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Ellen Joyce


Rising Star

USA and Canada
Digital Leader Academy
Being one of four girls, it makes sense that Ellen ended up in the world of chaos that is startups. Originally from Ireland and being the eldest of four means she has been training to be a CEO her whole life. The Irish “gift of the gab” plus the ability to convince 3 younger sisters to do things they really didn't want to do has prepared her well.

Ellen has been an educator her whole life. Her passion is working with students to help them reach their potential. This all began when she started tutoring her younger sister Sarah, who is dyslexic, and it inspired her to start a business that focused on math education for students with learning difficulties while completing her undergraduate degree in computer science and statistics at Trinity College Dublin. She grew the school from 1 student to 50 students and $32k ARR in 2019.

In 2019, Ellen received a Naughton Scholarship to complete a Masters of Science in Technology Entrepreneurship at the University of Notre Dame. While at Notre Dame, Ellen started to investigate why there are fewer women in computer science in 2020 than there were in 1980 and how could you increase the number of women in tech. This led to her founding Digital Leader Academy (DLA), a startup that is on a mission to increase the size and the diversity of the tech workforce.

DLA works with high schools, community colleges, and universities to integrate technology education into all of their classes e.g. blockchain projects in supply chain classes, artificial intelligence lessons in marketing. The goal is to expose non-traditional STEM students to technology in order to increase their interest and knowledge of the topics.

Over the past 3 years, DLA has worked with over 1,000 students, the majority of whom are from low income neighborhoods. 90% of DLA’s students are from underrepresented groups and approximately 600 girls have been exposed to computer science when they otherwise would not have. Ellen has built a sustainable enterprise that drives real change in the communities that it operates in.

This year, Ellen was invited back to be an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame where she is teaching “Technology for Startups” to the next generation of entrepreneurs. It has been an honor to work with so many bright minds and help them start the companies of the future.
When Ellen was interviewed by the Naughton family and Notre Dame for her scholarship, she was asked what drove her to apply for the scholarship. Her response: “I want to show my younger sisters that they can achieve anything that they put their mind to”.
Since founding DLA, this drive has evolved to a desire to show all women that they can achieve anything that they set their minds to. In everything that she does, Ellen works tirelessly to forge paths forward so that other young girls and women can more easily follow in her footsteps. This is evident in her work with DLA but also the time that she spends working with young women to help them advance their careers.

Ellen is the first from her family to go to college but the last to learn to drive (having finally passed her driving test!). Ellen firmly believes that this shows how many different types of intelligence there are and no matter the number of degrees you have, there are always things that you are not good at. There are many different education paths and the "traditional" go to college path is usually the most celebrated but everyone's paths and achievements are different and deserve to be celebrated. Ellen’s sister Sarah is now a preschool teacher, inspiring the next generation of learners.