Hey, Staffer! Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? An Interview with Jill Lennartz

For August’s Hey, Staffer! we interviewed Jill Lennartz. This is Jill’s first year with GeekGirlCon, but she has plenty of experience doing good for social justice. Check out our interview below!

Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?

I’m Jill, and I’m the Cosplay Contest Coordinator with GeekGirlCon. I make sure the contest happens! I do everything from finding talented cosplayers to be our judges and host, organize how the contest will be run, to running it.

What do you do for your day job/when you’re not being awesome as a GGC staffer?

I work for a tech company called CA Technologies, which is pretty sweet as a techie myself! I’m not a programmer though; I went to school for chemistry and climate science. So what am I doing at a tech company and not some research lab? The *awesome* answer is that big companies are becoming seriously responsible. I work in a department called Corporate Social Responsibility – we make sure that the company is being socially and environmentally responsible and work really hard to improving in these areas every day. Some people on my team work with organizations to bring STEM education to women and underserved populations, and others focus more on improving our environmental impacts.

Have you always considered yourself a geek?

Jill (left) with a Fallout cosplay.

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: I was going to nature camp and playing MMOs as a kid, then went into drama and science classes later in school (still playing MMOs). Total geek cred.

What sort of geeky things do you like to do in your spare time?

Lots of video games, and I’m part of a Dungeons and Dragons group. When I can I try my hand at making cosplay costumes too.

What are you currently geeking out about? (i.e. what geeky thing are you watching/reading/playing/doing?)

Games!! I’m always up for a game of Rocket League, and am currently re-playing the Borderlands Handsome Collection. I’m also really looking forward to Destiny 2, which I pre-ordered and have been playing the Beta for.

Why is playing games awesome?

I love playing online with friends from around the globe. My current gaming group consists of some Seattle-based players I met after moving here last Fall, and a bunch of Canadian players I have been playing games with since I was 17. It’s a fun and international experience!

Who do you think would be interested in Rocket League?

Rocket League is fun for all ages! I like playing the Rumble matches, which have power-ups like in Mario Kart. Fans of the series would probably enjoy Rocket League too!

Tell me about your your involvement with the UN.

I’m involved with the UN through my day job, and I could probably go on and on about all the different things we do with them. CA Technologies is part of the UN’s Global Compact (UNGC) – whose leader by the way is a woman (Lise Kingo). The UNGC is a branch of the UN that works with businesses and companies that want to be involved and make a difference in the world. There are thousands of companies involved in the Compact, and we’re all working to make the world a better place. I’m the main point of contact between CA and the UNGC, representing us at a few events every year.

We work with other organizations at the UN too. I went to an event in Silicon Valley with the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, where tech companies discussed ways they can help in humanitarian situations – like in cases of war or natural disasters. Last year I went to a UN Women bell ringing at Nasdaq on International Women’s Day

Jill (right) at the UN Women bell ringing at Nasdaq on International Women’s Day

I’ll also give a shout-out to the great people over at GreenBiz that named me one of 2016’s 30 Under 30 Sustainability Professionals. Not many young people are doing this kind of work and at this level, but I think there is plenty of room for others to step up and join me!

You recently spoke at a UN event–what was that like?

I always love talking at these events! This one was a meeting of the US companies that have signed on to the Global Compact. It’s really such a positive space, filled with business people who are all pointed in the same direction – aimed at doing good. The leader of UN Women and the HeForShe campaign (Elizabeth Nyamayaro) spoke as well – so inspiring!

I was up on stage for a panel about breakthrough technology and innovation, and how these can help make the world a better place. To my left and right were two great men – a VP at a large international company, and a Chief Technology Officer at a small tech start-up. I’m usually way too humble about what I do, so I felt a little out of place. If this happens, I just remind myself that I was asked to be there for a reason, and I deserve that seat.

Jill speaking at the UN Global Compact event.

How was the reception for your talk?

I think I did really well! The crowd found my information to be meaningful and interesting, and asked me some great questions. After the panel, I had a handful of people from around the world approach me, looking for ways to work together. I spoke to representatives from groups from South America and India. It’s amazing how small the world really is!

What other things are you interested in/do you do in your spare time?

This year I decided to try my hand at gardening… on my very small apartment porch. It’s actually going surprisingly well! I think I’ll have some good veggies in the Fall.

Other than that I love to cook, try to get out to hike when I can, and write. I’ve recently started writing articles for businesswomen and men to read. My first article was about how business can include millennials in decision making. I’m also training to run a Disney half-marathon in November, so that’s taking up some time.

How did you get involved with GeekGirlCon?

I moved to Seattle recently, and was looking into local organizations that I could join to make it feel like home. As you can tell from my work, I believe strongly in causes like gender equality and STEM education. I stumbled upon GeekGirlCon, and you all had an awesome opening for a Cosplay Contest Coordinator! What luck finding a place with a mission that is so close to my heart, where I can serve others who love my hobby of Cosplay.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of GeekGirlCon?

Everyone here has the same goal – to improve the diversity of and celebrate women in STEAM disciplines. The badass staff at GeekGirlCon are some of the most genuinely compassionate and driven people I’ve met. It’s so uplifting and encouraging to be among a great group of people that want to share their passions with each other and their community.

 

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JC Lau
“Rock On!”

JC Lau

Previously disguised as a college professor and family lawyer, JC Lau is an Australian video game journalist and writer living in Seattle.

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