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.

Cognizant and Per Scholas Open Bronx Training Center for Platform by Per Scholas

On September 18, Cognizant Technology Solutions and Per Scholas celebrated the opening of the new Cognizant Bronx Training Center for Platform by Per Scholas at 804 East 138th in the South Bronx. The partnership between Per Scholas and Cognizant will provide tuition-free training and direct hiring opportunities to New Yorkers who seek new careers and professional advancement opportunities in Information Technology.

Over the course of the next year, Per Scholas will train up to 650 New Yorkers on nuanced technical job specifications. At the end of each 8 to 12-week course, students will be prepared to fill in-demand IT jobs. Cognizant’s goal is to hire at least 350 graduates to fill good paying positions based in the Bronx and surrounding New York region as it increases operations in New York. Per Scholas will work with existing employer partners to place the remaining graduates.

Attendees of the celebration included Congressman José Serrano, Francisco D’Souza, CEO, Cognizant and Plinio Ayala, President & CEO, Per Scholas and numerous workforce funders, community partners and current Platform by Per Scholas students.

Annie Norbeck, Managing Director, Social Ventures, Per Scholas kicked off the event program by acknowledging the 65 students to date who have enrolled in Platform by Per Scholas’ two training tracks: Quality Engineering and Application Support Management. The first graduation for students in the Quality Engineering Program will take place at the end of September.

Eric Westphal, Senior Director of Global Legal and Corporate Affairs Operations, Cognizant continued by acknowledging the dire need for innovative solutions like Platform by Per Scholas. “Employers in the U.S. are struggling to find enough qualified applicants to fill open IT and STEM positions. At the current rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, there will be a 1.4-million-person gap between demand for software development jobs and applicants qualified to fill those positions,” Eric said.

Plinio Ayala, President & CEO, Per Scholas continued with an urgent message for all employers. “Talent is not defined by your zip code or even your degree he said. “This partnership seeks to unearth talent that is often overlooked, unlock it and create a pipeline of skilled workers. This is the ideal triple win scenario – our employer partner wins but so does our economy and the people that the Cognizant Bronx Training Center will serve,” Plinio added.

A similar message was reinforced by Francisco D’Souza, CEO, Cognizant. “As a leading professional services firm, Cognizant is intensely focusing on having the right skill sets – which change over time – and pursuing specialized talent wherever in the world it lives to ensure client access to their knowledge. Our view is that employability depends less on what you already know, and more on how well you can learn, apply, and adapt.”

To round out the program, Treniese Ladson, a South Bronx Native and  current Quality Engineering student told her inspiring story. Treniese shared that she started her career as a gemologist but after experiencing professional and personal adversity including her mother’s battle with cancer, she courageously decided to pursue her passion – technology. She said, “Although the particulars may vary, each of my classmates have undertaken an equally dynamic journey.” Treniese continued, “Because of Cognizant’s Investment, my classmates and I are prepared to embrace our future career opportunities. And, because of Per Scholas’ diligence and hard work our future in technology looks bright.”

After the program, guests were invited to tour the state-of-the-art training facility which features four computer labs, a student lounge, and a reception room, which held a majority of the evening’s festivities.  The $6 million Cognizant program is supported by Empire State with $2 million in performance-based tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program.

To learn more about these upcoming training opportunities or details about Cognizant’s partnership with Per Scholas, please visit or email [email protected].

Soft Skills Refined in Bronx First Ever Student Networking Event

Per Scholas is best known for our involvement with technology. For over twenty years, we have provided tuition-free technical training in our vigorous IT courses. In addition, Per Scholas is also heavily focused on workforce development. For our students, polishing their soft skills is just as important as acquiring technical skills. This combination will make them the most marketable version of themselves when entering the technology workforce.

During our courses, students are encouraged to find networking events on their own and explore other professional opportunities to deliver their 60-second pitch. At the Bronx Per Scholas site, Career Advancement Manager Janice Reid often received feedback from students that they were too shy or intimidated to strike up a conversation with a stranger at an event. After receiving this information, Janice came up with the idea to host a networking event of our own at Per Scholas. This would create a comfortable space for new students and soon to be graduates to practice their soft skills.

Janice Reid turned her idea into a reality with the first-ever networking event in the Bronx on Tuesday, August 8. She received a lot of support from her co-workers Craig Rosenberg (Director, Career Advancement), Chris Stone (Associate, Alumni Engagement), Jose Jurado (Senior Manager, Career Advancement), and Giselle Jaquez (Manager, Corporate Engagement).  Because it was the first time an event like this was ever done, Janice and her team had many goals they hoped to accomplish.

Students were told to draw a name from a jar. They then were instructed to deliver their 60-second pitch to that person. In addition, an ice breaking activity was conducted at the event. Janice said she also expected the event to help newer students meet and get advice from the graduating students. These goals were exceeded, as Janice told a story of a young man who attempted to leave the event because he was shy. With encouragement from Janice, he was able to make two new friends.

The 60-second pitch is the best way for our students to highlight their skillset. It’s intended use is to express how they stand out from other job candidates. Janice says, “Specifically, for Per Scholas students, why are you making the transition into the tech industry? What is the bridge that took you from where you were to where you are today?” Besides the 60-second pitch, we hold mock interviews and implement a zero-tolerance policy at Per Scholas. Students come back to Janice and tell her that the mock interviews in class are harder than the real interviews they have had.

Networking events like the one held on August 8 are essential for our students to learn professionalism and how to brand themselves. As Janice puts it, “You can have all the certifications in the world. You can have all the tech knowledge in the world. But if you cannot sell that tech knowledge, if you cannot go out and brand yourself properly and sell yourself, you and your tech knowledge will be on the couch. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to sell yourself, have those soft skills, and show them how great you are, not only as a technician, but as a person.”


Per Scholas Cincinnati celebrated the second Toss for Techs Cornhole Tournament at the CityLink Center on Tuesday, April 25th with close to 150 guests representing employer partners, community leaders and Per Scholas students and alumni.

The event succeeded in raising over $23,000 to support future Per Scholas students enrolled in IT Support and Software Testing courses. Per Scholas partnered with the American Cornhole Organization for the second year in a row to organize a fun tournament for supporters. Fifteen local employer partners invested in Gold and Silver level sponsorships to enter twenty-four cornhole teams into a competitive frenzy that lasted from 5pm-8pm. Returning champions from The E.W. Scripps Company defended their title going on to win the event for a second year in a row!

The race is on to see who can take down Scripps at future tournaments.

The evening’s program featured 2016 Per Scholas Graduate, Angela Bedford, a Quality Assurance Analyst at Thrive Impact Sourcing. Angela shared her journey to Per Scholas, working as an Access Service Representative at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She described her annual 20 cent increases and the mounting bills and overtime hours required to take care of her family. Angela always had an aptitude for technology, supporting doctors at the hospital with IT troubleshooting needs, so when she found Per Scholas, a viable option to advance her career, she jumped at the opportunity. Currently working for Per Scholas’ largest Cincinnati partner, Thrive Impact Sourcing, Angela shared “I’m not dreading going to work everyday. I’m not frazzled, frustrated, or disappointed anymore.” She experienced a $12k or 30% raise after switching careers and is able to cover her bills and experience more free time with her family. Angela was recently featured on the local WCPO channel and to hear her interview, click here.

Guests were also treated to food catered by Montgomery Inn and a live DJ, a raffle, auction items and drinks that contributed to a shared night of celebration and collaboration. Over the past year, Per Scholas Cincinnati has experienced improving metrics driving renewed interest in the trainings and support that the organization offers.

In 2016, 98% of students who entered into Per Scholas Cincinnati’s classrooms graduated and 89% of those students have been placed in jobs earning an average of $35,000 every year. The dramatic success is owed to the continued investment of local community members and employers who provide constant investment and partnership opportunities to the organization. The demand for tech jobs in the region continues to grow, and Per Scholas’ expertise training and placing graduates is experiencing increasing demand for employers around the country.

A huge thank you goes out to our sponsors for supporting Per Scholas throughout the years. Sponsor organizations have hired Per Scholas graduates, invested resources, volunteered staff hours and provided advisory support. These types of partnerships ensure Per Scholas is connected to local talent and local demand, providing improving services to the Greater Cincinnati Tech community.  

Thank you to our Gold Sponsors: Thrive Impact Sourcing, First Financial, TEKsystems, CDK Global and our Silver Sponsors: Qvidian, The E.W. Scripps Company, Pomeroy, Immedion, Lightower, Kroger, Promark, CompuCom, Ernst & Young, CityLink and Vernovis.

Check out past Monthly Impact Reports here.

Diverse by Design – Kansas City 2017

Per Scholas and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) hosted the third Diverse by Design conversation series on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

The NSBE Conference, focused on “increasing the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community” provided an energetic and inspiring backdrop for the event. Nearly 150 participants including business and community leaders, teachers, college students, engineers and workforce development advocates joined the engaging and frank conversation about building diversity and inclusion in the workforce.



  • Damien Howard, National Vice President, Social Ventures, Per Scholas


  • Matthew Nelson, National Chair, National Society of Black Engineers
  • Dr. Karl Reid, Executive Director, National Society of Black Engineers

Dr. Karl Reid shared that NSBE has set a bold goal of graduating 10,000 African-American bachelor degree recipients in engineering annually by 2025 up from the current number of 3,620. Matthew Nelson added how personal this initiative is to him, “I am a college dropout on my way to receiving my doctorate. This would not have been possible without the support of NSBE.”



Stephanie kicked off her Ignite presentation by challenging the audience to be aware of and challenge “the unconscious bias that helps define one’s potential based on their skin color.” She asked listeners to use any opportunity to set an example for children and young adults and reinforce to them that “they can do it – whatever ‘it’ is for them.”



  • Presented by Ken Walker, VP, Operations, Per Scholas
  • Tony Spinelli, Cybersecurity and Risk Management Expert and Per Scholas National Board Member
  • Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas

Plinio and Tony’s conversation focused primarily on how to provide a path to opportunity for talented, high-potential individuals from overlooked communities. Tony stressed that creating a diverse talent pipeline is a win-win-win for employers, employees and the community but cautioned that “diversity is not a mathematical equation. It’s a cultural change.” And to truly drive change, uncomfortable conversations are required Tony noted, “the tough part is speaking [about diversity] to people who do not believe in it.”



Viola Maxwell-Thompson’s Ignite presentation shed light on some staggering statistics about women in the tech industry including that more than 56 percent of women in technology leave the industry. Viola shared that she herself was almost one of these women but that a former boss helped her find the work-life balance she needed to raise her family. Encouraging all employers to “hear her voice” is a key goal of ITSMF. The organization has created the Emerge Women’s Leadership Forum to “increase the number of women of color in technology from 9% to 15% by 2025 through a series of professional workshops, supportive environments and model leadership, and by doing so amplify the nuance of women leaders.”



The panel addressed many questions from the audience about best practices for “engineering diversity” and critical elements to employee retention. Retention recommendations included having more transparent and frequent reviews, being intentional about pairing career counselors and mentors and making employees feel like they are being invested in.”  Stephanie LeBlanc noted that a major reason why companies lose talent is when employees feel like they do not have what Google calls “psychological safety: the freedom and ability to be their authentic self.”



  • Toacca Rutherford, Chief Development Officer, Consumer Business Banking and Auto IT, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Gene Waddy, CEO, DIVERSANT
  • Richard White, National Professionals Chairperson, National Society of Black Engineers



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