Cheryl Porro's mother immigrated from Portugal with her family at the age of 14, and when Porro was a young girl, she and her brothers had three choices — become a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Although Porro had some difficulty in middle and high school, she decided that chemical engineering at RPI was what felt right. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1993 — the first in her family to complete college.
Porro began her career as a process engineer, working in waste treatments plants, before relocating to Silicon Valley and landing a job with a silicon chip manufacturing water treatment company. She later worked for Amazon as a quality engineer responsible for the e-commerce shopping experience, and found her niche in entrepreneurship and management, serving in positions of senior vice president of technology and products at Salesforce.org and CTO at Thrive Global.
She also served on the board of First Graduate, a nonprofit that helps first-generation college students just like her. Porro was named to Business Insider's 43 Most Powerful Female Engineers of 2017.