Product Designer and Co-Founder of Pivot to Civic

Genesia is a 19-year-old product designer and co-founder of Pivot to Civic — an initiative which aims to build a talent pipeline of budding designers, developers, and product people into the social impact technology space. She currently works at the cornerstone of civic tech and is passionate about the interactions and impacts of design worldwide.

What does diversity mean to you?

To me, diversity means everyone in the room has a fair and equitable right to voice their opinion. You simply cannot have a conversation about diversity without speaking on equal terms. Socioeconomic diversity matters as much as gender and racial diversity – and understanding privilege, opportunity, and all of its intersections can contribute to a more diverse environment.

Why do you care about diversity?

Representation matters.  As a community-college transfer and woman of color, I’ve had a number of odds stacked against me.  Though I recognize that some underrepresented individuals will always have a more difficult experience than I will, I think it’s extremely unfortunate that even in this day and age, not all individuals start on equal footing.  Diversity of not only genetic makeup but also professional experience is necessary. Although easier said than done, ultimately a broad range of demographics can enhance a team’s ability to problem-solve from different perspectives.

How can we build more inclusive communities?

Leverage allyship, hire more diverse candidates (but not just those from elite institutions or geographical “tech hubs”), and speak up as much as you can! Conventional progression in the workplace can be relative, but with more inclusive communities, we can learn to become more perceptive peers or coworkers and begin to incrementally scale that empathy.

What is your advice to a young person starting their career or entrepreneurial journey?

Seek out communities of like-minded individuals.  It can be tough and nebulous jumpstarting an initiative from scratch or finding that perfect position. Finding valuable peers, advice, and resources are important and relatively accessible in this day and age.  Try to put yourself in creatively uncomfortable situations – I’ve found that it’s an accountable way to measure personal and creative growth! Learn new skills, experiment with different mediums, or even do something that scares you (within reason). Also, be sure to take a breather every once in a while.