriculums for kids. His family ties are from Texas, Tepehuanes in Durango, Mexico and Yakima, Washington. He is also a cultural bearer of indigenous two-spirit folk dance and knowledge that he shares with his community.

Felip Ballestero

Board Member

Felip works in the space between marketing, tech, and social justice, serving as a strategist for a multicultural marketing firm in Chicago - Purple Group. He’s a global street food connoisseur and a Pokémon Go Level 40 Trainer. Son of a Mexican, labor activist, he sees geeking out on tech as a form of economic and creative protest. Best way to cut a mango: Bite it. Skin and all.

Fernando Sanchez

Board President

A proud immigrant from Monterrey, México and coding activist, Fernando is passionate about intersecting computer science and social justice. He is currently a Principal engineer manager at Microsoft building technology in the cloud. He also believes in the power of tech for good and during his free time he is finding ways to use Artificial Intelligence to fight racism and sexism.

Janell Jordan

Board Member

Janell is driven by their background in youth development work and believes in the essential need of fostering healing spaces for people to build connection, emotional intelligence, and social awareness. Skilled in the research and facilitation of trauma-informed competency workshops through a critical race theory lens, Janell is passionate about nurturing spaces of equity within systems and empowering marginalized voices.

Priscila Angula

Board Member

I am code enthusiast, passionate about the theory behind software engineer. I believe in education as a means to improve life quality. Some facts about myself: I'm Mexican, I have a PhD in Computer Science, work for Microsoft. I love volunteering.

Wendy Roldan

Board Member

Wendy is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington where she studies how youth search and broker for information in the home and ways to make human computer interaction education more equitable. Her areas of expertise are co-design, funds of knowledge perspectives, and reflection. She consistently looks for ways to give back to her communities in Chicago. Wendy loves running, eating Talenti ice cream, and going to the top of mountains.

Education & Curriculum

Sam Gil Vargas

Education Manager

Sam’s work is focused on providing spaces where youth can explore the power of coding and technology but also critically analyze the effects it can have without their communities. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington. With the expertise her degree provided, she creates curriculum with a focus on providing more youth led spaces for transgression and self autonomy outside of existing oppressive systems. She was born in Mexico City but calls Yakima home. Some things Sam loves are dogs, plants, running, anime, and spending time creating playlists on Spotify.

Eloisa Aguirre

Lead Educator

Eloisa recently moved to Washington after graduating from the University of Texas Dallas. Though she officially studied in the Business School at her university, she was much more involved with the Philosophy department. During her years at UTD, she became the first female president of the Philosophy Club, created and led the first Philosophy Undergraduate Conference, and co-founded the Philosophy Circle project. She holds her Philosophy Circle very close to her heart, since it became a growing project that allowed her and her college friends to bring their favorite philosophy texts to the homeless community in Dallas. Through this project she learned how to build bridges between her two distant communities: the academic community and the homeless community. Her mission is to bring back as many resources to communities that have suffered from systemic oppression (specifically the BIPOC community). Her preferred method of eating mangoes is always the messiest one—no knives.

Mekedes Dejenie

Software Engineer Educator

Mekedes is currently an undergraduate at the University of Washington studying computer science. She is a first-generation, low-income college student who is passionate about technology, innovation, programming, education, and social justice. At GOKiC, she gets to fulfill her passions through building curricula that teach youth both the fundamentals of programming and social justice. Also, she develops, improves, and uses her existing programming skills by contributing to AllyUp and developing Roblox games for the youth. Moreover, Mekedes wants to be a role model to her community and the students she teaches because she wants them to be empowered to explore tech and fulfill their passions. Mekedes enjoys watching youtube videos, coding, taking long walks to the lake with her family, cooking, sweets, and bubble tea.

Cherise Holmes

Software Engineer Lead Educator

Cherise joined the GOKiC team to serve as a Lead Tech Instructor. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a minor in Sociology - a direct reflection of her love of technology and people. After seeing first-hand the exclusion and mistreatment of marginalized communities in the tech industry, Cherise became especially passionate about social justice, healthy work cultures within capitalism, and multiculturalism. In her free time, you can probably find Cherise roller skating, making digital art pieces, or curled up with her cat Jazz.

Michelle Urrea

Software Engineer Educator

Michelle is a strong believer in the power of education, teaching holistically through critical pedagogy. Using her expertise in computer science, Michelle passes on her knowledge to the communities she works with so that her students can create their own narratives in tech. Michelle’s students range from elementary school to adults. Oftentimes, working with Latino communities, Michelle teaches in Spanish, Spanglish, and English. While Michelle’s roots are from Sinaloa and Durango Mexico, she was born and raised in the Central District of Seattle, Washington. Michelle loves to spend time outdoors whether that is going on long walks or week long backpacking trips, or rowing in the lake. She also enjoys writing in her journal. Mangos and tamales de mole are her absolute favorites!

Aline Aguirre

Lead Educator

With a background in Psychology and Child Learning, Aline is an Education Assistant at Geeking Out Kids of Color. She is a proud immigrant from Mexico and carries with her the Texan community that welcomed her 8 years ago. Her experiences after graduating from the University of Texas at Dallas have fueled her search for ways to dismantle systems of oppression through an intersectional lens. Having worked with latinx and BIPOC youth and adults, Aline is on a mission to make learning and education more accessible for marginalized groups. She believes in the power of community as a way to revolt and make spaces more welcoming for all. She also loves learning for the sake of learning and is always open to share with others what she finds. Her hobbies include listening to podcasts galore, watching and critiquing all kinds of media, and reading books out loud in her mother language, Spanish, when she is alone.

Milo Jackson

Lead Educator

Milo joins the GOKiC team as a Lead Tech Instructor after 5 years as a youth facilitator and teaching artist. Coming from a unique filmmaking and food justice background, Milo believes wholeheartedly in the power of storytelling and knowing your roots. Constantly in awe of the power of youth imagination, Milo strives to create spaces for young people to envision the world they want to see. At GOKiC, that means taking it one step further and actually building that world. Raised in a mixed Black and Filipino home, the joy of family and food is something that Milo holds very dear to them. In their free time, they are passionate about planning their spring garden and caring for plants both inside and out, spending time with their black lab named Honey, and making extra food to share with queer fam + friends.

Sarah Khan

Lead Educator

As a lead instructor of GOKiC, Sarah is passionate about amplifying the voices of students from targeted communities in the classroom and beyond. Sarah is the eldest daughter of Pakistani immigrants. As a Pakistani-American Muslim herself, she believes in the importance of recognizing students’ identities, actively combatting ongoing and historical injustices, and working towards a world where each person is affirmed for their whole being and humanity. She is currently studying Computer Science and Education, Communities, and Organizations at the University of Washington. With her academic journey in these two fields, Sarah brings a lens focused on their intersectionality, recognizing how the power of technology can be used for marginalized communities. Outside of working at GOKiC, Sarah enjoys playing flute, hanging out with family, watching anime, journaling, and leading an organization called Afsana which uses digital storytelling to advocate for women’s education in Pakistan.

Heven Ambachew

Software Engineer Educator

Heven is currently studying Computer Science as an undergrad at Pacific Lutheran University. She is the co-founder and program coordinator of Collective Youth - A youth program with-in Geeking Out Kids of Color. As an instructor at GOKiC, she integrates technology and social justice issues to help build anti-racist and anti-sexist curricula. Her work is deeply influenced by her upbringing in her hometown of Gonder, Ethiopia.

Christian Calloway

Software Engineer Educator

Christian is a 2nd year at the University of Washington - Seattle, studying Informatics. He was born and raised in Washington and has been working with tech for as long as he can remember. Christian wants to work at a tech corporation like Microsoft for around 5 years after graduating, and then go off to start his own company venture. As an Educator’s Assistant and Software Developer at GOKiC, Christian wants to show youth like him in the community that tech is a real option and that anybody, regardless of their skin color or background, can do it if they have passion for it. He hopes he can one day make it big so that he can give back to the community that helped elevate him to the position he’s in today.

Brian Schutter

Project Manager

Brian is an author and scientist passionate about advancing social justice through storytelling and data science. As part of GOKiC, they write and edit content for the AllyUp app. They believe STEM companies should be mindful of their impact and have a responsibility to leverage their influence for social good. They recently moved to Washington state and love hiking the Cascades, petting all the dogs, and writing science fiction stories.

Data Scientist

Erica Mallett

Erica Mallett currently serves as co-lead of our Data Committee. Erica is a Ph.D. student in the Education Policy Organizations and Leadership (EDPOL) program at the University of Washington. Her research interests include equitable data use, school finance, and the implementation of education programs targeted towards disenfranchised students. She is passionate about ensuring students of color have the resources they want and need for their future, and believes GOKiC is providing students with just that.

Jose Alfredo Nava

Alfredo came to the US very young. As a dreamer, he had to discover the adversity of being unable to have a driver's license, a job, or even accept internships while attending college due to his legal status. Computer games led him to understand computer performance which helped create a business reselling custom PCs. He creates distributed computing platforms to process big data and machine learning. He is passionate about wildlife conservation, rock climbing and furthering STEM education for minorities.

Content Writers

Brian Schutter

Brian is an author and scientist passionate about advancing social justice through storytelling and data science. As part of GOKiC, they write and edit content for the AllyUp app. They believe STEM companies should be mindful of their impact and have a responsibility to leverage their influence for social good. They recently moved to Washington state and love hiking the Cascades, petting all the dogs, and writing science fiction stories.

Erin Ingram

Erin, a resident of Minneapolis, MN, has a Bachelor’s in English, wherein she focused on various kinds of critical theory. She’s pro-Black, anti-fascist, and believes in a thriving wage, free education, indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, and healthcare for all. Writing content for GOKiC, she believes, is just one way she can empower herself and other marginalized peoples. Erin enjoys music, film, art, the great outdoors, and hanging out with her rather large cat.

Engineering Team

Fernando Sanchez

A proud immigrant from Monterrey, México and coding activist, Fernando is passionate about intersecting computer science and social justice. He is currently a Principal engineer manager at Microsoft building technology in the cloud. He also believes in the power of tech for good and during his free time he is finding ways to use Artificial Intelligence to fight racism and sexism.

Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan is a Software Development Manager at Google and a volunteer at GOKiC. Born and raised in Spain, he's passionate about analyzing how technology impacts society, and regularly writes about it on his blog. He believes technology should be used for good, empowering people to mitigate the effects that systemic inequities have created in our community.

Linda Vong

Linda is passionate about leveraging her technical background, interdisciplinary lenses, and thought-provoking questions to challenge the status quo and facilitate collective learning about gender, race, and identity. She is a proud daughter of refugees from Vietnam studying computer science and education at the University of Washington. As a part of GOKiC, Linda currently develops software applications and decolonized tech curriculum, and she previously taught GOKiC youth. Also, she loves mangoes and how they bring people together.

Operations Manager

Development & Communications Manager

Carlos Vallejo

Project manager by day, superhero by night (while asleep and dreaming about it). Hobbies include video games, patrolling the Internet for grammatical errors, and attempting to determine why existential dread is a thing for so many people on Mondays. Having obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at the University of California - San Diego has only made him more vocal about things that make people uncomfortable at dinner tables, including discussions about how political influencers are key to disassembling systemic examples of covert oppression. Has the dubious distinction of being GOKiC’s only permanently remote staff member: partially because he lives out of the WA area, but mostly because of his habit of cracking annoying dad jokes to people sitting next to him.

Brenda Robles

Familia taught Brenda how to love, forgive, be resilient and work hard. She is a first-generation college graduate, a Guerrera, systems thinker, mentor, dancer, and writer. Identifying as a lifelong student, she also holds a Biology B.S. and Diversity minor from the University of Washington. Growing up in South King County, WA, her hometown became her favorite playground. Rain or shine, Brenda always tries to find the bright side. She aspires to be a part of a collective community giving back and empowering youth to embrace their authenticity and explore their opportunities in life. Brenda intertwines her passions and recognizes the role that community and culture play as a living discipline to tap into our unique strengths and share love with the world. 

Past Interns

Suez Gebretsadik

UW Intern and Project Coordinator for WOC In Tech. Suez is currently studying to be a speech pathologist. She is passionate about youth development, building community, and connecting youth to sustainable agriculture.

Libby Knell 

Libby is a rising sophomore majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Education, Learning and Society at the University of Washington Seattle. She is extremely interested in exploring how education can be aided by technology, whether it be personalizing a learner’s experience or making education more accessible to marginalized groups.

Rafael Bayer

I am a sophomore studying computer science at the University of Washington. I'm passionate about many things in the field of computer science, especially creating games and artificial intelligence. I also enjoy teaching and working with others, I believe that helping and teaching others is one of the best ways we can all improve ourselves. I hope to use what I have learned over the years to empower others who enjoy programming and other STEM fields.

Connect with Us

Have a great idea? Want to get involved? Let’s chat!