#WhyICode: Monica Flores Fosters Connection and Community Through Coding

September 29, 2017

I'm an immigrant, and my family moved to the United States when I was five, where I was raised in south Florida and California. I attended Cornell University and received a bachelors in environmental systems technology, out of what was then called the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. 


I first learned to code in 1999. That year, I traveled to 30+ countries as part of The Odyssey World Trek for Service and Education. This 18-month voyage included 6-week stays in 10 different cities, where my teammates and I built course curriculums by visiting community-based organizations, connecting students from the United States with international students via chat, and interviewing public figures such as Guatemalan activist Rigoberta Menchu and former Rhodesian president, Ian Smith. All of this work went online, and I had to learn how to code, crop images, use FTP, and work with an extended publishing team. Because internet cafes and websites were fairly new at the time, we were able to exchange websites for hostel stays: I'd offer to create websites on free platforms like Tripod in exchange for our team being able to stay additional nights.


Upon my return, I freelanced in San Francisco, working for projects like the first NBC Olympics online. In 2004, a few years after my first child was born, my co-founder and I launched a consulting practice called 10K Webdesign, where we built websites directly for clients, membership organizations, public agencies, and e-commerce startups.  As a consultant, it was straightforward for me to set my own hours and availability, and I do believe that web development is a helpful career for moms who need flexibility in their work hours. 


I learned the Drupal content management system in 2008 and have since been working on that system to do updates and emerging work for various clients and international teams. Drupal has wide adoption in the nonprofit and government sector, and it's also very flexible and able to handle many different needs.


I'm now involved with large-scale redesign and redevelopment projects, such as one recently launched for Green America, a national nonprofit focused on economic justice and environmental sustainability. For this project, I led the redesign of the main website and consolidated multiple "sub-sites" into one main system. I also lead the redesign of the GIST Network site, a project of the US State Department, which is a platform for international entrepreneurs. My prior work was part of the product team that redesigned the website for Ashoka Changemakers, a competition entry platform that supports early-stage social entrepreneurs. I'm most excited by challenging projects that have the ability to affect many people on an increasingly global level.


I work primarily with projects and programs that build community, foster a feeling of connectedness, and aspire to make the world a better place. I'm also passionate about leadership, technology, and more effective ways for each of us to make a positive difference. Those of us in tech have the ability to implement tools that support our desired reality: we are the architects of our shared future. Let's co-create safe and nurturing communities that support individuals who seek unity within diversity, cultivate strength through shared responsibility, and focus on health and well being.


- Monica Flores 


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