Toni Warren – Suncoast Developers Guild

Describe your relevant work history, awards, and accomplishments:

I was born in South Carolina, raised in Virginia, and live in Florida, where I learned to love the southeast, sunny weather, and chihuahuas.

After receiving my MBA from the University of Tampa, I began to share the impact of how technology can help nonprofit organizations assist the community. My passion is people and I believe technology can help individuals achieve better results, quicker.

As former Campus Director of The Iron Yard, I understand the needs of talented developers and local employers. Over 150 developers came through the program and were placed locally and internationally at companies that ranged from startup, midsize, and enterprise levels.

I am now proud to serve as the President of the Suncoast Developers Guild, where the mission is to provide those seeking an education in software development with the technical and soft skills they need to pursue rewarding careers as programmers. We also seek to promote a sense of community among local technology organizations, supporting members and promoting the common good.

I have proven to be a transformational influence within Tampa Bay, by managing the startup of The Iron Yard code academy in St. Petersburg, organizing over 30 tech meetups, captaining Software Engineering and Web Development tracks of Tampa Bay Startup Week, providing volunteer kids coding classes, and having done speaking engagements on disruptive educational models.

My unyielding commitment to critical workforce development will propel Tampa Bay and surrounding region to new heights in national recognition.

What do you love about the Tampa Bay area?

When I became involved in the Tampa Bay tech community, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming everyone was, especially the developer community. The combination of an emerging and nurturing tech community with the perfect weather and beautiful scenery has made it easy to call Tampa Bay my home.

One of ETL’s initiatives is providing peer to peer mentorship, which is why I am passionate about this group. If you are new to Tampa Bay or the tech community and are looking for a group to join or social event to attend and want a friend to join, please reach out. I would love to join you at a Suncoast Developers Guild or Tampa Bay Tech Meetup. I am also open to exploring new groups and meeting others in the industry that are exploring new technologies or building our ecosystem.

What are some of your favorite things to do around town when you aren’t working?

You can often find me on the bay in Tampa or St. Pete, walking my chihuahua. My weekends consist of a lot of gardening, biking, and vegan meals.

We also have so many wonderful organizations to get involved with, it’s hard to pick one. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful and The Humane Society of Tampa Bay both have great opportunities to volunteer and get involved that are related to my personal passion projects. Women Who Code, Girl Develop It, and Code for Tampa Bay also have volunteer opportunities but are doing some great events to facilitate developing and refining your coding skills.

How do you give your time back in the community?

We offer free kids classes with Suncoast Developers Guild Jr. simply to expose as many people  – especially our future leaders – to this powerful skillset to see if they enjoy it. Everyone involved in the planning, hosting, and instruction are volunteers.

I’m often working with the Tampa Bay community on various initiatives to keep us innovative. Some of the topics include diversity in tech, the talent gap, and disruptive education models. Educating and empowering our community is not just a privilege but also essential.

This was also the fourth year as Track Captain for Web Development at Tampa Bay Startup Week. The track aims to bring the developer and startup community together to share knowledge and empower each other with their varying skill sets.

Tell us about the tech project that you are most proud of.

Supporting over 150 developers in Tampa Bay during their journey to learn web development, and by default, single-handedly strengthening the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in the community. Those grads are no longer just junior developers. They are creating products, hiring people, and giving back.

I was originally attracted to The Iron Yard because there were no other code schools in Tampa Bay. If someone wants access to an immersive, intensive code education, they would have to leave our beautiful city and learn elsewhere. This is not fair for our community nor our employers and entrepreneurs. I am proud to have led the team that changed that trajectory.

If we have ideas and products we want to build locally, we can now cultivate and nurture that skillset here. We no longer have to take our ideas to another city because we don’t have the resources via talent to do so. Being able to educate a dedicated and passionate group of developers right here in Tampa Bay, with the tools and skills set that our companies and startups need is extraordinarily rewarding. It lets you see the ecosystem in full circle.

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