A Day In The Life: Blacks At The Cutting Edge Of Innovation

NPR Black in Tech i i
NPR Staff
NPR Black in Tech
NPR Staff

NPR's Tell Me More is again using social media to reach out to a new community of leaders — this time, to recognize black innovators in technology. African-Americans represent just 5 percent of America's scientists and engineers, according to a 2010 study by the National Science Foundation.

After receiving an overwhelming early response with #NPRBlacksinTech, Tell Me More is building on its engagement with these leaders by asking African-American entrepreneurs and techies to profile themselves for the upcoming "A Day in the Life" social media series.

Many of the questions they will answer are from young scholars at the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science.

Through Dec. 20, tech thinkers will live-tweet a day in their lives; they'll also provide feedback to the questions that Tell Me More has collected with #NPRBlacksinTech. Tell Me More officially launched the series during a special on-air roundtable Nov. 27.

Then, on Dec. 17, Tell Me More will bring together some of these participants with other African-American technology heavyweights for an on-air Google Plus Hangout to broaden the conversation and to reflect on some of its key moments.

" 'A Day in the Life' allows us to experience in real time the imprint that African-Americans are making on our country's STEM engine. The series throws open the door to the worlds of these highly important, but largely invisible, individuals," says Tell Me More host Michel Martin. "And the engagement we're already generating with #NPRBlacksinTech demonstrates this incredible appetite for knowledge on the lives of African-Americans who are at the cutting edge of innovation."

Follow @TellMeMoreNPR and our hashtag #NPRBlacksinTech. You can also email your comments to tellmemore@npr.org.

Tell Me More is an innovator in creating compelling cross-platform segments with a dynamic digital presence, featured in live Twitter chats that brought together thousands of participants across the country.

Official 'Hashtagologist' For #NPRBlacksinTech

  • Mario Armstrong

    Mario Armstrong
    Courtesy of Mario Armstrong

    Digital Lifestyle Expert™ Mario Armstrong serves as the official Hashtagologist for #NPRBlacksinTech, keeping an eye on different social media channels and reporting back with all of the highlights. Armstrong is an Emmy Award-winning TV host, entrepreneur and technology contributor to NBC's Today show, CNN, HLN, Fuse News and NPR. @marioarmstrong

Roundtable Participant

  • Freeman A. Hrabowski III

    Freeman Hrabowski
    Courtesy of UMBC

    Freeman A. Hrabowski III is the President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. Time magazine named him one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2012.

'A Day In The Life' On Twitter

Dec. 2


  • Ayori Selassie

    Ayori Selassie, founder of Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum.
    Courtesy of Ayori Selassie

    Ayori Selassie is product manager of Salesforce.com and founder of Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum. Selassie's passion for technology and entrepreneurship led her to co-found Pitch Mixer, a nonprofit that encourages entrepreneurs in undeveloped communities to share their business ideas and receive feedback and advice. @iayori

  • Mike Street

    Mike Street
    Courtesy of Mike Street

    Mike Street is the head of BITNY: Blacks in Tech New York, an organization dedicated to advancing minorities in technology. @mrmikestreet

Dec. 3

  • Walter Kimbrough

    Walter Kimbrough
    Courtesy of Walter Kimbrough

    Known as the hip-hop president, Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough has been recognized for his research on historically black colleges and universities, and for his use of social media to engage students. @HipHopPrez

  • Christine Johnson

    Christine Johnson
    Courtesy of Christine Johnson

    Christine Johnson is the founder of DiversiTech, a national organization dedicated to ensuring that underrepresented communities have the necessary tools for technology entrepreneurship success. @christinecelise

  • Brian Clark

    Brian Clark
    Courtesy of Brian Clark

    Brian Clark is the CEO of Silith.IO, a mobile-first technology company that creates platforms to simplify and improve users' lives. Previously, he was a part of GE's Information Technology Leadership Program, driving excellence in technology across all of GE. @blaurenceclark

Dec. 4

  • Dupe Ajayi

    Dupe Ajayi
    Courtesy Dupe Ajayi

    Dupe O. Ajayi is digital strategist for NYC Housing Authority. She believes in the power of marketing for good. Known for her simplified approach to launching innovative marketing campaigns, she raises the visibility of nonprofit and corporate pro-social initiatives. She's a proud Brooklynite and loves to bake. @theajayieffect

  • Michael Bennett

    Michael Bennet
    Courtesy of Michael Bennet

    Michael Bennett leads the development and implementation of information technology strategy in his role as senior vice president of information management and chief information officer at the global company BAE Systems Inc. @BAESystemsinc

  • Roxann Stafford

    Roxann Stafford
    Courtesy of Roxann Stafford

    Roxann Stafford is a design strategist and social entrepreneur enabler at SecondMuse, a firm that focuses on innovation and collaboration to enable businesses, nonprofits, communities and governments to create positive social change. @jroxann

Dec. 5

  • Lola Bakare

    Lola Bakare i i
    Amber Knowles/Courtesy Lola Bakare
    Lola Bakare
    Amber Knowles/Courtesy Lola Bakare

    Lola Bakare is a strategist in Dell's Commercial Sales and Enterprise Solutions organization and founder of Gen Y early career advice blog "Winning While Y". She previously led the development and implementation of Dell's first consumer focused social media strategy and holds an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business with a specialization in EMT (entertainment/media/technology). @LolaatDell

  • James Oliver

    James Oliver
    Courtesy of James Oliver

    James Oliver is the founder and CEO of WeMontage, a website that allows anyone to transform personal photos into professional, custom wallpaper collages. @jamesoliverjr

  • Natalie Madeira Cofield

    Natalie Cofield
    Courtesy of Natalie Cofield

    Natalie Madeira Cofield is the president and CEO for the Capital City African-American Chamber of Commerce in Austin, Texas, which focuses on economic development and supplier diversity on behalf of the African-American community in central Texas. She is the founding president of the Black Technology Council, formed to ensure inclusion and support for minority firms in the nation's fastest-growing technology hub. @ncofield

Dec. 6

  • Anjuan Simmons

    Anjuan Simmons
    Courtesy of Anjuan Simmons

    With more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, infrastructure designer and software project manager, Anjuan Simmons offers his perspective on being an African-American working in the technology sector in his book Minority Tech: Journaling Through Blackness and Technology. @anjuan

  • Sian Morson

    Sian Morson
    Amoa Photography/Courtesy of Sian Morson

    Sian Morson is the founder of Kollective Mobile, an agency focused on helping businesses and startups with mobile development and strategy. She recently opened Kollective South in Atlanta, which provides a collaborative workspace for neighborhood entrepreneurs. @xianamoy

Dec. 9

  • Rachel Brooks

    Rachel Brooks
    Courtesy of Rachel Brooks

    After working in the fashion and advertising worlds, Rachel Brooks stepped into the software industry and co-founded Citizen Made, an e-commerce platform that allows individual brands to design custom products. @RachelABrooks

  • Mike Green

    Mike Green
    Courtesy of Mike Green

    Mike Green is an award-winning digital media innovator, columnist and consultant to policymakers, universities and tech entrepreneurs across the nation. @amikegreen2

  • Mary Simmons

    Mary Simmons
    Courtesy of Mary Simmons

    Mary A. Simmons is a Program Manager at Cummins Inc. in Columbus, Indiana. She is currently leading a $2 million engineering project implementing a global technology upgrade for engine and generator set control modules. Mary has a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University and is an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers. @CumminsCareers

Dec. 10

  • Reginald Farrow

    Reginald Farrow
    Courtesy of Reginald Farrow

    A research professor of physics at New Jersey Institute of Technology, Reginald Farrow studies nanotechnology and biophysics in order to understand how cells communicate internally and with other cells. He and his team have fabricated the world's smallest biofuel cell, which could one day be used to power biomedical devices. @rcfarrow

  • Monique Woodard

    Monique Woodard
    Courtesy of Monique Woodard

    Monique Woodard is an entrepreneur and creator of Speak Chic, a mobile app that helps users correctly pronounce fashion brands. She is also one of the creators of Black Founders, a professional organization that supports diversity in the tech industry. @moniquewoodard

Dec. 11

  • Deena Pierott

    Deena Pierott
    Courtesy of Deena Pierott

    Deena Pierott is the founder of iUrban Teen Tech, a program that exposes underserved teens to career opportunities within science and technology. The program consists of tech summits, tech tours, mentoring, job shadowing, workshops and Junior Toastmasters. @deenapierott

  • Doug Mitchell

    Doug Mitchell
    Courtesy of Doug Mitchell

    Doug Mitchell is a consultant to NPR on matters of diversity and is co-director of a Ford Foundation program for startups led by journalists of color. @nextgenradio

Dec. 12

  • Juan E. Gilbert

    Juan E. Gilbert, the new Chair of Human-Centered Computing in the School of Computing at Clemson. Photos from studio and at McAdams Hall shoot are for Capital Campaign promo. i i
    Patrick Wright/Courtesy Juan Gilbert
    Juan E. Gilbert, the new Chair of Human-Centered Computing in the School of Computing at Clemson. Photos from studio and at McAdams Hall shoot are for Capital Campaign promo.
    Patrick Wright/Courtesy Juan Gilbert

    Dr. Juan E. Gilbert is the Presidential Endowed Professor and Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing at Clemson University where he leads the HCC Lab. He is creator of Prime III the world's most accessible voting system and he is the innovator of #LabDaze, a web series featuring his research team, their innovations and experiences. Clemson is the nation's largest group of African-American computing sciences PhD students and the nation's largest group of African-American faculty members in computing. @DrJuanGilbert

  • Mary Pryor

    Mary Pryor
    Courtesy of Mary Pryor

    Mary Pryor is the founder of Urban Socialista, a social media, project management and digital marketing boutique that consults with brands and media companies. She reports on trends, tools and influential persons of color in tech and digital industries for Ebony and The Grio. @msmarypryor

  • Andrew B. Williams

    Dr. Andrew B. Williams
    Courtesy of Andrew B. Williams

    Andrew B. Williams is professor and distinguished chair in electrical and computer engineering at Marquette University, where he directs the Humanoid Engineering & Intelligent Robotics Lab. Williams founded the Spelman College SpelBots international RoboCup robot soccer team and is a former senior engineering diversity manager at Apple Inc. @outofthebox1

Dec. 13

  • Danielle Lee

    Danielle Lee
    Courtesy of Danielle Lee

    A self-titled hip-hop maven, Danielle Lee is a biologist and outreach scientist. Her blog, "The Urban Scientist," focuses on urban ecology, environmental science and diversity within the science field. She uses social media and hip-hop to make science relevant and accessible to urban youth audiences. @DNLee5

  • Greg Greenlee

    Greg Greenlee
    Courtesy of Greg Greenlee

    With more than 12 years of technology experience as a systems and network engineer, Greg Greenlee is the founder of Blacks in Technology, an organization that aims to increase engagement among African-Americans in technology and engineering. @blkintechnology

  • Jamie Broadnax

    Jamie Broadnax
    Courtesy of Jamie Broadnax

    Jamie Broadnax is the writer and creator of the niche blogsite for nerdy women of color called Black Girl Nerds. She currently creates content along with a team of contributors about a myriad of topics that speaks to the geek community. She is the VP of Digital for the SheThrives Network and has published content for Madame Noire, AfroPunk, and is a self-declared social media geek. @blackgirlnerds

Dec. 16

  • Tony Reynolds

    Tony Reynolds
    Courtesy of Tony Reynolds

    Tony Reynolds is the founder and CEO of A KickIn Crowd, an innovative crowdfunding platform for school sports, athletes and health and fitness projects. @AKickInCrowd

  • Kelly Virella

    Kelly Virella
    Courtesy of Kelly Virella

    Kelly Virella is a digital media entrepreneur with strong technology and content creation skills, fundraising experience, and experience building and leading teams to produce award-winning work. She founded two media startups and is now getting into developing technology platforms for other media makers. She is currently working on launching The Urban Thinker, a digital magazine of long-form journalism about black culture and politics. @kvirella

Dec. 17

  • Michael Barber

    Michael Barber
    Courtesy of Michael Barber

    A GE veteran for more than 25 years, Michael Barber is the vice president of GE's Healthymagination, a $6 billion strategy to revolutionize the world's health by improving access, affordability and quality of care. @gemjbarber

  • Debbie Senesky

    Debbie Senesky
    Joel Simon Images /Courtesy of Debbie Senesky

    Debbie G. Senesky is an assistant professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University. Her research is focused on the development of micro- and nano-scale electronic sensing systems for extreme harsh environments — deep space, combustion systems and subsurface. @dsenesky

Dec. 18

  • Tammara Combs

    Tammara Combs
    Courtesy of Tammara Combs

    Dr. Tammara Combs, Ph.D. is the Chief Executive Office for an Austin Startup, CanWe Studios and Founder of Serendipity Interactive, specializing in delivering ecommerce, mobile, and social media solutions. Formerly with Microsoft and Lowe's Home Improvement, Dr. Combs is most known for her work in online communities. @TammaraCombs

  • Renee Rodgers

    Dr Renee Rodgers i i
    Courtesy Renee Rodgers
    Dr Renee Rodgers
    Courtesy Renee Rodgers

    Dr. Reneé Rodgers is currently a senior systems engineer in the Engineering Product Support Directorate of Raytheon Missile Systems. She also served as a Senior Multi-Discipline Engineer in the Materials, Processes and Producibility Department utilizing her background in composite materials research and development to perform as a team leader and project coordinator supporting materials development and technical specifications for missile programs. Dr. Rodgers serves as Campus Manager for Tuskegee University for the Raytheon University Programs initiative. @drreneerodgers

  • Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders
    Courtesy of Aaron Saunders

    With more than 25 years of software development experience, Aaron Saunders is the creator of Clearly Innovative Inc., a company that provides cross-platform mobile solutions. @aaronksaunders

Dec. 19

  • Charles Custon

    Charles Custon
    Courtesy of Charles Custon

    Charles Custon is the founder and CEO of Fonefill, a startup that aims to bring tabletop phone chargers to bars, restaurants, resorts and theme parks across the country. @CharlesCuston

  • Nnena Ukuku

    Nnena Ukuku
    Courtesy of Nnena Ukuku

    Nnena Ukuku is a tech startup attorney, a co-founder and CEO of Black Founders, and is passionate about creating more opportunities for underrepresented communities in tech. @nukuku

  • Janel Martinez

    Janel Marinez
    Courtesy of Janel Martinez

    Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist. She currently serves as Technology Editor at Black Enterprise Magazine--a business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans-- where she oversees the editorial strategy for technology across the company's platforms. Her work and insights have appeared on various media sites including TheGrio, Madame Noire and The Root, as well as on Arise News. Prior to Black Enterprise, Martinez contributed to Latina Magazine, Latina.com, Honeymag.com, Syracuse Record and The Post-Standard. @janelmwrites

Dec. 20

  • Bill Harris

    Bill Harris
    Courtesy of Bill Harris

    Bill Harris' expertise lies in financial technology and security. He serves as the senior vice president and group operations manager at Bank of America. @BofA_News

  • Jewell Sparks

    Jewell Sparks
    Courtesy of Jewell Sparks

    Jewell Sparks is the CEO and founder of Strategic Diversity Group and BiTHouse. Strategic Diversity Group provides out-of-the-box business development solutions for startups and nonprofits. BiTHouse helps corporate entities and technology organizations find, align, innovate, fund and promote technologies created by minority entrepreneurs and technologists. @jewellsparks

  • Kunbi Adeyemo

    Kunbi Adeyomo
    Courtesy of Kunbi Adeyemo

    Kunbi Adeyemo works on the Small and Medium Business team at Facebook in Austin, TX, where she is responsible for customer insights and operational analytics. Kunbi helps the team find data-driven solutions to enhance the customer experience and improve operational efficiency in customer sales and support. Kunbi also serves on Facebook's Black Employee Network leadership team. @KayAdey

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