Interview with Monica Powell

One of the women at the heart of React

Rachel Nabors
Dec 12, 2019 · 3 min read

Fullstack engineer Monica organizes React Ladies. In this interview, she talks about the importance of a welcoming community in kicking off a career in tech. You can find her on Twitter as @waterproofheart.

I’m a Full Stack Engineer at Meetup working on developing products to help people connect and organize in-person communities.

I started organizing React Ladies because I was relatively new to the React community and had benefited from organizations like PyLadies, Railsbridge, Write/Speak/Code etc. and wanted to create a safe space for people who identify as women and non-binary to grow within the JavaScript ecosystem.

I think a lot of small things helped me get into open source software. Once I understood how to collaborate on GitHub I think the world of OSS really opened up to me. In particular, I was drawn to static site generators (like Jekyll and Gatsby) with approachable documentation and strong communities. I think finding projects I was comfortable tinkering with got me organically interested in contributing to make documentation better, improve themes and teach others about technologies I enjoy.

Attending various tech events over the years has been pivotal to my growth as a technologist and has led me to go to technical talks and conferences that covered topics beyond my comfort zone, pushed me to contribute my writing to multiple tech publications, helped me to go from student to teaching assistant to teacher and even served as a valuable resource during the technical interview prep process. As a natural extension of benefiting from strong in-person tech communities during the formative years of my tech journey I’ve become more involved in the tech community online and in-person.

Code Newbie has been an incredible community to be a part of as a developer. Saron Yitbarek, the creator of Code Newbie, has poured a lot into making it one of the most supportive communities ever for technologists. I think I’ve grown and changed a lot as a person and technologist from being active in the Code Newbie community in various ways such as through their weekly twitter chats. Also, Code Newbie’s Codeland Conf was the first conference where I gave a presentation. Codeland is incredibly supportive of first time speakers and that experience contributed to me exploring additional speaking opportunities.


This interview appeared in a condensed format in the 2019 Women at the Heart of React Zine. It is part of a series of interviews with women who contribute to React Core and organize the React Community. Portrait by Xyra Brittney.

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React Community Stories

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Rachel Nabors

Written by

React Core Team @ Facebook. Long ago made award-winning comics for teenage girls. Wrote a book on UI animation: bkaprt.com/animationatwork

React Community Stories

React and React Native community members around the world are doing incredible things with their communities, with open source, and with each other. Here we highlight and celebrate these amazing folks and share their stories with the world!

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