Founders and staff

Founders

Valerie AuroraValerie Aurora, Executive Director

Valerie Aurora (formerly Val Henson) is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Ada Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to promoting women in open tech/culture. With co-founder Mary Gardiner, she created and implemented projects like the Ada Initiative conference anti-harassment policy, now adopted by hundreds of open tech/culture events. Aurora and Gardiner were both recognized as one of Femme-o-nomics Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech in 2011 and SC Magazine’s 6 Influential Information Security Thinkers in 2012. Aurora created and teaches the Ada Initiative Allies Workshop, which teaches men simple ways to support women in open tech/culture.

Aurora, an experienced software engineer, was a leading file systems developer, researcher, and consultant for over a decade. She invented several new file systems concepts, including a widely used power-saving feature in file systems called relative atime, and co-founded the Linux Storage and Filesystems Summit. Her contributions to the field were recognized by invitations to speak at or serve on the program committees for many top file systems and open source conferences, including USENIX File Systems and Storage Technology, OSCON, and linux.conf.au. Her contributions to open source software were recognized with the O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2013.

Aurora holds a double B.S. in computer science and mathematics and lives and works in San Francisco, California.

Mary GardinerMary Gardiner, Director of Programs (on leave)

Mary Gardiner is the Director of Programs and co-founder of the Ada Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to promoting women in open tech/culture. With co-founder Valerie Aurora, she created and implemented projects like the Ada Initiative conference anti-harassment policy, now adopted by hundreds of open tech/culture events. Aurora and Gardiner were both recognized as one of Femme-o-nomics Top 50 Women to Watch in Tech in 2011 and SC Magazine’s 6 Influential Information Security Thinkers in 2012. Gardiner created and organized the world’s first conference for women in open tech/culture, AdaCamp.

Gardiner is formerly a software developer and computational linguistics research student. Gardiner was the keynote speaker at Wikimania 2012, the world-wide conference for Wikipedia, the world’s 5th most popular web site. Her work has been discussed in Slate, the Huffington Post, and the Sydney Morning Herald. She is a major contributor to the influential Geek Feminism blog and wiki. After more than 10 years of service to the open source community in Australia and worldwide, Gardiner’s contributions were recognized with the prestigious Linux Australia Rusty Wrench award in 2012.

Gardiner holds a B.S. with honours in computer science and a major in mathematics; a B.A with majors in linguistics and philosophy; and a computer science PhD. She is based in Sydney, Australia and you can find her on Twitter at @me_gardiner.

Mary is presently on extended leave from the Ada Initiative, planning to return to her role late in 2014.

Staff

Suki McCoy headshotSuki McCoy, Director of Operations

Suki McCoy is the Director of Operations. An experienced operations and finance officer, Suki McCoy comes to the Ada Initiative from See Change, a San Francisco-based research and evaluation firm that partnered with organizations specializing in the issues of social justice and youth development and advocacy. As a managing partner, Suki worked closely with community groups and others to distill qualitative and quantitative findings into usable knowledge for socially forward programs and the larger field of philanthropy.

Suki’s interest in social justice began during her time working as a private and, later, municipal investigator in San Francisco. Her efforts investigating area elder-abuse cases helped strongly develop her need to work in the advocacy arena.

Suki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition, and is returning to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health. When she is not hiking with her dogs, she usually can be found reading, gardening or perfecting her amazing homemade pizza.