Of course I’ve known Marilyn Pratt, self-described in her Twitter bio as “SAP Community Advocate working to be a sustainable citizen of the world,” for many years, and yet we only just met this week. I’d never even so much as exchanged email with her until this year, but we’ve had a hearty online relationship. She’s been a big advocate for me – for my blog content (both personal and on the SAP Community Network) and on Twitter. If you’ve been active on the SAP Community Network she’s probably been an advocate for you too. She has been omnipresent and synonymous with online community at SAP, and so it was both stunning and unsurprising when I met her in person to find just how much more she is. Did you know, for example, her first computer language was Assembler, or that she directed IT for a kibbutz? Have you heard about her husband and five children, who are obviously as dedicated to her as she is to them? Did you know she came to SAP, in a roundabout way, as an escape from a truly (literally) toxic situation?
The second I found out Marilyn was visiting Palo Alto from her hometown New Jersey during Ada Lovelace Day, my schedule turned upside-down. She arranged for me to participate in an awesome interview with Marge Breya. She set aside precious time to meet me — out of so many on her schedule — and, most profoundly, she let me show her my home.
I was honored to be able to drive down the road with her, introduce my family to her, take her to the top of my city San Francisco, dine with her, get a chance to sit and share with her, and follow her in her (tireless, and often sleepless) work dedicated to advocating for others — indeed, to “amplifying the voice of the disenfranchised.” She would find spotlighting herself the least worthy cause of all, and it was only under great collective pressure that she finally cracked and allowed me to allow her to — although she would not say so herself — let her tell it the best.
Ergo — in honor of Ada Lovelace Day 2010, I dedicate this to Marilyn Pratt, a true technology heroine who honors us all and makes advocating for the community her (dare I say our) core business. Without further ado: Marilyn Pratt
Bonus Video — Catch Marilyn as she visited Palo Alto this week to record and tell stories of other technical heroines at SAP: