Visionary tech cartoon series “The Jetsons” never acknowledged a future with Black people at the forefront of innovation, yet here we are continuing to pioneer the way forward in all aspects of life — especially technology.
From Dr. Mark Dean and the invention of the gigahertz chip responsible for powering the desktop computer to Dr. Patricia Era Bath, who invented laser cataract surgery, our people continue to smash glass ceilings when it comes to advancing the world as we know it.
For Black History Month, we’re paying homage to those who paved the way while also shedding light on contemporary movers and shakers. Here is REVOLT’s list of tech innovators who are reshaping the world and making our lives easier.
1. Dazayah Walker
At just 23 years old this Spelman alumna manages Quality Control Music’s investment portfolio, making her one of the youngest venture capitalists. While she may not fit the “norm” when most people think of a Silicon Valley VC, Walker went from a bright-eyed intern to a true boss lady in no time. She serves as an investment portfolio and operations manager for both the sports and music side of Quality Control, a full-service record label founded by Pierre “Pee” Thomas and Kevin “Coach K” Lee. Her work is a testament to bridging the gap between technology and music.
2. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
According to a 2022 CNBC report, the average American family has $155,622 in debt. As the CEO and co-founder of Promise, Ellis-Lamkins has built a “modern government payment solution for everyone.” What this platform essentially does is provide payment processing and solutions for utilities and government agencies.
Alongside her co-founder Diana Frappier, Ellis-Lamkins has helped clients avoid everything from utility shutoffs to incarceration by providing flexible, interest-free payment plans, a variety of payment options, and 24/7 client support. This technology has helped the criminal justice reform movement by streamlining the bail system and bringing outdated federal systems into the 21st century. If that’s not a win for the culture, then we don’t know what is!
3. Angela Benton
In 2011, Angela Benton founded NewME, the first global accelerator for minorities. With NewME, Benton helped minority-led companies raise more than $47 million in venture capital funding. The program has since been acquired, but the change-maker is still working to make a difference in tech.
Now, as the founder and CEO of Streamlytics, Benton has created an appealing new way for users to reclaim their data through Universal Data Interchange Format technology. With user data at the forefront of everything that we do, this company offers hope and reassurance that our information will never end up in the wrong hands.
4. Stacy Brown-Philpot
With half of society using side gigs to fund their best lives, former TaskRabbit CEO and COO Stacy Brown-Philpot is known for helping everyday go-getters succeed. As a tech leader, she is committed to investing in the future, especially when it comes to Black, Latinx, and Native American entrepreneurs.
Brown-Philpot previously made Fortune’s “40 Under 40” list for influential young people in business, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors for both HP Inc. and Nordstrom.
5. Christopher Young
Black innovators have been actively kept out of an array of tech spaces, but thanks to people like Christopher Young, the future look promising. As the executive vice president of business development, strategy and ventures at Microsoft, Young has made his mark on cybersecurity and software development for more than two decades.
Not only does he continue to drive company-wide growth for the leading developer of personal computer software systems and applications, but he has also helped Microsoft set corporate strategy. Additionally, Young is responsible for pinpointing high-impact investments through the company’s corporate venture arm.
6. Delane Parnell
As a young visionary who has always been one step ahead of the game, Delane Parnell is reimagining the landscape of electronic sports (esports) in an extremely innovative way. His company, PlayVS, powers competition for amateur esports worldwide.
Thanks to Parnell and his team, esports has tapped into a highly lucrative high school market. Now youth across the nation have access to collegiate opportunities and career paths through the competitive gaming world.
7. Melissa Hanna
The American healthcare system was not designed with Black women in mind, so Melissa Hanna decided to build her own platform geared towards the Black community. Through Mahmee, an organization supporting mothers and newborns from pregnancy until the child’s first birthday, Hanna connects minority moms and healthcare professionals seamlessly.
Thanks to Hanna and her Mahmee team, Black women and families are able to enjoy the miracle of giving birth and bring their newborns into the world safely.
8. Andrew ‘Hawk’ Hawkins & Troy Jones
Technology and sports go hand in hand, and StatusPRO is a prime example of the endless possibilities that come from merging the two industries. As former athletes, Hawkins and Jones both know what it’s like to want to master their skillsets and elevate their game.
Through this sports tech company, these guys have managed to combine data with augmented and virtual reality to provide users with a suite of training and gaming products. As the company continues to expand, StatusPRO has caught the attention of celebrity investors, including icons LeBron James and Naomi Osaka.
9. The Culture Wireless Crew
Despite technology continuously evolving, there are still so many people without access to the basics, which furthers the digital divide currently plaguing America. In partnership with AT&T, Vernell Woods, Jerome Howard, Al Adjahoe, and William “Bam” Sparks are providing low-income families with access to free internet through government assistance programs.
By 2023, the company plans to supply internet infrastructures that universities, municipalities, and businesses can own and operate.
10. Nia Asemota
While most college kids are just trying to maintain and survive, Nia Asemota is building an empire. As an artist and the founder and creator of Black Girls CODE The Future, she is using coloring books to empower young POC women who want to pursue career paths in STEM. Asemota is wielding her creativity to help others see themselves reflected in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In addition to her role as a technical instructor for Black Girls CODE, Asemota studies computer science and biology at New York University. She is also a software engineer for NASA.
11. Chukwudum Chukwudebelu
Smart homes need vital security and Chukwudebelu is here to help ensure that, as technology progresses, so does the security that keeps us safe. As the co-founder and strategic officer of Simius, he is focused on protecting users’ smart devices and privacy. Simius offers a simple way for smart home owners to verify their home networks are safe against cyber attacks, ensuring security in your place of comfort.
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