Black History Month Workforce Innovators

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Feb 17, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In news & events

While we appreciate the contributions of workforce innovators on a daily basis, we'd like to take a moment to recognize a few people that have gone above and beyond to give back to the community. Each of these people have recognized socioeconimic issues, limiting available resources to underprivledged portions of the population. Guided by their hard work, dedication, and passion, they pulled together resources and network to ensure opportunities to those who otherwise wouldn't have an option. 

Kimberly Bryant

A professional engineer, Bryant wanted her daughter to follow in her footsteps. When her daughter, Kai, was in middle school, however, Bryant began to look for programs that would encourage her daughter towards a career in a STEM field. Unfortunately, she soon noticed that most of the other children in these programs were white boys. There were few girls, and hardly any children of color at many of the events and camps her daughter attended. At an event at Stanford University, Kai was the only black girl registered.

Bryant realized that her daughter would have a very similar experience to her own. In Bryant’s electrical engineering classes, she was often the only black female student. Rather than giving her daughter the same isolating college experience that she had, Bryant decided to make a change.

In 2011, Bryant started her own summer programming camp called Black Girls Code. This foundation started off with the  goal of introducing black girls to the field of computer science. Bryant stated her vision for the program as, “To increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. To provide African-American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020, and to train 1 million girls by 2040.“ 

Today, Black Girls Code has introduced over 4,000 girls in nine cities including Miami, Atlanta, and Chicago to coding. The program has expanded over the past several years to include courses in website building, mobile application programming, and robotics. The young women in the program come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, but all of them are there to learn about computing and find their voice.  By 2040, Black Girls Code hopes to reach one million girls and turn them into what the program refers to as “tech divas”.

Already, graduates of Bryant’s program are attending schools such as Dartmouth, Princeton, and Spelman.  By introducing them to programming and giving them the same opportunities as other children, Black Girls Code is aiming to change the face of the technology industry and add some much needed diversity to this ever-changing field. As these members of Generation Z enter the workforce, the technology industry will only benefit from their diverse backgrounds and experiences.


Anthony Harris

In addition to being the president and CEO of Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company, Anthony Harris is the founder of the National Society of Black Engineers. The NSBE was founded with the intention of creating a community and a professional network of black engineers that would connect students, professionals, educators, and corporations together.   

Anthony Harris has a distinguished resume dating back to 1975 when he graduated from Purdue with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. During his time at Purdue, Harris and five of his friends noticed that up to 80% of their fellow black engineering students dropped out of the program by the end of their freshman year. In order to stem this attrition, the friends formed the first chapter of the NSBE. The group worked to support their fellow engineering students. By his senior year, Harris was working to expand the society to other campuses. His group soon linked with similar groups another campuses, and the organization became national in 1975.

Shortly after, he graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Business with an MBA. Within a few years of earning his degrees, Harris became the CEO of and the president and CEO of Sonoma Ford/Lincoln Mercury.  

Today, Tony Harris is the CEO of CSECO, a leading manufacturer of contraband, explosive, and dirty bomb testing and detection equipment. The company’s products are used by the US State Department, US Customs and Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, and multiple domestic and international law enforcement agencies. 

In addition to founding the National Society of Black Engineers, Harris currently serves as the Chair of its National Advisory Board. The organization has a strong presence on many college campuses, where chapters are governed by the students themselves. The organization is dedicated to supporting new engineers through scholarships, professional networking, and building a community.

The NSBE boasts over 31,000 members spread over 99 pre-college, 250 student, and 68 professional chapters. It is focused on improving the recruitment and retention of black engineers, with the goal of changing and diversifying the engineering and technology industries. To reach this goal, the NSBE provides scholarships, job training, leadership opportunities, and professional development to its members all over the nation.


Don Charlton

Don Charlton worked with a lot of small businesses, and he noticed that many of them were struggling to attract the best candidates to fill their open positions. Without a dedicated team of Human Resources professionals, many of these companies couldn’t keep track of their incoming applications, much less position their ads so that they would be noticed by the candidates they wanted to attract. To meet these needs, he started Jazz Recruiting Software.

Originally known as “The Resumator”, the company’s software gave any business the ability to post job openings in a wide-range of places, screen resumes from virtually anywhere, track applicants, analyze recruitment data, and a lot more. Many tech start-ups soon implemented his software to enhance their own candidate recruitment processes. Today, the company includes clients such as NatureBox, Red Bull, 4moms, and bitly. Many of the company’s innovations have become the industry standard when it comes to hiring decisions.

Today, the purpose of Jazz software is to assist hiring managers to make the best decisions regarding potential employees. To do this, the software gives its users the ability post job openings in a wide range of places. Targeted ads can be used to find candidates with specific skill sets. It’s also possible to post a job opening on many different websites, greatly increasing the potential size of a candidate pool.

Once a hiring manager starts receiving applications, the Jazz software is able to track, rank, and create a profile for each candidate. This gives the hiring manager the ability to quickly process thousands of resumes and application packets as information is received in real-time. Candidate profiles are automatically updated and ranked. Users are able to input new search criteria and job requirements at any time.

Once a candidate pool has been selected, the Jazz software enables its users to schedule interviews automatically. Each candidate profile can shared among a team of interviewers. The software even suggests potential questions and prepares prep notes that can be shared among all members of a hiring team. Potential candidates won’t need to be reinterviewed multiple times. Finally, the software is able to create customizable offer letters and automatically send them to potential employees.  

Jazz software has enabled hundreds of businesses to dramatically cut down on the time their hiring process takes. With this program even small businesses are able to reach more and better candidates and efficiently work them through the hiring process. In fact, many of the automated tasks prevalent in many Human Resources departments are only in place because of the innovations created by this software. Charlton hopes that his software will improve the economy for everyone by making the hiring process more efficient for both the employer and the employee.

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