Black Tech Week at BBC to promote diversity in technology

Felecia Hatcher of CodeFever founded Black Tech Week last year with her husband, Derick Pearson.

Felecia Hatcher of CodeFever founded Black Tech Week last year with her husband, Derick Pearson.

It started as a way to make Black History Month in Miami more impactful – by expanding the conversation around diversity to include technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Last year, the inaugural Black Tech Week in Miami brought together entrepreneurs, coders and investors for three days of talks with leading tech innovators and panel discussions on everything from intellectual property and global markets to technology education and startup funding.

This year, FIU has signed on as a co-sponsor of the event, which will be held Feb. 17-19 at the Biscayne Bay Campus. Students will be admitted free with their FIU ID.

“As an institution that has diverse STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) leadership embedded into our DNA, we see Black Tech Week and our partnership with this organization as a natural extension of the commitment we have to innovation in our multi-cultural metropolis,’’ said Vice President for Engagement Saif Y. Ishoof. “This is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and alumni to engage in a dynamic conversation with some of the great minds in technology today.’’

Organizers say the goal of the event is to connect would-be entrepreneurs and innovators of color with the people and tools they need to succeed – thereby increasing the diversity of area startup founders, technology inventors and engineers.

“We have an opportunity in Miami to showcase to the rest of the world that true innovation comes with a commitment to diversity,’’ said Felicia Hatcher, an author and entrepreneur who co-founded the event with her husband Derick Pearson. “By including the black community when we talk about innovative entrepreneurship, tech and fundable businesses we will truly build smarter and vertically integrated cities.”

Hatcher and her husband also founded Code Fever, a non-profit organization committed to closing the technology education gap among low-income and underserved youth in South Florida. The organization works to inspire and teach minority youth how to code, build and create technology enterprises, launch their own startups and become leaders in STEM fields.

Leslie Miley, engineering manager at Twitter, is one of the featured speakers at Black Tech Week.

Code Fever is the leading organizer of Black Tech Week, although the event also has strong support from the Knight Foundation and Baptist Health South Florida.

Organizers have tapped into a global network of influential and notable speakers. The lineup includes co-founder Jeff Hoffman; Snapchat engineer Justin Washington; Dream Defenders founder Phillip Agnew; Twitter engineering manager Leslie Miley; rapper Trick Daddy; and George E. Curry, the founder of Emerge Magazine and previous editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

Topics of discussion include entrepreneurship 101; data and analytics; global markets like Africa and Asia; digital civil rights; the technology of music, sports and culture; and women in innovation.

Organizers have also reached out to area schools and community organizations to host a series of “Black Tech Hour” workshops designed to empower and encourage minority youth to learn about and consider careers in technology.

“Black Tech Week is a jammed packed event dedicated to getting our community all the resources we need to move our community forward in the innovation economy,” Hatcher said. “We are excited to celebrate entrepreneurs, innovators and technologies in our community and across the globe.”

For more information on Black Tech Week, visit FIU students show valid ID at the registration table and receive all-access entry to the three-day technology summit, Feb. 17-19.

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