The TEDxPeachtree team spoke with some of the upcoming speakers at TEDxPeachtree on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 at the Rialto Center for the Arts to dig beneath the surface of their biographies. In this edition of Beyond the Bio, we spoke with Louise Wasilewski, an aerospace engineer who co-founded Acivilate, a software company focused on criminal justice rehabilitation. Here’s what we found:

You speak about the men in your family often in interviews. I ran into an article about your grandfather via LinkedIn and you mentioned your father as a motivator in developing your app Acivilate. Can you recall any moments that make you feel you’re especially like either your father or grandfather?

My grandfather always took the high road. As a World War 2 veteran, he traveled the world. His company always felt safe sending him anywhere, because he was always respectful of the people in the countries he visited. He taught me the ethics that have been so important to me in my career.

Your career has led you into many male dominated industries. You’ve served as a Director of Technology (Cox Comm) and founded two tech companies. What advice would you give to women who may feel underestimated due to gender in the workplace?

You have to address doubts and prejudices, but if you do it as they come up, it’s viewed as aggressive, which is viewed as the male version of assertive.

Find a way to talk about whatever it is you feel you need to address, and once you figure that way out, just use it all the time every time. You have to do your best to gloss over that stuff or to laugh about it or to address it later on in the conversation in a way that doesn’t appear confrontational.

Also, be willing to take on more risk than you think you can.

Where were you when I-85 crumbled?

I was in Valdosta at Valdosta State University at a criminal justice conference. We saw the news and I thought, “Oh my goodness how are we going to get home?!”

Acivilate is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company committed to reducing recidivism. What can those who aren’t app builders, those of us who don’t have background in criminal justice but just want to make a change… what can we do to do to lower the likelihood of recidivism?

There are so many ways that people can help. The first is making sure to call your representative when reform legislation is on the table. Make sure there is funding for behavioral health treatment. Make sure that things like behavioral health continues to be covered under health insurance plans.

You can volunteer and be a mentor to one of the many many organizations around the country that provide 1:1 support. Your church, temple or mosque could become what’s called a station of hope to work with the Department of Community Supervision and provide support to individuals.

It turns out that pro social connections are one of the key indicators of success to keeping a job or housing, which means having friends or mentors who are a good influence. So if you’re an employer give someone with a criminal record a chance. If you’re a landlord, give someone a chance to rent property.

And then actually make friends with someone with a record, and discover that they are no different from you or I.

Beneath the surface we all want…

“To be accepted for who we are today!”

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