Lisha Sterling is the executive director at Geeks Without Bounds, a nonprofit organization that supports humanitarian open source projects through a combination of hackathons and an accelerator program. Previously, she worked with School Factory in the Space Federation program helping people start and develop hacker- and makerspaces. She co-founded the Hack Your PhD project with Célya Gruson-Daniel shortly after they met at the Night Science "Learning Through Research" conference sponsored by the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI) at Descartes University in Paris where Lisha spoke about "Hacking Education", blending her experience as an unschooling mother, the informal education at hackerspaces and her past in academia.
Lisha first learned to program at the age of 8 on a Timex-Sinclair computer. She and several friends imagined themselves to be "hackers" as they learned how to use a variety of computer systems, navigate bulletin board systems and manipulate telephones. In 1995, as a young single mother studying Latin American Studies at college, a friend suggested that she would make more money as a programmer than she was making as a part-time administrative assistant at database maker Sybase. Despite not having any formal education in computer science, she was able to get enough contract work as a software developer to pay for private school tuition for her children while she was still at university. This experience has influenced her work as a mentor to other programmers, systems administrators, and cyber security consultants without formal CS studies.