Malik Ducard – The Curator
Malik S. Ducard is the Director of Content Partnerships at Google where he is in charge of premium film, TV and new media partnerships for YouTube. Prior to joining YouTube, he served as senior vice president of digital distribution for the Americas at Paramount Pictures and oversaw the distribution of films to online, mobile and digital platforms including iTunes, XBox, Netflix, and a range of mobile, online and device technology partners. A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Malik earned his B.A. in Film and African-American Studies in 1995 from Columbia University and his MBA in 2000 from the University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management.
Will Lucas – The Advocate
Will Lucas is one of the few young African-American TEDx organizers in the United States, running TEDxToledo. As founder and CEO of Classbag, an online lifestyle resource directory, his passion for curating his own TEDx event developed out of a desire to help inspire his midwestern town, renowned for its manufacturing and automotive industries, to take advantage of the rapid growth in STEM-based opportunities.
Jill Ford – The Player
Jill Ford is a San Francisco Bay Area-based business development executive and angel investor who is transforming a variety of industries with strategies forged in mobile gaming. As Good Technology’s new VP, Jill is spearheading the next generation of Good Technology’s consumer business. Her experience includes heading Disney Mobile’s worldwide distribution to mobile manufacturers and running Motorola’s global games usage. Jill has guided the gaming experiences of over 100 million consumers and continues to be the mastermind behind the launch of compelling mobile experiences. A global citizen, Jill ran a company in Ghana that discovered, developed, and funded new entrepreneurs in Accra and has traveled to more than 15 countries as a business woman, adventurer, or swing dancer. Jill combines a Wharton MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management with a technical background through work as a technology consultant and architect for Trilogy. She has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Harvard University.
Erin Horne Montgomery – The Orchestrator
Passionate about emerging technology and diversity, Erin Horne Montgomery serves as the president and executive director of the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs (NAMDE). She is also a graduate researcher at Howard University studying the participation of women and minority entrepreneurs in the innovation economy. Mrs. Horne Montgomery has nearly two decades of non-profit management, telecommunications policy, and marketing communications experience as an award-winning professional in various areas of the media industry.
Katrina Miles – The Informant
As co-founder and the Chief Strategic Officer at Roscoe Labs, Katrina lives a fast-paced day, every day. Roscoe.tv is a mobile television news app designed to bring casual and professional reporters together, on the same platform, to report and distribute local news. Leveraging the low ratings that traditional televised news programs are experiencing, Miles is making certain that additional perspectives are offered. “Ultimately, I believe Roscoe.tv will cause us to redefine what it means to be a casual or professional journalist, and hopefully, change the way we communicate and use technology,” stated Miles.
Christopher Martin – The Educator
Having played a large part in contributing to the global growth of hip-hop
culture as “Play” of the beloved rap duo Kid ‘N Play, Chris Martin is on the come up as a formidable content producer in the digital space. Martin uses technology to provide and bring attention to important information and positive news that he feels is under-represented. “I really want to champion the education community and continue to be an advocate for higher learning through the best of both worlds — positive hip-hop and advanced technology,” he explained. “I present news and documentaries with Brand Newz… on AllHipHop.com.”
Shaun Evans – The Revolutionary
Shaun Evans is the CEO of OMBO Apps, which is becoming one of Atlanta’s hottest tech companies ready to take on the mobile industry. His start-up company develops cutting-edge mobile applications targeting the African-American market. Shaun is a game changer with one hit already under his belt, Urban Gossip FREE, the No. 1 black celebrity news app for iPhone and Android mobile devices. OMBO aims to disrupt the app ecosystem by creating an app network targeting African-American consumers, who are leading the mobile revolution.
Glennette Clark – The Connector
Glennette Clark is the founder Smarter Experiences, an event partnership company. Smarter Experiences produces the always sold-out UXCamp and MobileUX Camp in Washington, D.C. She uses her years of experience in the user experience and web design realms to help other professionals connect, collaborate and share through the Camps. She is an unwavering advocate for increasing the number of minorities in tech startups and has appeared on stage at the prestigious SXSW festival. Biggest achievement to date? “Knowing that an UXCamper met someone at the event who offered him a job. He took the job and now he is a UX (user experience) Director at one of the hottest tech companies in the world,” exclaimed Clark.
Jon Gosier – The Wizard
Jon Gosier is a tech entrepreneur and the founder of big-data startup MetaLayer, which provides corporate data-analysis and visualization solutions. He is also the founder of Appfrica, a technology consultancy based in East Africa. In 2012 MetaLayer was honored by winning the Audience Choice Award for best start-up at Strata, the world’s preeminent data conference, where he also gave a keynote speech. Jon has been invited to speak at TED conferences many times about his work in Africa, and will be speaking at the upcoming TEDxOrlando. Not content with his own successes, Jon also hosts a weekly podcast that offers advice to first-time minority entrepreneurs, GosTalk.tv.
Khisaun Ferguson – The Facilitator
Khisaun Ferguson is a real estate exe- turned-tech founder of the software company Dwllr (dweller). Dwllr is a “tech cocktail” of Google, Amazon, and Salesforce which help consumers and real estate professionals buy
and sell real estate online. Dwllr was selected as one of the seven
companies to participate in the NewMe Accelerator, a residential tech
accelerator for minority-led start-ups presented by Google, Andreessen
Horowitz, Tagged and other corporate sponsors.
The top blacks in technology. (Photos: Various Sources)
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“First, organizers of these tech events need to consider diversity while planning their speaker schedules,” Sibyl Edwards, president of D.C. Web Women, explained to theGrio. “Planning ahead will give them time to find and secure people of color for key speaking slots and panels — and not only those panels pertaining to diversity. Unfortunately, many conferences and events are locked in before the organizers notice it is lacking women and African-American speakers. I can’t tell you how many times conference organizers reached out to me just days before the conference asking for a recommendation for a woman or African-American to speak at their event. Diversity is treated as an afterthought.
“Another problem: in an attempt at diversity, event [and] conference organizers keep drawing from the same well,” she continued. “That is why you see the same small handful of African-American techies speaking at various events over and over and over again. There is no attempt at finding fresher voices. A huge part of the problem is the fact that many of the thought leaders in the tech community are not in contact with many African-Americans in tech. Whether that is by choice or due to external factors is up for debate, but I have attended a number of tech events, and I will say that most of them have few people of color in attendance. This simply needs to change.”
Indeed, Edwards’ observations about tech sector events could easily be applied to radio and television appearances, print articles and more regarding African-American inclusion. We agree with Edwards — this must change.
Potential industry rock stars need visibility as a vital part of the equation that drives their brand. Having a voice is key, particularly at tech industry events and in the press. Still, in 2013, is the “M.I.A.” factor for people of color in tech — whether it is participating on panels or attending conferences — is a big issue. Let’s begin to change this disparity right now with this article, which will help out the next time the women and people of color need to fuel diversity can be found.
Here are 10 people to watch in the digital space that we bet the mainstream tech community has overlooked. Hip, bright, innovative, provocative — and now made even more visible. Yes, there are cutting edge people of color and women in tech. Spread the word…
Lauren DeLisa Coleman is part of the new technorati-to-watch. She is a mobile strategy specialist and analyst specializing in the convergence of Gen X, Y with hip tech platforms, and the author of the new e-book, Rise of the Smart Power Class. Follow her on Twitter at @mediaempress.