An Interview with Winstina Hughes: Being an advocate for new voices

I was able to sit down and talk to the amazing and inspiring Winstina Hughes.

Winstina Hughes

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Winstina Hughes is a Community & Government Customer Relations Manager for MDOT State Highway District 3. She has presented insights to gather from Google and Jetpack Analytics, and the intersection of WordPress, Planning, and e-commerce as a speaker at WordCamp NYC, WordCamp US, and WordCamp Austin.

A WPNYC Meetup co-organizer, Winstina led WordCamp NYC 2018 with a team of 18 and managed a budget of $120k. Together, they welcomed 43 speakers and 400 attendees while securing more than $12k in ticket sales and $52K in local sponsorships.

She bleeds scarlet (Go Scarlet Knights!), loves Hip Hop, and adores WordPress software.

Nyasha: How long have you been working in WordPress and how did you get your start?

Winstina:  I started in 2006/2007. I took a course in college with an assignment that required us to add our work to a WordPress website for our professor to review. We used WordPress.com for this. 

Nyasha: What are some of your favorite things about the WordPress ecosystem?

Winstina: One of my favorite aspects of the ecosystem is the collaborative nature of our contribution.

Nyasha: Have you been to many WordCamps? If so what was your favorite one/experience? 

Winstina: I have attended several WordCamps. My favorite part of the experience is spending time with friends. My favorite WordCamp experience was at the afterparty at the Philadelphia Natural History Museum butterfly exhibit. I was with a group and a butterfly flew to me and settled on my cheek. I was in awe of its delicate touch.

Nyasha: What do you think are things that are helping newer developers get into WordPress?  What do you think are some roadblocks? 

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Winstina: I think WordPress’ market share is attractive to new developers. It has increased to as high as 43% of the web. I want to be aware of the latest developments in my field. I imagine it’s the same for a software developer looking to understand market trends and career opportunities. A roadblock could be the challenge of separating fact from fiction with Gutenberg full site editing.

Nyasha: Are you working on any cool projects you would like to discuss?

Winstina: I am working on an initiative that finances the cost of travel and hotel for WordCamp speakers from underrepresented groups who want the support. The website will be sponsorinclusionintech.com and it’s hosted on GoDaddy. GoDaddy, Post Status, Yoast, and MasterWP are the first to express the desire to partner with me on this. What sets this apart is that it removes the financial need and the uncertainty in how to receive sponsorship to speak at WordCamps. It exists so all underrepresented speakers will have the opportunity to fully participate in WordPress programming. Additionally, this supports WordPress community initiatives for underrepresented groups. Part of the process of sponsorship includes joining the Underrepresented in Tech database as well as the diverse speaker support channel in Make WordPress Slack.

Nyasha: What are some things you are working on outside of tech if you don’t mind sharing? (Also any hobbies, interests, etc)

Winstina:  I am at the point in my life where I need to schedule something fun into my weekly routine. No spontaneity here. I’ve come to terms with it. When I make time, I am loving Angry Birds on Meta Quest 2. Losing to those pigs is brutal, but their laughter makes me laugh.  

Nyasha: What would it be if you could change one thing about the WordPress community?

Winstina: The tone of our discourse has me pause at times. I remind myself that we come from different family structures, have different life experiences, grew up in different cultures, and that each of us is doing the best we can with what we have. We can’t change people. That’s why enforcing the Code of Conduct is key, and why we must continue to be advocates of a new community member using their voice. 


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Nyasha is the Editorial Director at MasterWP and a software developer at Howard Development & Consulting, the company behind WP Wallet.

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