A Voice for Diversity

By: Ted Goldwyn ’90
A Voice for Diversity

Sandra Persing, MBA ’10

Sandra Persing fights as a champion for diversity, inclusion, and advancement in the Web developer community.

Persing is the senior program manager for developer relations at Mozilla, the Internet nonprofit and Firefox browser creator. In her role, Persing connects developers, designers, and Web creators with Mozilla technology through engagement platforms that encourage the community to showcase their own resources and ideas, creating a collaborative tech ecosystem.

Persing takes a startup approach to the role. “I actually own it, and run it like my own business,” she says. “I’m a team of one, but I pull in resources from throughout the Mozilla community.” This includes working with Mozilla’s public relations staff and engineering teams as well as booking conference venues and keynote speakers.

“We are focused on smaller cities, as well as [on] women in technology and the LBGTQ community.”

Persing has in the past produced large events like Mozilla’s annual View Source conference, which attracts more than 400 industry leaders, but today she focuses on smaller, more intimate events. “For 2017, I proposed to our chief marketing officer that we get back to our roots by going to where the developers are. We are focused on smaller cities, as well as [on] women in technology and the LBGTQ community.”

To this end, Persing is busy coordinating the Mozilla Developer Roadshow, a year-long tour of 40 cities worldwide. The roadshow is visiting not only major metro centers such as San Francisco, London, and Barcelona, but also smaller technology hubs like Columbus, Ohio and Tulsa, Okla.

Persing has no shortage of experience in reaching out to smaller and marginalized developer constituencies. She is the co-executive director of the Seattle chapter of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. “I believe we need women leaders and we need to promote women in technology,” says Persing, who lives both in Pacifica, Calif., and in Vancouver, Wash. “Our mission is to get a million women to code.”

Her latest passion project is the DevRel Summit, a one-day “unconference” scheduled for August 11, 2017 in Seattle. As a co-founder of the event, Persing’s goal is to encourage developer relations professionals to share best practices and fresh ideas.

Persing credits her Cornell MBA with cultivating an appreciation for the value of community. “My passion for open source came from Johnson,” she says. “Among all major business schools, Johnson has the reputation of being the most collaborative community. I’ve carried that approach into my work.”

Recently married in Hawaii, Persing loves to surf near her home in Pacifica.