Meet Curtis Schlak, Winner of our May Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award

We’re proud to announce the winner of our May Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Pineapple* GOAT Award, presented on a monthly basis to a Galvanize employee who exemplifies our company-wide commitment to DEI. 

The purpose of this award is to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments of our team members working to advance our DEI goals, which include creating and improving our systems and processes for a sustainable, successful present and future for both our team and our students. 

This month’s winner is Curtis Schlak, Vice President of Curriculum. In his role, Curtis oversees all matters related to the design, development, maintenance, and upgrading of program content and curriculum resources, including, most recently, the development of our new 19-week Software Engineering Immersive Bootcamp. Below, read a brief Q&A with Curtis and the coworker who nominated him for the award.

Curtis Schlak, VP of Curriculum

Q&A with Curtis Schlak 

What is your response to receiving the DEI Pineapple GOAT award?
Receiving this award is both a surprise and an honor. I believe I am on a never-ending journey to become a better human. I give credit to the excellent people around me at Galvanize so that I can fearlessly exercise my values. I feel as if there are many more at Galvanize that deserve this award more than I do. I feel humbled to be included in this select group of recipients.

Why is DEI important to you?
The history of software development starts with a workforce comprised almost completely of what are now underrepresented groups in software development. From the 1970s onward, the homogenization of the software development industry created a singular viewpoint. That singular viewpoint cost us opportunities for everyone to be able to participate in the digital revolution, to be not only consumers of hardware and software, but to be designers, producers, and technicians, as well. It is very important to me that we restore the availability of opportunity, participation, and representation in the software development industry because that’s how we will create systems that do not harm our fellow humans.

Why do you like working at Galvanize?
This is my second time working at Galvanize/Hack Reactor. I came back to the company because of two reasons: I share the vision that Galvanize has, and I admire the people that work here. I believe in what we do, in giving people the chance to change their legacy. My career in software development has helped me and my children to have a comfortable standard of living. I would not have had the same opportunities without this career. 

Q&A with the Anonymous Nominator 

Why do you believe this person should be nominated as a Galvanize GOAT?
My entire exposure to Curtis during my time here with Galvanize has been filled with nothing but kindness, thoughtfulness, and professionalism.

How does this person make Galvanize a better place?
He’s a great leader that isn’t afraid to take time out of his day to ensure those around him are included and supported. Whether it’s helping out staff with their particular issues or even helping students debug particularly tricky Heroku issues. He approaches these problems with an energy and professionalism that is extremely refreshing!

How do they embody our company values?
He puts people first (the students specifically in the context I’ve seen him in). He also holds himself and others accountable by owning up to mistakes and ensures his programs are running up to an excellent standard.

What do you personally appreciate about this person the most?
His energy and positivity. These really help create an environment that makes inclusion an easy and natural process in our meetings, student lectures, and through Slack communication.


*Why is the word pineapple in the award name, you might ask? Fair question! The pineapple has long been a symbol of hospitality, warmth, and welcoming. Here at Galvanize, we’ve adopted the symbol, incorporating its meaning into our values. We often refer to our team members as “pineapples” as we strive to embody the ideals of working together, openness, and kindness toward all staff and students.


Read about last month’s winner Itzel Cortes Tena here, and be sure to check back next month to read about our June awardee.

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