Host Spotlights


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Meet Liz Johnson

What is your title and favorite thing about your job? I'm a Technician at Quantum Spatial. I have two favorite things! One, is being confronted with technical challenges on a near daily basis and being able to develop and implement solutions that help improve our data and workflows. The second, is getting to collaborate across teams, like helping out in the field or contributing to our latest robotics project. Our office is full of talented individuals doing really cool work - I love being able to learn and grow from them!

How did you become involved in PDXWIT? I identify as a non-binary person who is fascinated by the opportunities in tech. As such, I seek out spaces that emphasize inclusion around shared passions and interests. I appreciate that PDXWIT strives to offer up such spaces and not only helps develop technical skills, but also works to host events that address intersectionality within the tech industry. Groups like these keep me inspired and involved.

What do you like to do for fun in Portland? Ride my bike, eat  donuts, drink things that are either a product of roasting or fermentation, and attend the variety of events that show off the creative imaginations of the Portland community.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night? Typically, either out exploring the natural world with my partner and my dog, or geeking out at home on some python based project or tutorial.

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Meet Ellen Black Noel

What is your title and your favorite thing about your job? I’m a Software Developer at Viewpoint, working to develop construction management software for the growing – and modernizing! – construction industry. As far as my favorite thing, I love a good troubleshooting challenge and also digging into a development project. And I love the folks on my development team … they’re a great group to work with.
How did you become involved in PDXWIT? I found out about PDXWIT through my company’s in-house WIT group and just started attending some of the PDXWIT happy hours.
What do you like to do for fun in Portland? I enjoy playing with my cats, gardening and outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. I also have a fond spot in my heart for folk music and have been in several groups performing specifically folklore music from Southeastern Europe and the Pontian Greek people. I like to sing in foreign languages, play the flute and the tupan (a drum specific to that part of the world).
Where can we find you on a Saturday night? Mostly hanging out at home with my husband cooking gourmet meals followed by reading, watching TV or enjoying a movie.


Meet Kirsten Benzel

Where do you work? I work on the Data Engineering team at SurveyMonkey

What is your title and your favorite thing about your job? My title is Sr. Database Engineer; my favorite thing about my job, hands down, is the amazing team that I work with. I also get really excited about optimizing t-sql queries and the art of indexing tables!

How did you become involved in PDXWIT? I’ve attended WIT events through SQL PASS and a friend told me about PDXWIT. I’ve been to a few events and hope to keep on attending!

What do you like to do for fun in Portland? My passion is hunting seaglass and agates along the coast. I just joined a D&D group and I also like to go for drives in my M2 I named Danerys or try new restaurants.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night? You’ll typically find me watching Netflix (I need to re-charge my inner introvert!), hanging out with friends, curled up with a book, or wandering a beach somewhere.

Find her on Twitter @CyberSnark



Where do you work?  OMSI

What is your title and your favorite thing about your job?  VP of Learning Engagement – thinking about how to engage and inspire youth every day

How did you become involved in PDXWIT?  2009 – I connected with PDXWIT seeking women tech professionals to mentor K-12 FIRST Robotics teams as we need more role models accessible to youth.

What do you like to do for fun in Portland?  Explore food carts and microbreweries

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?  Depending on the time of year.  Dry Season – coming back into town from an all day hike.  Wet season – attempting to intersect with any of my four adult kids and their adventures

Find her on Twitter @debmummhill


MEET Suzan Lee

Where do you work? I work for Free Geek.

What is your title and your favorite thing about your job?  My title here is Online Sales Associate, and my favorite thing about my job is getting to work on a building-wide team. From receiving & recycling to testing & builds (and everything in between), I get to work with just about everyone here. All of our jobs are so intertwined and so interdependent, that we all rely on each other to keep the whole shebang running! I am a total sucker for skilled teamwork, and I have never worked anywhere that does teamwork like Free Geek. It makes me proud to be a part of it.

How did you become involved in PDXWIT?  I was invited to speak at this event by our CEO and Executive Director, Dan.

What do you like to do for fun in Portland?  I have long been a homebody. So what I like to do for fun, no matter where I live, is... prepare and enjoy a nice meal with someone I care for. Or maybe fire up my computer and jump into a cooperative game with a friend. In fact, my best friend and I are currently playing a mining, crafting, side-scrolling, adventure game called Terraria. We log on, catch up on each other's lives, and save the world together, one block at a time. I love making them laugh, and the delight that comes when they turn the tables on me. When we devolve into gasping piles of goofiness, unable to even speak. I also make sure to spend some time every day (no matter how busy I am) playing with my cat, Cricket, because she is my little ball of sunshine. I don't know where I would be without her.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?  On a Saturday night... Well... I have worked minimum wage, corporate jobs for the last 20 years, so a typical Saturday night would have been spent working. Now? I spend Saturday nights as I would spend any other time off: relaxing, either alone (although you're never really alone when you have a cat) or with family/friends. Eating a nice meal, watching, playing, or just talking with each other. Following the winding trains of thought until we are quite literally riding the same wavelength. My interpersonal connections are very important to me, and so I nurture them as much as I am able.

Twitter handle, if applicable.  The only social media account I use is Facebook, where I use it to stay close to my small group of family and friends. I don't have a place for Twitter in my world. I want to share life stories. I want to share hopes and dreams. And I want it to take as long as it takes to do so. No less. 140 characters just isn't enough for me.


Meet Katy Boyles

Where do you work? Zapproved

What is your title and your favorite thing about your job?  Product Manager. My favorite thing about my job is that I get to investigate customer problems and work with engineers to think of novel solutions. It's like solving a puzzle.

How did you become involved in PDXWIT?  I believe it's because we hosted an event at Zapproved and I decided to start going to more events in the area to network and learn more about the Portland tech scene.

What do you like to do for fun in Portland? Exploring! Whether that's trying new restaurants and bars, finding new hikes, discovering street art, attending random events, or whatever. I love trying new things around town and getting to know Portland better.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night? Low-key drinks with friends.