I spent a day in Washington DC last week on my continued mission to evangelize for the National Center for Women & Information Technologies. We had an evening event that was kindly hosted by the folks at McKenna Long & Aldridge with our local Colorado Congressman Mark Udall keynoted the evening.
In between my normal daily email and phone calls, I had three completely fascinating meetings concerning women and information technology. The Honorable Paula Stern was my guide for the day (Paula used to be the chairwoman of the International Trade Commission and is a huge friend of NCWIT) and she generally kept me out of trouble.
My first meeting was with the folks from the Committee for Economic Development (the people that gave us the Marshall Plan). Charles Kolb and his team had a major clue, got the issues we were discussing immediately, and laid some groundwork for future collaboration. I left their office with a pile of scintillating material to read, including publications such as (a) Making Trade Work: Straight Talk on Jobs, Trade, and Adjustments and (b) Learning for the Future: Changing the Culture of Math and Science Education To Ensure a Competitive Workforce. These dudes are smart, data driven, and intensely logical thinkers – I look forward to more interaction with them.
Next up was a short meeting with Bruce Mehlman and Karin Hudson at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. Mehlman is the Executive Director of the Computer Systems Policy Project - an affiliation of CEO’s from nine computer companies: Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, NCR, Unisys, Motorola, EMC, and Applied Materials. One of NCWIT’s core messages is that we need to encourage women to join the US IT workforce to increase the long term competitiveness of the US computer industry. We thought this would resonate with Bruce. It didn’t. Karin got it however so there’s hope that we’ll make some progress in the future with them and CSPP.
Finally, I wandered over the Russell Senate Office Building (nope – I’d never been there before – man those ceilings are high) to meet with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief of staff Tamera Luzzatto. Tamera is a total rock star – she got it immediately (even while watching the house vote on stem cell research out of the corner of her eye) and committed to include the NCWIT messages and agenda in their future thinking. I had to split early because of a meeting with one of our LPs, although Paula stayed behind and finished the meeting. Unquestionably the most powerful meeting of the day.
Paula was a little disappointed that we were only two out of three for the day (three out of four if you include the awesome evening event.) I explained to her that two out of three is a phenomenal result for a VC and that – while I was only marginally more clueful about Washington DC then I was at the beginning of the day – I was delighted to have spent it with her.