A student presenting her app with her tech mentor at the Equal Futures App Challenge.

A student presenting her app with her tech mentor at the Equal Futures App Challenge.

I was thrilled to be a co-host and social media consultant for the White House Equal Futures App Challenge held on Jan. 5th in Los Angeles, CA. Our goal was to create apps that inspire girls and young women to serve as leaders in our democracy.

In September 2012, President Obama launched a global call initiative, the Equal Futures Partnership, to empower women and girls. The White House Council on Women and Girls created the app challenge to support this mission and a series of “mini-codeathons” were held simultaneously in Philadelphia and Boston.

The L.A. event brought together 60 participants, including elementary to college-aged girls and seasoned technologists from local Google HQ and other Silicon Beach top talent. They worked together in teams to articulate problems, define solutions, UX prototype and build apps to submit to the challenge.

The event was held at Cross Campus in Santa Monica and was co-hosted by Digital LA and Silicon Beach Women, led by core team members Koren Nelson of Koren Nelson Design, Shirin Salemnia of PlayWerks, Lora O’Connor of CitizenGlobal and Heather Rees of Excellerator. Keya Dannenbaum, founder of political startup, ElectNext, hosted the national forum on Google Hangout.

Sarah Hurwitz, Senior Advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls and Senior Presidential Speechwriter, and Brian Forde, Senior Advisor to the U.S. CTO Todd Park, for Mobile and Data Innovation, joined via video conference.

The workshop facilitators were Kevin Winston, CEO and Founder of Digital LA, and Beverly Macy, a thought leader in the power of social media and the author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing.

On hand to offer inspiration and motivation on women’s leadership were Actor/Activist Sharon Lawrence (left) of Women In Film, who currently stars in the feature film, Middle of Nowhere, winner of the Sundance directing award; and Jodie Evans, Board Chair of Women’s Media Center and spokesperson for Eve Ensler’s upcoming global event, One Billion Rising.

Submitted apps will be judged by a prestigious panel including Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square, Geena Davis, actor and founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media and Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women, as well as US Secretary of Labor, Hon. Hilda Solis.

Response to the day was overwhelmingly positive. Murriel Calaycay, Director of Business Development, Girls in Tech – LA said “Our team had a blast sharing ideas and the event was a terrific learning experience for both the mentors and girls. Hands-on events like this one are so important because they create an atmosphere where girls can see many positive female role models and can also build a support network of resources to help guide them.”

For more information about the challenge please visit:  Equal Futures App Challenge.