Christine Cauthen


Christine Cauthen

AfroTech blogger

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These student leaders are the future — here's what they're doing to make it better for the rest of us

This year, eight student leaders were recognized for their work and offered exclusive scholarships from Hilton to attend the AfroTech conference in San Francisco. As Hilton heads into its 100th year in 2019, the company acknowledges the next generation has valuable leadership skills worth investing in. Hilton, which made the 2018 Fortune Change The World list , recognized the need for students to have access to these opportunities. AfroTech is a yearly conference that unites people of color in tech for one info-packed weekend, full of networking opportunities, potential business partners, chances to learn and opportunities to share the innovative things attendees have been working on all year long. We spoke with JeanClaude Dorsainvil, a recipient of the Hilton scholarship, about his experience at AfroTech. Check it out below: AfroTech: How did you find out that you would be able to attend AfroTech with the Hilton scholarship? JeanClaude Dorsainvil: Several weeks before the...

How USDS Is Helping To Digitize Immigration, Making It More Efficient Than Ever

The black immigrant population has increased fivefold since the 1980s according to a report this year from the Pew Research Center . Immigrants made up 10 percent of the black population in the U.S. in a 2016 population survey. And now, thanks to the United States Digital Service (USDS) and their partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the immigration processes are becoming more efficient and, in turn, more accessible. USDS has partnered with USCIS to create modern tools and systems for processing immigration applications, made green card renewals faster through a streamlined review process, and introduced iPads into interviews for better applicant experience. These modern systems enabled USCIS to build online applications, where immigrants can apply for naturalization and renew their green card online. Now, USCIS’s new online applications help people find the immigration options that work for them and their unique situations, providing more accessibility...

Christine Cauthen

Nov 22, 2018

Bank of America’s Global Human Resources Technology Executive Shares Insight on Diversity in Technology

Lisa Buford Armbrister is the Global Human Resources Technology executive at Bank of America. After taking time off from a different company, friends encouraged her to consider Bank of America. She joined about 15 years ago and has held six different positions within the company, each one challenging her to grow and try something new. Bank of America is purposeful in seeking out diverse talent and has development programs designed to help empower employees to own their career development journey. Armbrister has been able to achieve a successful career in technology because of her ability to think outside the box, her entrepreneurial spirit, and her leadership skills.  In addition, the firm’s commitment to diversity and the culture of supporting employee development efforts has helped support her career journey. On Diversity Bank of America’s approach to diversity is “pretty bold,” says Armbrister. There is a deep commitment to ensuring a diverse and inclusive work environment and...

Christine Cauthen

Nov 20, 2018

Bird Is Changing The Landscape Of Transportation — And The Face Of Engineering

Chances are you’ve seen Bird in your city. You might even have ridden one for fun on a beautiful day, or for a quick and inexpensive ride when you needed to get somewhere in a crunch. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like working at the startup transforming the way people get around, we spoke to Rodney Gainous Jr. and Alona King — software engineers at Bird— to get a deeper look inside. Landing at Bird Gainous moved to LA in January and noticed the high number of people riding scooters around town. After a friend finally convinced him to unlock a Bird, he realized how enjoyable the experience was. He further researched the company, reached out to Travis VanderZanden, CEO of Bird, who introduced him to Justin Balthrop, the CTO. Shortly after, Rodney was working on the iOS and Android apps as the youngest and one of the 10 first members of Bird’s engineering team. Alona King began to see Bird as an affordable, accessible means of transportation that was going to completely change the...

How Kapor Center Is Helping To Close The Technology Gap Through Programs With Deep Impact

The technology industry is booming. More than ever, entrepreneurs, engineers and everyone in between are creating new solutions, landing high-paying jobs and creating long-lasting career paths for themselves. But despite all of this success, black and Latinx tech employees are still vastly underrepresented. And to change that is going to take implementing programs and initiatives that have deep impact, such as Kapor Center’s signature education program, SMASH . SMASH was one of the earliest STEM education programs in the U.S. and has continued to serve students since its inception in 2004 on the University of California’s Berkeley campus.The comprehensive program continues to grow and make a difference in the lives of participants by providing them with a comprehensive STEM curriculum. “A lot of our students are coming from communities that are facing a plethora of challenges — food insecurity, violence, poverty, lack of role models…” said Anne Sawiris, Site Director at SMASH UC...

How Microsoft Is Tackling The Diversity Issues In Tech

Diversity and inclusion can be buzzwords in the tech world. That’s why it’s so important when brands invest in underrepresented communities and remain committed to centering diverse perspectives through every level of their business. One company that has been dedicated to diversity is Microsoft. Founded in 1975 and publicly traded since 1986, Microsoft has long demonstrated an interest in increasing diversity in the industry it arguably transformed. For example, it established its first black employee resource group in 1989 making it the first and longest lasting diversity constituency at Microsoft. Beyond nurturing diverse talent among its ranks, Microsoft continues to cultivate new talent in the pipeline as well as in business. Through partnerships with organizations such as Black Girls Code and Technology Access Foundation Microsoft is tackling intractable pipeline issues through education strategies and early exposure to tech. It helped Black Girls Code bring its 14th chapter to...

Made In Memphis Entertainment Is Reigniting The Music Business In Memphis

Memphis is overflowing with rich history. One of the most important elements of the city’s identity is its reputation for being home to a sound that was part of America’s musical revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Today you can take a tour of the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, The Memphis Music Hall of Fame, The Orpheum Theatre or even Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Last year, Hall of Fame songwriter David Porter announced Made In Memphis Entertainment (MIME) , a new music business venture with the goal of bringing back some of the city’s former musical glory. And this time around, the integration of tech will take things to the next level. Made In Memphis Entertainment (MIME) has a $5 million studio complex east of Downtown Memphis and serves as a home to a 8-room recording studio, a label, a production unit and a publishing division. But it’s also so much more than that. MIME was founded with an indie spirit in mind, and in that same vein, they have made strategic investments in...

How The Emma Bowen Foundation Is Dedicated To Diversifying Media

Emma Bowen, a Harlem-native and community activist, cared about the images of people of color in the news. So she came to Midtown, met with broadcast executives and struck a deal to create opportunity. “They said, ‘You know what? We want to put talented people of color in positions so they can become the future of media,’” says Rahsaan Harris, PHD, President & CEO of The Emma Bowen Foundation, a program that continues her legacy by providing internships for nearly 1,000 students of color and career opportunities for its graduates during its almost 30-year history. According to Harris, the partner companies are big broadcasters, cable operators, computer companies, PR companies and more. Today, the foundation prioritizes connecting leading media companies with promising students of color to create a pipeline of emerging leaders, which leads to diverse hiring, retention and advancement. Some of the current partners working with the foundation include Bloomberg Media, C-Span, CBS...

Christine Cauthen

Oct 29, 2018

Scholly Is Expanding Its Team And Making Scholarship Opportunities More Accessible Than Ever

Higher education can be a pathway to growth and success for so many — unfortunately, money is often the barrier between where students are and where they want to be. But Scholly, a platform that connects students to scholarship opportunities , is using technology to bridge that gap. By registering at Scholly , students are able to access personalized tools to help them find tailored scholarship opportunities, turning the search process from months into minutes!. One of the latest features that the growing team developed is the Scholly Editor , a tool that uses artificial intelligence technology help students instantly proofread and edit scholarship essays, college admissions essays, and any other writing assignments. Using Scholly is like having a personal assistant focused on paying for college. With these tools, Scholly is looking to fix the current outdated process of scholarship apps — one that requires students to fill out long, tiresome forms and then fail to deliver relevant...

Christine Cauthen

Oct 25, 2018

Clayborn Temple Serves A Key Role In Revitalizing Memphis

Memphis is transforming. The city with a rich history spanning music, civil rights and so much more is also home to a group of young leaders who are determined to move the city forward through the cultivation of a tech community. A major landmark in that change is Clayborn Temple , a historic site with plans to expand the footprint of the location. Clayborn Temple started as a white congregation in 1892 as Second Presbyterian before being sold to an African-American congregation in 1949, where it was given its current name in honor of a local African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bishop. It saw many years of activity, including playing an important role in the civil rights movement. During the Sanitation Workers’ Strike in 1968, the famous “I Am a Man” signs were distributed at the church – the same signs that many now see as a classic symbol of the fight for racial equality in American History – and encouraged by Union Organizer T.O. Jones lead to a historic vote which ended the...

Christine Cauthen

Oct 22, 2018

WeWork Is Giving AfroTech Attendees A Chance To Change How They Think About Work

Finding a space that allows you to be your most productive self is essential. Having the right setup can be the difference between getting that proposal you’ve been working on squared away, or continuing to leave it on your to-do list. It’s well known that the right workspace can impact your peace of mind and serve as the inspiration you need to get your big break. That’s where WeWork comes in. WeWork is here for you whether you from WIFI or are looking for an affordable space to start your small business. The global network of workspaces has a presence in 270 locations, including Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Chicago, Milan, and AfroTech’s very own San Francisco / Bay Area . And if you’re joining us for AfroTech 2018, you can test out WeWork’s one-of-a-kind workspaces in your area for free! Photo: Courtesy of WeWork All AfroTech attendees will be able to visit WeWork’s booth to pick up a 1-day pass giving them access to work from any WeWork space in the San Francisco / Bay Area or in...

Christine Cauthen

Oct 19, 2018

How Ameer Brown pivoted into tech through the Adobe Digital Academy

Breaking into the tech industry is not an equal experience for everyone. For some, the window of opportunity is presented early, while others enter through other paths like online courses and self-taught skills. But the Adobe Digital Academy, an alternative and accelerated pathway into tech careers, is providing access and bridging the gap for nontraditional candidates. The Digital Academy, launched in March of 2016, is part of Adobe’s commitment to fostering a diverse workforce by reaching nontraditional candidates and giving them the education, tools and opportunity they need to work and succeed in the tech industry. So far, the program has led to 20 full-time hires, 47 internships, and 59 scholarships. That equates to an 80 percent success rate of scholarships converting into internships. One of the Adobe Digital Academy graduates, Ameer Brown, was introduced to the opportunity when he applied for a scholarship through the Adobe Digital Academy. To his surprise, he was accepted...

Christine Cauthen

Oct 10, 2018

Target’s Accelerator Programs Help Bring Big Ideas To The Retail Space

Accelerator programs are a chance for startup founders to take advantage of mentorship, resources and support to further develop their business ideas on their quest to launch them on a larger scale. Programs like Target Takeoff, Target + Techstars and their India Accelerator Program help do just that — amplifying the reach of new and exciting brands. The mass retail market can be overwhelming to break into for small business owners, but these three accelerators bridge that gap and help bring high-quality products and services to consumers. If you’re curious about how Target is getting new products on the shelf and new technology in place, learn more about their accelerator programs below. 1. Target Takeoff In April of this year, ten emerging beauty brands gathered in Minneapolis, MN as a part of Target Takeoff, an accelerator that operates as a condensed retail boot camp that brings together 10 startups to take their work to the next level. Each cohort has a different focus area, as...

Christine Cauthen

Oct 10, 2018

Rhyme Combinator Is Bringing Startup Life To The Stage With 'ZipSloth the Musical'

Fans who enjoy Hamilton and keep up with everything startups and Silicon Valley will rejoice to know that Rhyme Combinator’s ZipSloth the Musical exists.  It’s a story about two entrepreneurs chasing their dreams that was first performed in front of a sold-out crowd in 2016. The team behind Rhyme Combinator are a group of artists and founders putting those passions together to create this ode to entrepreneurial culture through the lens of creative media. ZipSloth the Musical was written and developed by founders including Beau Lewis, Jodie Ellis, Brent Schulkin and Jason Tan. Later on, co-producers including Anthony Veneziale (from Broadway’s In the Heights ) and Sara Faith Alterman (from Netflix’s Mortified ) joined the team. Other than taking place in the Bay Area and focusing on a unique storyline, ZipSloth the Musical is also different from other musicals because of the format. It includes video projection, tech and viral media in the show itself with the intention to hold the...

California Is The First State To Require Companies To Have Women On Their Boards

California governer Jerry Brown just signed a bill into a law that will diversify the boards of major companies headquartered in California. This new law requires that major companies, including Apple, Snap and Tesla, need to have at least one woman on their boards by 2019. And for larger boards, they could require the presence of up to three women by 2021. Failure to comply will result in a $100,000 fine for the first violation and $300,000 per violation after that. And startups would also be required to add at least one woman to their board before going public. Despite Brown signing it into a law, according to Recode, some business groups are already opposing it. When Brown signed the message, he said the following: “Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include the people who constitute more than half the ‘persons’ in America.” Having women on corporate boards has also been shown to have more effective...