Diverse by Design | Young, Black & Techy: Recruiting, Retaining, and Cultivating Diverse Talent

Per Scholas celebrated Black History Month on Tuesday, February 23 with Diverse by Design’s first 2021 Virtual Conversation, Young, Black & Techy: Recruiting, Retaining, and Cultivating Diverse Talent. The one-hour webinar identified barriers young Black candidates face when trying to enter tech roles, and the strategies Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) executives are using to mitigate those barriers. 

The event was moderated by Nia Darville, Director of Diverse by Design for Per Scholas, and featured interactive conversations between DEI leaders Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer & President for Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation; and Franklin Reed, Executive Director of Diversity & Inclusion at TEKsystems.

The event also incorporated the stories and perspectives of two Per Scholas alumni, Bettina Jerome, Senior Engineer, VMware; and Jerome Wallace, Data Center Manager, Kobiton. The two alumni have succeeded in launching their careers, and shared their experiences starting out as Black professionals in the technology field. 

The webinar event is presented here in its entirety. For more information on Diverse by Design, please visit www.DiverseByDesign.org.

Diverse by Design 2020

Since 2016, Diverse by Design brought together c-suite thought leaders to discuss best practices and solutions for businesses to attract, develop, and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce. With the 2020 global pandemic putting a halt on all in-person gatherings, this year’s conference was reimagined as a virtual event. 

This year’s event evolved into a three-part virtual conversation series hosted on October 2, 9, and 16, from 2 to 3 pm ET, pivoting away from previous years’ single-day, city-based proceedings.


Panel 1: Designing People Solutions for the New Tech Marketplace

Our first session featured Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala alongside TEKsystems President Jay Alvather for a virtual fireside chat on the important role which private/nonprofit tech training partnerships have played in driving a more equitable and resilient workforce. Per Scholas Executive Vice President of Social Ventures Damien Howard moderated the conversation. 

“I say often that our partnership with Per Scholas is an unquestionable win-win,” stated Jay. “Per Scholas’ mission aligns so well with our purpose at TEKsystems which is to create the most significant opportunities for our people and to achieve personal and professional growth.”

“Our partnership illustrates how you can develop high-quality tech talent from non-traditional sources and diverse backgrounds,” replied Plinio. To date, the TEKsystems and Per Scholas partnership has trained over 

In response to concerns regarding post-pandemic recovery efforts, both Jay and Plinio agreed that the pandemic has amplified reliance on technology and the need for businesses to hire qualified tech talent.

“It’s critical to provide opportunities to individuals who otherwise might get lost in our economy. This type of corporate-nonprofit partnership can strengthen the economic base for the country and build a stronger post-pandemic recovery,” stated Plinio. For Jay, the tech talent pipeline isn’t growing fast enough organically to attract more talent into the field and should pursue more creative ways to do so. “I think the key is being able to bridge not only the diverse talent gap but also make the more streamlined, direct connection to those needed employment opportunities – providing not only skills but access.” 

Check out the full-length session here.

Panel 2: Designing Philanthropy and Business Strategies for Deep Impact

Our second session considered how corporations can strategically leverage philanthropic resources, thought leadership, and employee engagement to scale business impact on the future of work. Panelists discussed strategies to align corporate philanthropy with business KPIs, employee engagement aligned with community work, as well as crafting executive thought leadership to elevate core themes of sustainability, equity, and impact. 

Our distinguished panelists at this session were:

  • Hardmon Williams, Vice President, AT&T Believes
  • Monique Baptise, VP Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan
  • Tan Moorthy, Executive Vice President, Head of U.S. Delivery Operations and Global Head of Education, Training & Assessment

This session was moderated by Sacha Thompson, Founder and CEO at The Equity Equation, LLC.

“[Adaptability], that is one of the biggest attributes an employee can have,” began Hardmon Williams, Vice President, AT&T Believes. AT&T recently profiled several Per Scholas graduates for their recent announcement to support online academies, including Per Scholas. (Click here to hear from Per Scholas New York alum, Shaniece Crumpler.) “Shaniece’s notion [on adaptability] is something that we embody from those who come through our pipeline.” 

For Monique Baptise, VP Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan, it’s about taking intentional steps forward towards building opportunities for people of color in which corporations tap into their expertise in order to strengthen programs and opportunities to provide mentorship to those looking to get into the IT field. “How do we help communities recover in deep ways, find new options, and think innovatively about these strategies and change outcomes?” 

The “learn while you earn” model is one approach that corporations can adopt to help provide opportunities to their employees. Tan Moorthy believes that employers who offer upskilling opportunities and training can play a pivotal role in helping to resolve education inequities in communities across the country.

Check out the full-length session here.

Panel 3: Designing Pathways for the New Worker

The third session examined internal business pathways designed for the “new worker.” In this case, new worker doesn’t refer necessarily to a younger worker, but to a worker trained to succeed in today’s high-tech environment.  This means that today’s workers need to develop new skills or update old ones at every step of their career in order to keep their skills relevant.

Our distinguished panelists at this session were:

  • Jason Oliver, Vice President, AT&T University Operations
  • Janet Pope, North America Corporate Responsibility Director, Capgemini
  • Guy Fruda, Managing Director, Deloitte

This discussion was moderated by Tia Buckham-White, Notre Internationale.

The conversation in this session was around such topics as a recent Deloitte executive survey that reported more than three-quarters of respondents intend to reskill employees this year, but less than half put systems in place to reward new skill development.  These two findings are somewhat in conflict and demonstrate that not only does new tech skills training need to be made available to workers, but they also need to be incentivized to take the time out to enroll in this training and develop their skills.

Jason Oliver, VP of AT&T University Operations talked about AT&T’s commitment to skills-building and tech training programs such as Per Scholas that offer greater equity of access to opportunities for individuals in diverse communities, many of whom have historically been excluded from tech careers. During this portion, we watched a short video of a Per Scholas graduate who had attended a Per Scholas training course funded by AT&T grants.

Janet Pope, Director of CSR for North America at Capgemini spoke about some of the challenges people of color and women have experienced historically to overcome barriers to entry into the tech industry. She referenced the need for companies to consider alternative tech training paths, such as Per Scholas, in order to provide greater access to tech careers.  This is important because options like Per Scholas are available to all interested individuals, are free of charge (tuition is paid for by corporate sponsors and funders), and intense boot-camp style courses take 12-15 weeks to complete, which means that there is an ongoing pool of graduates.  But this means that many companies have to think differently, and not just look at 4-year colleges as a source for new hires. Janet also spoke about how a company’s corporate social responsibility role can influence greater inclusion and diversity in hiring practices.

Finally, Guy Fruda, Managing Director, Deloitte, talked about the rigor and long-term focus on building diversity into hiring that is required to overcome the current low level of representation among communities of color and women in tech.  He emphasized that this takes senior management commitment and the building of a culture of diversity and inclusion. He also talked about creating an infrastructure of support, such as mentoring and career development to increase retention of talent from diverse backgrounds. He talked about this as a key strategic advantage that Deloitte has built and emphasized that companies with greater diversity are documented to be stronger in terms of overall performance, productivity, and employee morale.

Check out the full-length session here.

We truly enjoyed our third session and especially appreciated the rapport between our panelists.  We thank all of our participants and moderators for this informative session.

Per Scholas in Road Trip Nation, “To Be Determined”

Per Scholas Celebrates 25 Years with Newly Renovated HQ Opening

On October 16th, Per Scholas revealed its newly renovated headquarters in the Bronx, NY and celebrated its 25-year history with the renaming of the site as the “John Hoyt Stookey Tech Training Center” in honor of its Founder and Board Chair Emeritus, John Hoyt Stookey. Per Scholas has grown to become one of the nation’s leading workforce development organizations providing cost-free technology training to thousands of underemployed and underserved individuals. The growth of the organization was presented during the ceremony’s reveal of the Per Scholas museum which charts the organization’s history from “bridging the digital divide” as an asset recovery center that repurposed used computers for local South Bronx schools to “bridging the talent gap” within the tech industry across its eleven markets.

The ceremony gathered together Per Scholas staff and students, as well as some of the organization’s key supporters and funding partners who toured the facility and participated in various tech demos. Per Scholas President and CEO, Plinio Ayala, also acknowledged the support of the Bronx Borough President’s Office and their support within the Bronx. “With their help, we’ve grown from enrolling 50 students a year to close to 1,000 students per year.”

Two days after the ceremony, the John Hoyt Stookey Tech Training Center celebrated the graduation of its first cybersecurity cohort. For Abe Mendez, Per Scholas New York Managing Director, this will be the first of many cohorts to join the ranks of the classes that came before them at other sites, as well as alumni who have successfully established themselves within the cybersecurity field.

“We’ve had hundreds of graduates in cybersecurity working and are now thriving at companies across the United States, helping to protect companies from threats from across the cybersecurity landscape.”

Cybersecurity graduate Kristina Arnold explored a number of career options and similar education opportunities cost way too much. Because of Per Scholas, she has been able to identify a career path that is both personally ad financially rewarding. The renaming of the site recognizes the leadership and legacy that has shepherded the organization to where it is today, but its impact on those who it helped to bring out the best in will remain long-lasting.

“It is not just the training, Per Scholas provides a holistic approach, they help you as a full person. On behalf of myself and the twenty-two classmates from the Bronx’s inaugural Cybersecurity class, I want to say thank you to the funders and supporters here with us today. Because of you, we are taking the next step in our technology careers and we are able to do that because of you and because of Per Scholas.”

Per Scholas would like to thank all of the contributors who made this renovation possible:

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr.
Richard and Jacqueline Emmet
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Hyde and Watson Foundation
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
New York City Council, Bronx Delegation
The New York Community Trust
Pratt Institute

VICE Special Report: The Future of Work Screening & Discussion (Photos)

On June 19th 2019, we held an exclusive screening of “VICE Special Report: The Future of Work,” followed by a panel discussion where panelists reflected on how current perceptions, strategies, and solutions on skills, work, and work retraining influence an extensive economic and social network made up of current and prospective students, workforce development organizations and government agencies.

Featured guests panelists:

• Kelly Richardson | Managing Director, Per Scholas Newark and New York

• Krishna Sai Andavolu | Correspondent for VICE Media on HBO and the host of “The Future of Work” documentary

• Kathy Meier-Hellstern | Assistant Vice President of Optimization, Reliability & Customer Analytics (ORCA) for AT&T’s Advanced Technology & Services Organization

• Shaniece Crumpler | Recent graduate of Per Scholas’ CodeBridge full stack web development course in partnership with General Assembly featured in the film

A special thanks to all of our panelists and our partners at AT&T Xandr HBO and VICE Media for supporting our mission to provide access and opportunity to talented individuals across the United States.

Diverse by Design – Detroit 2019


To kick the event off with a bang TEKsystems President, Jay Alvather and Per Scholas President & CEO, Plinio Ayala proudly announced the launch of a talent transformation partnership to train more than 540 people for cutting-edge jobs in Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston. This joint effort to create a more diverse talent pipeline for emerging U.S. tech hubs is directly linked to Diverse by Design’s vision of equity at the forefront, as regional and national economies develop.


Over the course of the afternoon, we heard from thought leaders who believe in the concept that businesses can source exceptional talent right in their local communities. Highlights included remarks from Damien Howard, National SVP of Social Ventures, Per Scholas, Akissi Lewis, National Professionals Talent Development Chair, NSBE, Jim Livingston, VP, Talent Acquisition, Quicken Loans and Franklin Reed, Director, Inclusion & Diversity, TEKsystems.



Our Solutions Panel participants explored past experiences and bold ideas surrounding employers empowering the communities they reside in through sophisticated talent development and inclusion strategies. Jennifer Taylor stated, “Companies should take a look at the communities around them. Does your company reflect the community you reside in?” Anthony Murphy added, “I feel corporations have a responsibility to engage with their communities. In order to be the change you want to see in your community, you have to become apart of the community.”



The exchange during the closing fireside chat between Jim Livingston and Franklin Reed was particularly interesting as they both spoke to the structural shifts needed to truly create change within organizations.


“Diversity and inclusion is just a tagline until senior leaders embrace it. Anyone in talent and acquisition is set with short term goals. At Quicken Loans, our D&I and talent acquisition are all tied together; when leadership is apart of the conversation that is when change happens.” – Jim Livingston

Franklin Reed highlighted, “If inclusion is seen as a program or initiative it is harder to demonstrate it as a core value; we need people who view it as a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’.”

Thank you to our sponsors CompTIA, eBay, NSBE, and TEKsystems for their support and attendance at our seventh in a long-running series for Diverse by Design. We hope that all attendees found the afternoon informative and engaging, and we hope to see you all again.

Diverse by Design – Dallas 2018


On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Per Scholas and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) hosted Diverse by Design Dallas, the sixth in a conversation series about building diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Over 100 leaders representing organizations across the tech, finance and nonprofit sectors gathered at the ho

me of Per Scholas’ Dallas training site to promote diversity in the workplace. Speakers and panelists shared best practices in uncovering unconscious biases and tactics for C-suite leaders to identify, coach and retain diverse talent across all levels of their organizations.


The afternoon was kicked off by Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala, who shared a story about Tara Fuller, a mother who recently graduated from Per Scholas and was able to secure a new job. Not only was this a testament to alternative hiring pipelines but also a great way to start an afternoon about Women in Tech off.

Following Plinio’s remarks was Montreece Smith, Board Chair of Per Scholas’ Dallas board of advisors. Montreece offered the audience of state of affairs in Dallas and spoke to her own experience sourcing and recruiting quality talent in the Dallas Fort Worth region.

Faith Rottmann Johnson, Vice President, of Human Resources, at TEKsystems followed with an Ignite presentation. Faith has been in HR for over twenty years and shared a personal mission to support her companies growth and strategy to recruit, retain and promote women in technology.



Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson shared a historical perspective on the work she has pioneered in Texas for more than forty years. The Per Scholas Dallas location is centered in her voting district, and the Congresswoman commented on cross-sector effort needed to strengthen STEM education in primary, middle and high schools. The Congresswoman also called on men as allies for strengthening women’s careers. The congresswoman ended her remarks by drawing attention to “tech literacy” and how that needs to be reinforced for people in at-risk industries that may be overtaken by future advancements like automation.


Moderated by Viola Maxwell Thompson, Co-founder, CEO, ITSMF. Corey Anthony, VP & Chief Diversity Officer at AT&T.

On stage representing one of Diverse by Designs’ Platinum level sponsors Corey Anthony of AT&T engaged in a fireside chat with Viola Maxwell Thompson of ITSMF. During his talk, he stressed the importance of being an effective manager and providing guidance to your team.

“There’s a big difference between managing work and leading people”Corey Anthony

Mr. Anthony also touched on the sentiments made by congresswomen Johnson by saying men need to be advocates in supporting women in the workplace. The role of education was also a big point of conversation for Mr. Anthony. He urged the audience to consider incorporating alternative talent pipelines in their hiring process. Programs like Per Scholas and even community colleges are some of the areas AT&T is looking into for new talent to hire or even bring into their internship program where students are given “real work” to help their development. This real work approach is extremely successful in getting the most out of their interns. It not only shows who has the drive to compete in real-world situations, but it increases production and development which ultimately leads to a promotion and full-time role within the organization.


After Corey and Viola’s fireside chat, all attendees split into breakout sessions facilitated by thought leaders in different industries including talent development, finance, IT consulting and food service. Each session tackled a different challenge facing women in technology including:

  • Dismantling the Corporate Boys ClubFranklin Reed, Director of Inclusion and Diversity, TEKsystems
  • Re-engaging Women in the Workforce: Pipelines Driven by Partnership Eric Westphal, Senior Director, Global Corporate Affairs, Cognizant
  • Developing the Brand of “You” in a Corporate Environment –Jyoti Lynch, Chief Information Officer, Jamba Juice
  • Diverse Teams Perform Better: Making the Business Case for Diversity at Work Mithra Kosur Venuraju, Senior Manager Software Engineering, Capital One


After the Session concluded Diverse by Design facilitators and attendees reconvened in the main hall for a report back to the entire group.


The night did not end after the facilitator panel. There was a networking portion to the evening that provided guests the opportunity to engage with speakers and other members of the crowd.  Several remarks were offered during the networking reception by Rukus Esi, Sr. Director, Software Engineering, Auto Consumer & Refinance Technology, Capital One who spoke to the importance of presenting your best self in all aspects of your life

“Be intentional about building diverse teams and diverse organizations… Bring your whole self to work.”

Martin Fogelman, Co-Founder, and CEO of the app Pluto gave demos of his product which is a transparency & analytics platform for companies to leverage data to measure, discuss and improve their D&I efforts.

The night capped off with Ty Bledsoe, AVP of external affairs at AT&T who announced a national 300K grant to Per Scholas on behalf of AT&T to support new training tracks and future technologists at several Per Scholas sites including Dallas.

Diverse by Design – Pittsburgh 2018

On Thursday, March 22, 2018, Per Scholas and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) hosted Diverse by Design, the fifth in a conversation series about building diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Over 100 leaders representing organizations across the tech, finance and nonprofit sectors gathered at David L. Lawrence Convention Center to engage in courageous conversations about initiatives work to promote diversity in the workplace. Speakers and panelists shared best practices in uncovering unconscious bias in hiring and tactics for C-suite leaders to identify, coach and retain diverse talent across all levels of their organizations.

This page highlights speakers and key learning moments from the event.



Matthew Nelson, a Chairperson on the board of the National Society of Black Engineers kicked off the event by welcoming guests to Pittsburgh and discussing the growth of NSBE and the benefits of having a high level talent pool as a resource to outside organizations.


 NSBE is at the point where we are so big that we can only go to certain cities that can accommodate us. That’s a powerful place. 12,600 Black Engineers registered for this years event, the biggest in our 43 year history. This partnership is powerful because we are building a pipeline to talent.”



  • Moderated by Erica Bland, Senior Manager,Digital Operations & Business Advisory, Capgemini
  • Errika Moore, Executive Director, TAG-Educational Collaborative
  • Akissi Lewis, National Talent Development, NSBE
  • Tujanna B. Williams Vice President/Chief
    Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Fannie Mae

Panelists from the Town Hall highlighted how employers are championing diversity, inclusion and how companies need to be both nimble and courageous to keep pace with the rampant innovation taking place in the sector.

Authenticity in your work, the value you place in yourself, and your commitment to developing your professional skills was a major motif.

“Being authentic is crucial to success for myself, and for the thousands of students- particularly women that entering and progressing in the job market. Be the wind don’t let the wind push you” -Errika Moore

“No one starts in diversity and inclusion- people come to you because they see your authenticity. If I can’t be who I am in the space that I’m in, then why am I there? It’s about reaching back and bringing along someone else.” – Tujuanna B. Williams

“Exercise those muscles, I have to nurture the skills I have developed and can’t be complacent. You need to take charge. You need to ask for more! Do not undersell yourself”

-Akissi Lewis



  • Dena Jones, Director, Securitization and Servicing Technology, Fannie Mae

Continuing the theme of courageous conversations, Dena Jones spoke to partnerships and programs that Fannie Mae is engaging to support inclusivity within the company.

Dena’s 4 key lessons to building diverse talent as an executive not working directly In the diversity space are:

1. You need senior leadership support

2. You need a value proposition

3. You need to build your internal and external network

4. It all starts with a question


  • Yvette Wright, VP, Manager, Program Governance, BNY Mellon
  • Renee LaRoche-Morris, COO, BNY Mellon Investment Management

During the keynote conversation Renee LaRoche-Morris spoke from an executives perspective. Her poignant observations highlighted the level of accountability that executives need so that their hiring managers have the capability to take on diverse talent. Having a safe space for feedback loops on all levels was elevated to address any underlying biases team members may have with the hopes of putting people at ease by finding common ground and understanding without judgement.

“I want to make sure we are clear, this is about finding the best talent -not the most diverse talent. But if you are looking, than the best talent is diverse” -Renee Laroche-Morris


Event hosts Renea Pierre, ITSMF and Damien Howard, Per Scholas closed the event by charging the audience to be courageous, bold and intentional to generate the change needed in the technology sector.

“No such thing as perfection but there is such a thing as proper preparation” -Damien Howard


New Documentary Highlights Per Scholas at Salt Lake City Premiere

On Thursday, January 25th, the Sorensen Impact Winter Innovation Summit convened in Salt Lake City, bringing together “policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe.” The summit was an ideal venue for the premiere of the new documentary “Solutions to America’s Workforce Crisis,” which profiles Per Scholas and Apprenticeship Carolina, two workforce organizations that have demonstrated impact for thousands of families across the country.

Produced by the What Works Media Project and directed by award-winning producer Mikaela Beardsley, and filmmaker Kristi Jacobson, the documentary follows the lives of three young people, two of them Per Scholas graduates, as they prepare for a rapidly changing jobs market. The film beautifully captures the success of these students as they persevere through our intensive curriculum, career coaching, and the job search that follows, and highlights the dedication that each of our staff gives to this organization every single day.

The premiere was followed by a panel discussion featuring Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas; Mikaela Beardsley, Executive Director, What Works Media Project; Jonathan Silva, one of two Per Scholas Graduates featured in the film; and Mark Thain, Director of Social Innovation, Barclays.

“Sharing Per Scholas’ story of evidence based outcomes helps our business, philanthropic and government partners understand the value of investing in proven models for change” says Plinio Ayala. “The opportunity to showcase our model with such beautiful visual elements captures our story in a transformative storytelling experience that makes it relatable to any audience.”

First announced at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the What Works Media Project is a partnership between Results for America; the Sorenson Impact Center; Soledad O’Brien and Starfish Media Group; Mikaela Beardsley and Solutions Media; and Impact Partners. Per Scholas is excited to share stories of our amazing graduates with world-class filmmakers and audiences that are passionate about “driving positive social change, and demystifying the use of data and evidence to improve decision-making and achieve better outcomes.”

Diverse by Design – Mountainview 2017

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Per Scholas and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) hosted Diverse by Design, the fourth in a conversation series about building diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Over 100 leaders representing organizations across the tech, finance and nonprofit sectors gathered at Google’s Global Headquarters to reflect on the need for entrepreneurship and innovation in delivering diversity, ensuring equity and infusing inclusion philosophies into the workplace. Speakers and panelists shared best practices in uncovering unconscious bias in hiring and tactics for C-suite leaders to identify, coach and retain diverse talent across all levels of their organizations.

This page highlights speakers and key learning moments from the event.



  • Ginny Clarke, Diversity & Internal Mobility Lead, Leadership Staffing, Google
  • Jason Mills, Executive Director of Machine Learning & Advanced Analytics, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Ginny Clarke, Diversity & Internal Mobility Lead, Leadership Staffing of Google kicked off the event by welcoming guests to Silicon Valley and discussed the the evolution of Google’s talent philosophy to recruit and hire diverse candidates. She encouraged leaders to invest in competency based hiring as a tool to assess candidates more equitably and have greater potential to receive offers.

Jason Mills, Executive Director of Machine Learning & Advanced Analytics of JPMorgan Chase & Co., spoke to the opportunity that leaders in tech have to hire diverse talent to build products that will change the world and create a future free of the biases we have inherited in the present.

He challenged the audience to consider the power that technology has in helping us all lead better lives and how having diverse leaders involved in that conversation, helps even more people have greater possibilities.


  • Presented by Damien Howard, Vice President, Social Ventures, Per Scholas
  • Moderated by Kelly Burton, Founder and CEO, Founders of Color
  • Danielle Beavers, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Greenlining
  • Jesse Cortez, Global Inclusion Effectiveness Lead, Inclusion and Diversity, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Molly Ford, Director of Equality Programs, Salesforce
  • Erika Lunceford, Director, BNY Mellon

Panelists from the Town Hall highlighted how their employers are championing diversity in inclusion and how companies need to be both nimble and courageous to keep pace with the rampant innovation taking place in the sector. Recruiting programs across varied lines of diversity, staff affinity or resource groups (including White allies) and leveraging C-suite executives in retention and advancement initiatives were offered as effective strategies in moving the needle, but agreed that more attention is needed at the policy level to ensure that companies are making diversity and inclusion organizational priorities and values. In light of tech companies’ recent practice of releasing their diversity data, panelists pushed the audience to consider the importance of also retaining their current talent and making their environments more welcoming and inclusive.



In line with the event’s theme of engendering diversity through an entrepreneurial lens, Stephanie Lampkin spoke to technology’s power to build inclusive recruiting systems. As founder and CEO of Blendoor, she works to mitigate unconscious bias in hiring by sharing candidate info without photos, names or dates of employment to ensure equitable consideration in the hiring process. Blendoor uses analytics to help leaders to unearth their biases and offers remediation support to help them change their organizations.



  • Presented by Ken Walker, Senior Vice President Core Mission Support, Per Scholas
  • Moderated by Luis Arzu, Chief Information Security Officer, Farm Credit Financial Partners, Inc.
  • Kelly Dolan, Co-Founder, Thrive Impact Sourcing
  • Viola Maxwell-Thompson, President and CEO, ITSMF
  • Eric Westphal, Senior Director of Global Legal and Corporate Affairs Operations, Cognizant

Thought leaders from the Solutions Panel addressed how their companies are building pipelines for diverse talent through public-private partnerships, such as Per Scholas’ partnership with Cognizant and through extending their lenses to recruit from minority serving institutions and the need for tech leaders from underrepresented backgrounds should play a role in helping to elevate extant diversity initiatives and programs.



  • Damien Howard, Vice President, Social Ventures, Per Scholas
  • Ken Walker, Senior Vice President Core Mission Support, Per Scholas

Per Scholas’ own Damien Howard, Vice President, Social Ventures and Kenneth Walker, Senior Vice President, Core Mission Support closed the event by charging the audience to be courageous, bold and intentional to generate the change needed in the technology sector.


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