Minority Woman of the Week: Sabeen Ali

As the Founder, President & CEO of AngelHack, the world’s largest and most diverse global hacker community (50,000 and counting), you may be surprised to learn that Sabeen Ali came from humble beginnings.

Sabeen and her two siblings were raised by their Pakistani mother who, prior to loosing her husband, never worked a day in her life and barely spoke a word of English. Despite these challenges, Sabeen’s mother worked hard to give her children opportunities and is most likely the key determinant in why Sabeen is the strong entrepreneur that she is today.

Sabeen is breaking down barriers for women in technology and has a female-majority company to prove it. Based in San Francisco, AngelHack, produces hackathons and provides tech education to their growing global community.

5 Interesting Facts about Sabeen

1. Sabeen’s childhood dream of being a basketball player was shot down when she was told that she was too short to be a guard and too tall to be a point guard.

Just in case you don’t know anything about basketball:

2. It was the Michael Moore documentary, Sicko, which examines the health care system in the United States, that prompted Sabeen to shift her career path.

When the documentary came out in 2007, Sabeen was working at Kaiser Permanente facilitating the relationship between Kaiser employees and the Labor Union. Upon watching the documentary, she realized that could not ethically continue in her current industry.

Her pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development with an emphasis on change management from the University of San Francisco was the impetus for her job at Yahoo!, her first company and later AngelHack.

3. AngelHack started off as a partnership that unfortunately ended up burning in flames.

The concept for AngelHack came about in 2011 when Sabeen was approached by someone who wanted to do team building with developers. Sabeen’s role was to create the event and facilitate team building, while her new partner would bring in developers and sponsors. In only two months, the first event went live.

In spite of AngelHack steadily growing from event-to-event, Sabeen felt, “like she was building the company with one hand tied behind her back” because she and her partner did not see eye-to-eye. A falling out occurred that resulted in lawsuits and her partner leaving with a lot of money.


4. Sabeen believes that it is her responsibility to consistently bring up other women underneath her.

She alludes to the concept that those who make it the top should take the time to “send the elevator down” to pick someone else up.

5. Just like you and me, Sabeen gets scared.

She’s coined the term self oppression, “when you make up reasons to hold yourself back from what you want to do”, and advises all women to not let fear hold them back.

Now it’s your turn? Post a question for Sabeen in the comment section and she will answer it live on Thursday Sept.17th, 2015. Registration to the event will open on Tuesday Sept. 15th at 7:00AM EST.


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