Honoree: Distinguished Alumni Award
2007 Monmouth University Founders’ Day
Patricia Millines-Dziko is the co-founder and executive director of the Seattle-based Technology Access Foundation (TAF), a not-for-profit agency that helps minority communities build futures through technology. As one of the “Microsoft Millionaires,” she used $150,000 of her own funds to start TAF in 1996. Millines-Dziko’s experience in computer technology spans 16 years as a software tester, software developer, manager, consultant, and database designer in such varied industries as military weapons, business systems, communications, and medical equipment.
A star basketball player at Asbury Park High School, Millines-Dziko helped her team win the 1975 state championship, later becoming the first woman to receive a basketball scholarship to Monmouth. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1979, by a twist of fate. In a 1998 interview she said electronic engineering was her first choice, but the computer science class schedule was a better fit with the demands of her athletic schedule. “I needed the basketball scholarship to stay in school, and I needed to be in a field where I could make a living.” Losing her mother just before she graduated high school, Millines-Dziko, an only child, was on her own.
After she graduated, Millines-Dziko’s first job was at Computer Sciences Corporation. There were very few minorities in the information technology (IT) field in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and Millines-Dziko was often the first black and sometimes the first woman in her department. After stints with companies in Tucson and San Francisco, she relocated to Seattle in 1985, and three years later became a program manager at Microsoft, the software giant, at its suburban Redmond headquarters.
It was during her years at Microsoft that Millines-Dziko became active in diversity. In 1995, she worked as a senior diversity administrator, traveling the country to recruit college-level, technically trained people of color and finding that the pool of people she had to choose from was very small. Capturing the interest of children of color early in their lives, and providing them with the opportunity to become users and creators of technology is the core mission of the TAF.
A committed proactive leader, Millines-Dziko is a member of several boards of directors, including the YWCA, the Society of Information Management, and Washington Digital Learning Commons. In 1989, she was a founding member of the first Microsoft-sponsored diversity organization, Blacks At Microsoft (BAM). In June of 2001, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Seattle University. She is featured in Dan Rather’s book, The American Dream, and has appeared on Oprah.