Black History Month: Influential Figures Impacting Tech & Health

Black History Month originated in 1926, and since then it has been a time to raise awareness around the role black Americans have played in the development of this country and to educate about what they have been through in their history. But it wasn’t until 1986 that Black History Month was passed as a law to designate February as Black History Month. While the public uses February to celebrate and honor achievements that black Americans have made and are doing today, we should always celebrate their contributions beyond February. We wanted to share the work that influential black figures are doing to drive change in the tech and mental health field today. 

Jessie Woolley-Wilson: CEO of Dreambox

For over 20 years, Jessie Woolley-Wilson has worked in education tech (edtech) to improve the education and life outcomes for kids K-12. She is the CEO and President of Dreambox Learning, an adaptive education program that is now used by 200,000 teachers and 5 million students in all 50 states. She has always been an advocate for children who live in low-income housing or don’t have access to proper education. She has had several executive positions including blackboard K-12, Leapfrog, Schoolhouse and Kaplan. She has also received the edtech digest leadership award twice and was named one of 2018 top influential people in EdTech.

Angela Benton: CEO of Streamlytics

Angela Benton has made a huge impact in creating diversity in the tech field and raising awareness about the inequities that black individuals experience in the industry. In 2007, she created BlackWeb2.0 which provided a space for black Americans in technology that didn’t really exist. Then in 2011, she founded NewMe, which was the first accelerator for minorities and could be used globally. In continuing her effort to help minorities in the tech field, she founded Streamlytics in 2018 and is currently the CEO. This program provides data to measure what users are listening to and streaming while protecting consumers’ data.

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins: CEO of Promise

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is a social activist and entrepreneur who has influenced social injustices through the many companies she has been a part of. In 2009, she became the CEO of Green For All. This company’s purpose was to have a sustainable future while helping individuals out of poverty. While she was CEO, Green For All won major policies that significantly benefit the future of having a sustainable way of living. She then went on to become the manager for Prince in 2014. While working with him, Prince performed multiple shows to promote social justice causes. In 2015, she took the position of Head of Care for a company named Honor. This company was a start-up that helped people receive in-home health care professionals. Lastly, she is currently the CEO of Promise, which she co-founded in 2017. Promise provides people with solutions who aren’t able to pay for their government bills.

Jennifer Eberhardt: Social Psychology professor at Stanford

Jennifer Eberhardt is a social psychology professor at Stanford. She has done extensive research on the psychological association between race and crime, which has raised awareness around racial bias and has been used to educate law enforcement officers in implicit bias training. She has worked with NextDoor to implement a checklist to avoid users jumping to conclusions based on people’s race. She has done TED talks to share this knowledge and help improve racial injustice.

Terry Roberts: Vice President Employment Law and Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at American Eagle

Terry Roberts has played a significant role in the culture at American Eagle Outfitters. He runs the L&D alliance which focuses on creating a healthy workplace culture and works to ensure that every employee is accepted and respected. The alliance is structured around three main pillars of inclusion: hiring, culture and development. He has created relationships with other teams so it ensures that there is open communication. He works to raise awareness around the lack of diversity in higher positions and continues to advocate for this to change. He is putting in the effort to create programs to actually make this change happen.

All 5 of these people are just among the many black Americans who have made significant changes and had a big impact in the tech and mental health field. They all lead and proceed with respect and the desire to increase the space for black individuals to be successful. As we look back and appreciate black history we also want to commend those who are creating history now. 

Learn more about Black History through our latest microlesson on Black History Month!

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Sierra Case
Marketing Intern
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