Category Archives: Local Tech

Dr. Kristi Harter on Menstruation and Menopause in the Workplace

We are so excited to have Dr. Kristi Harter as our special guest on this month’s WIT podcast.  Dr. Kristi is a naturopathic doctor focusing on women’s health in Santa Barbara. 

Before we dive in on the topic, here’s a bit about Dr. Harter:

Dr. Kristi Wrightson-Harter graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, with a concentration in Restaurant Management.  While her classmates were learning about managing the business of restaurants, Dr. Wrightson-Harter was diving into the management of the body—fascinated with the importance of food intake as it relates to optimal health.  After several years, Dr. Wrightson-Harter went back to school for therapeutic massage, where she explored the deep connection between the mind and the body.  Through this process, Dr. Wrightson-Harter found naturopathic medicine and enrolled in Bastyr University, the world’s leading naturopathic university.

During her schooling at Bastyr, Dr. Wrightson-Harter worked with physicians from Northside Hospital in Atlanta as well as several integrated health clinics in Seattle.  This training exposed her to perspectives from both conventional and holistic medicine, creating a more complete protocol of care that employs characteristics from both forms of healing.  While getting her Naturopathic Doctorate, Dr. Wrightson realized the importance of educating her patients on health issues related to food and proceeded to get her Master’s in Nutrition.  She utilizes this exceptional background in treating her patients: using each person’s unique internal blueprint as the guide for working within the basic principles of health.

While she continues to have an integrated primary care practice, today, Dr. Wrightson-Harter focuses on women’s health, hormonal balancing and anti-aging therapies using an integrative approach.

Dr. Wrightson-Harter is a member of the California Association of Naturopathic Physicians as well as a supporting member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the only nationally recognized association for licensed ND’s.

Dr. Kristi sat down with me to talk about the importance of understanding female hormones and their impact on our workplaces.  Hear all her insights in the interview below:


Here are a few interesting articles that discuss “period policies” in the workplace to think about:

The Conversation: Three Reasons Employers Need to Recognize Menopause

The Guardian: Menstrual Leave

BBC: Can Period Leave Ever Work? 

 Connect with us:

Looking for information on upcoming events? Have a speaker you’d like to nominate? Want to support local women in tech? Follow us on Facebook! 

Ashley Fry on Male Allies

We are so excited to have Ashley Fry as our special guest on this month’s WIT podcast. Ashley was one of our dynamic keynote speakers at our 2019 Women in Tech Dinner. In fact, we got so many great questions, we decided to sit down and explore the topic of male allies a bit more. 

Announcement: we’re doing a special drawing this month at our WIT breakfast. On June 5th, 2019 at 4 Cats in SLO, where our WIT breakfast meets, anyone who brings a male ally will be entered into a drawing for a giftcard (one for them and one for their ally).  We’ll have a second drawing for male allies who come on their own and know the codeword shared in the podcast.

Before we dive in on the topic, here’s a bit about Ashley:

Ashley Fry is currently the VP of Agile Development & Quality at Dassault Systemes, IQMS and also consults with businesses as a Leadership & Organizational Strategist and Scrum Coach.

It was in a Tech Support role where Ashley discovered the exhilarating high she received from uncovering and getting to the bottom of bugs. She made her way into product development gaining experience in various roles and ultimately worked her way up to management. Ashley has about 10 years of experience working in fast-paced Agile Scrum environments and has led large product development teams, creating both SaaS and on-premise solutions.

Ashley is passionate about creating psychologically safe, experimentation-based work cultures centered around learning, autonomy, and celebrating failure. She is a devout believer that cultivating this type of environment ignites employees’ passion, ownership, and empowerment. Ashley is also a champion for women empowerment and engagement in leadership roles- specializing in tech.

Ashley sat down with me to talk about the importance of male allies—why we need them, how to support them, and pro-tips for becoming one. Hear all her insights in the interview below:


During the podcast, Ashley recommended a few resources for becoming and supporting allies:

 Connect with us:

Looking for information on upcoming events? Have a speaker you’d like to nominate? Want to support local women in tech? Follow us on Facebook! 

2019 Women in Tech Update

Hello SLO WIT!

It’s been a bit since we had a post up, so we’re do for a quick update. 2019 is off to a great start for our WIT community. We started a new podcast, changed up the format of our breakfasts, and had an awesome Women in Tech dinner (shoutout to everyone who attended and made it such a success!). We even have a new newsletter focused on women in tech that will be coming to inboxes near you.

For those of you who want the scoop on everything that’s happened, here’s the short recap:

  • WIT has a new mission statement: To be a resource to women in the central coast community, supporting their pursuit of technical knowledge and careers through empowerment, professional development, and education.

  • Women in Softec leadership—while we’ve always had dynamic women on the Softec board and in leadership positions over the years, we’re excited to have Victoria Hanna as our president and Kelly Irish as our Vice President this year.
  • Our annual theme is retention. We’re talking about strategies to retain diverse talent on three levels: personal, organizational, and community.
  • We’re podcasting! Once a month we do a 15-20 minute podcast episode around a topic. We interview an expert and bring your questions. These get posted so everyone can listen to them prior to our breakfasts. We’re doing our best to pair them with resources and links you can take back to your workplace. Find updates here on our blog, on Soundcloud, or on Facebook.
  • Breakfasts are no longer interviews, but a discussion of the topic from the podcast. It’s a win-win—we get better audio quality on the interviews and you get more time to connect and discuss the topic.
  • WIT Newsletter: it’s coming soon! We’ll have a place for you to sign-up to receive emails about our events and get the podcast delivered directly to you inbox.
  • We’re listening: we want to hear from you—at our breakfasts and lunches, via social media, or through interpretive dance. Don’t be shy about sharing your questions, thoughts, ideas, poems, or insights—our community is why we do what we do.

We’re looking forward to a great year—thanks for being part of our community!

Lori Jordan at our September 2018 Women in Tech Breakfast

We were so excited to have Lori Jordan as our special guest at this month’s WIT breakfast.

Lori Jordan moved to San Luis Obispo in 2012 after living in Los Angeles for ten years. Before this she was in San Francisco after leaving San Luis Obispo in 1998. Lori graduated from Cal Poly with a B.S. in Recreation Administration and a specialized concentration in Industrial Engineering.
Straight out of school, Lori worked for local SLO radio stations as the Promotions Director. She moved to San Francisco in 1998 where she found her place at OpenTV. A Start-up with under 100 employees, Lori experienced the growth and eventual IPO of the company while serving as Product Manager, Tools. After working at two more start-ups in SF, Lori eventually moved to Los Angeles in 2002 where she worked for Yahoo!, Movielink, Netflix and Paramount Pictures. She mostly focused on the new market of Digital Distribution for film and TV.
While at Paramount Pictures, Lori was inspired to start a business in the digital content space, so did just this with her husband. Red Staple focused on creating and delivering interactive movies, albums and books to the iTunes platform. She also started a company in the knitting and fiber industry, Yarn Pop, which she ultimately sold in 2015.
Today, Lori works at the Cal Poly, Center For Innovation & Entrepreneurship where she heads up programs and the Summer Accelerator as the Director of Student Innovation Programs.

Hear Lori’s insights on startups, creating culture, and  developing innovation by checking out the track below:

Note: Thanks for your patience with our audio quality. We’re grassroots and meeting in a coffee shop, so some noise slips through—but we feel the information is just to important not to post.

Looking for information on upcoming events? Have a speaker you’d like to nominate? Want to support local women in tech? Follow us on Facebook! 

Judy Mahan at our August 2018 Women in Tech Breakfast

We were so excited to have Judy Mahan was our special guest at this month’s WIT breakfast.

Judy Mahan has a dual role as the Incubator Director for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the SLO HotHouse, and the Director of the Cal Poly Small Business Development Center (“SBDC”). At the SLO HotHouse, she leads the programming to assist in the business development of the twenty-one current incubating companies. On the SBDC side, Judy manages the pool of 24 expert consultants who support SBDC clients. With her experience as a corporate and securities attorney, Judy also provides legal guidance to more than 135 company clients within the SLO County SBDC network.

After graduating with a J.D. from the University of Paris X Law School, in France, Judy pursued an LLM in International Tax Law at Golden Gate University, San Francisco. She immediately began her career as an associate attorney for DLA Piper (formerly Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, LLP) in Palo Alto.  During her time in Silicon Valley, she represented tech startups in venture financings, as well as institutional investors in private equity and debt transactions. She also represented companies in public offerings (IPOs), and has experience in general licensing and commercial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions.

Judy has led a number of mutli-million dollar deals, including the IPO for Salon Media Group, Maxtor Corporation’s acquisition of Quantum’s computer hard disk line of business, and a number of acquisitions for Finisar Corporation, the world’s largest supplier of optical communication components and subsystems.

With her inquisitive personality, Judy’s career has been interspersed with a few adventures to the pacific region: one year in Vanuatu as a Senior Manager of Trust and Corporate Services, and another in the Federated States of Micronesia (“FSM”) as the Special Assistant to the President of FSM.

Hear Judy’s insights on starting a business, starting over, and calling out sexism by checking out the track below:

Note: Thanks for your patience with our audio quality. We’re grassroots and meeting in a coffee shop, so some noise slips through—but we feel the information is just to important not to post.

Looking for information on upcoming events? Have a speaker you’d like to nominate? Want to support local women in tech? Follow us on Facebook! 

Intellectual Property Rights from Tom Lebens

Tom Lebens is our resident legal expert when it comes to tech and the business world. Recently he provided us with a much needed update on Intellectual Property Rights for any current or aspiring business owner.

Intellectual property is the core source of value and competitive advantage for many businesses as we navigate our knowledge economy. Much has changed in, for example, the patent law since Tom last spoke with SOFTEC, both in the legal landscape, with the adoption of the American Invents Act and the first to file patent system, the creation of the provisional patent application, changes in how software patents are viewed by the courts, and changes in enforcement options for small and medium-sized businesses.

At the same time intellectual property remains the constraint that drives creativity in many instances. At the same time, the process and cost of preparing intellectual property documents are changing with the introduction of new technologies that assist (and sometimes replace) attorneys, agents, and technical writers. Tom will share how these technologies are being deployed in his office and his thoughts as to what this means for the future.

Tom is a veteran presenter at TechBrew, and also has a long history of participating with Softec.

His slidedeck for his presentation can be found here:
What is Intellectual Property — Small Business IP Strategy 2017-11-13

Lorelei Sibet at September’s WIT Breakfast

First off—a quick apology for the lack of previous post from our summer WIT Breakfasts—we had some truly inspirational speakers. While we haven’t been able to keep up posting here, you can relive the adventure by heading over to our Facebook page. There you will find recaps from our wonderful guest speakers: Shannon Pileggi from Cal Poly’s Statistics Department, Jen Rushing from Central Coast New Tech High, and Erica Thatcher from SLO Library.

We’re back in the swing of things here, and should be posting all the rest of our recaps here on the blog. Which brings me to this month’s WIT breakfast recap!

We had a great time getting to know Lorelei Sibet at this month’s WIT breakfast.

Lorelei Sibet has more than 25 years experience as an entrepreneur and business owner. In addition to her agency, One Siren Productions, Lorelei is involved in several businesses, products, and community interests.

One of those businesses is SLO MakerSpace — a 24/7 community tool and craft shop. In the last year she’s expanded Ceramics, Woodturning, Summer Camp, Blacksmithing, Leathercrafting, and the MiniMakers Specialty Program in partnership with Inspire Charter Schools. MiniMakers has 50 homeschool children attending SLO MakerSpace 10-hours a week during the school year for a state curriculum driven and immersive project-based learning specialty program. Lorelei is now focused on expanding SLO MakerSpace’s resources and support for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Lorelei also runs the SLO County Women Entrepreneurs Meetup Group and  Facebook Group for women entrepreneurs and business owners meet, network, share resources, and promote to the community to help grow their businesses. 

After 24 years in the Washington, DC area, two years ago Lorelei moved to San Luis Obispo with her husband and business partner, Dharmesh Patel, to specifically support SLO MakerSpace and grow their other new businesses and products.

Hear all the action and follow along at home by checking out link below for Lorelei’s insights on being starting a new venture, supporting women entrepreneurs, what it means to be a maker, pie factories, and all the delicious details of the SLO MakerSpace: 

Follow us on Facebook for updates on upcoming events, hear from other local women in tech, or nominate a speaker.

Kristen Olsen at May’s Women in Tech Breakfast

We had a great time getting to know Kristen Olsen at this month’s WIT breakfast.

Kristen Olsen (@kdolsen) moved to San Luis Obispo nearly 20 years ago to pursue her dream of improving people’s lives through software development. She gets that opportunity every day as a Software Development Manager for Amazon, leading a team that enables people all over the world to independently publish their books for distribution on Kindle and print.

She studied Computer Science at Cal Poly and her career has been a tour of many of the large technology companies that people love – including Intel, HP, Apple, and Adobe (then Macromedia). Locally she started working for LEVEL Studios helping to create websites for large companies and then worked remotely as an Apple employee helping to write the services that Developers use to make applications available on iOS and Mac devices. After working remotely for years she wanted to come into a local office again which lead her to Amazon in San Luis Obispo.
Kristen lives in North County with her amazing husband Joe who stays home to take care of the kids and two young boys who are always at the ready with hugs. In her free time she loves to spend time with her husband and sons playing video & board games, watching eSports, being a part of a church community, and making crafts.

Weren’t able to join us in person? No problem. Join us digitally by checking out link below for Kristen’s insights on being a woman in tech, supporting a stay-at-home dad,  eSports, video games—and how, for Kristen,  technology is an act of making:

Share your own insights on our Facebook page.  Follow us  for updates on upcoming events, hear from other local women in tech, or nominate a speaker.

Bridget Benson at February’s WIT Breakfast

We had a great time getting to know Bridget Benson at this month’s WIT breakfast. Bridget is an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Cal Poly. Her research interests span computer engineering and aquatic sciences, focusing on selecting and developing technologies to advance marine science research.  

For those you who missed the breakfast—don’t worry! We recorded the interview.

Check out the link below for Bridget’s insights on electrical engineering, marine science, and women in tech: 

Apologies for the background noise. These interviews are done in an informal, coffee shop setting. We’re working on engineering a better audio setup, so stay tuned!

Want more? Be sure to stop by our Facebook page to hear about upcoming events, drop a comment, or request a future speaker. 

New Year, New Venue, New Faces—WIT 2017

We’re gearing up for 2017—and there are some exciting new changes coming to Softec’s Women in Tech (WIT) group!

First off, we’re going to shake things up with new days, times, and venues for some of our monthly events. Here’s what we’ve got planned:


Breakfast will now be the first Wednesday of the month at Steynberg Gallery on Monterey St.

7:30-8:00 Networking/coffee

8:00-8:20 Program

8:20-8:45 Q&A/discussion

8:45-9:15 Networking

For our breakfast program, we’ll be interviewing local women in technology—focusing on relevant issues—so bring your questions. For our first meeting, we’ll be doing some group brainstorming around the topic of “What does it mean to be a woman in tech?”

WIT and Wine Happy Hour:

Our wine nights will be the second Tuesday of each month at Wine Shed.

This is a great opportunity to grab a glass of wine and network with our local women. We keep this program loose and informal—with just a few announcements. The rest goes wherever the conversation may take us.


Lunch will continue to be at noon on the third Thursday of the month at Shalimar.

Take a break from the workday and enjoy a casual lunch with your WIT friends. Informal networking happens over lunch.

Can’t make it?

We’ll miss you—but you can now follow us on our brand new Facebook Page! Stay up to date on our latest events, get audio files of anything you might have missed, and participate in polls so we can continue to bring you the discussion topics you care about most.
See you in 2017!