We’re excited to introduce Roni, whose passion for helping students achieve their career goals is clear through her track record in tech education. In this new role at Alchemy, Roni will be overseeing our curriculum, instructors, and student learning and development.
With a background in Silicon Valley tech, she is a senior learning and education management pro with 15+ years of experience spent at the intersection of technology, education, and information. Roni has led organizational education, adult learning, project management, and curriculum development for Hewlett Packard, Kaiser Permanente, ESRI, Boeing Satellite Systems, Hughes Space and Communications, and University of California Riverside.
Roni is the perfect leader for our post-Covid hybrid learning model, as she’s skilled in managing distance learning and delivering a well-rounded approach to teaching and training adults at all levels. Roni encourages and supports the open exchange of ideas to help keep people engaged, motivated, and committed to the learning process.
Roni, what attracted you to Alchemy Code Lab?
This is a role that encapsulates everything that’s important to me: helping people achieve their career goals, education, and engineering. It’s about code! Coding is work that’s so relevant right now to move our society forward both technologically and in social justice.
How do you see tech as a tool for social justice?
In the movie Coded Bias, an M.I.T graduate student talks about her problem with A.I. not being able to read her facial features because she is Black. We need all voices at the table to effectively stay competitive in the global market.
One of the organizations I volunteer with is called 1M4; founded by a woman concerned with holding police accountable. I was one of the early people in the conversations about how tech can advance that cause; rallying people to raise funds for those who are unlawfully incarcerated, bringing spotlight on people who are fighting the system… talking about things like how police are compensated when they commit crimes against people. That’s just one aspect of it.
Above all, it’s about identifying resources for finding out what’s going on. The other aspect is access to information: this helps our society become economically equitable. I operate a coworking space in Las Vegas called FeatherNest Co-Learning Group that empowers people to get into tech by getting online, preparing for a bootcamp, and leveling up their tech skills. We’re making a pathway for tech careers to be more accessible, and to advance us all to a more equitable society.
Tell us more about the advocacy and volunteer work you do.
I am a board member of Blacks in Technology Foundation, which has been around for almost 20 years. BIT is the largest community of Black people in the technology community. We provide guidance, support networking, and provide resources for members. We have chapters all over the world, including two chapters in Africa!
I’m President of the Las Vegas chapter of BIT where we host talks on topics like cybersecurity, cryptocurrency, and business analytics. We provide access and exposure to technology careers.
I’ve received commendation for community service in Rancho Cucamonga CA. I opened a College and Career themed Internet Cafe and founded The Scholarship Club for neighborhood students over 15 years ago, which my daughter has now taken over.
What do you love about your work?
I want to impact people in the area of technology. I love seeing the positive outcome of planning, specifically planning that assists others in achieving their goals.
What you want is achievable. If it weren't, you would not want it.
What’s it like to work in a growing tech city after living in Silicon Valley?
I moved to Las Vegas from Silicon Valley; it’s a little different. Outside of the Valley, there aren’t as many resources for starting a tech career, but people don’t realize how much tech there is in cities like Las Vegas and Portland.
Now during the Covid era, jobs are virtual so you can literally work from anywhere. Silicon Valley is only a short flight away from Las Vegas.
As someone with multiple university degrees, what’s interesting to you about working with a trade school?
This is a type of 21st century trade school. The school provides education, but it also projects the sense of immediacy that you’d find while learning in the workforce.
I attended undergraduate university at Cal Poly Pomona. I was an engineering major and graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering. I completed a Masters of Arts degree in Education and later a Master of Science degree in Information Systems and Technology.
My career has been divided between academia and corporate. This is the intersection. Academic institutions usually focus on giving you information whereas corporate spaces transfer learning and development with immediate application. This 21st century school marries both of those.
How do you want to improve the code school experience?
I’ve not been anywhere where students are as supported as they are here at Alchemy.
Next, I‘d like to to support our instructional staff in leadership development topics so we can prepare students to be team leaders. This starts with our instructors: how do we coach students to excellence? We’ll be delivering inside-out coaching training to all the instructors. We’ll be doing DiSC training to improve awareness of team communication styles. This is just the beginning.
What impact do you have on students?
I started my career as an Engineer and transitioned into teaching College Algebra. One of the things that consistently gets fedback is that I’m able to take complex topics and make them digestible and relatable.
Over the years I’ve written 4 math books used in pre-algebra courses. I believe that the goal of studying algebra is to make you comfortable moving forward on a position when you don’t have all of the information. In algebra, we substitute x for an unknown, but we don’t stop there. We proceed as if we know.
If we only did things we were absolutely sure of, we’d never do anything.
What’s your advice to that person out there who’s deciding whether to do a software development training program?
You can’t go wrong having a technology background. It helps, even if you find yourself in a tech-adjacent role.
Alchemy is one of the best, most nurturing places that will do all they can do to help you achieve your goal. Look at what past students are saying about Alchemy; look at what the industry and employers are saying.
Other schools are doing a lot of different things, but Alchemy stays true to its core. You’re going to graduate as a very competent, well-rounded, FullStack developer.