Samantha Oltean WIT Awards Program Director
With a heart for philanthropy, Samantha enjoys spending much of her time volunteering for Women in Technology, TechBridge, and various other non-profit organizations around Atlanta supporting multiple causes.
Samantha has been a volunteer for Women in Technology since 2010 after she was introduced to the program by a former co-worker. At the time, Samantha was a single mother, raising her then two-year-old daughter, and was doubtful that she would have enough time to attend, let alone dedicate any time to the WIT program. Eventually, Samantha agreed to attend a WIT Forum event, and she immediately found the passion that has driven her to remain a part of this organization for the past seven years. “WIT is an organization very close to my heart”, Samantha says, “with so many young girls who are interested and excited about technology today, I believe it is very important that there are strong programs that support these interests and help keep that excitement alive as they move though high school, college, and into their careers.”
When asked about her committee involvement over the years, Samantha says “I was offered a position on the Women of the Year committee back in 2010 and started out working on the table and ticket team – this was back when we would only anticipate about 400 attendees at a Women of the Year event. Seven years later, it is a great honor to be Program Director for this committee. It has been an incredible journey as I have seen and experienced the growth of this program first hand. Now we sell out the Women of the Year event – or WIT Awards – early, and we have about 900 attendees in the room. It is truly incredible.”
As Program Director for the past two years, Samantha is responsible for recruiting new members to the WIT Awards Committee – a team that has continued to grow year after year, adding more volunteers. Samantha wants to encourage others to volunteer their time and energy with organizations and causes they care about. “We should lean in, never be afraid to take a plunge, and if you can give time, do it. Even a small amount of time can make a huge impact within a nonprofit organization and the people you will meet and relationships you will build are like no other. I truly believe that volunteers aren’t paid because they are worthless, but because they are PRICELESS.”
“Samantha encouraged me to get involved with Women in Technology five years ago, and she really opened up my eyes to a wonderful world of volunteering. I was given the opportunity to meet so many amazing and inspiring women who share their stories and adventures in the tech world. It really helped me realize that I could do anything I wanted to do, and with the love, support, and mentorship provided by Samantha, I am so proud to be a part of this awesome committee and experience such an incredible event year after year.” – Alana Gordy, Senior Project Manager, Turner & WIT Awards Committee Member.
Samantha is clearly setting a great philanthropic example for her daughter, Lindsey, who wants to be just like her mom when she grows up. For the past few years, Lindsey has requested that friends and family provide donations of food, toys, blankets, and other supplies in lieu of birthday presents to donate to FurKids, one of Atlanta’s no-kill animal shelters. “Lindsey has dreams of becoming a veterinarian when she grows up, but wants to start by helping animals now,” boasts the proud mom, “I love that she is interested in helping others. She understands from seeing me working on different committees and for different non-profits that giving time is just as valuable as making donations.”
In addition to volunteering with Women in Technology, Samantha serves as Volunteer Co-Chair for TechBridge, an Atlanta non-profit that provides technology tools and resources to other non-profits that are actively fighting the cycle of generational poverty. “I love being a part of an organization that is truly making a difference, but I also love helping others get involved with TechBridge. I get asked all the time ‘how can I get involved?’ or ‘can I volunteer?’ and it’s really refreshing to know that we have a community of like-minded technology individuals who want to make a difference in our world.”
We asked Samantha how she does so much given her already busy schedule. She admits to some late nights and very long weekends, but she feels that if giving her time to dedicate is all it takes to make a big difference in the organizations she supports, then that is what she will give.
“My impact is that I give my time. If putting in a few hours each day results in a young lady receiving a scholarship to pursue the field of her dreams – who knows what can come of that? Maybe she’ll become a doctor and cure cancer, maybe she’ll invent new medical technologies, or use technology to save our environment – the possibilities are endless, and all I did to help was give a couple of extra hours of my day.” She continues, “I truly owe a great deal of thanks to my husband, Cosmin, for supporting me. Without his help, I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to be as involved as I am and I couldn’t do any of it without knowing he was behind me.”