Empowering more women to be leaders in tech.

2016 Recap

Ela Conf is a conference with a goal to create a safe, supportive, inspiring and comfortable community for adult women (18+) to gain the confidence needed to become leaders, speakers, and teachers in the world of tech.

In an industry where women are so often marginalized, leadership skills are crucial to making an impact in the field and creating diversity in the workplace. Companies with greater top-level gender diversity perform better financially, are more empathetic, and more innovative. When women become leaders, the entire tech community benefits.

We held the second Ela Conf on November 4th and 5th, 2016 at Terra Hall at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Learn about our first event in 2015.

On Friday night, we hosted a meet and greet and talks. Saturday's day-long event featured 8 main stage talks and 2 break-out sessions with 4 workshops, panels, or talks each. We concluded Saturday with a networking event at Time Restuarant.

Overall, we had 122 attendees including 36 speakers, 27 volunteers, 14 sponsors, and 4 organizers!

Thanks again to our 2016 sponsors!

nvite, Mapbox, U.S. Cellular, AgileBits, Zapier, GitHub, Braintree, Lincoln Loop, Wildbit, DEFNA, iStrategyLabs, Indy Hall, Cerner, Salesforce


Many of our attendees wrote blog posts about their experience, read about Ela Conf through their eyes:

I met amazing women and had a great time, the pressure was off, no performance anxiety, everyone was refreshingly real and relatable. It was so nice to meet other women in tech, en masse, all of whom were there to lift each other up.
Ela Conf 2016
Tori Brenneison
Understand what you have can bring to the table. You have skills and a history other people are interested in - which skills? what stories? How can you best share these?
Ela Conf - day one
Lucy Bain
Respect other perspectives - as a leader, it’s your job to make work a safe place to share different ideas
Ela Conf - day two
Lucy Bain
It felt like everyone had agreed to “this is a safe place to say things you wouldn’t normally - don’t hold back” and massive props to the organisers for creating and encouraging that vibe.
Ela Conf - closing thoughts
Lucy Bain
You know how when you attend a movie at the movie theater and you feel a connection with all the people in the audience because you’re all laughing and crying and enjoying the movie together? That’s exactly what it felt like, but this was no movie-- this was real life filled with real women who felt connected to each other through each speaker’s story.
Ela Conf
Kalene Csefalvay
Demonstrate your accomplishments, ask for that promotion. Give back to your team, be a multiplier. Try to become the developer that others go to for help.
Leadership & Management: Notes from the Ela Conf 2016 Panel
Alison Rowland
Blogging helps you communicate your ideas, helps you grow as programmer and makes you a better teacher.
Technical Blogging session at Ela Conf 2016
Yash Prabhu
A lot of times what a manager does is not visible because a manager is responsible for all the things that make a team work together.
Leadership and Management Panel - Ela Conf 2016
Yash Prabhu
The two day conference was empowering, thought-provoking, and confirmed that tech is a wide category with many needs; my role was just as important.
Lessons from Ela Conf 2016
Katie Morton
Because the environment was safe and people shared their stories openly, many people connected in a meaningful way. So many speakers talked about being ourselves, because when we’re authentic, we’re better able to connect.
Ela Conf 2016
Lauren Pittenger
The entire conference is powered by women passionate about finding their place in tech and creating leadership.
Another Ela Conf, here and gone
Bri Piccari

By the Numbers

Ela Conf is run by a community of organizers and volunteers who all donate their time and resources to the event year round. We collected numbers and stats from our 2015 and 2016 events to share our growth, how we allocated funds, and a closer look into what goes into Ela Conf.

Last year we donated all profits to Girl Develop It. We didn't plan financially for 2017, which meant we started with $0 again. As a result, we've decided to put the profit toward seed money for Ela Conf 2017. This seed money means that we have a little more independence and flexibility in booking a venue and getting the planning process started. We hope to make 2017 even bigger and to make a sizable donation to Girl Develop It once again.

People 2015 2016
Total attendees 97 122
Speakers 26 36
Volunteers 5 25
Organizers 4 4
Financial and diversity grant recipients 3 11
Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) n/a 83
Sessions 2015 2016
Proposals we received 24 108
Sessions we accepted 17 26
Attendee submitted speaker feedback n/a 92
Sponsorships 2015 2016
Companies we contacted 39 149
Total company sponsors 12 14
Total individual sponsors 0 14
Total of sponsorship (after PayPal fees) $14,000.00 $18,832.80
Community 2015 2016
Slack group members 62 166
Twitter followers 367 930
Goals accountability squad members 5 15
Finances 2015 2016
Venue $1,640.00 $3,200.00
Food $6,193.98 $5,090.55
Networking event $645.37 $1,667.32
Speaker travel stipends $3,056.24 $5,426.59
Organizer travel $347.33 $1,017.34
Childcare stipend for attendees $0 $150.00
Conference swag $1,288.86 $876.74
Photography and videography $0 $3,039.51
Fee paid to our fiscal sponsor $847.98 $1,203.11
Ticket sales (after credit card fees) $2,959.50 $5,229.31
Total of sponsorship (after PayPal fees) $14,000.00 $18,832.80
Our donation to GDI $2,939.74 -
Seed money for next year $0 $2,390.95


We circulated a conference evaluation and received valuable feedback from our attendees. Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) is 83. Here are some of the highlights:

What is the most valuable thing you learned at Ela Conf?

Just how supportive the women-in-tech community is. It really made me excited to get more involved.
That I'm not alone.
We all have a story to tell
Community. I learned my people are out here.
We all have a story to tell
To strategically direct my energy into my goals, and to re-adjust my commitments that aren't serving that purpose. I gained the confidence that I DO have something valuable to talk about at conferences. I also learned the importance of getting and growing a lady squad.
Get yourself a squad and work hard at maintaining it!
I got a ton out of the breakout session workshop on Feedback.
The value of breaking the rules, the power of community
Negotiation tactics.
To dedicate time to finding a #squad that will lift me up and support me through my career path and personal life
Ooh. Ela Conf for me is less about learning specific things (how to do X) and more about thinking differently and building a supportive community. That's one of my favorite things about Ela - there are plenty of places to learn how to do specific things, but fewer resources the build community and help technologists to be better as people within a technology context.
Shine theory! I love that. Helping women is so important. And there is room for all of us, in this space. No need for competition!
I'm not too old.
It was just really powerful seeing ladies of all ages in various stages of their tech careers being represented.
Great negotiating tips! Usually they're abstract and/or require a lot of big mindset changes, but Tibbs' suggestions will be so easy to apply.
That everyone is dealing with the same things. Seeing everyone else be open, authentic, vulnerable - it was so eye-opening.
not new but reinforced that what matters most in our career paths in consistency: consistently learning, improving, growing which is challenging
The community of women in tech is so supportive and diverse, and that we all have meaningful things to contribute no matter who we are or what stage in our careers we're at.
Learned some great leadership lessons.
My feelings matter!
Every year I feel like I pick up on better insights on how to guide my career, and how to help others with theirs.
To listen to the Call Your Girlfriend podcast!
Be yourself, celebrate every achievement, and have a squad
I am enough. I'm already a badass.
I think it was less a thing, and more about the relationships. I met so many awesome women that I hope to keep in touch with!
That I am not alone
The role and importance of community (and micro-communities, e.g., squads!) for women and underrepresented folks in tech.
That some of the struggles I feel in tech are felt by other women. I learned many strategies on how to combat those things.

Photos + Videos


Play the conference playlist or jump right into a talk:

Angry Black Woman
Brittany Canty
Mary Scotton
Never Accept the First Offer
Tiberius Hefflin
The Respect Effect
Timirah James


Browse the full album.

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Meet our 36 speakers from Ela Conf 2016!

Mary Scotton
Adrienne Lowe
Alex Qin
Alicia Sedlock
Alicia V Carr
Alison Rowland
Angelina Simms
Ashley A. Bernard
Brittany Canty
Caro Griffin
Cathryn Stickel
Eleanor Whitney
Elise Wei
Elizabeth Brown
Erin Page
Hillary Rea
Ivana Veliskova
Jessica Hall
Julia Elman
Lindsay Rice Silver
Lisa Yoder
Louisa Frank
Lucy Bain
Mariam Braimah
Marianna Morris
Nicole Zhu
Rakia Finley
Rocio Delgado
Ruthie Floats
Swati Vauthrin
Tiberius Hefflin
Timirah James
Vaidehi Joshi
Yash Prabhu
Yuval Yarden
Alanna Burke


Take a look at all the talks, panels, and workshops we had at Ela Conf 2016.


Lightning talks




Ela Conf 2016 would have been a little less magical without our 25 volunteers. We appreciate all your hard work and enthusiasm into making the conference a wonderful experience.

Alex Lash
Alisha Miranda
Alyssa Dill
Angelina Simms
Becca Nock
Bri Piccari
Carol Hansen
Dawn McDougall
Dresden Shumaker
Eleanor Whitney
Erica Gramm
Gloria Bell
Heather Adams
Jen Dionisio
K'Shelle Waller
Kristen Gallagher
Lauren Pittenger
Mansi Pathak
Melissa Newman
Nadia Barbosa
Ronit Shaham
Sam Provenza
Sarah Johnson
Shanise Barona
Tracy Osborn


Joni Trythall
LeeAnn Kinney
Katy DeCorah
Arti Walker-Peddakotla