Volunteer Spotlight: Nellie Ortiz

Written by volunteer writer Alison Perch

Nellie Ortiz
For Nellie Ortiz, technology is a way to satisfy both the creative and analytical aspects of her personality. In college, Nellie thought she wanted to be an editorial graphic designer; however, a web professor helped set her on a new path.

“I was excited to learn that [web design] did not just mean making things look nice but actually thinking through the experiences we have with technology and problem-solving to improve user experience,” she says.

Nellie graduated with a BFA from Kutztown University in 2014 with concentrations in graphic design and interactive design, and she started her career at a small software engineering company near her hometown. Though she originally aspired to work in New York City, she has no regrets about her decision to stay local.

“I was so lucky to have gotten to start my career at this small company because it allowed me to branch out as a user experience designer, visual designer, front-end developer and sometimes even project manager,” Nellie explains.

Today, Nellie works at a user-centered design studio in Manayunk, focusing on user experience and IA (information architecture). Though she often begins the design process with pencil and paper, she also uses software like Adobe Creative Suite, Sketch, and Invision to create wireframes, visual mockups, animations, and prototypes.

Running a Techshop at her office
While working at her first job, a friend suggested that Nellie volunteer at a TechGirlz TechShop on UX design. Though that workshop was ultimately cancelled, Nellie decided to get involved in other ways. For the past two years, she has helped maintain the blog on techgirlz.org. She has also developed her own workshop based on her everyday experiences as a UI/UX designer.

At the “Day in the Life of a Designer” TechShop, Nellie was amazed by the girls’ in-depth knowledge of technology and ability to discuss their digital experiences.

“The girls transitioned from users to designers right before my eyes, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to find one of them in the desk next to me any day now,” Nellie says.

Though Nellie isn’t a big fan of public speaking, she still finds running TechShopz to be “incredibly fun and rewarding.” Volunteering with TechGirlz gives her an outlet for exploring technology and has brought her closer to co-workers who are also enthusiastic about tech.

When Nellie isn’t running TechShopz or scheduling blog posts for TechGirlz, you’ll likely find her trying new restaurants in Philly, going on long walks to discover new places, reading, spending time with her cat, Toulouse, and planning her next globe-trotting adventure.

Nellie’s curiosity and passion for tech also keep her occupied in her spare time. “I’m always checking out new mobile apps, web applications, and trying to learn as much as I can about emerging technology,” Nellie says. She’s interested in how user data informs design, and she hopes to learn more about UI-less experiences (voice experiences like Google Assistant and Alexa).

We are grateful to Nellie for dedicating her time, energy, and enthusiasm as a TechGirlz volunteer! Visit our volunteer page to learn how you can make an impact.