Angela McGraw acknowledges that there were “plenty of women” leading in the tech space long before she was even alive — the new director of innovation hub Do Space sees herself as a “piece of the puzzle, a partner and collaborator.”
“Historically the tech space has been a male-dominated field,” McGraw said. “Although the positions that women hold and the opportunities that are available have improved significantly, there is still room to grow.”
Statistics bear this out; the National Center for Women & Information Technology, for instance, reports that 57% of professional occupations in the workforce are held by women. However, only a quarter of professional computing occupations are held by women. And, even more striking, just 18% of chief information officers in the top 1,000 companies are women.
McGraw now leads the pioneering library, which has been characterized as the “nation’s first technology library” since its opening in 2015. She succeeds the likes of Rebecca Stavick, co-founder and former executive director. Stavick currently serves as the chief executive officer of Community Information Trust, the 501(c)(3) organization that operates Do Space. The duo is working together to build opportunities for both Do Space and the Metro.
“I was inspired to join Do Space, because I saw it as an opportunity to continue educating the community on the importance of tech literacy and STEM education, especially among the next generation,” McGraw said. “I am excited to expand Do Space’s community impact and take our mission of promoting digital equity to the next level.”
In its six years, Do Space has asserted itself as a technology equalizer, enabler, educator and innovator via its digital workshop and learning experiences.
“One of the biggest challenges, which also happens to be the favorite part of my job, is figuring out new ways to execute our mission,” McGraw said. “So, we have the largest impact within the Omaha community as possible.”
Well before McGraw was surmounting industry- and community-wide obstacles to tech and opportunity access and inclusion, she was quite literally jumping hurdles.
“In 2015, I was inducted into the University of Missouri Kansas-City Athletic Hall of Fame,” she said.
In fact, in the 2015 write-up to correspond with her induction, UMKC reported that McGraw, who was then Angela Harris, set two school records: in the 55-meter hurdles and 100-meter hurdles, among numerous other achievements in track and field.
ACCELERATING OFF THE TRACK
McGraw would go on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from UMKC and a Master of Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“Initially, I planned to pursue a career in public relations,” she said. “My love for writing, building relationships and ability to see the big picture is what led me to choose public relations as my first career choice.”
In fact, her first job after college was as a manager with the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA).
“This was an exciting time for me,” McGraw recalled. “The department that I managed was new. So, I had the opportunity to set the vision and implement the strategy to make my vision a reality.”
Through the experience, McGraw learned how to create an “inclusive working environment,” and the importance of having what she calls a “fluid leadership style.”
“I then moved to higher education and taught digital arts at a for-profit institution,” she said. “In this position, I honed my classroom management and curriculum building skills.”
McGraw would remain in higher education for seven years as the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s iSTEM Coordinator, and as Metropolitan Community College’s assistant director for secondary partnerships.
“In these positions, I focused on program development, budgetary and financial operations, marketing, community engagement efforts, and grant writing,” she said.
“My career path has included opportunities that prepared me for my current role as the Do Space director.”
McGraw credits her traction in the field to communication and collaboration, and inspires others by “leading through example.”
She quotes Maya Angelou: “My mission in life is to thrive; and to do so with passion, compassion, humor and style.”
Going forward, McGraw is applying that passion, compassion, humor and style to, as she puts it, “address the issues causing the digital divide within our city,” in an effort to ensure Omaha is “one of the most digitally-equitable cities in the nation.”
402-819-4022 • 7205 DODGE. ST. OMAHA 68114 • DOSPACE.ORG
SOCIAL MEDIA: LINKEDIN • FACEBOOK • TWITTER • INSTAGRAM