My 2017 Mentees

Early this year, I put out the call to anyone who might be interested in a mentorship with me. The response was overwhelming and the decision of who to work with this year was really tough. After a great deal of consideration, however, I chose not one, but two folks I really wanted to work with this year: Amberley Romo and Manuel Matuzović.

I’ve been working with the two of them for a few months now and wanted to highlight a bit about who they are and what we are working on.

Amberley Romo

Amberley’s story really resonated with me. She is heavily invested in the Web as a tool for good. A force capable of bringing more equity to this world.

Growing up with a nonverbal sibling with intellectual and developmental disabilities was one of the single most formative experiences of my life. I find myself very lucky to have been born when I was, to enjoy growing up without being oversaturated with technology, but witnessing and participating in the periods of growth that I have. One of the ways I personally benchmark that progress is in the evolution of the technology my sister used to communicate.

Over the last few years, Amberley has performed in a number of different roles in and around the Web, but in the last year she’s been getting more serious about her career as a web developer. She is incredibly motivated and enrolled herself in a 3-month, full-time development accelerator to deepen her understanding of software development. And in my discussion with her, it’s clear the force is strong with this one.

Much of my work with Amberley has, thus far, been centered around career development. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing what it’s like to work for smaller companies and large corporations and the benefits and frustrations inherent in each.

Outside of her day job, we’ve discussed opportunities for her to channel her talent into worthwhile open source projects. It was kismet that just as we started discussing this, I received an email from Shay Cojocaru, a front-end dev at The Center for Educational Technology (CET) in Israel. He introduced me to a project he was working on: CBoard. CBoard is an open source tool aimed at making communication easier for non-verbal people… like Amberley’s sister, who she had mentioned in her application. The stars had aligned. After all, Amberley has had a lot of experience with these tools, both in analog and digital form.

It’s an understatement to say I’m very excited to see where this partnership goes. I’m also keen to discover new opportunities and learn more about Amberley in the months ahead. She’s an amazing lady.

Follow Amberley and check out her work

Manuel Matuzović

To be honest, Manuel was on my radar well before he applied for my mentorship. I was already following and sharing his writings on Medium and was impressed with his interest in generating practical introductions to accessibility for front-end developers. He has a knack for turning something that seems huge and daunting into something that is manageable and—dare I say—easy to understand and implement.

In his application, Manuel talked about his interest in continuing to grow as a developer, but also to do more to share what he knows, both in prose and at conferences. Seeing how much he has to offer, I leapt at the chance to help him do that. I want his work to get more exposure. I can easily see him contributing to Smashing Magazine and A List Apart and advocating for a more equitable Web on stage at Beyond Tellerrand and Generate.

In our work together over the past few months, we’ve worked on

I know for a fact that Manuel would find success in his endeavors without me; he has the talent and he has the drive—no question. I’m just thankful I get to play a small part in his journey.

Follow Manuel and check out his work


  1. I’d love to read this since I am also looking for a mentor for 2017. But I get a NET::ERR_CERT_DATE_INVALID when visiting that link, Aaron.
  2. Last year I thought that it'd be great to have a mentor. Now that I have @AaronGustafson I know it for a fact! I've already learned so much.
  3. Last year I thought that it'd be great to have a mentor. Now that I have @AaronGustafson I know it for a fact! I've already learned so much.