AfroTech is a platform on a mission to uplift the Black tech community, and it’s a safe space for people to take their innovative ideas to the next level.
Over the past few years, various AfroTech events have set the stage for career development and elevation like never before.
While the AfroTech Conference is one of the more popular, large-scale events, we also have you covered with more intimate meet-ups throughout the year.
Take, for instance, AfroTech Executive — the multi-city event series which empowers corporate executives, investors, and tech moguls. On March 30, AfroTech will take over the northwest region with a stop in Seattle, WA.
There will be a fireside chat with Laxman Narasimhan, the leader who has officially become the chief executive officer (CEO) of Starbucks, succeeding Howard Schultz, the company’s founder and former CEO.
There will also be a chat with Uncharted founder and CEO Jessica O. Matthews. For their conversation on AI and sustainability, Jonnie Bradley — Acting Director and Responsible Artificial Intelligence Officer at the U.S. Department of Energy — will be the moderator.
In true AfroTech fashion, no event is all work with no play. Followed by the informational sessions, there will be a networking reception with sounds led by DJ Blast x The Collective.
Grab your tickets here.
As the countdown begins, we’re highlighting some of the executives making strides in the area. Check them out below.
1. Michelle Merriweather
Michelle Merriweather serves as the President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS).
According to her LinkedIn profile, “Ms. Merriweather excels at fund development, volunteer recruitment, community outreach, public speaking, and media interaction skills.”
Under her leadership, ULMS has expanded both its reach and impact across the city’s most underserved communities.
2. Preston Taylor
Preston Taylor has served as Director of Product Management for Zillow since 2020, based on his LinkedIn. As a product leader, he has the knack for growing high-performing data-driven product teams to create exceptional end-to-end experiences within both consumer and enterprise software industries.
3. Angela Jones
Angela Jones is the director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Washington State Initiative.
Previously, she served as the CEO of Washington STEM, according to information listed on LinkedIn.
Additionally, Jones is a member of several organizations, including the Teachers of Color Foundation, the Washington State MESA Board, and the Washington State University Student Affairs Advisory Committee, as well as being a co-founder and managing partner of the Black Future Co-op Fund, based on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s website.
4. Arif Gursel
Arif Gursel is the former global head of product partnerships for YouTube Music and Premium. He is also the founder of PACE, a “nonprofit empowering underserved communities through science, technology, entrepreneurship, arts, and media (S.T.E.A.M.) advocacy and education,” per a bio shared with AfroTech.
“A lot of my first business ideas, I failed at right there on the yard,” the HBCU grad previously shared with AfroTech in 2019. “A lot of the principles that I apply today like behavioral economics, how people respond to things, how to sell to people — all of that was bred on the campus of Tuskegee.”
5. Merrie Williamson
According to her LinkedIn profile, Merrie Williamson lends her expertise to Microsoft as corporate vice president (CVP), Azure Infra, Digital & App Innovation, Azure IoT.
“Merrie bring 20 years of leadership experience, specializing in developing early market business opportunities. Some notable examples include Voice over IP in early 2000s, Digital Media/App economy in 2008, Cloud Services in the early 2010s, and Hyperscale Cloud systems shortly thereafter,” based on her LinkedIn profile.
Williamson was also honored as a 2022 PSBJ Women of Influence, according to The Business Journals.
6. T'wina Nobles
In 2023, T’wina Nobles was named one of Seattle’s Most Influential People “reshaping” the region.
“Growing up in and out of foster care and homelessness with a drug-addicted mother, T’wina Nobles became familiar with social services and community needs. Now, 41, the wife, mother of four, state senator and leader of two influential organizations — the Urban League of Tacoma and the Black Future Co-op Fund — is working for social justice,” Seattle Magazine reports.