Morgan Sacco is the founder of Athena.LA. She works as a financial analyst at Magento, an e-commerce software company at their office in Culver City. She’s known as an Excel guru at work. In her free, time she enjoys yoga, visiting LA’s museums, and cooking meals from ingredients shipped to her front-door in boxes.
I had recently relocated back to Los Angeles after three years working in Silicon Valley. My ties to the LA tech community were weak, and I knew that working with women-centric organizations would help establish my presence in the community. I had reaped success in working with women’s groups in the past. I landed my first job out of business school at Intel after attending a women focused career conference and landed my next job through attending a Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner. However, my intent at the moment was not to find a job. I wanted to to meet powerful women in tech who would mentor me through my career, while building connections with women in my peer group. I also needed a group that met consistently so that I could work events into my busy work schedule. Since no such group existed in Los Angeles, I decided to leverage networking events hosted by alumni groups and other tech meetups that I discovered online and heard about through my existing network.
After about a year of networking on my own, from downtown Los Angeles to the rooftops of Venice Beach and everywhere in between, I realized I did not have much to show compared to the time and effort that I had invested. I had met many interesting people, but had not made many lasting connections to women working in tech. I knew that it would take time to build relationships, but I also knew that others could benefit from my grander vision of building a powerful community of women in tech. I kept thinking back to the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners that I had attended a few years back. I admired how women from all corners of the Bay Area flocked to their events to hear from the leading female tech execs in Silicon Valley. If I could not find a group ideal for my ambitions, why not start my own?
My vision for Athena.LA is to become the voice of LA women working in tech - a community of women of all stages in their careers who will be able to help one and other. Strong communities are powerful forces. As the younger cousin of Silicon Valley, Los Angeles has a chance to become a welcoming environment for women in tech without the scandal, embarrassing memos, and mea culpa Medium posts. It’s an ambitious goal, but we can stay ahead of the gender issues that have persistently plagued women working in tech by providing specific opportunities to advance women in their careers, just like how I was able to benefit from the opportunities provided by women’s groups earlier in my career.