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About the Women in Data Science Series
A data scientist knows that some of the richest and most intriguing stories can be found in a data set.
To highlight the stories behind the women in data science at Booz Allen, we created an editorial series on the individuals who are solving today’s big challenges and redefining, in their own unique ways, what it means to be a data scientist.
Explore the profiles and get personal with women from a variety of backgrounds, skill sets, and experience who are part of our growing team of data scientists.
Dianna Abreu grew up in the South Bronx of New York City where she experienced the “flavor, life, and energy” of the big city while adopting an appreciation for community.
At one point as a child, Dianna came down with an illness that required a trip to the hospital. Rather than going to the facility just down the block from her home, her parents drove 40 minutes to a hospital in downtown Manhattan.
This was the first time Dianna realized not all healthcare in the United States was equitable. As a child, it simply didn’t make sense to Dianna why where she lived affected the quality of healthcare she could receive. Why, she came to wonder, are marginalized populations not as deserving of good healthcare?
Dianna dreamt of being a doctor when she grew up. She jokes that she may have been inspired by her older sister watching Grey’s Anatomy, however, “the ability to help people is what drove me,” Dianna said. “My doctor helped me, so I wanted to help other people.”
A first-generation college student, Dianna graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC with a degree in healthcare administration and a passion to understand the disparity of quality healthcare access. As it would turn out, Dianna graduated amidst the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) health claim backlog crisis. As the largest integrated healthcare system in the country, the VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) had always interested Dianna. Her timely graduation made it the perfect opportunity to jump into a challenge she was passionately seeking to solve.
Direct yet honest in her demeanor, Dianna still lives by the New York minute. As an innovation strategist supporting the VHA, Dianna focuses on developing and implementing innovative health solutions for veterans across the country. Her data science expertise was borne out of clients’ needs; Dianna realized that some of the challenges they faced could be better solved with a data science and analytics skillset, and that’s when she found Women in Data Science (WiDS) at Booz Allen.
Now a seasoned data analyst, Dianna has a key tip for those aspiring to enter the field: “Think about the types of problem you want to solve first,” she says, “then work backwards and figure out what data science skills you need to solve them.”
“Pizza! But a New York slice. I’m not a fan of DC pizza, but I love a nice cheese slice from New York.”
Song or Musical Album?
"Diva" by Beyoncé. “Her Netflix documentary proves why she’s an emblem.”
Keeping active with workouts like running, spinning, and strength training. “As long as it gets me out of my comfort zone and is done with people I love and care about, that’s what matters.”
In a Rocket Made of Ice by Gail Gutradt
The Daily, every morning
After joining WiDS, however, Dianna found more than just a way to build a skillset—she found a community. “That sense of community and belonging is one thing that’s kept me at Booz Allen,” Dianna said. Data science is now less of a daunting discipline and more of an avenue to solve the challenges she cares about most.
Across the industry, attrition of women in technical roles is a huge concern. While data scientists can build all the skills and education they want, the skill that really matters is being able to advocate for oneself and finding someone to advocate for you. That’s why Dianna is lead of the Sponsorship pillar of WiDS. “As we identify how to get technical women promoted and look at the rate at which they currently are,” Dianna explained, “we’re also trying to figure out the pain points that cause them to leave and stop those factors.”
“I love to see empowered women empower women.”
One way that Dianna and her teammates address these pain points is through workshops focused around promotions, salary, and personal branding, including one called “Stepping into Your Power.” Working with life coaches and peers, workshop participants explore how they relate to power in their work, personal life, and when communicating to those in leadership roles. “I love to see empowered women empower women,” says Dianna.
Navigating a successful career can be overwhelming at times, but Dianna embraces a piece of advice she’s followed her whole life: “Siempre pa’ lante,” meaning “always move forward” in Spanish.
Move forward, Dianna has. She’s journeyed from the Bronx, to Georgetown University, to now solving problems that affect the lives of millions of people across the country. While she undoubtedly has exciting endeavors ahead, Dianna is grateful for the path so far: “It brings me so much joy to think I did.”