MEET THE 2019 PUSHTECH 2020 SPEAKERS
Lauren Bissell — Producer and the Founder of Immutable Music, a multi-branch agency focused on the advancement of blockchain technology, building IoT protocol, AI and AR/VR in the music and entertainment industry. Through her firm, she uses music as a catalyst to build community, connecting artists, music industry professionals, tech industry insiders, and investors to promote high-level shifts in distribution systems. Through her work with UNESCO and the GNH Council of the Kingdom of Bhutan, she has been a strong proponent for music, cultural connection, and international tourism as a means to preserve and celebrate cultural identity. Ms. Bissell has also worked with stakeholders such as Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Sheryl Crow, NAS, Matthew McConaughey, NASDAQ, Comedy Central, South by Southwest, Sony and many more.
VALEISHA BUTTERFIELD JONES
As the Global Head of Community Inclusion, she leads Google’s women and Black community engagement and is Co-founder and CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN). An award-winning executive, activist and author, Valeisha formerly served as the National Youth Vote Director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, in the Obama Administration as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the International Trade Administration, as the Executive Director of Rush Communications and as the National Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association. Valeisha’s career started at HBO Sports and has spanned for two decades with proven community impact at the intersections of technology, politics and entertainment. Valeisha has been recognized by Forbes Magazine, Elle Magazine’s Top 10 Women to Watch, Essence Magazine’s Top 40 under 40, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100, TheRoot100 (2x), Glamour Magazine and others.
Caretha Coleman – Director, Adviser, Executive Coach, Community Advocate, Volunteer. Getting her start at Hewlett Packard, Caretha has spent 40 years in the technology industry working with start-ups and early stage ventures in the areas of organizational strategy development; and executive coaching and effectiveness. Among her accomplishments is Software Publishing Corporation, where her leadership was instrumental in pioneering one of the first successful desktop computer software businesses. Ms. Coleman serves on several boards including Dignity Health Community Care, The Angels Forum, The Leverage Network (TLN), Bay Area Black Corporate Directors, Facing History and Ourselves, Board Emeriti of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Ravenswood Health Clinic; and the Black Economic Alliance. An avocate for women and minorities in business, Caretha demonstrates her commitment to mentoring young professionals and entrepreneurs across the country.
Since launching Blavity Inc. in 2014, and I have led our company to acquire Travel Noire, a travel platform for black millennials and Shadow And Act, a black entertainment news site. Launched several profitable consumer summits, including Summit 21 for black women creators and entrepreneurs and Bay Area’s AfroTech, the largest tech conference for Black innovators and founders. All while scaling our internal operations, raising over 9 million dollars in venture funding and building a team of over 70 employees
Described by TechCrunch as “Silicon Valley’s Oliva Pope”, Eaddy brings more than 18 years of experience as an organizer, strategist and changemaker. Within her capacity, Eaddy is the Vice President of Policy; Strategic Engagement, and Impact for LendUp and represents their regulatory, legislative, and social impact initiatives at the federal and state level. Eaddy has led major initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between Washington DC and Silicon Valley, including fostering major partnerships between Silicon Valley based companies and the government/ non profit sector at the federal, state, and local level resulting in education and social impact initiatives that have reached more than 2 million consumers served by the tech industry.
MOLLY Q. FORD
Molly Q. Ford is the Senior Director of Global Equality Programs at Salesforce, one of the World’s Most Innovative Company according to Forbes and one of Fortune’s Best Companies to Work for 11 years in a row. In this role, she is responsible for shaping and sharing the company’s core value of Equality and evangelizing the Salesforce culture. Prior to making her passion for Equality a full-time job, Molly worked on the award-winning Salesforce Communications team. With more than 15 years of communications and public relations experience, she was responsible for building awareness for Salesforce Service Cloud, the world’s #1 customer service and support solution. Prior to joining Salesforce, she held positions at major technology companies including Cisco, Check Point Software, IBM and UMAX.
LAURA I GÓMEZ
Laura I Gómez currently hold two positions: CEO and Founder of Atipica, a venture-backed startup focused on big data, machine learning and analytics for talent acquisition and diversity teams. She is also a founding member of Project Include. Gómez has worked in tech since the age of was seventeen. She proudly worked at Twitter in its early stages, where was a founding team member of the International team and lead Twitter’s product expansion into numerous languages and dozens of countries. She has also worked Jawbone, YouTube, Google Brasil and AKQA London. Been featured numerous publications and television programming around the world, including Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes México, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and Huffington post. Recognized by the Department of State and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for involvement in the TechWomen Program.
Stephen is an economist, startup founder and recovering venture capitalist. By day he is the director of operations for Pensole, the world’s only footwear design, and development school. A Portland native, he has spent his career helping founders start, grow and fund their businesses. One of is latest projects “PitchBlack” is a national pitch event that connects ecosystems with talented black founders in cities around the country. Since starting in 2015, competitors in the Portland event have gone on to raise over $32MM for their ideas. He is one of the original mentors for Backstage Capital and serves on a number of boards. Spreadsheets are his superpower and sneakers are his kryptonite.
Co-Founder/CEO of DivInc, which is the first early-stage tech startup accelerator in Texas exclusively for people of color and women tech entrepreneurs. Founded in 2016, DivInc has launched 36 companies within its first 18 months in operation. Preston served a two-year appointment as the Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) at the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. A former 20-year veteran at Dell, he served in executive leadership roles in Enterprise IT Sales and Consulting where he oversaw teams responsible for driving $250M+ in revenues. He also served as the Managing Director for the Dell Global Center for Entrepreneurship, where he oversaw the $100M Dell Credit Fund and helped expand the center’s initiatives globally.
Mike Johns sits at the intersection between technology and entertainment. He’s become a sought after deal negotiator, brokering deals with, among countless others, ESPN, T-Mobile, Microsoft, NBC, and most recently iHeart Radio followed by Radio One. Generating significant revenue for these brands; Johns specialty is connecting creative marketing concepts with non-traditional revenue, brand positioning, media buying, organizing events, and public relations. Johns began his career as a mobile content provider for T-Mobile and quickly leveraged his success to become an in-demand content provider serving telecom companies such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. With a Jamaican ‘hard core’ work ethic, innovative marketing ideals and an eye for talent, Johns has put his ‘mobile touch’ on brands such as Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Oscar-winning rap duo Three Six Mafia, Remy Ma, even former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson all of whose careers have launched into super stardom.
Currently, Managing Director of Cleo Capital, Sarah is an investor and entrepreneur who has worked at Apple, Red Bull, Chanel & Mohr Davidow Ventures. She founded LA Dodgers backed Proday, a senior advisor at Bumble where she co-leads their corporate VC arm Bumble Fund, a contributing editor at Marie Claire Magazine and serves on the board of the Michigan State University Foundation endowment. Sarah has been recognized for numerous awards including Future Innovator by Vanity Fair, Forbes Magazine 30 under 30, a top 25 innovator in tech by Cool Hunting, recognized in Business Insider as a 30 under 30 Woman in Tech, Top African-American in Tech & Pitchbook Top Black VC To Watch to name a few.
Dion McKenzie is founder and executive chair of Colorintech.org, a nonprofit he cofounded in 2016 to make the UK’s tech industry more inclusive and transparent. Having spent most of his career in Silicon Valley, Dion is an active investor and has advised many SaaS startups looking to expand internationally.
Cleve Mesidor is founder of LOGOS, a social network on blockchain. This year, she was a speaker at SXSW, where she delivered a Ted-styled talk about blockchain and activism. She also publishes a weekly crypto e-news. Previously, she was an Obama Presidential Appointee and worked as a senior staffer on Capitol Hill. She has been a featured speaker at blockchain conferences and moderated several crypto panels. Cleve earned a Master of Arts degree from Howard University and started her career in broadcasting at CNN.
Candice Morgan is the Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Pinterest, where she leads strategies to build a more inclusive and diverse global company. Previously, Candice spent nearly 10 years at Catalyst, where she designed strategic talent initiatives for global companies and firms across a range of industries. Candice holds an MS in cross-cultural psychology from Brunel University and a BS in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a frequent speaker and advisor at global conferences and events, a contributor to Harvard Business Review, and was recently honored on Fast Company’s list of Most Creative People in Business & The Root 100 Most Influential African-Americans of 2017.
Ebele Okobi, Public Policy Director | aAfrica, the Middle East & Turkey, Facebook Inc. Ebele was previously Yahoo’s founding Human Rights Global Head/Senior Legal Director, a corporate lawyer at Davis Polk, health policy advocate at Consumers Union, gender equity advisor at Catalyst and MDP at Nike. Attended USC, Columbia Law, HEC-Paris.
Angela Rye is Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in the nation’s capital. Rye and her team are committed to encouraging young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement. As a CNN Political Commentator and NPR Analyst, she has changed the face of politics to include a gritty, urban and realistic outlook of national and international political topography and its impact on people of color. Featured as an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate by several publications and outlets from Marie Claire to Ebony and the Washington Post, Rye has an unwavering commitment to ensuring positive change in the political process. Most recently showcasing her talents in a four-episode news special “Angela Rye’s State of the Union” on BET, Rye paired common sense solutions with socioeconomic challenges while broadening her reach to young professionals and people of color.
Dr. Allison Scott is the Chief Research Officer for the Kapor Center for Social Impact (KCSI), where she leads a research agenda which examines equity in computer science education, participation and retention in the technology workforce among underrepresented populations, and intersectionality and barriers facing women of color in computing. Dr. Scott is currently Principal Investigator for a 3-year NSF grant analyzing computer science equity in California and efforts to increase access to computer science education across Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; and Co-PI for the Women of Color in Computing Collaborative to increase participation of women of color across the computing pipeline. She was previously Principal Investigator for a NSF project which developed and implement a computer science course sequence in a STEM summer program.
Co-Founder of BitMari a Pan-African Blockchain Remittance Platform. He was an early political supporter of Bitcoin in the United States. BitMari has recently launched a Blockchain project in Zimbabwe. BitMari has partnered with Agribank of Zimbabwe to facilitate remittances using Bitcoin. Bitmari is also operating a Zimbabwean women’s farm accelerator using Bitcoin as a digital coupon. BitMari’s Blockchain activities will ultimately connect farmers to direct investment with smart contracts. A social entrepreneur and engineer, Mr. Skinner’s global investments are supporting development efforts in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Additionally, he has amassed over 20-year experience in leading movements that improve the lives of those who are disenfranchised politically.
Olatunde Sobomehin currently is the CEO and Lead Servant for StreetCode Academy, a Silicon Valley-based innovation hub providing free tech classes to communities of color. StreetCode’s mission is to provide its students with the mindset, technical and professional skills, and networks needed to thrive in the technology industry. Since 2014, StreetCode has more than doubled every year, growing from serving 20 students in 2014, to now serving 1000 students annually, and providing over 15,000 hours of free instruction. In addition to StreetCode Academy, Olatunde has co-founded Esface, a youth sports and culture brand and Trillicon Valley, a lifestyle brand with products in technology, fashion, and branding.
A social entrepreneur, storyteller, and public speaker. As the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Forefront, she helps businesses and their leaders enable their cultural competence and inclusive leadership skills to meet the demands of the emergent workforce. She’s worked with Bank of America, EY, Puma, and Innosight Consulting as well as the International Institute of St. Louis and Betty Jean Kerr People’s Centers. While working in social impact, Yulkendy’s work focused on community-based projects ranging from financial equity for low-income immigrants to affordable health care. Yulkendy has received numerous fellowships including the Resolution Project, Young People For, Opportunity Nation Leaders Program, Future Founders Fellowship, Net Impact Racial Equity Fellowship, Harvard Kennedy School Public Policy Leadership Conference, StartingBloc, and PPIA Indiana University.
Aniyia Williams is a creator, inventor and tech changemaker. She serves as Executive Director of Black & Brown Founders, which provides vital resources to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs building tech companies with limited capital. She is also co-founder of Zebras Unite, an entrepreneur-led movement focused on creating a more ethical and sustainable startup ecosystem. Aniyia previously founded and led the fashion tech company, Tinsel, which created the world’s first audio necklace—earphones that double as a beautiful piece of jewelry—and was designed in response to the lack of electronics developed for women. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Aniyia held roles in marketing, business development, and nonprofit fundraising. She also a background in the arts, with a decade of training as an opera singer.
Addressing the challenges in advancing diversity, inclusion and equality across Silicon Valley and the tech industry.
In March of 2014, Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition re-launched its Silicon Valley Digital Connections Initiative. Drawing on the part of V 1.0 in 2000-2005, the goal of the Digital Connections Technology initiative is to expand the participation of Blacks and people of color – commensurate with our consumer base and population – in all dimensions of the technology industry.
We want to move the needle to significantly expand the participation of Blacks and people of color in employment. Key areas of diversity and inclusion are:
- Members of Board of Director
- Executive Leaders in the C-suites
- Employees/workforce: in both technical and non technical areas
- Supplier Diversity
- Utilization of minority owned advertising and marketing firms; legal and other professional services;
- Inclusion of minority owned financial services firms in 401K retirement plans, debt offerings, IPOs and other financial transactions.
- We want to open up and expand access to capital to accelerate the launch and development of Technology Entrepreneurs and start ups;
- We want to accelerate the inclusion of people of color in VC and investment companies.
In just a few months, Rainbow PUSH’s advocacy and public engagement has created a new climate of change is sweeping through Silicon Valley. It’s the civil rights imperative of this era.
In a direct dialogue with David Drummond and leaders of Google at their meeting in May (see video below), Google responded directly by saying their were wrong not to release their data to the public, and committed to doing so.
Rainbow PUSH commended Google for releasing their data, and then challenged through a Open Letter and direct communications to Yahoo, LinkedIn, Pandora, eBay, Apple, Salesforce, EBay, Amazon, Yelp - 20 companies in total – to follow this “transparency movement, to come out from under the veil of secrecy, and release their EEO-1 and workforce data.
Within weeks, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Facebook, Salesforce, Microsoft, Verizon, Comcast, and ATT responded positively.
Launching an online petition drive, and using social media and Twitter to challenge Twitter’s secrecy (read announcement), the Rainbow PUSH/Color of Change campaign delivered 25,000 petitions to Twitter in 5 days.
Twitter released their data last week, and now eBay has joined in.
VMware released workforce data ONLY regarding women in their workforce, astonishingly omitting any reference to the racial composition of their employee base.
Pandora and Apple have now joined the “transparency movement” and Amazon and Groupon have reported to RPC that they will release their data in September
To their credit, Intel, HP and Cisco have long posted their EEO-1 workforce data on their websites.
The community has its goals and targets: inclusion on the boards, in the c-suites and in the workforce at levels comparable to our consumer use and population. There should be minority inclusion in financial and professional services, marketing and advertising, procurement and supplier diversity.
The community has timetables: each year, we will measure the outcomes and progress, or lack thereof, of the tech industry’s inclusion and diversity practices.
In this new era of transparency and change, RainbowPUSH issues this call to action to the community and tech industry:
Silicon Valley must evolve and expand to look like America, and mirror American values and principles.
We must even the playing field and play by one set of rules. Let’s close these gaps together. Let all of share in America’s growth and opportunity. Let’s win together.