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“Geek 2 Chic events transform young, successful science and technology professionals from big brands, startup companies, government and academia into fashion models for one night.”

– Geek 2 Chic producer Mark Drapeau, Director of Innovation Social at Microsoft Corp.

Geek 2 Chic is a national charity fashion show produced by Mark Drapeau of Microsoft in partnership with Bloomingdale's. The event series raises funds for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a national nonprofit that provides programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, recognize business opportunities and plan for successful futures.

NFTE is one of our national nonprofit partners, and one of many that we’ve partnered up with for Microsoft YouthSpark, our three-year commitment to bring opportunity to 300 million young people through education, employment and entrepreneurship.

To support NFTE and YouthSpark, we’ve brought Geek 2 Chic to San Francisco for a one-of-a-kind event that will bring some of Silicon Valley’s powerhouse companies together for a good cause. We’ll be providing professional makeovers for 28 participating “geeks,” and then hosting a fashion show at Bloomingdale’s San Francisco. 100% of the proceeds raised by this event will benefit NFTE’s Bay Area office.

Leading up to the event, our Microsoft Silicon Valley team was able to interview three of our models:

· Sarah Ware, CEO of Markerly

· Christina Gagnier, a partner, IP, Internet, and tech lawyer

· Ivannia De Alba, Financial Analyst for Facebook

We chatted with these tech industry women about their life, career, and personal goals. Check out their responses below, and join us to watch the models strut their stuff on Wednesday, May 15th in Bloomingdale’s Westfield San Francisco Centre from 6-9pm. More details, including registration information available here.

Not able to attend the event in person? We’ll also be covering all key activities (and fashions) live on Twitter with @MicrosoftSV and the hashtag #Geek2Chic.

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Sarah Ware, CEO of Markerly

Are you involved with any nonprofits in the SF/SV area?

Sarah: I am new to the area, and I’m just starting to participate with Big Brothers Big Sisters. As an entrepreneur, we understand what it means to take charge of our own destiny, and that's a really powerful message to send to young people.

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Christina Gagnier, a partner, IP, Internet, and tech lawyer

Christina: I am on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Without My Consent, which works to aid and educate those who are victimized online. I believe the work they do is important for victims who oftentimes just need to be empowered to seek justice. Though the Internet and social media are so valuable for inspiration, communication and creativity, these tools are sometimes used in ways that exploit individuals, like women. We need to make sure there is accountability in place.

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Ivannia De Alba, Facebook

Ivannia: I have been involved with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) for over 10 years, and it has been an amazing experience. I have seen firsthand how it changes lives through education and empowerment. NFTE empowers students to take control of their futures by providing them the tools to understand and navigate the world around them through an entrepreneurial lens.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a graduating high school senior who wants to make a difference in his or her community?

Sarah: There are so many ways to make a difference in other people's lives, so pick one that you feel most passionate about. You can volunteer with a sports camp, a computer camp, the elderly, infants, animals, the homeless...you have choices. What inspires you?

Christina: I would share my favorite quote by Percy Ross: "A clever, imaginative humorous request opens closed doors and closed minds."

Ivannia: My advice can be encapsulated in three key statements: Be passionate, be bold and be fearless. If you want to make a difference, you already have the passion. Now, own it! Go on and be bold – feel empowered to make it happen. You are a representative for your community, and now is your chance to change the world around you. That can be your legacy. Start with what you know, create a plan, and rally people around your cause. Be empowered to have a voice, represent your community, and share your story. It’s more powerful that you think.

Microsoft YouthSpark will create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over the next three years. Where do you think the biggest gaps exist that we need to be focused on for the next generation of leaders?

Sarah:  I'd like to see more bridging of online education with real-world community building and experiments for students in schools that are getting by with the bare necessities. For example, maybe a local community would greatly benefit from the use of solar panels. If supplies are donated, teenagers could help install the panels while learning about energy. Experts in the field could volunteer their time to help educate and answer questions for the students during their project.

Christina: There is a fundamental misunderstanding about how "hi tech" and "savvy" kids today are with technology. Many kids still do not have access to technology in the ways that we may believe they do. They may also lack basic skills, like word processing. We have to make sure all kids have the skill set to participate in our information economy. We have to stop assuming "all kids" are the same in this regard.

How would you define your personal style?

Sarah: I have a very relaxed and conservative style. I'm not sure which bucket I fit into!

Christina: My personality is not girly, but my style certainly is. There is a lot of pink, dresses and high heels. Toss in fun rings and bracelets. Fashion is a fun way to express yourself, even for lawyers.

Ivannia: Classic and chic.

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On May 15th, 28 outstanding young techies will strut the catwalk at Geek 2 Chic, and a full model list is available here. 100% of ticket sales go directly to NFTE, and just $35 will get you in for general admission. Tickets are limited, so be sure to register soon! You can also upgrade to an $85 VIP ticket for event seating along the catwalk, guaranteed access to an exclusive after party, and a VIP swag bag with goodies from Microsoft, Square, and more.

Hope to see you there! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @MicrosoftSV and watch the hashtag #Geek2Chic for live updates during the evening.