The receipts don’t lie; the tech industry has a diversity problem – period! Black people make up an estimated 13% of the US population, yet only 7.4% of Black professionals hold an employment position in the tech industry. In comparison, Hispanic Americans with a booming population of 18%, only manage to hold 8% of the same employment positions, according to the USA Equal Opportunity Commision’s Diversity Tech Report. Regrettably, the stats appear even less promising when a gendered lens is considered. For instance, industry experts report that only 3% of computer-related employment positions are occupied by Black women.
Though there is still much to be done to begin to remedy the tech industry’s diversity problem, we cannot fail to recognize the achievements of the diverse Black professionals who defy the odds each day.
Shout out to all of the Black professionals of Hispanic or Afro-Latinx descent who’ve made major waves in the tech industry! Y’all know how to hustle, you’ve earned your flowers and your industry contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed – especially not during National Hispanic Heritage Month in the USA, Sept.15 – Oct.15, 2022.
It’s time to get your shine on! Whether we are talking about the budding communities of professionals raised in the Bronx NY, Los Angeles CA, Florida’s Little Havana or even Miami-Dade County FL, here’s a list of Black tech professionals of Hispanic or Afro-Latinx heritage, whose industry contributions rightly put the ‘E’ in Black Excellence!
1. Luis Martinez, Founder & CEO, We Tha Plug / Director, Startup Grind San Diego
Luis Martinez, a professional of Hondurian heritage who was raised in Brooklyn, NY is an entrepreneur who strives to positively change the tech ecosystem by implementing initiatives that aim to address the specific needs of marginalized individuals in tech. Martinez officially launched ‘We Tha Plug’ in 2019, an organization which aims to mitigate the entrepreneurship challenges faced by underserved minority populations. Through its different programming elements and events, We Tha Plug helps tech founders by offering them educational resources, mentorship sessions, skill training and assistance or guidance to secure sources of funding and build successful tech businesses.
“If a community doesn’t understand how the start-up space works, how are they going to succeed in it?” ~ Luis Martinez (citation source)
2. Bianca Kea, Founder, Yo Soy AfroLatina / Senior Social Media Manager, Viacom
Bianca Kea, a professional of Mexican heritage who grew up in Detroit, is the creative mind behind Yo Soy AfroLatina ( I am Afro-Latina) – a lifestyle brand and digital marketplace that fully embraces and celebrates the lived experiences of the AfroLatinx community. The underlying mission of the company is to empower Black women within the Latin community through its different resource offerings and merchandise that specifically cater to their needs. She created her company as a response to not seeing herself represented in the world around her and also as a pathway to cultivate community among other Black woman with similar experiences.
“We all have different experiences — we’re not a monolith — and it’s important for people to understand what it means to be at the intersection of two beautiful cultures.” ~ Bianca Kea (citation source)
3. Joshua Encarnación, Leadership Development Consultant, Joshuaenc / LTX Connect
Joshua Encarnaciónis a professional of Dominican heritage. He’s a seasoned consultant with a wealth of experience in training and recruiting. He’s coached over 5,000 career professionals and designed or delivered over 750+ training programs. He has also serviced his skills to several Big tech organizations such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, to name a few, and even helped build three startups.
“There’s accounting, sales, marketing, recruiting and all other types of roles in tech that Black and Brown people are really good at because we’re all really good at being people. We keep things human and that’s exactly what the tech industry needs. ” ~ Joshua Encarnacion (citation source)
4. Hanoi Morillo, CEO, Fivvy / Global Investor, Shark Tank Colombia
Hanoi Morillo is an accomplished business leader in the fintech space, a global investor on the famous tv show Shark Tank Colombia, and a speaker. She spent 12 years at Google occupying several senior management positions in fields like Marketing, Digital Transformation and Innovation. She also worked for Scotiabank as the Vice President of Digital Banking and CDO, leading and accelerating its overall digital transformation. Beyond her extensive work experiences, her speaking engagements focus on DEI, exponential technologies and their impact on organizations and areas of digital and cultural transformations.
“ You don’t have to be a unicorn to secure an investment.” ~ Hanoi Morillo (citation source)
5. Sandra Mosquera, Vice- President, API Marketplace Product Manager – Tech Modernization and API Delivery
Sandra Mosquera is a powerful example of perseverance, consistency, and entrepreneurship. She strives to inspire women, immigrants, Black people, and other minorities to overcome the fears associated with engineering education, impostor syndrome, and risk aversion to becoming part of the technology industry. As an accomplished, passionate, and dynamic VP of Product
“I work to create opportunities for people from impoverished communities, like the one I come from, and educate and guide people to take advantage of these opportunities.” ~ Sandra Mosquera (citation source)
6. Coy Griffin, Founder, Your Own Creativity
Coy Griffin is a fashion technologist and analyst, educator, author and TEDx speaker, and the founder of the creative technology consulting company, Your Own Creativity (YOC). She is a guest lecturer at Virginia State University and the London College of Fashion, specializing in fashion analytics, technology and operations. Coy is also on the advisory board at Long Island University for Fashion Merchandising and Management. She is the author ‘Leveraging Tech’ and contributing author of the forthcoming book ‘Fashion Marketing in Emerging Economies’ published in late 2022 by Palgrave Macmillan. She has previously worked within analytics at IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and a variety of Fashion Technology startups.
“I had to fight the battle of my fashion experience in order for people to take me seriously, and I also had to prove myself. I was forced to be uncomfortable, and now I’m comfortable everywhere.” ~ Coy Griffin (citation source)
7. Lisa Mae Brunson, Vice-Chair, Commission for Technology & Innovation, City of Long Beach
Lisa Mae Brunson is a creative visionary, speaker, author & social innovation architect that is committed to impacting humanity on a global scale. She is the founder of Wonder Women Tech, Hiring Humans, Mentor Magic Program, and the host of the Wonder Women Tech Show Podcast. Lisa has launched Junior Innovation Camps for underserved kids, and created STEAM camps and workshops for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She recently received the 2020 Heart-Centered Tech Award from California Senator Ben Allen.
“I have wanted to give up more than I would like to reveal. But I have come to realize a very important thing — I thrive because I am on an adventure. I thrive through the failures, through the tears, through the pain and through the fear. I thrive because I dare to dream.” ~ Lisa Mae Brunson (citation source)
8. Janel Martinez, Founder & Editor-in- Chief, AintILatina.com / Journalist & Digital Content Producer
Janel Martinez is the founder and editor-in-chief for Ain’t I Latina?, a website focused on Afro-Latinas. Martinez’s work is included in the 2021 book, Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed.
She has written for numerous national publications and is a frequent public speaker on culture and identity, technology, and social media. She’s appeared as a featured guest on national shows and outlets, such as BuzzFeed, ESSENCE, NPR and Sirius XM, and her work has appeared in Univision Communications, Oprah Magazine and The New York Times.
“Storytelling is a powerful tool. As Afro-diasporic folk, it’s carried our history, our ancestral knowledge, our healing, our various truths and essence.” ~ Janel Martinez (citation source)
9. Ivelyse Andino, CEO & Founder of Radical Health
Ivelyse Andino is a visionary healthcare strategist and abolitionist building community at the intersection of technology, healthcare, and equity. She is the founder and CEO of Radical Health and serves as a Commissioner on the NYC Commission on Gender Equity. Coming from a historically marginalized community herself, it was important for Ivelyse to initially build Radical Health by bringing together her neighbours around her kitchen table and hearing first-hand from voices — including the undocumented, women of colour, elderly, young people, and LGBTQ — who are otherwise (figuratively and) literally never given a seat at the table to have a say in their own healthcare destiny. Through Radical Health, Ivelyse is committed to the task of transforming healthcare by facilitating health literacy and self-advocacy, as well as forging a relationship between meaningful face-to-face conversations with cutting-edge technology.
“I had to learn to play a game where the rules were never explained to me. It began with figuring out how to navigate school, then evolved when I entered the workforce. I was an underdog, and the cards were stacked against me. After being told for the longest time: “Learn the game, play by the rules, that’s how you succeed,” I discovered that the system didn’t necessarily work for me. So I created a new way of navigating that was much more inclusive.” ~ Ivelyse Andino (citation source)
10. Ariel Lopez, CEO, Knac
Ariel Lopez is a career coach, entrepreneur, and public speaker with expertise in digital media and technology. She’s the founder and CEO of Knac, a platform that provides recruiters with a more efficient tool for screening applicants, managing their pipeline, and ensuring they don’t miss out on great talent. With almost a decade of recruiting experience, She’s had the privilege of helping some of the biggest brands in the world build great teams. Ariel worked with thousands of marketing, advertising, and tech professionals to help them grow in their careers and find lucrative opportunities. I’ve also been featured in publications like Forbes, FastCompany, Refinery29, BusinessInsider and others to share my advice.
“I help people find career happiness and live their best lives.” ~ Ariel Lopez (citation source)
11. Giselle Mota, Chief of Product Inclusion, ADP
Giselle Mota is a futurist and thought leader focused on enabling inclusion as it relates to product design, the future of work, and all things emerging tech, including web3 and metaverse. She serves as the Chief of Product Inclusion at ADP where she leads DE&I throughout the 200+ product portfolio, defining strategy and supporting product capabilities to ensure the organization designs with an inclusive mindset. Giselle has been named Top 100 Future of Work Thought Leader and served as Principal Consultant on the Future of Work at ADP. She is a global speaker and has been featured on TED Talks, Forbes, Yahoo News, Cheddar News, Chief Learning Officer Magazine among others.
“ Great HR leaders think multidimensionally. They understand that to create an environment where people want to work at their best, it takes a coordination of people, process, and policies that often go beyond the traditional “HR role”. HR is the keeper of the heart of the people. If done right it’s an epicenter of healthy culture and business impact. To be a great HR leader, I focus on helping create an inclusive future of work for everyone. When this happens a ripple effect is created well beyond the realm of HR and throughout organizations, communities, and societies.” ~ Giselle Mota (citation source)
12. Pabel Martinez, Founder, Plurawl
Pabel Martinez, a former Tech executive whose mission is to redefine professionalism by scaling the representation he wished he had earlier in his career. With over 10 years at companies such as Facebook and TikTok, and most recently, he became an entrepreneur and the owner of Plurawl. He has accessed a level of courage and vulnerability that we have not seen before, and he is using his experiences to empower the Latinx community to advocate for themselves while being their authentic selves.
“76% of Latinos at work hide parts of their identities, and it’s all about this idea of executive presence, or even what a “professional” is supposed to look and be like. But if you look at the definition of professionalism, it’s just the skill or competence needed to do a job.” ~ Pabel Martinez (citation source)
13. Brian Whittaker, Founder, Humans of Public Service, / Chief Innovation Officer, FDIC
Brian Whittaker created the Humans of Public Service projector HOPS in May. The project is currently hosted on social media platforms, where it has over 1,400 followers on LinkedIn. The project was modelled after the popular Humans of New York photography and interview series. Brian is the acting chief innovation officer at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and a member of the Federal Innovation Council at the Partnership for Public Service; solicits nominations for public employees working on state, local, and federal government levels through HOPS website.
“The data gave me a place to focus my energy. I saw a needle I could move that would have a positive impact on our systems of government.”~ Brian Whittaker (citation source)
14. Ariana Abramson, Founder & CEO, DivySci
Ariana Abramson, MSc, is an Afro-Latina Data Scientist, Activist, STEM Advocate, and TEDx Speaker. Ariana is a Queens Native, the first woman in her family to go to college for STEM and become a social entrepreneur. She is the CEO and Founder of DivySci Software, an AI company that augments behaviour to reduce biased communication. Proud of her Latina heritage, Ariana believes the only way our world will genuinely tackle its most challenging issues is through advancing girls of colour in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. With her vision of building an inclusive and equitable future of STEM work, Ariana’s AI research has been featured across various outlets, including GrepBeat News, Home and Business Magazine, NowThis News, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and The City of Newark’s Mayor’s Office.
“I believe the future relies on organizations deconstructing systems of racism, bias, and exclusion while connecting authentically with their diverse stakeholders. As women of colour in tech, we have experienced microaggressions and biases throughout most of our careers. We are excited to combine our lived experiences and expertise to support organizations and institutions in creating equitable spaces for historically excluded groups to excel.” Ariana Abramson (citation source)
15. Miriam Rivera, Ulu Ventures, CEO, Co-Founder and Managing Director
Miriam Rivera co-founded Ulu Ventures, where she is the Managing Partner. Ulu Ventures is an early-stage angel fund focused on IT investments and has made 30 investments in the last three years. She is also the co-founder and co-president of Stanford Angels & Entrepreneurs. Miriam, a first-generation college student and scholarship recipient, graduated from Stanford University with AB, AM, and JD/MBA degrees. She is committed to promoting education to low-income families and has helped raise $250 million for need-based undergraduate scholarships. She also endowed a scholarship fund for low-income or undocumented students at Stanford.
“I feel like a lot of my strengths in business comes from having a better understanding of group and team dynamics, and how performance is enhanced by better organizational cultures and practices.” ~ Miriam Rivera (citation source)
16. Virgen Barnet, Founder & Creative Director, Come Through
Virgen Barnet is an avid brand Strategist, creative director, and community organizer. She has over ten years of experience as a website designer, online brand curator, and digital community activator. She’s become a trusted visual guide for web-preneurs and brands seeking to relaunch their hobby projects as power brands by leveraging her expertise in visual design and user experiences. She’s most passionate about collaborating with businesses and brands with purpose-driven messages and is motivated to use their platforms to uplift POC voices.
“I specialize in helping people turn their passion projects into viable business platforms. Specifically, through design and brand consulting. I think I would be known for having a great eye for visual design and crafting experiences that speak directly and authentically to the communities people want to serve.” ~ Virgen Barnet (citation source)
17. Leonardo Dionicio, Vice President, Technology Foundation, Sun Life US
Leonardo Dionicio is the Vice President of the technology foundation at Sun Life where he is responsible for driving innovation to advance Sun Life’s U.S. technology footprint by supporting the company’s technology products and digital assets. He is a high-energy technology executive with experience in diverse technologies and services and a proven thought leader with a sustained track record. Leonardo is bilingual in English and Spanish and can effectively articulate tech trends to C-Level executives, business partners, technical staff, and end users.
“I’m very convinced that love, energy, and persistence conquer all things! Go after your dreams!…” ~ Leonardo Dionicio (citation source)
18. Niesha Butler, CEO & Founder, STEAM CHAMPS
Niesha Butler, a former WNBA player, launched the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York. The organization’s goal is to reduce opportunity and resource barriers in the lives of Brooklyn youth. Niesha has always had a business mind, as she started her first company at ten years old and continued throughout her childhood. She worked as an MBF Corporation employee in Crude Oil and Natural Gas at NYMEX. Niesha finished her degree at Georgia Tech after ending her playing career. She established Sports DataBase Network, a tech firm, in 2010. In 2013, she started Ballin Technologies, a nonprofit organization that teaches low-income kids to code through a passion for sports.
“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app.” ~ Niesha Butler (citation source)
Looking to connect with more Afro-latinx or Black Hispanic American professionals in tech? Or better yet, interested in taking things global by forming lasting bonds with the larger community of Black tech professionals and allies all over the world?
If so, let get it, fam! On October 19-21, Black Professionals in Tech Network (BPTN) will be hosting the 2022 BFUTR Global Tech Summit. The summit is a hybrid conference where all members of the Black tech community gather together to share new tech innovations, learn new skills and celebrate community.
At this year’s BFUTR we’ve got an epic after-party hosted by Rick Ross, a fire lineup of speakers, including the host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, senior tech execs from big tech companies, and 20,000+ Black tech professionals expected to attend.
Visit our summit page to grab your FREE remote pass and to view the agenda.