Sarah Withee

Sarah Withee at AlterConf Portland 2016

Location: Pittsburgh, PA, US (Eastern, UTC-5)
Areas of expertise: More little bits of many things and less expertise in one thing! PHP,  JavaScript, C#, Java, C++, Python, SQL, software engineer, hardware building and programming, robotics, team building, mental health in tech, women in tech, community building, starting in open source, programming language comparisons, tech resume building, and a whole host of other things I haven’t remembered to list.
Contact: Twitter | LinkedIn | Website | Blog

Hi! I’m Sarah, a friendly polyglot software engineer, public speaker, teacher and mentor, and hardware and robot tinkerer located in Pittsburgh, PA. I have a passion for technology and have ever since I wrote my first computer programs in elementary school.

My first conference talk was in 2015. Several friends had told me about a conference in a city a few hours away that really wanted women speakers, and saince I had been teaching a college programming class, I would do fine at this. Having no idea on what to make up a talk about, I was browsing Twitter one day and noticed a lot of tweets about the Raspberry Pi. I had several years of robotics experience at that point, and so I made up an abstract about how to build hardware projects with it. I proposed it there. A friend suggested a local conference, so I proposed it there. I was on an organizing committee, and someone in that group said “you’re giving it at ours too, right?” Then an on-campus organization wanted me to give it there. So I had a talk to give at four places and I haven’t even written it yet! The talk, “Intro to Hacking with the Raspberry Pi,” has been my most popular talk ever, including my second presentation getting an encore because the room had so many people inside and outside trying to see it that it was causing problems for the organizers. (If you want to read the full story of my first zany year of speaking, I wrote a blog post on it.)

I’ve been speaking and teaching since 2011, and have given dozens of talks and presentations at a wide variety of conferences and events. They have ranged from incredibly popular technical talks to powerful talks capable of making people laugh and cry at the same time. I’ve taught workshops on programming and hardware building to women in tech as well as students of all ages. I’ve helped organize 6 conferences and have volunteered with several others.

If you’re interested in starting to conference speak and just not sure how, or you have an idea and not sure how to form it into a great talk, I’d love to help out! I love talking to people and inspiring and encouraging them to get started speaking, but also coaching them through the brainstorming, proposal, writing, designing slides, and presentation processes. I’ve worked with many people over the years to help get their talks into shape, and would be glad to help you out too!

Feel free to contact me on my website’s contact page, find me on Twitter, or send me a message on LinkedIn. Let me know you found me on!