Here’s Who You Will Meet at TechConneXt


Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Technology Summit is a two-day technology festival of discussions, workshops, tech demos, and more. Taking place October 10-11, at the San Francisco Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Burlingame, C.A., TechConneXT will feature a bevy of influencers, investors, entrepreneurs, and other black superstars in technology for you to meet and gain insight and draw inspiration.

Here’s who you can expect to meet at TechConneXt:

Tech Founders and Entrepreneurs


Brian Brackeen: founder and CEO, Kairos

Rodney Williams: founder and CEO, LISNR

Aisha Bowe: CEO and co-founder, STEMBoard

Stewart Butterfield: founder and CEO, Slack

Jerry Nemorin: founder and CEO, LendStreet

Ryan Leslie: CEO and co-founder of Disruptive Multimedia; recording star and producer

Leading Tech Industry Analysts and Experts


Lynne d Johnson: technology journalist, content creator, and digital strategist (Ebony contributor)

Ramon Ray: entrepreneur, speaker, small business expert and advisor

Megan Rose Dickey: reporter covering tech and diversity at TechCrunch



DeRay McKesson: Baltimore mayoral candidate and activist

Johnetta Elzie: activist

Tech Executives


Rodney Adkins: president, 3Ram Group L.L.C.

Stacy Brown-Philpot: CEO, TaskRabbit

Brian Tippens: VP and CDO, HP Enterprise

Ime Archibong: director of Strategic Partnerships, Facebook

Kirk McDonald: president, PubMatic

Dele Oladapo: VP and CIO, Prudential Financial

Ty Ahmad-Taylor: CEO, THX Ltd.

Julian Waits: president and CEO, PivotPoint Risk Analytics

Academics, Engineers, and Computer Scientists


Devon Bryan: executive vice president and chief information security officer, The Federal Reserve; president, International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP)

Renee Forney: acting deputy chief information officer of cybersecurity, U.S. Department of Energy

Dr. Dorian WalkerMSNBC contributor; board chair of The Center for Community Change; fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green: physicist and assistant professor for the Department of Physiology at Morehouse School of Medicine

Terrence Southern: robotics and automation engineer, GE Global Research

Dr. Ashitey Trebi-Ollennu: robotics engineer, NASA

Laura Teclemariam: engineer and product manager, EA

Student hackers from the top STEM programs in the HBCUs will also be in attendance, along with representatives from top companies sponsoring the event, including Toyota, LinkedIn, Prudential, EMC, AT&T, FedEx, Microsoft, and more!

Share this article using #TECHCNXT16 by Friday, 9/23/2016, and we will send you a discount code for TechConneXt registration!



National Black Programming Consortium and Silicon Harlem Hold Inaugural Hackathon

Hack360 finale. Pictured, Shellée Haynesworth. Source: NBPC 360 Hack360

The Silicon Harlem 2nd Annual Tech Conference announced the winners of Hack360, a hackathon event held by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) in partnership with Silicon Harlem.

[Related: [TechConneXt Summit] Hackathon Recap]

The hackathon tested the skills of developers over a two-day period. The participants are all developing TV and Web series. The goal of the hackathon was for them to create a companion app to the series they are developing.

The jury awarded a $3,000 prize to Sultan Sharrief and Oren Goldenberg, producers of the TV series Cred; a reality show about 12 Detroit high school students trying to land a dream internship in the film industry. Sharrief and Goldenberg created the Street Cred Movie Mogul app, which lets users build a film company with the goal of becoming a movie mogul.

An Audience prize of $1000 was awarded to Damon Colquhoun, producer of Pixie Dust—a Web series about a girl who uses her magical powers to help her mentally ill mother. His app, Pixie Dust: Home to Mom, challenges users to try and safely wade through a world of unsavory characters who threaten Pixie’s mental health. The app was designed to create awareness about triggers that can threaten mental well-being.

Prizes of $500 were awarded to the makers of POPS, a Web documentary that seeks to dispel myths about black fathers. The companion app, POPS+LIFE, is a scavenger hunt app that lets children and their fathers work to explore and solve various missions.

The producers of Black Broadway on U—an interactive Web project about the U Street corridor in Washington D.C., also received $500 for their companion app Duke’s DC: Just Jumpin’ and Jivin;’ another scavenger hunt and quiz app that takes users on a walking tour of dance halls, theatres, and nightclubs that were frequented by the likes of Duke Ellington.

NBPC is a Harlem-based media arts organization and Silicon Harlem is a social venture focused on transforming Harlem into a technology and innovation hub.


[TechConneXt Summit] Meet the Hackers

Spelman hackers at TechConnext Summit

If you’ve been in tune with all things Black Enterprise TechConneXt Summit, happening now in Silicon Valley, then you’re well aware of the 20 ambitious students from Morgan State University, Howard University, Spelman College, Southern University, and Johnson C. Smith, hacking their way into notoriety with the BE SMART Hackathon.

Four students from each school are currently taking on the challenge of developing an app that will enable individuals to create budgets, manage expenses, review credit history, track spending, and develop savings and investment plans; all from their electronic devices. Each team’s app will be judged based on the utility to individual users and viability of the app. May the best team win.

Let’s meet the team members:

Morgan State University

Benjamin Hall (Team Lead) – Senior
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Mathematics

Khir Henderson – Senior
Major: Electrical Engineering
Minor: Computer Engineering

Kevin Proctor – Senior
Major: Electrical Engineering
Minor: Mathematics

Jaleel Wright-Walker – Senior
Major: Electrical Engineering
Minor: Cybersecurity

Howard University

Victor Foreman (Team Lead) – Senior
Major: Computer Science

Errol Grannum – Junior
Major: Computer Science

Barry Harris, Jr. – Junior
Major: Computer Science

Remington Holt – Senior
Major: Computer Science

Johnson C. Smith University

Michael Gibbs (Team Lead) – Senior
Major: Computer Science and Information Systems

Allen Johnson – Senior
Major: Computer Science and Information Systems

Lewis Lawrence – Senior
Major: Computer Engineering

Kimberly McFadden – Senior
Major: Information Systems Engineering

Southern University

Egbeyong Tanjong (Team Lead) – Senior
Major: Computer Science

Morgan Brenton – Senior
Major: Computer Science

Jonathan Charles – Senior
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Math

Alanie Fernandez – Senior
Major: Computer Science

Spelman College

Brygette Bagley (Team Lead) – Junior
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Math

Mya Havard – Junior
Major: Math
Minor: Computer Science

Osariemem Odemwingie – Junior
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Math

Elizabeth Sengoba – Junior
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Math

Watch these students hack their way to success via livestream at​. To closely follow all TechConneXt activities be sure to check out Black Enterprise via social media @BlackEnterprise and search #TECHCNXT for updates, highlights, attendee uploads and information.

[Recap] White House Hosts Youth Leadership Hackathon

Recently, the White House Council on Women & Girls and the Department of Education welcomed 80 youth leaders and staff from around the U.S. to the White House for a an open discussion on leadership development and policy. As the young trailblazers shared their perspectives and possible solutions for a number of issues affecting our nation, including the School-to-Prison pipeline, STEM diversity, and sexual assault, they set the Twittersphere on fire with the hashtag #WHYouthLead.

Just in case you missed it watch the video and check out the Storify recap below:

My Brother’s Keeper to Host Hackathon in Oakland

Image: File

With a goal to close the STEM diversity gap, My Brother’s Keeper is hosting its first hackathon event in Oakland, CA with the help of Qeyno Labs, whose mission is to transform the lives of young people through innovation, education and technology.

Studies show that 30 percent of jobs in the next decade will require technology and coding skills, indicating the immediate need for early training in these fields. However, when it comes to black and brown students, it’s clear that a lack of resources and opportunities play a major role in their decision to pursue STEM careers with only 2 percent of employees at top tech companies being African American and only 3 percent being Hispanic.

Taking place February 20-22, the My Brother’s Keeper Hackathon will bring together minority youth ages 12-20, referred to as “Trailblazers,” for a weekend event where they work in teams, alongside adult professionals, and build websites and mobile apps that will positively impact the community. Using the hashtag #MBKHACK, the hackathon will also partner with the “My Sisters Keeper” initiative to foster and encourage young women of color to also pick up an interest in STEM.

To learn more about the My Brother’s Keeper Hackathon event and how you can sign up a young person visit


Tech Disruptors for Good: Goodie Hack Aims to Transform Communities Worldwide

Saturday, June 21, 2014 marked the second effort of the “Goodie Hackers” to be the change they want to see in the world. Hundreds of local entrepreneurs, designers, developers, marketers, and service enthusiasts assembled in the co-working offices of Opportunity Hub in Atlanta to help 10 local organizations with various needs, all technology-related, and assist in furthering their mission for underserved communities.

For most, it was the first time experiencing what it’s like to participate in a hackathon or a tech startup. Supported by gracious sponsors like Google, who just created a $50 million fund to inspire more women to code, as well as The Awesome Foundation – Atlanta Chapter, who awarded Goodie Hack with its first grant, this is only the beginning of transforming local communities one hackathon at a time by bringing together the best and brightest minds to create change for those who lack the resources to fully accomplish their organization’s goals.

Led by Joey Womack, co-founder of sf35, an organization for high-performance capacity African American, Latino, and women entrepreneurs, the program is off to an impactful start with its sight set on creating a level playing field for those often overlooked. “Our mission is to help one billion people in underserved communities all over the world. We want to help raise their basic need averages in education, economic development, environment, and health up to their respective country’s national average,” Womack said.

For example, there are dismal reports showcasing very low graduation rates in low socioeconomic or underserved areas, especially for African American students. Many of the projects that Goodie Hack helps facilitate directly tackle these issues, via a technology-based solution such as interactive websites, mobile apps and new strategies for tech integration, to aid in raising these numbers incrementally all over the nation and tapping into the power of the digital future.

10 Twitter Reactions to Black Girls CODE’s Hackathon

The incredibly dynamic Black Girls CODE grassroots organization held a hackathon last weekend.

Teaming up with Verizon and Break The Cycle, Black Girls CODE delivered another girls-only event themed “Love Is Respect.” The hackathon was a success as young minds debuted their own apps for mass consumption and review.

Taking place in Brooklyn, New York, 126 supporters and native Alexis Ohanian garnered attention for the event through Twitter and a crowd funding campaign. As girls from 5th grade to ages 15-17 years old come together to solve worldly problems through building apps, Black Girls CODE continues to spotlight education and mentorship to the next generation.

Twitter, a haven for supporting grassroots organization, reacted to Black Girls CODE’s latest hackathon with favorable responses. Here are the 10 of best reactions for you to check out. Enjoy!

Why We Need Black Computer Programmers

As the job market focuses more on technology, we need to focus on creating more opportunities for Black technologists.

Rap Genius was made by two white guys.

That fact alone should get the wheels turning in your head about why a startup funded to the tune of over $15 million wasn’t made by an enterprising group of African American programmers. And while Rap Genius’ third co-founder isn’t white, the fact that he isn’t black is far more important to consider.

Stories like this highlight opportunities that blacks unaware of the literal wealth of opportunity in the technology community are missing. In a world where simply having an idea called Clinkle and some concept art nets you $25 million—the largest seed round in Silicon Valley history—the barrier to entry into startup stardom seems laughably easy.

But once you get past the idea that creativity is key, the technical skills are essential. And therein lies the rub. The skills we need to nurture, like proficiency in math, science, and computer programming, are few and far between in the black community, although the number of programmers is growing daily thanks to the copious amount of resources available to them.

Black Enterprise’s Driving Innovation Hackathon was a success, with over a dozen programmers rallying together in less than three weeks to build amazing concepts that encourage environmental sustainability. And while everyone produced engaging apps in such a short span of time, I want to focus on a single entrant.

Elnerdo is a Mario clone that lets you clean up the polluted environment by jumping on top of some garbage monsters. The app won second place in the Hackathon, and was made by two black programmers who happened to be friends. It stood out to me not because of its originality or style, but because of what it—and the rest of the event—ultimately represented.

The lack of a multicultural influence in the technology we use and the games that we enjoy increasingly shape the culture of gaming and technology has already had unfavorable results. Black characters appear as gangsters a la Carl “CJ” Johnson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, or worse, as racist caricatures like the trash-digging informant Letitia in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

And with just 2 percent of game developers being black, and only 296 of 5,907 top managers and officials in Silicon Valley being black or Latino, we can’t expect that to change without becoming more involved in the industry in which we’re underrepresented.

There will be over 2.1 million jobs available by 2020 in the STEM field, and with only 5 percent of bachelors degrees in engineering going to African Americans, a lot of those in-demand, high-paying jobs will be inaccessible to the black community. Companies see this and are acting to make it easier for underprivileged youth to get involved in the sciences. Lockheed Martin donated $6 million for STEM initiatives in urban school districts, for example.

There have definitely been advancements in getting black developers and engineers into the workforce, and one would be remiss to not recognize those like Verizon’s Michelle Dutton or Microsoft Chairman John Thompson, who serve as examples of change within the industry.

Black Enterprise will most certainly put on another Hackathon, not only to show support for the tech community, but to help those participating to find their way into it.

I say this to show that the future is looking bright for the black tech community. And we’re making progress every day.