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Michael Chow is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Michael Chow is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Michael Chow

Michael Chow, Data Scientist at RStudio, will be honored during the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty on Aug. 26.

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The third annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event serves to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region. 

At this year's event, taking place Friday, Aug. 26, Melva Torres will be one of the 40 honorees. 

Biography

Michael Chow is a data scientist and researcher, who works on free and open source tools for data analysis at RStudio.

Chow is interested in connecting technical folks with nonprofits in Philadelphia, with the goal of supporting nonprofits in overcoming technical challenges and to educate technical folks on impactful work going on in the communities they live.

He formerly was a co-director for Code for Philly, a community that connects technical folks with nonprofit projects. During his time there, Code for Philly worked with Prevention Point and Health Federation to run a six-week data hackathon around the opioid crisis; Penn Medicine to create a COVID-19 hospital capacity planning tool; and legal organizations to educate and mobilize tech workers around criminal justice reform. 

As part of the lead-up to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees a set of identical questions and collected their responses. 

Here are Michael Chow's responses: 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?

While co-directing Code for Philly, the challenge of matching up non-profit projects with volunteers haunted me. Sometimes, a lot of volunteers work on something, and it might stall or veer off course. Sometimes, a single person works on something, and they knock it out of the park. It's tricky finding what works.

We've been really lucky to build a strong community and partnerships over the last 10 years, and I'm excited to see Code for Philly's new leadership team work on connecting volunteers with impactful organizations in Philly!

What are steps that can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

In software engineering, there has been a lot of talk about hiring funnels, community, and mentorship. However, some people have pointed out that the tools we use all day, every day, were not really created by or with a diverse group of people. Until we have tools built "with and not just for" people with a diverse set of identities and lived experiences, I think it poses a serious barrier to entry.

What does being a leader mean to you?

Several times at Code for Philly we'd start a partnership with an organization, and find a technical volunteer who had been riding along with them —quietly supporting some critical function — for years. People who don't need an introduction, who look up organizations and volunteer and become best friends with them. I think about them all the time when thinking about leadership.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I'm really interested in tools that make data analysis a delight to learn and do. So hopefully still something related to that!

The 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will take place Friday, Aug. 26 at The Vie at Cescaphe. To learn more or purchase your ticket, click here

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