About Me

After graduating from high school in 1997, I started college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Upon completion of my sophomore year, I applied as a transfer student to the University of Pittsburgh. I was accepted and earned a bachelor's of science in Psychology.

While attending the University Of Pittsburgh, I started working for a local software development company, PinPoint Systems. Although I was young, I had a passion to learn as much as I could. I have always had a natural curiosity about computers/technology and how it can be used to assist in the development of an organization. Years before, I began teaching myself web design (html/JavaScript/XML), hardware architecture (designing and building PC's for use in the office), and software design (Visual Basic).

I have always known that I wanted to work in an industry that would help others. So, after graduating from college I started working for Cornell Abraxas Center for Adolescent Females (CACAF) as a Life Skills II employee. CACAF is a staff secured residential treatment facility. The clients we served are females between the ages 13 - 18 who were delinquent and/or dependent females with substance abuse and/or dependency issues and/or a dual diagnosis. As a Life Skills II employee, I worked with the clients on a day to day basis by leading/facilitating educational group sessions, assisting with daily activities, securing the facility, addressing behavioral problems, and numerous other jobs as needed.

After a year working as a LSWII, I was promoted to a counselor's position. I quickly received a caseload of six clients. My responsibilities included creating treatment plans, providing individual therapy session, leading group therapy and process sessions, making needed referrals, designing and providing aftercare plans, acting as an advocate for clients in court hearings, and generally acting as a case manager for each client. I also found time to assist clients in achieving volunteer work throughout the community.

While working as a counselor, I became concerned with my clients health issues, due to my past work at the Pittsburgh AIDS Alliance. I was especially interested in HIV/AIDS work. I became trained as a pre/post test HIV/AIDS counselor and a Hepatitis Trainer of Trainers and eventually took over the position as lead HIV/AIDS testing Coordinator for our facility (while still retaining my job as a counselor). In this role, I ensured that HIV testing was provided to all clients who wished to be tested, liaised with our medical staff, and worked with other counselors to ensure all clients received all the resources we had to offer. I also took over the position of HIV/AIDS and TB trainer for new staff.

After working at CACAF for two years, I realized that although I loved my job, I needed to move on. I felt I was in a great profession to help others but I still had a strong desire to travel and work abroad. I applied to the United States Peace Corps and left for Botswana six months later where I would serve for three years - two years as a social worker and a third with an NGO, John Snow Inc (JSI). JSI is implementing an injection safety contract for the United States Government as part of the US Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief. The purpose is to provide immediate relief to decrease unsafe injection practices as a mode of preventing medical transmission of HIV and transmittable infectious diseases in the health sector. JSI's core areas of research are looking at waste management, logistics and supply chain, and behavior change and education.

During my two years as a social worker, I was responsible to the Ministry of Health. I worked daily as a capacity builder in the Pitsane Social Welfare Office where I acted as a social welfare officer, HIV/AIDS community worker, peer educator/trainer, and software/web designer. As a social welfare officer, I was responsible for monitoring the needs and statistics of over 1500 clients including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC's), terminally ill patients with HIV/AIDS, and destitute clients. I engaged in social and community projects to further support and advocate for underserved clients. In response to the destructive effects of HIV/AIDS in his community, I initiated the implementation and management of local community projects to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS such as a successful campaign to encourage voluntary HIV testing.

In order to create a supportive community network of those combating HIV/AIDS, I acted as a liaison between government offices and local clinics, community leaders, community organizations, and business owners. I trained local support groups in marketing income generating projects and HIV/AIDS education. I also allocated time to support local NGOs and human rights/empowerment groups in grant writing, HIV/AIDS capacity building and web design. I applied my knowledge of computers to create a dynamic PHP web page for NGO's and artisans without prior HTML experience to easily create their own web profiles. I also designed software for the Social and Community Development (S&CD) office to track clients, keep statistics, and help with report writing.

Outside of my site, I represented fellow Peace Corps volunteers as a member of the Volunteer Advisory Committee. As a committee we helped train new volunteers, met regularly to discuss issues facing volunteers, and suggested concrete solutions to issues that would arise with volunteers. I also volunteered in several side projects including several camps for children infected with HIV/AIDS through Baylor Children's Hospital, youth and gender empowerment camps and seminars, and the designing of Measurement and Evaluation Tools for Local Government offices.

After completing my second year in Peace Corps, I began my third year working for John Snow Incorporated's Making Medical Injections Safer (MMIS) project as their data management specialist. With JSI I was finally able to combine my strong passion for helping communities with working abroad while using my skills in software design and technology.

My job responsibilities were varied but could be broken down into two categories. First, I created software/applications to collect, store, and disseminate information that preserves the data's integrity and accurately portrays the real life data we wish to capture. Secondly, the software that I created had to be able to present the data in a way that was easily accessed and prepared for use. By fulfilling both mandates, I was able to ensure that the data was accurate, cleaned, and ready to use and at the same time drastically reducing cost and time. My other responsibilities included web design, computer repair, data recovery, and any IT related issues that came up. While working for JSI, I also undertook several consultation projects for various NGO's and government organizations working in Botswana. I created data collection tools for PATH (Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health) and acted as a consultant for BONASO (Botswana Network of AIDS Services) when they were looking to purchase appropriate technologies. I also acted as a tech consultant for AED (Academy for Educational Development), assisted BAPL (Botswana Association for Positive Living) with a project they were working on using SMS/cell phone technology to assist in getting AIDS patient with adherence to ARV regiments, and assisted SCMS (Supply Chains Management System) with collecting of data for a research project they were working on. I also designed web pages for several NGO's. Each web page was tailored to address the unique circumstances of that NGO.

Since returning to the States, I have begun pursuing a Master's degree in Information Systems Management at Duquesne University. I will be graduating in the Fall of 2011. I am currently working as a graduate assistant at Duquesne as well as an intern at Loud Mountain. At Loud Mountain I work as a software engineer design web applications in Groovy on Grails that integrates with LinkedIn's API.

My career goals are to work at an international level (such as with NGO's or government agencies) using my background in software development and technology to assist communities in need. In the past four years working with international NGO's and Government office I have seen a huge deficit in IT skill and the consequences of this. So much money is being poured into programs that, often times, have little to no IT components. This leads to one of two major consequences. First, the organization is forced to outsource this demand to various third party agencies. This, in my experience, results in a huge expenditure of resources with little return. But what can sometimes be worse is an organization with no IT support. This, on the other hand, leads to other various problems such as poor tracking of commodities, over expenditure of resources, poor time management, etc. Working for JSI, I have seen how I was able to dramatically assist them with various projects (web design, software/database design, data recover, and repair) resulting in saving of money, increase in staff productivity, and an increase in accurate reporting to stake holders and funding sources.