The last two years have underlined what we already knew: the digital divide in America is real and has consequences for millions of Americans. An affordable, reliable connection is imperative in participating in the 21st century economy, and those families relying on mobile-only access are falling behind. Often, they cannot attend class online or seek a career opportunity that offers the possibility of working remotely. And as more services, job applications, and infrastructure moves online, the gap is only widening.
The technology sector creates millions of high-wage, meaningful jobs across the country but diverse representation remains low. There is a clear need to activate change and transformation to ensure diverse and inclusive workplaces in the technology sector.
On November 18th, leaders from Washington State came together for a thoughtful conversation about overcoming the barriers to a diverse workforce in tech, including a framework to guide action including accountability, risk management, data and systems, and coalition forming.
Azmeena Hasham, Executive Director, Community Engagement, Verizon
Michael Schutzler, CEO, Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA)
Kim Vu, Global Head of DEI, Remitly
Amanuail Ambaye, CEO, LendMe, Inc.
Heather Foster, Senior Director of Public Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, Lyft
Click here to learn more about WTIA’s Anti-Racism in Tech Pact. Watch the full event and learn more about our panelists below!
Azmeena Hasham leads Verizon’s Public Policy and Community Engagement program in Western Washington, where she works to champion policies to enrich lives and build the digital future. She actively advocates for 5G and Connected Communities, to bridge the gap for underserved communities and promote innovation. Azmeena aspires to build deeper relationships with communities across Washington in order to implement Verizon’s corporate social responsibility goals in the areas of digital inclusion and STEM education, human prosperity and climate protection.
Michael Schutzler is an entrepreneur, engineer, angel investor, and the CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA). In more than 30 years launching products and companies, he has advocated for diversity in recruiting and developing talent at all levels of the organization. He was also instrumental in urging the Washington State legislature to pass the nation’s most effective gender pay equity law. Earlier this year, Michael, in collaboration with 50 companies, spearheaded the Racial Diversity in Tech Pact, which is committed to meaningfully addressing and tackling systemic industry-wide racism.
Kim (she/her) is the global head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Remitly, a fintech company serving over 3M immigrants throughout the world to send money home to their families. She has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years as a banking executive within Fortune 50 banks and credit unions, building new lines of business, as well as scaling the social impact of financial institutions by developing and leading corporate social responsibility and ESG strategies. She serves on the board of Crisis Text Line, a global tech nonprofit that provides free 24/7 crisis support, delivering over 4.9M mental health conversations through texting. Kim has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, The Financial Times, Geekwire, Seattle Business Magazine and Silicon Valley Business Journal for her contributions to community and championing diversity in business.
Amanuail is the Founder & CEO of LendMe, Inc. Born and raised in Seattle, he currently holds this position alongside his full-time job as a paralegal & case manager at the Law Office of Cleodis Floyd – a personal injury/civil law firm based in South Seattle. Throughout his years in the Pacific Northwest, he has been a part of numerous organizations in support of his local communities campaigning for diversity, equal opportunity, and creating safe spaces for BIPOC. He also serves as the Community Relations Chairman for Seafair. As a recent graduate at the University of Washington, his focus now is to develop his company to be able to assist college students in overcoming their academic barriers, which are similar to what he had endured during his time in college. With a live prototype in testing, be on the lookout for their launch starting next year!
Heather Foster is the Senior Director of Public Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at Lyft, where she leads the strategy, planning and engagement of elected officials and third party stakeholders. Heather is a subject matter expert on race and public policy, having worked closely with civil rights groups and organizations focused on equity, economic mobility, and transportation. Heather served in the Obama administration as White House Public Engagement Advisor and served as a direct liaison to African American leaders navigating complex issues on race and policy. Before serving in the White House, Heather was a policy and outreach advisor at the U.S. Department of Education and worked on several local and national political campaigns across the country.
One of the most rewarding aspects of our community engagement work is the opportunity to partner with many non-profit organizations and support innovative programs that help advance the diverse communities we serve. In May 2020, we launched our Verizon Community Partnerships Initiative to celebrate community organizations supported by Verizon and highlight their important work.
Today, we feature our conversation with Estela Ortega , Executive Director or El Centro de la Raza, an organization grounded in the Latino community of Washington State. It is the mission of El Centro de la Raza (The Center for People of All Races) to build the Beloved Community through unifying all racial and economic sectors; to organize, empower, and defend the basic human rights of our most vulnerable and marginalized populations; and to bring critical consciousness, justice, dignity, and equity to all the peoples of the world.
US Tech Future is a Verizon-led community-focused initiative working to engage the local community in a discussion about technology and how it can improve the lives of local residents for their benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole.
Our mission is to engage with citizens and community stakeholders in USA to provide information on how technology can work to have a dramatic impact on the way we work and live in our communities.