Tina Lee '01, MBA '02

Tina Lee
  • Statement: Training moms for tech careers
  • Profession: Founder and CEO, MotherCoders
  • Major: Political, legal & economic analysis
  • Graduation: Class of 2001

“Whenever I’m at Mills, I feel a mix of pride and strength and belonging,” says Tina Lee. “Everything there—from the faculty to the campus to the course offerings—is designed to give students the foundation they need to effect change in the world. Going to Mills is one of the top five things that ever happened to me.”

Raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Tina was the first in her family to attend college. For several years, she studied part time at a community college while she worked full time. To delve deeper into her interests in social justice, women’s issues, and economics, she knew she needed to transfer to a four-year college. A counselor recommended Mills.

“When I arrived on campus, I saw the row of trees on Richards Road and immediately fell in love,” she recalls. “I’ve never felt such safety—physically, intellectually, spiritually.”

Tina completed her BA and an accelerated MBA at Mills. With degrees in hand, she worked for a time as a business analyst, a recruiter, and a technology consultant. She became the first director of outreach and innovation for the California State Controller’s Office.

While on maternity leave, Tina wanted to strengthen her technology skills, but saw how the demands of motherhood interfered with learning to code. She met other moms with the same problem. So she came up with a solution: MotherCoders, a nonprofit that helps women with kids gain the skills, knowledge, and community support to start or advance a career in tech. In four years, more than 200 women have attended MotherCoders’ workshops and meetups. Tina’s work with MotherCoders has been featured in media such as the Today show.

“Because of my Mills education, I had the intersectional lens, the audacity, and the leadership skills to build an organization that takes on systemic and cultural barriers keeping women on the sidelines,” says Tina. “Someday, I want to look back at how I helped make the world more equitable for women, children, and people of color.”