Donna Abrusci

business program manager

Donna Abrusci
Meet Donna
Donna Abrusci is a Business Program Manager covering Operations and Philanthropic related activities in the New York Metro region. In June 2016 Donna reached 21 years with Microsoft. Donna’s role is quite diverse which allows her to work across a variety of business groups therefore offers her the ability to know many of the Microsoft employees in the New York and New Jersey area. Donna and her team work with varying non-profit organizations, including but not limited to, Girls Who Code, City Year New York and We Connect The Dots.

Girls Who Code Returns to Microsoft New York for their Summer Immersion Program!

Summer 2017’s Girls Who Code Instructors: Abigail Miller, teaching assistant; Arabia Simeon, teaching assistant; Remina Greenfield, lead teacher

Microsoft New York will welcome for the third consecutive summer 20 students to attend the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. We kick off on July 5!

We are very excited to continue to host this program which inspires, educates, and equips young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st-century opportunities.

We have a stimulating lineup for the girls this summer. In addition to learning to code, we will have the opportunity to provide workshops, field trips and speaking engagements to enhance their learning.

Our first field trip will be to the Microsoft Technology Center for a tech demo in the Envisioning Center, followed by a Moderated Career Panel Discussion and a Microsoft YouthSpark presentation.

Another field trip will be to the Microsoft Flagship Store on 5th Avenue where the girls will receive a VIP tour which will include experiencing HoloLens.  That will be most exhilarating.

We will also be visiting LinkedIn where the girls will have an opportunity to be introduced to their team, experience a Tech Talk focused on LinkedIn Overview & the Economic Graph, a tour of the office, a workshop on Design Thinking and wrapping up the experience with a panel discussion with the Women at LinkedIn.

Now, back at the office, we will bring in several speakers, internal and external leaders, during the course of the program. One of the speaking engagements I am truly looking forward to is bringing back last year’s Girls Who Code teacher, Maya McCoy, who taught our Girls Who Code class in 2016 as well as one of the 2015 teaching assistants, Louise Lai. The extra special part here is the both Maya and Louise are both returning this summer of 2017 within Microsoft TEALS as a Regional Program Manager and with our Microsoft team as a Civic Tech Fellow, respectively. Talk about coming full circle.

The graduation ceremony in August is always an exciting time.  The girls will have the opportunity to present their projects that they created over the summer to their family and friends.  

These girls certainly have an exciting summer ahead of them and we are thrilled to be a part of it!

DigiGirlz NYC #MakeWhatsNext

On Wednesday, May 17th, close to one hundred high school girls from the New York Metro area gathered at the Microsoft 11 Times Square office to be inspired to #MakeWhatsNext.

We had a full agenda for the girls with opening remarks made by Microsoft’s Felicia Guity, General Manager Worldwide Education Channel.  She shared very inspiring words, including but not limited to, women have power and why girls should consider STEM.  This sparked insightful questions from the audience.  One of those questions was by a girl who shared she is very good in math however not much on the technical side and wanted to know how she could incorporate math into a technical company.  Well Felicia answered that there are many opportunities even if someone is not technical, referencing varying roles such as Sales, Finance and Human Resources, which are great roles to utilize math skills.

After opening remarks, the girls went through a rotation of three break-out sessions consisting of an Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) Envisioning Demo, Intro to Coding hosted by ScriptEd and a Career Development/Personal Branding session hosted by Germosen Education Advisors and by IAMCP, respectively.

As I rotated with one of the groups through each session I had the opportunity to coincidentally meet one of the girls who will be attending the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program we will be hosting in our 11 Times Square office, small world!  She took a bus, on DigiGirlz Day and will be doing the same each day of the upcoming GWC program, from where she lives to the 11 Times Square office which took a duration of one and half hours, one way.  That is dedication to STEM!

This same girl participated in one of the demos in the Envisioning Center by getting up to experience the Skype Translation feature.  She spoke Spanish which was then translated in English to the recipient and vice versa.  It was quite an exciting experience for her.

During ScriptEd’s Into to Coding, the girls were taught basics of JavaScript.  The session opened with a group circle for introductions and each girl shared a superpower they wanted to have, many wanted to fly.  By the end of the session, each girl had a new superpower, coding!

IAMCP hosted an insightful session on Personal Branding led by Lisa Eyerkuss, President of Corporate Training Group, Inc., and a college prep session hosted by Julissa Germosen, Founder/CEO of Germosen Education Advisors.

After lunch the girls ended their day with an outstanding career panel moderated by Dr. Felicia Guity, our panelists:

  • Nashira Layade – Senior VP @ Realogy Holdings Corp
  • Maurya Couvare – Co-Founder/Executive Director @ ScriptEd
  • Lisa Eyerkuss – Founder/President @ Corporate Training Group
  • Laurie Carey – Founder @ We Connect the Dots
  • CAT Susch – Technology Architect @ Microsoft Corporation
  • Farah Kirshteyn – Senior A.E. @ Arrow Systems Integration

As our DigiGirlz Day ended, I had an opportunity to ask one of the DigiGirlz what her favorite part of the event was and she shared that it was Intro to Code (she loves coding!) and Personal Branding. She is fairly new to coding and learned a lot of new things. On the Personal Branding, she shared that it was something she never thought of and left that session with some great insights.

WOW!  What a day these girls had, they all left with some great new experiences, new friends and were encouraged throughout the day to be themselves and to #MakeWhatsNext.

#MakeBetterHappen — City Year AmeriCorps Member Appreciation Month

Do you know that March is City Year AmeriCorps Member Appreciation Month? Well, if you don’t, let me tell you a bit about City Year New York and the amazing team we sponsor at JHS218 James P Sinnott in Brooklyn. This will help you understand why there is an entire month for us to show our appreciation for their work.

City Year works to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support students actually need, and what their schools are designed to provide. Their teams of AmeriCorps members work as tutors, mentors and role models to help students reach 10th grade on time and on track, making them three times more likely to graduate.

I had an opportunity to speak with City Year Impact Manager, Matt Davidson, and he shared with me some of the exciting events and programs that he and his Corps members are providing at JHS218, which are having such a positive impact on the students, school and community.

During the month of February, the team hosted a social affirmation event to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Each student was asked to write something positive about themselves, their school or their community. These writings were anonymous and were posted in a common area to create positive awareness on the Wall of Appreciation for the entire month.

For Pi Day, 3/14, the JHS218 team planned a carnival of different math activities to use as an alternate way for the students to get excited about math. Since the New York area experienced a snowstorm on Pi Day this has been rescheduled. I look forward to hearing the outcome!

STEM week will be hosted at the end of April. This will be an all week-long event where students will conduct science experiments as a way of learning in a different way and practicing mindfulness. It will also provide a positive distraction from the stress of their standardized tests.

The Corps members also lead several clubs after school such as coding, science and dance. These clubs will run through spring break. They also oversee a college and career readiness program.

Wow, right!? And this is just a sampling of what they are doing to make an impact at the school. They are really making better happen!

As the Corps members reach the end of their year of service, some of them will be moving onto graduate masters programs. One Corps member will be attending Fordham University, another will be going to the University of Southern California and a third will be attending the University of Minnesota. Impressive! Not only are they currently making better happen for the students of JHS218, they will be making better happen for themselves. I can’t wait to see what is next for them.

Additionally, a current Corps member is looking to stay on at City Year to be a team leader. True dedication.

Thank you to the entire AmeriCorps team at JHS218! Not only do you give a year of service, you also give your heart and soul to the school and students, and are truly making a difference.

  • Chelsea Bowens
  • Lily Cannon
  • N’Dia Dugue
  • Bri Fisher
  • Liza Gerwig
  • Alyissa Gooding
  • Brian McGovern
  • Nikita Stewart
  • David Tom
  • Michael Ventura

# THANKYOUCORPS!

City Year New York Makes a Difference at JHS218 James P Sinnott Middle School

City Year New York and JHS218 James P Sinnott Middle School

It was a bright sunny day as we approached JHS218 in Brooklyn, NY. Laura Clayton McDonnell, GM of Microsoft New York, Antuan Santana and I were scheduled to visit our City Year New York Corp Member team at our “adopted”school, JHS218.  We were cheerfully greeted by the City Year New York leads for the school and started our school tour with City Year’s First Circle.

Our first stop, a visit outside to see the beautiful playground that use to be a parking lot. As we moved back inside, we had an opportunity to briefly meet the school principal, Lisa Ann Hermann. We were touched by a poster that was on the wall just outside of the principal’s office — it read:

A

DREAM

written down with a date becomes a

GOAL

A goal broken down into steps becomes a

PLAN

A plan backed by

ACTION

makes your dreams

REALITY

                                         ~Author Unknown

While we continued our tour, we met a teacher who was a student years ago at the school. During the introduction it was shared that she was from Panama, which is where Laura’s parents are originally from. Such a small world!

As we made our way to the classroom on the second floor, which the Corp Member team uses as their office space, we sat down as a group, did a round of introductions, and then moved onto table topics. Table topics is a fun way to get to know about people in a short period of time that you are just meeting.

We approached the close of our visit with some Q&A and wrapped with a group photo. It was a great opportunity for Laura to see Microsoft’s sponsorship in action; it makes it real, seeing the positive impact that City Year has on youth.  Thank you City Year for making a difference.

Microsoft New York GIVES

The month of October is Microsoft’s Annual GIVE campaign; employees are encouraged to give time, talent, money, and most of all, hope. In New York we hosted weekly events over the course of the month to encourage campaign participation.

Our first event was a bake sale benefitting St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, all baked goods were sold. Virtual bowling was our week two event and we are so appreciative to all of those employees who participated.

During week three we had two exciting events. The first one, employees volunteered their time to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those in need. This was in support of the organization called One Sandwich at a Time. Our sandwiches were destined to reach the Bowery Mission in lower Manhattan.

Our second event for week three was a Rock Paper Scissors tournament. In order to participate each employee had to commit to donating a specified dollar amount to the charity which was to be selected by the overall tournament winner. It was a fast and fun event.

give-collage

Last, but certainly not least, was our annual in-office service event with City Year New York. This year our employees volunteered their time to create plant kits and STEM packets, featuring Minecraft, for students at JHS 218K as part of Microsoft’s STEM initiative for in-school service.

The STEM packets contain math and science worksheets, comic templates and a section for the volunteer to write a letter to a student currently attending the City Year after school program. A portion of the science worksheets will be dedicated to the steps of the scientific method from hypothesis to analysis and conclusion.

The math sheets were tailored to middle school, which will include algebra, PEMDAS, and fractions. To spark their creativity and connect STEM to arts, students will be able look

to draw their own comic. Volunteers were encouraged to begin drawing a STEM-related comic, and have the students finish the comic in the last box. The comic may be related to the contents of the personal letter that the volunteers will wrote to the student.

The plant kits are a real-life science project to give students the opportunity to learn more about plant-based biology, provide practical skills on how to properly grow and care for a plant, and beautify the classroom spaces at JHS 218. Students will be able to get hands-on experience on planting the seed, understand how it grows in different types of light, temperature and amount of water given x amount of days as they go through the scientific method.

give-collage-2

As part of our overall GIVE campaign, a huge thank you to all of our employees for their donations and for volunteering their time to bring life-changing opportunities to people in need in our backyard and around the globe.

Microsoft Girls Who Code Class of 2016 — Make What’s Next

Girls Who Code NYC 2016

Wow, I cannot believe that seven weeks have passed already. It seems as though the Girls Who Code cohort just arrived at the 11 Times Square office, and on the evening of August 18, I had the pleasure to watch each of them graduate. As part of the ceremony, the girls had the opportunity to showcase their final projects to their parents and invited guests. It was an amazing evening. The best part was the surprise! Microsoft New York General Manager Laura Clayton McDonnell was the Microsoft keynote speaker and she had the honor to announce to the 20 students and their three teachers that they each get to keep the Surface devices that they have been using over the course of the program. The news was received with such excitement! I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room, it was magical moment.

During the coders’ time at Microsoft they learned programming in Scratch, an introduction to Python, Object-Oriented Programming, Web Programming and Robotics.  They used these learnings to work on their final projects that included:

  • one website (called Poll Me) that provides useful information to new and young voters, such as voting locations and ways to register to vote
  • one website / mobile application (called Organize Yourself) that allows students to organize their assignments and classes by adding tasks to specific categories they create
  • one website (called Volunteens) that allows teenagers to search for volunteer opportunities, and it allows organizations to post volunteer opportunities that would be open to teens
  • one website (called Study Drop) that provides a space for students to answer questions related to their school curriculum (ex. 3rd grade math questions), and for every 10 questions answered correctly some amount of water would be donated to communities in need
  • one game that raises awareness about the street harassment that many women face every day in cities such as New York
  • one game that gives new or expecting mothers’ tips on best practices for raising an infant

Some of the other projects that are highlights in the curriculum and that all the girls completed include:

  • An animation of a city scene using Python
  • Choreographing a robot dance by programming in Arduino
  • Creating a portfolio website that shows off the work that each student did during their time at Girls Who Code

An impressive list of accomplishments for these young coders!  

In addition to their coding activities this summer, the girls attended several field trips, including one right here in the office — a visit to the Microsoft Technology Center. They also spent the summer hearing from a variety of speakers and participating in several in-class workshops.

As we close the chapter on this year’s class, I wish all of our coders the absolute best on their bright futures that they all have ahead of them.

Congratulations to the Microsoft Girls Who Code Class of 2016!  Keep Coding!

Empowering Girls Who Code With Super Powers

Laura Clayton McDonnell, Girls Who CodeWhile I sat in the Girls Who Code classroom and watched Laura Clayton McDonnell, General Manager Microsoft New York Metro, deliver her speaking engagement/presentation, I was in awe of her ease and natural approach. She started her presentation with some personal information and beautiful pictures of her family.  Laura’s family is from Panama, however Laura was born in Bermuda and was raised in California.  She has a very diverse education background along with a fascinating work history; started her career as an attorney and then moved into sales.  Laura’s personal philosophy is “To live life in an exemplary manner that reflects what matters, with curiosity, optimism, courage, humility, compassion and integrity.”  

In my opinion, Laura had a brilliant way to approach her presentation, entitled “Empowering You with Super Powers”; she answered the same essay questions that all Girls Who Code candidates had to answer.  She shared her views on improving existing technology and why, overcoming challenges, contributing to the success of others and exploring computer science.  This was very well-received.

After sharing her views on the essay questions, Laura then moved onto sharing her top 5 life changing ideas and segued into Laura’s challenge to the coders, Diversity = Success.  

I watched the girls diligently write in their notebooks during the course of the presentation and asked very intriguing questions.

Laura concluded her presentation by asking the coders what are they going to do with their super power which led into the Q&A session.  I found Laura to be very inspirational. The coders asked for her email address and shortly after her departure from the class, the following email was received:

“I wanted to thank you for coming in today and giving an insight into your life beginning from Panama to Microsoft. It gave an idea of how to approach my career through various techniques revolving both personal growth and teamwork. In addition, your job as a business woman working in the field of computer science is a new career that I have begun to consider. It was truly a great experience to meet you.

Hopefully, in the future we may see more of each other.

Once again, a huge thanks.”  

Thank you to Laura for helping us inspire the next generation of coders!