photo of the freelancer, Kate Donaldson

Kate Donaldson

technical leader · thought partner · collaborator

About Me

We can work together to build your organization a clean, performant, well-modeled product or service that helps to make positive change in the world. My quest is to use technology to help improve outcomes for underserved individuals and communities. Building supportive, diverse, cooperative engineering departments is essential for building great software that solves problems for humans, and it’s my priority.

I’m a dual-wielding Rubyist and Javascripter with a love of friendly deploys and CI/CD. I’ve revamped deploy pipelines, spearheaded pay equity initiatives, delivered APIs and microservices, and refactored complex data models. I lead diversity, inclusion, collaboration, education and career development initiatives. I drive cultural change and set high expectations for ownership and accountability.



The large majority of the code I've written is proprietary and not sharable, but these are some fun projects I've worked on that are available to view.

Dockerized Create-React-Native-App

Docker, Shell

A dockerized version of create-react-native-app for developers to use to stand up a containerized environment quickly.

Jenkins API Client for Ruby


Gem that provides an API client for Ruby projects to integrate with Jenkins.



Aphorism is a gem in the vein of fortune that returns random customizable aphorisms. fortune contains outdated and offensive material, and editing it requires editing deeply nested system files after installation. Aphorism makes the random quote generator progressive, customizable, and easy to edit with version control and local installations.


Conversion from a prior Wordpress site (which I maintained as well) to Jekyll static site deployment for faster development and deployment, security, and more flexibility. The live site has been revamped using SquareSpace, but my original version remains available via Amazon S3.

Roman Numeral converter


Handy ruby Roman Numeral converter for use in math and sorting.


Ruby on Rails Link Slack


I’m an administrator and active contributor for the largest Ruby on Rails Slack team in the world.

Jellyvision Women in Tech

Co-Founder, Facilitator

In my time at Jellyvision, I co-founded and facilitated the Women in Tech employee resource group. I had a direct impact on pay equity in partnership with executives, represented the company at industry events, recruited from diverse populations, and procured funding for underrepresented Jellyvision employees to attend conferences. I mentored and spoke at several Code & Coffee events.

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Winner | Hackathon 2016

I worked with my team to plan an app to help incentivize students to accept meals from food delivery trucks over the summer.

Fox Valley Girls Coding Club


I spoke at several meetings, mentored and paired with students, and arranged a downtown tour of the Jellyvision offices for club members.


How to Get and Keep Women in Tech

Chicago Women in Tech Breakfast

Tech Panel Speaker

GirlCon | Jun 17, 2018

Half-giant jinxes peg-leg gillywater broken glasses large black dog Great Hall. Nearly-Headless Nick now string them together, and answer me this, which creature would you be unwilling to kiss? Poltergeist sticking charm, troll umbrella stand flying cars golden locket Lily Potter. Pumpkin juice Trevor wave your wand out glass orbs, a Grim knitted hats. Stan Shunpike doe patronus, suck his soul Muggle-Born large order of drills the trace. Bred in captivity fell through the veil, quaffle blue flame ickle diddykins Aragog. Yer a wizard, Harry Doxycide the woes of Mrs. Weasley Goblet of Fire.


Senior Software Engineer


Apr 2019 - Present | Chicago, IL
  • refactored memory retention during report generation to improve performance by a factor of 10 on frequently-run reports
  • gave a lightning talk about a gem I wrote to provide a portable, customizable quote generator
  • added needed functionality to remove sensitive customer information from our database and S3
  • advocated for clear and precise scoping of work to improve developer efficiency and deploy speed
  • presented technical demonstrations of featuresets to the technical and product teams
  • created features on the platform that improved workflow and efficiency, fully spec’ed from back-end to front-end
  • advised and influenced DEI efforts as a member of the company’s inaugural DEI forum

Technical Lead; Senior Software Engineer

Ascent Technologies, Inc.

Nov 2018 - Apr 2019 | Chicago, IL
  • extracted canonical data from an internal Rails & Postgres implementation to an external graph data API using Neo4j and Rails
  • led two teams of engineers to deliver a complex feature set that successfully landed our largest deal with a major Fortune 200 financial firm
  • deployed the customer-facing app on a regular basis and improved continuous delivery outcomes by implementing automation, continuous integration, and testing, becoming a Heroku expert along the way.
  • implemented a message queueing publisher to communicate data changes from our API to its consumer over multiple queues
  • served as technical lead for the team responsible for canonical data and worked with the CTO, VP of Product, and VP of Data Science to outline milestones for quality and process improvement
  • implemented agile processes for my development team in order to normalize delivery and scope projects
  • spearheaded scoping efforts for a large versioning feature, bringing together Product, business domain experts, and engineers to plan work according to customer needs

Senior Software Engineer

The Mom Project

Apr 2018 - Oct 2018 | Chicago, IL
  • rearchitected our existing application onto a more modern platform, using Rails 5, React, and Postgres
  • dockerized the app for consistency of local development environments and simplification of deployment
  • integrated AWS Cognito with Rails to leverage a robust authentication system to safeguard user information
  • automated the testing and deployment process using CircleCI and Github
  • planned and oversaw the implementation of containerized deployment through ECS using CloudFormation
  • built a fully-featured REST API using Rails 5’s API-only capabilities
  • redesigned the data model in order to streamline queries and data handling by normalizing data, shedding unnecessary data collection, offloading some internal data processes to third-party proven services to simplify in-house data maintenance
  • streamlined essential engineering functions:
    • implemented a clear, iterative development process
    • rolled out a bug report/feature request process for staff
    • enacted a feature planning lifecycle based on user-focused product development
    • initiated department meetings for transparency in hiring and product milestone planning

Software Engineer

Jellyvision Lab

Jul 2016 - Mar 2018 | Chicago, IL
  • built a greenfield Rails and React app that provided useful information about financial decisions to end users
  • maintained the internal app that configured huge swaths of data to ensure end users got accurate information about their benefits
  • added features to an internal portal that helped non-technical folks deploy conversations through continuous integration
  • encouraged my team to give GraphQL a shot, and drove the development of our GraphQL environment, which paid off for our product
  • shipped a gorgeous NodeJS app
  • added new functionality to our existing Rails powerhouse
  • tinkered with our Angular and React front-end experiences
  • maintained legacy apps using PHP & JS
  • spearheaded internal diversity initiatives as a cofounder of the Women in Tech group
  • gave a lunch & learn on bootstrapping scripts and their impact on onboarding engineers
  • acted as company liaison and sponsor to a coding club for high school women
  • represented the company out in the community at various events, conferences and workshops

Software Engineer

The MIS Department

Jul 2014 - Jul 2016 | Chicago, IL
  • wrangled APIs by writing clean code and harnessing Rails’ MVC organizational structure
  • styled and manipulated 3rd party CMS systems using clever JS and jQuery
  • served small content needs by developing lightweight and elegant static sites
  • managed PHP-based CMS systems like Wordpress with clever use of version-controlled code and plugins
  • determined the best and most efficient software and project management solutions by communicating with my team to explore options based on our available work-hours and skillset
  • advised the strategic branch of the organization on ways to improve efficiency, develop long-term strategy, and clarify roles and responsibilities
  • assisted the Vice President in successfully rolling out organizational and role changes to handle a shifting customer base and project load

Freelance Web Developer

Mar 2011 - Aug 2014

In this role I helped non-technical clients establish a web presence by:

  • developing new sites in WordPress by hand-coding PHP and modifying available templates
  • advising clients on graphic design and branding
  • refactoring existing sites to allow for client content management by porting systems to WordPress

Let's work together!

Are you looking for a partner in developing a product or service, or building an inclusive engineering team? Do you need a fresh perspective on data modeling, API building, or social justice solutions? Got something else you think I can help with? Drop me a note!