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The Latest From Code Savvy - A Reflection on My First Year as Executive Director

It has been such a wild ride at Code Savvy this last year. So many changes, including program expansion and new partnerships and collaborations, it’s hard to believe it’s been 12 months.


Some of these changes were already underway when I came into my role, so I just hit the ground running. Together with the Board of Directors, Program Directors, and with the help of so many amazing volunteers, we set a new 5-year strategic plan for our growth and renewed focus. We have streamlined our program offerings so they support each other and better support the learning journey of our participants. We also joined forces with nationwide programs like Girls Who Code and Code.org to be able to provide a larger network of support to the people in our programs.


We listened to feedback from our community and developed a brand new program, the Byte-Sized Challenge, which brings industry mentors and curriculum directly into the classroom in order to introduce kids to physical computing and build their collaborative teamwork skills. And we have focused our outreach efforts to even more areas of the state, including the 11 tribal nations within MN to build relationships and partnerships with the folks in their communities.


As we approach Give to the Max Day 2022, I ask you to consider giving your support to the work we’re doing to be even more accessible, more inclusive, and get even more people and perspectives at the tech table. Please connect with us on any of the social platforms and help us share our successes. Let’s make this next year even more amazing than the last.


Valerie Lockhart Executive Director

Code Savvy


This Week’s Spotlight and Project-Inspiration Theme: Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month! Around 1915 there were talks about creating American Indian Day, which was later endorsed and recognized in many states in the following years, although on different dates. It was not until 1990 that November was officially recognized as "Native American Heritage Month." This month aims to recognize and honor the significant contributions that Native Americans have had and continue to have to the growth of the United States. During this time, it is also important to acknowledge that this is and will always be stolen land.


It is also a time to listen and boost Native voices, especially about current issues that disproportionately impact Native American communities. To celebrate and honor the contributions Indigenous STEM innovators have had on the world, we are highlighting three of them below.


Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008)

Ross was considered the first Native American female engineer with a focus on aerospace, working on projects such as Skunk Works at Lockheed, the Agenta Rocket, and many more! She grew up in Oklahoma and lived with her grandparents in Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation capital. She received her undergraduate degree in mathematics and her masters in teaching, beginning her career by teaching math and science for nine years. In 1942 she was hired by Lockheed to be a mathematician and later received her professional certification in engineering. After retiring, she worked with organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers to help recruit female and Native American students into engineering.


Lori Arviso Alvord (1958-Present)

Dr. Alvord was born in New Mexico and is considered the first Diné (Navajo) woman to become a board-certified surgeon. She attended Dartmouth College as an undergrad, double majoring in sociology and psychology and minoring in Native American studies. She later completed medical school at Stanford University. Once returning home after medical school, Dr. Alvord realized not only the importance of Western medicine but the impact that traditional Navajo healing provides to patients and the connection between the two. After returning to the New Mexico reservation, she realized that she did not just want to “fix people” but tried to heal her patients. She has held positions on many advisory boards and universities and received much recognition.


Aaron Yazzie (1986-Present)

Yazzie was born in Arizona on a Navajo reservation and attended Stanford University for Mechanical Engineering. He is currently a mechanical engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At JPL, Yazzie specifically works on planetary sample acquisition and handling, working on projects such as the Mars Science Laboratory, InSight, and the Mars 2020 missions. In his free time, Yazzie is a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, focusing on helping increase the representation and interest of Indigenous students in STEM fields.


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