Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader Spotlight: Shimira Williams

05/12/2015 | By Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

This post originally appeared on

shimirawms_1380489557_07One-line bio: I'm a catalyst to implement technology in underserved communities.

Find me in...Pittsburgh, PA

Find me on...Twitter @tekstart and @productivityllc

Favorite Twitter Hashtag: #ecetech

What’s your day job? 

I’m an Integration Specialist for TekStart and Productivity, LLC. I develop digital citizens.

What do you like to do for fun?

Travel and attend concerts

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?

Mildred Davison (my paternal grandmother), because she lives and works in the same community, allowing her to build in-depth relationships with her students and their families. She’s known for the high expectations she holds for her students, as well as proactively working with their parents to make sure they succeed. Now retired and living in the same community, whenever Mildred runs into a former student, they often times reminisce on the lessons she taught them or how she built up their confidence.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?

The Startup Weekend newsletter and social media.

What's been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?

I was on the Organizing Team for the first Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh event in February 2015. (Follow @SWEDUPgh to find out when the next one will be).


What's the most challenging thing about being an Organizer?

One of the most challenging things is coordinating the meals: trying to cater to everyone’s dietary restrictions, be cost-effective, as well as offer a variety. We have to keep our participants well-nourished because they’re working around-the-clock to create great new innovations.

What's the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer?

The most rewarding thing is when I run into participants and they are talking about their projects. Also, when I read news about our teams, it makes me proud.

What's the biggest piece of advice you'd give to those trying to build an education innovation community?

Collaborate to optimize your competitive advantage and harness your social capital.

What's the biggest piece of advice you'd give to people trying to create edtech products?

Spend time with your intended end users to fully understand their lifestyle and culture.

What's the legacy you'd like to leave in education?

Developing a blueprint to engage underserved communities in S.T.E.M. education by harnessing the economic development in the area.


What's your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?

My favorite edtech company is Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), because they keep reinventing how to deliver educational content to children and their families. Their adaptability to new media, while still maintaining their mission and quality, is inspiring. It’s classic and cutting edge, a true marker of innovation and sustainability.

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would be free of barriers to entry. Education would be equitable, not equal.

What are the books, events, videos, etc. that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out? The Fred Forward Conference, Startup Weekend (any edition), We the Geeks a Google Hangout on Air via the White House. A must read is Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. Also, here’s my book list for the year; it’s innovation-inspired.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Be passionate and resilient.


More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.