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.

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!