Molly Devine is a nonprofit professional currently supporting Women Who Code as the Individual Giving Manager. She has a passion for building relationships. Her expertise centers on communication best practices and strategic planning to garner philanthropic stewardship. When she’s not working, she enjoys exploring her creative side through baking, crafting, and art, and also lavishing her dogs with a good life. She works hard so they don’t have to!
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I grew up in a Christian household as the youngest of four children. My parents instilled a belief in treating others with kindness and giving back when you could. My parents were very supportive and gave me opportunities to pursue passions in art, music, and sports.
I had two “dream jobs” growing up, President of the USA and Oprah. I think what drew me to both dream careers was the ability to make a difference. As President, I could be an agent of change for the citizens of the USA, and I always saw Oprah giving things away to people and sparking joy.
I had a couple great male role models growing up. My dad and my grandpa on my mom’s side were the type of people who recognized my potential and pushed me to my fullest. They believed my gender didn’t define my potential. I specifically remember when I was 10, I told my dad I wanted to be president and he took a rubber band and wrote “Devine 2023” on it and placed it around his wrist and told me I had my first support. On top of role models at home, as I grew, I developed a passion for reading biographies and watching commencement speakers. I loved learning about the varied and unique paths to success and finding inspiration from leaders. I still enjoy these things today.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
When I was 15 my dad died unexpectedly. My siblings were mostly grown and out of the house, but I was still in high school. Financially there was a lot of uncertainty at home. I was in a private school and went on scholarship. My mom had to use money that had been put in my savings for college to pay our property tax. We moved to a smaller house and had to sell our home at a loss because it was during the housing market crash of 2008.
I think I was forced to grow more quickly at that point. Tragedy is hard in many ways. Sometimes you are weak and others hold you up and sometimes you have to be the strong one. I have a memory of my oldest brother who is 11 years my senior slumped against me on the stairs crying.
My dad was great with practical advice. As I have grown, I recognize that our personalities were very similar. I miss him when I have to make a big decision like where to go to college, what major to choose, how to find my first job, am I being paid fairly, how do I negotiate, etc. It is hard not having that person there for feedback, but it has also caused me to rely on my instincts and stand on my own.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
WWCode is not my endeavor. CEO,Alaina Perciva,l and 3 other entrepreneurial women launched the nonprofit when I was still in college, but I am proud to support their initiatives and I am glad they went for it!
They were gathering as a group of women in San Francisco supporting each other, sharing projects and job opportunities with each other and they knew that others needed access to this community. They were right. In 10 years they have grown a small gathering into a global endeavour with 343,000 members from 147 different countries.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
At WWCode, the mission is to empower diverse women to excel in tech careers. As Individual Giving Manager, it is my job to help make the mission come to life. I work to find supports who believe in the mission enough to support it as philanthropists. This can include making a personal donation, donating your time or talents, connecting us to your friends and family who may be interested in supporting, or linking us up with your company to engage their corporate social responsibility. I want to ensure that the lights stay on at Women Who Code and that we never have to turn someone away from finding the resources they need to thrive. It costs $27 to ensure one woman has access to our programming and resources. With a global community of 343,000 members, we need at least $9 million dollars annually to fully support the community and as a nonprofit, we rely on community support to make that happen.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
As someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who is still trying to find that “it” idea and launch it, I think the hardest part can be knowing where to start. I think the best thing you can do is have people in your corner who you can trust, bounce ideas off of, and give you encouragement.
A while back I saw a post on LinkedIn that said something like, “build your personal board of directors.” I think about this post often and I am constantly relying on support from my personal board to help move me forward.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Women Who Code was about 8 years old moving into the pandemic. As an organization we were able to be very nimble in navigating the pandemic. Going completely virtual gave us the opportunity to expand out global outreach. Our engagement from around the globe grew from having member representation in around 22 countries to 147 countries.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I think the greatest accomplishments come from perseverance. I try to celebrate my ability to remain positive, optimistic, and per resilient. It is easy to despair, when things don’t seem to be going your way or when you don’t seem to be crossing off goals, or big goals, but if we celebrate the small wins, we are able to see our true impact and progress.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I think there are a lot of things I would like to see change in the world, but I think the overarching theme is more people understanding that everyone has inherent value and should be treated as such.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
I think the most important thing I have learned is to stay open to new opportunities. There are so many things that push us out of our comfort zone and our first instinct may be to say no, but it can lead to new opportunities and experiences that may change your life.
A motto I try to live by relates to this, It is a quote by William Shedd, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for.” We can stay safe or we can adventure forward.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I think it is great to continue seeing women break through into leadership roles. It makes me think of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Ginsberg was asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court and she replied, “when there are nine.” I think the talent is out there for women and it is great that more women are finally being recognized for their contribution.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
I think the biggest piece of advice I would give to young women reading this is to not be afraid to ask for help or find the support you need. No one succeeds on their own and as women leaders, we should be looking for ways to support the next generation of leaders.Give support where you can. And to the young leaders, use us as a resource. Lean on us. Let us mentor you. Let us help you rise.