By MeiMei Fox for Forbes
After witnessing the protests, rioting and unrest that took place in 2014 in her town of Ferguson, Missouri following Michael Brown’s death, Heather Robinett was inspired to get involved in local politics. “I wanted to step up and serve my community where I thought I could make a difference,” she says. She credits her 2016 win and resulting tenure on the city council with STEM reskilling training she received on the job at AT&T. She feels those programs gave her the confidence to get involved in a new area, as well the leadership skills needed to succeed in the political realm.
Robinett has encountered challenges in politics, but she has persevered with the goal of bringing a new perspective to city leadership. With over 500 volunteer hours per year, she has started a tech board for the city of Ferguson, mentors students in STEM at Washington University, and has brought Ferguson High School girls to AT&T to get them excited about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). She serves as mayor pro tempore for the city, as well. Her current term expires in 2019, and she will run for office again this year. All this in addition to being a mother of five and continuing in her high-tech job in software-defined networking (SDN).
A lover of math from a young age, Robinett received a BS in electrical engineering from Washington University in 1995, and later went on to earn an MS in information systems. She began working for AT&T in 2001, and in the 18 years since has learned many new STEM skills. “I always continue to reskill - taking AT&T training courses to branch out and learn about new technologies,” she says. “I received an internal training badge for software-defined networks that, along with the leadership training AT&T provides, got me to where I am today: the director of a software architecture team.”