Interviews, North America

Melanie Feliciano – Tech Storyteller Web Video Producer

Gender is becoming more fluid, so it’s not that we need more women in tech – we need more balance in how we decide to apply tech to business and our lives.

Melanie Feliciano is a traveling tech storyteller web video producer and performance artist based in Orlando, Fla.

In a nutshell, tell us a bit about your job, and what role technology plays in it?

Since 2011, I have been a multimedia producer for Nashp.org, a health policy think tank based in Washington, DC. This means I manage the infrastructure of the web site and all its content using multiple tech skills: coding cascading style sheets and editing php files; formatting Excel spreadsheets for interactive maps, charts and infographics; gathering and analyzing web traffic data/statistics; troubleshooting spam attacks and managing domain names; designing marketing newsletters and editing video; recording and converting webinar files; and during the organization’s annual conference in August, I am shooting photos and posting on social media. The best part about my job is I work remotely and I have had the freedom to live in multiple cities. In this sense, tech plays an immense role in my career.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

After graduating with a journalism degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1997, I landed my first job as a journalist and web producer at MichiganLive.com, where I wrote articles, coded HTML pages and designed interactive maps with Dreamweaver and Photoshop. Within 3 years I moved to San Francisco to work as a writer/producer at Latino.com, a startup based in a women’s tech incubator, led by Lavonne Luquis, a Puerto Rican tech entrepreneur, who I consider to be my “Career Tia.” Eventually the startup folded but my relationship with my “Career Tia” continued as I worked as managing editor of a community newspaper in Miami and a startup multimedia outlet for angel investors. When the recession hit in 2008 and I lost all my journalistic work, I relied on my tech skills to stay afloat and ended up in Washington, D.C. at NASHP.org. Tech is an industry dominated by men who I believed at the time valued women more for their looks than for their ideas, so before heading to DC, I launched TheFemmebots.com at Miami’s Art Basel in 2009 to make commentary on my experience. This led to attending a post graduate film school at American University in Washington, DC and Prague in the Czech Republic, shooting a live action web series about a female mad scientist trying to court tech investors, then raising $10k on Kickstarter to create an animated version of the series in New York. By November 2019, I was invited to speak on a LatinX tech panel at Wonder Women Tech in California, where I met Martha Hernandez, founder of MadeBos. Together we co-founded CareerTias.org to help the next generation of Latinas convert their tech addiction into marketable career skills.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

Identity.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

I created my fictional character “Dr. Nutmeg,” a female “mad” scientist who builds and programs Femmebots to brainwash men into serving women.

Femmebots or Fembots, aka female robots programmed by men to serve as personal assistants (Siri, Alexa) or sex slaves. In response, I created my fictional character “Dr. Nutmeg,” a female “mad” scientist who builds and programs Femmebots to brainwash men into serving women.

We always hear there are not enough women working in Tech. What needs to happen to change that? Using your own words, why do we need women-focused groups in the tech community?

Gender is becoming more fluid, so it’s not that we need more women in tech – we need more balance in how we decide to apply tech to business and our lives.

Gender is becoming more fluid, so it’s not that we need more women in tech – we need more balance in how we decide to apply tech to business and our lives. For example, do we want the next generation to be spending 8-10 hours per day looking at screens and becoming anxious and depressed? Or do we want tech to enhance our levels of happiness and satisfaction with our lives?

What skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the acutal tech skills)?

Resilience
Deductive reasoning
Critical thinking
Creativity

What and who were the influencers of who you are today?

My father
My aunt
My sister
My mentors Lavonne Luquis and Hazel Henderson, my angel investor and founder of EthicalMarkets.com

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Don’t jump out the bedroom window!

Melanie Feliciano is a traveling tech storyteller web video producer and performance artist based in Orlando, Fla.

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