Agile2019 – Recap Women In Agile

By Cheryl Hammond, Co-Chair (WiA @ Agile20xx)

On the Sunday afternoon before Agile2019, the 300 people (our largest audience ever – sold out) in the Women in Agile community convened in Washington, D.C. for our annual, international, half-day conference. I’ve been privileged to be a part of these events since they began, and each year we’ve chosen a theme to organize our ideas and activities: 2016 Inform, 2017 Empower, 2018 Expand, and this year: Activate! (Being of a certain age, I can’t help thinking about Wonder Twin Powers whenever I say it…)

Code of Conduct

Before the conference even began, I had the privilege of sitting down with Paul Hammond (no relation, as far as we know) and Becky Hartman from the Agile Alliance Board, who would be presenting the Agile Alliance’s—and therefore, by extension, our—conference Code of Conduct later in the day. Every year, the Alliance has done meaningful work to further develop the Code of Conduct and how it’s presented, both at our conference and at the big Agile20xx event. At the kickoff of our event, we got to see them present the latest iteration, and both Becky and Paul spoke from the heart about how our Code of Conduct is intended to create a conference environment that actively welcomes those of us who haven’t always felt we belonged at a large tech industry gathering. I remember those days and that difference is personal for me!


Stephanie Thomas, founder of Cur8able and creator of the Disability Fashion Styling System™, shared her personal journey helping people with disabilities dress with confidence, dignity, and self-reliance. As a member of the conference program team, I came in familiar with Stephanie’s TEDx talk and her interview with Vox, among others, but the talk she shared with us was even more personal and relatable for Women in Agile than I expected. Years ago, Stephanie observed a lack of accessibility in the fashion industry—shutting out people with disabilities, their family and friends, and an estimated $6 trillion in their aggregate income—and initially assumed that large established design and retail systems would want to change when presented with data and rational argument. Sound familiar, agilists?

Stephanie had built a successful career in journalism and media while pursuing access as a “hobby”. Then she flipped the script, going back to college for an additional degree in fashion. That’s when she discovered that speaking the industry’s language opened doors that had previously been closed to her. Knowing how the industry worked gave her the power to claim her place in it and disrupt it. She activated her passion and made it her vocation!

Along the way, I appreciated learning more respectful ways to think about people with seated body types (a new term for me). Individuals may identify using either people-first or identity-first terminology, a good reminder to be open and curious about what matters to the person we’re talking to, rather than making assumptions.


Each year, we devote most of our conference time to collaboration, and in 2019 we used the World Café format to activate “neighborhoods” in our (big!) meeting space—groups of tables representing Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Chinatown, and Adams Morgan—around a series of three broad, ambitious questions:

  • What is the commitment you hold that brought you into this space?
  • What can we create together that will make a difference in our communities?
  • What do I promise?

Yogita Dhond, Rose Hyde, and Kate Mountain served as our “baristas” for the day, shepherding each neighborhood through the process of idea generation and dissemination, of course with a healthy dose of networking and new productive relationships along the way. We wrote, drew, and laughed together as each table and neighborhood figured out how they wanted to engage with these questions and connect with others to activate creative ideas. Each neighborhood shared out key concepts, and we collected all the colorful table sheets at the end of the day to archive and browse later!

Launching New Voices

Capping off an energizing event, our inspiring New Voices speakers—women of promise with no prior national conference speaking experience—delivered three short talks that remind us how bright the future of Women in Agile truly is. Leah Burman shared the story of NASA’s 1969 Apollo program, the inspiring technical women who helped us get to the moon, and how agile principles are evident in their path to success; Nazee Hajebi helped us understand the impact of trauma, both physical and psychological, and how to create a safe environment for our teams to thrive; and Arundhati Dutta taught us ways to improve our coaching with concrete techniques for greater empathy. Leah and Arundhati have also shared their impressions of the conference overall!

We’ve only been doing LNV for a few years, but past protégés have already gone on to extraordinary careers as conference speakers and leaders in the WiA community. We’re excited to see where this year’s speakers’ journeys will take them!

Closing thoughts

On a whim, I asked from the stage how many in the audience were attending a Women in Agile conference for the first time, and I was so shocked by the percentage of upraised hands! Perhaps it was the Washington, D.C. effect—when I used to work in the public sector, every low-cost professional conference that didn’t require travel was a development opportunity to be seized. Still, I can’t help but think about the momentum we’ve built as an organization—Women in Agile became a 501(c)(3) non-profit this year—and the increase in attendance year over year, to the point that we’re now filling the Agile Alliance’s largest spaces to capacity with a wait list.

We can’t wait to see you next July 19 in Orlando, Florida. If you’re interested in serving as a volunteer organizer or an LNV mentor, or applying to speak as an LNV protégé, follow @womeninagileorg on Twitter to catch all our calls to Activate! in 2020 and beyond!

Thank you to our T-shirt sponsors of this event, Accenture|Solutions IQ and subscribe to our Women in Agile Podcast!

Recap of BAI Presents: Women in Agile

Two weeks ago, the Conference Allyship program of Women in Agile partnered with a new conference for a new event format and new topic. The result was BAI Presents: Women in Agile (sponsored by Accenture | Solutions IQ). Our inaugural partnership with both Accenture | Solutions IQ and the Business Agility Institute was a great success. If you missed it, here’s the recap.

Fabiola Eyholzer


Keynote: Fabiola Eyholzer

The event was held in New York City and was kicked off with a social hour and networking leading up to a fantastic keynote. Fabiola Eyholzer, CEO of Just Leading Solutions and Agile HR expert, keynoted for an audience of 80 people discussing diversity of thought and its importance in the workplace in The Power of Female Leaders in the Agile Enterprise. She highlighted some key problems to not having a diverse workplace and expressed greater overall diversity (not only gender) as a vital marker of successful organizations.

The targeted networking and skill building event of the evening was Speed Mentoring. Groups of 5-7 people sat together and made a backlog of topics they are experts on. They dot-voted to prioritize who would speak first and then one person practiced their speaking on the fly skills and mentoring the others in the group on their chosen (agile related or not) topic for 5-7 minutes. It was a great way to break the ice and practice teaching, speaking, and mentoring skills in a low pressure environment. (for more info and instructions please email)

Women sitting in a circle - speed mentoring


Speed Mentoring Group

Finally we ended the evening with a high stakes game of group Rock-Paper-Scissors with books for the winners. We hope to see you next year and at any of our other Conference Allyship / WiA Flagship Events. We look forward to continue helping grow this outstanding community through events like this in the future!

Resources: Slides from Fabiola’s Keynote

Thank you to our sponsors

BAI Presents: Women in Agile 2019

Join us for another edition and conference pairing of Women in Agile, sponsored by Solutions IQ and hosted by the Business Agility Conference. Great leaders come in all forms, and gender should not matter when determining if someone has the individual strengths and characteristics to lead employees. But even though men and women are equally qualified, many barriers still persist and women are still underrepresented in top leadership.

This is about to change: Feminine traits long considered as drawbacks to strong people management are the key strengths of 21st-century leadership. But the new leadership approach is about far more than equality and closing the gender gap. It is about creating workplaces that stand for empowering employees and embracing a diversity of thought while shaping the next generation of leaders, that can successfully guide people in an age of uncertainty and change.

Keynote: Fabiola Eyholzer

Join us for Women in Agile, a half-day conference focused on implementing business agility through agile HR and active mentoring. The keynote speaker will be Fabiola Eyholzer. Fabiola Eyholzer is a pioneer in Lean | Agile People Operations and CEO of Just Leading Solutions LLC, a New York based consultancy for Agile HR. In two decades as Management Consultant and Executive Advisor, Fabiola has worked with numerous key players across various industries and countries. They seek her expertise in Business Agility, Human Resources, Compensation & Performance Management, Operations & Processes, and Strategy. Together with her team, she helps enterprises to accelerate their agile transformation by focusing on their crucial asset: their people.

After the keynote, participants will engage in interactive activities (speed mentoring and presentation karaoke) to discuss and implement what they’ve learned. We look forward to this exciting pre-conference event and hope you will join us for Women in Agile!

Recap of the Women in Agile Conference at Agile2018

By: Joanna Vahlsing @joannavahlsing

The Women in Agile Conference at Agile2018 was sold out this year at 230 registrants and a waitlist dozens long. Last year we had over a hundred participants, and the year before that around 80. Love all the support for the Women in Agile community.

Natalie Warnert kicked us off with a warm welcome, an overview of the logistics of the event and really spoke to the reasons why the work we’re doing is so important, and that everyone there was playing a role.

She turned it over to Paul Hammond and Becky Hartman, who gave a brief update to the Code of Conduct and asked for participation in a voting exercise on the frequency of various issues that one may have experienced and/or witnessed. This information was used in the Agile Tonight segment later that week, where there was be a session on diversity and inclusion and ideas for how to be more proactive to help elevate the learning for everyone. Psychological safety was also a topic.

Then it was time to welcome April Wensel, founder of Compassionate Coding to deliver our keynote. Her keynote was titled Expanding Your Circle of Compassion for Greater Impact.

The wonderful Tamsen Mitchell created the below graphic.

After the break, it was time to break into our groups for facilitated Lean Coffee topics. We had a lively discussion about the topics and were able to get a lot of great ideas and helpful content when the tables shared their biggest learnings.

Working session on ideas for how to support Women in Agile

After the final break, it was time for the Launching New Voices program.

Suzi Webber spoke on Working Collaboratively – the power for treating people like adults, where she shared a story of how she and her son worked through conflict and the techniques that she learned and applied. Suzi’s recap of her experience can be found here.

Then Farzenah Orak shared she very moving and motivating story about how she was able to overcome setbacks and reach her goals. Impressive all-around! Her recap of the experience can be found here.

It was a wonderful way to kick off the Agile2018 conference and looking forward to continued success. If you’re interested in helping Women in Agile, please reach out to


Women in Agile Hosts their 3rd Annual Women in Agile Conference at Agile2018

On Sunday, August 5, 2018, Women in Agile held their third annual Women in Agile Conference at Agile2018. April Wensel, founder of Compassionate Coding, keynoted the sold-out event, and the group of over 200 participated in a Lean Coffee session before the two New Voices each took the stage to share their story. Huge appreciation to Tamsen Mitchell for the graphical recordings of the event.

Videos of the event can be found at the bottom of the Agile Alliance Initiative page.

For a recap of the event, check out this post, and we hope to see you at next year’s event. If you’re interested in helping Women in Agile, please reach out to

Graphical Recording by Tamsen Mitchell