In This Issue
Winter Bridge on Frontiers of Engineering
December 15, 2023 Volume 53 Issue 4
This issue features articles by 2023 US Frontiers of Engineering symposium participants. The articles cover pressing global issues including resilience and security in the information ecosystem, engineered quantum systems, complex systems in the context of health care, and mining and mineral resource production.

An Interview with . . . Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO, the Black Innovation Lab, and founder, Black Girls Code

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Author: Kimberly Bryant

An Interview with . . .

Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO, the Black Innovation Lab, and founder, Black Girls Code

RON LATANISION (RML): Good afternoon, ­Kimberly. We’re thrilled you could join us for this conversation. We are very happy to talk with someone who is often described as a social innovator. I think that is a very nice label. Is that one you feel comfortable with?

KIMBERLY BRYANT: Absolutely. I think it appropriately describes how I have approached my work throughout my career to some extent but most certainly reflects my journey this past decade.

RML: Excellent. Let’s start at the beginning. Could you tell us a little bit about your history? I know that you received a degree in electrical engineering from ­Vanderbilt. What followed?

Bryant photo 1.gifMS. BRYANT: Interestingly enough, I sort of stumbled into becoming an engineer and into the STEM field. I was placed into an accelerated math and science pipeline program back in my middle school and high school years in the public school system in Memphis, Tennessee. Then, when I got to my senior year, I was very focused on going into law. I was obsessed with the courtroom. I had grown up watching the original Perry Mason, and I wanted to be a lawyer, maybe a civil rights attorney or something of that sort since I was also very much concerned with social justice and civil rights issues. But because I had been in this accelerated program for math and science, it was my guidance counselor who suggested that I might explore engineering as a career field. And I ended up going to Vanderbilt University, getting a full academic scholarship from Junior Achievement. That began my engineering journey.

I was originally a civil engineering major, primarily because I wanted to explore a field of engineering that was most proximate to direct human impact. I thought that that would be civil engineering. I quickly found out that it was not a good fit for me and my interests. I decided to switch into electrical engineering, because the field was growing and there were many practical applications, especially in the area of technology. And that is what enticed me to switch my major.

After I left Vanderbilt, my focus in engineering was power engineering as opposed to the more technology or software side of electrical engineering. When I left, I went to work for Dupont as a project manager in a chemical manufacturing facility in New Johnsonville, Tennessee. I stayed there for about five years, and then I moved to North Carolina to work in a consumer packaging industrial manufacturing facility at Philip Morris. I was still on the project engineering or management side of the business but in a high-speed manufacturing facility, which was my first introduction to the consumer product manufacturing field. I was there for a little under five years, and then I transitioned into the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, working first at Merck, then at Pfizer. In 2006 I moved to the Bay Area to work at Genentech. There, I always worked to build a site technology group within the manufacturing and engineering team, which would eventually lead me back to my technology roots.

In my last two years at Genentech, I transitioned back into drawing on my technology skill set and doing some work in tech and the IT department before deciding to go right back to manufacturing. That was where my heart was. I found that this career trajectory pretty much primed me for doing the work that I would eventually do as a social innovator in the tech industry. My strong technology and engineering backbone was built in manufacturing and within a diverse and complex mix of manufacturing industries.

RML: The attraction to biotech was its manufacturing aspects and the manufacturing of their products, not so much the aspects related to biology. Is that an accurate description?

MS. BRYANT: I would say yes—to a degree. I would say unequivocally that out of all those different ­industries—chemical, consumer, manufacturing—the industry that I felt most connected to in my work was the ­pharmaceutical and biotech industry, especially in the years that I worked at Genentech because of the nature of the work that we were doing—and its alignment with my core ­values of utilizing technology and science to do good in the world.

When I worked in the tobacco manufacturing industry, I was most conflicted by the work that I was doing. Even though I was part of a world-class manufacturing and engineering team, my core values were in mis­alignment with the mission of the organization, and I was very conflicted. I learned a lot from that experience, but I also learned the importance and even the power of being deeply connected to the work from a mission perspective.

I found that my work within the pharmaceutical biotech industry most aligned with my core values—creating something that makes the world a better place, helps to cure disease, helps people to live longer lives, and so on. The ability to do that by utilizing my technology and engineering skills was just the icing on the cake. That helped me build and put things out into the world that helped people to live better.

KYLE GIPSON (KG): You mentioned how your experiences over the course of your career informed what you went on to do as a social entrepreneur. I am wondering if you would say a little more about what inspired you to become a leader in diversifying the tech industry, particularly when it comes to Black women. You are the founder and CEO of the Black ­Innovation Lab, which we’d love to talk more about later. You note on the Black Innovation Lab’s website that you became an “accidental social entrepreneur.” Can you elaborate on how it was kind of accidental that you moved into social entrepreneurship?

MS. BRYANT: I have said that a lot and, over the past couple of years, it has been clear to me that nothing in your life happens by accident. You are always where you are supposed to be at any given point in time. When I think back to my history, well before I knew what I ­wanted to do as far as my life and career path, I was always deeply connected to the community, social change, and social good.

When I was very young and in elementary school, I remember going to the library at my school and reading every single autobiography that was in the school library. Now, this was, of course, long ago—before digital. You had to go to the physical library and use the Dewey decimal system. My books of choice at that time were always the autobiographical novels and I loved all of them because I was just so intrigued by these leaders who would do these inspiring things in the world. Reading about their journeys felt like a profound exploration for me, and it provided insights into how they dedicated their lives to making the world a better place.

I was actively involved internally as a social change agent, as an inclusion and equity change agent.

Those stories influenced me much later as I began my career and as I participated in or was pulled into the leader­ship ranks of various employee resource groups within the larger corporate entities that I was a part of. This was in the early ’90s when DEI was not even used as a moniker. Certainly you would have chief diversity officers and such at companies. Maybe we would have an ERG for certain demographics of employees, but this was early on in the ERG movement, if you will. I remember being at DuPont and being very integral to the creation of the first Black employee network. It started small and then we expanded the network to all the chemical sites within the portfolios. It became a catalyst for creating more inclusion within the corporation. This was in the early nineties, when a lot of the deeply structured, strategic diversity programs weren’t even a thing.

I remember getting involved and seeing that there was a need to create these internal organizations to allow pathways for greater support and connectedness for marginalized employees internally and a need for leadership in this area. This was early in my career—I was in my early twenties and being active in that way. In every company that I worked at from that time forward, I was actively involved internally as a social change agent, as an inclusion and equity change agent. These were roles that I took on in addition to my day job. I was creating a lot of internal equity but also learning to move initiatives forward within the organizations I was part of. This knack for understanding how power moves within organizations would be crucial throughout my career. By the time I found myself on the path to creating Black Girls Code, I pulled from a lot of the knowledge and the skills that I had gained by doing this movement work internal to organizations and leveraged that into building this grassroots organization from the ground up.

I accidentally stumbled into this gap that wasn’t being filled and decided to create an organization to fill it.

But that wasn’t my intention. The accidental part refers to the fact that I didn’t create Black Girls Code because I wanted to create a nonprofit organization. That was not on my bingo card. I did not want to get into the nonprofit arena at all, but I saw a need to create change, to create some type of net to support girls who were interested in technology, like my daughter. It didn’t exist and I wanted it to exist in the world. I accidentally stumbled into this gap that wasn’t being filled and decided to create an organization to fill it.

RML: It’s clear from this conversation that you have a very deep social conscience, which I applaud. But I’m just curious, how did you transition away from your day job, for lack of a better word, when you left Genentech? Did you gradually transition to Black Girls Code, or did you just separate from Genentech and begin a totally new career?

MS. BRYANT: I left Genentech in 2010 when the company went through a corporate merger. I wanted to start my own company. I had an “entrepreneurial itch.” I was at the point where, and this is still true, I would never work for another corporation other than Genentech. And it was for a good reason: I thought that Genentech was the most ideal company from a diversity perspective that I had ever worked for during the twenty years of my career. I remember my first team at Genentech feeling like it was a United Nations—having someone from all these different communities and all these different demographics and backgrounds. And I said, this is what it should be. This is what every corporation should look like. I had many women leaders who were senior VPs and directors. Not that the organization was ideal. There certainly was work to be done from the diversity standpoint, but that was the most ideal environment I had been in during my corporate career. I loved it. I was like, I will never work in another corporation again. I know what I’m going to do next, but I’m not going somewhere else because this is the best that I’ve found.

But I did have an itch that I needed to scratch regarding entrepreneurship. I had been in the workforce and corporate America since 1990. And I was going to try my own hand in building something from the ground up. I wanted to create a startup company, one that was healthcare-focused, or wellness- and healthcare-focused, because that is where my heart was with the work I had been doing in pharma and biotech. But I didn’t have a specific idea of what I wanted to build. I just knew I wanted to build something of my own that I could run myself and that I wanted to make the world better through healthcare, wellness, et cetera.

RML: You did separate from Genentech as a fulltime employee to start Black Girls Code. Is that a correct assessment?

MS. BRYANT: Yes. But not to start Black Girls Code. My goal was to start a healthcare startup company. And, in the course of being on this journey, I was literally going to startup network events trying to find an idea. Now, as an investor, I always say, don’t do that. Don’t search for a solution to a problem that you don’t know exists. I would not give anybody that advice. But that was actually what I was doing. I knew I wanted to start something. I just didn’t know what that thing was, and I was searching for it.

I was still doing some consulting, and I did some work in the biotech area as a consultant. It’s like I was a fulltime employee after I left Genentech. And, in the course of trying to find the thing that I wanted to build, I stumbled on this problem that needed to be solved around creating more inclusion in the tech industry, and that’s how Black Girls Code was born. I repeatedly found myself in rooms where there were not a lot of people who looked like me. And I was like, oh, this is a problem. Because I come from a corporate experience where I was surrounded by diversity and that diversity included many women in leader­ship roles making decisions, but here I’m not seeing any. Why does this industry look like this? I need to fix it. That’s how I went into the process of creating Black Girls Code. I would add that during this same time period my daughter Kai was also developing a blossoming interest in computer science by way of her gaming obsession. In many of the coding camps and experiences I was able to introduce her to as a middle school student, I was finding homogeneous environments that were eerily similar to what I was encountering within my networking experiences. It was a cycle I believed required drastic disruption.

RML: Do you still do any consulting with Genentech, any of the other biotech firms, or any of the other companies you’ve worked with?

MS. BRYANT: Yes. Interestingly enough, once I left Genentech and the biotech field and started Black Girls Code, I did not go back or spend any time in that industry as a consultant. Only now, since I have been starting this new path of becoming an investor, have I sort of circled back to biotech and the healthcare industry, from the standpoint of looking for opportunities to invest in the area. It’s the first time that I’ve been able to circle back to an opportunity to get involved in supporting the industry and helping the industry grow through new innovations and advancements primarily in the field of technology.

RML: That’s a fascinating journey. I’m interested in Black Girls Code and the evolution from essentially a one-stop shop to an organization with many different sites. How many different sites were you operating at?

MS. BRYANT: We had a peak of about fifteen chapters, mostly in the United States but one international chapter that was in Johannesburg, South Africa. But we started in the Bay Area. Actually, we started in San Francisco and then made our headquarters in Oakland, California. We built from the ground up and expanded. It was serendipity, really, that it became a chapter-based organization. That wasn’t our initial intent. Our initial intent was to build a San Francisco or Bay Area grassroots organization that was deeply embedded here in the community.

In 2012, we just sort of randomly decided: We are having so much success and seeing so much growth in the Bay Area. Why don’t we try to take this on the road and see if we get the same traction in other places? We were surprised to find that we did. We took that as an opportunity to expand our reach by having the organization create small pods or chapters in other cities and go from there.

RML: What was the experience like for the girls who were involved in these chapters? What were they being taught or what did they learn while they were there? Was it computer programming, or science?

I saw an opportunity to focus all of the knowledge and connections that I’d gained into creating this pipeline of founders, as opposed to just a pipeline of tech talent, and to create a pathway for more economic inclusion by opening up opportunities for founders from marginalized communities.

MS. BRYANT: Our goal initially was to train our girls to become full-stack engineers. We started with the basics, like teaching them web design. And when we first started the organization, we would do these build-a-website-in-a-day workshops. We would have the girls come in and teach them basic web development skills. At the end of the day, they would have this website that they built on their own. That was something that was always like a foundational piece of technology instruction we would do. Then we added a build-a-mobile-app-in-a-day workshop. Then we expanded from just web development to mobile app development. Then we would create a game in a day. Year by year, we would expand the pipeline and the basis of what we were teaching.

Bryant photo 2.gifBut our goal was that they would be able to have opportunities to learn it all. I think over the ten years that the organization evolved, we tried to touch on as many of the innovation advances as we could, bringing in workshops in augmented reality and virtual reality, bringing in some training about blockchain and cryptocurrency, bringing in training around cybersecurity, and then going into artificial intelligence in the latter years. And then we tried to make sure that the girls could see all the different potential possibilities within the tech industry and be able to find a place where they felt like home or that was of most interest to them. That was always our goal: to ensure that they could find somewhere that resonated with what they wanted to learn and what they wanted to do.

RML: Were these girls high school age?

MS. BRYANT: No. When we first started the organization, I really wanted to tap into where I saw the most need. I always say that the organization grew along with my daughter, because she was the prototype. The organization’s trajectory followed her in many ways. When I started Black Girls Code and my core team and I started to look at the research, we found that the gap where girls interested in computer science reaches a peak and then falls off a cliff is in middle school. We began with the intention that we would start with girls aged nine and ten-ish, and we would stay with them through high school. However, with the pilot program, we ended up with student participants who were much younger, like six or seven years old, because they were siblings. They came into the pilot program with their older siblings. We were happily surprised to find that the girls who were much younger were just as capable of, and often even more excited about, learning coding than the older girls.

We expanded it to be from six to eighteen years old. I think now it’s officially ­seven. Sometimes you get a six-year-old, but seven to eighteen years old is generally when students come into the program and stay with us.

One of the last things that I was able to initiate ­within the organization, back in 2020, was an alumni program. In 2020, my daughter was in college and about to graduate, and I was seeing that girls who were at that age needed something different. They needed more focus on career development. They needed more focus on career soft skills, mental health, et cetera. I created an alumni program. Now, the organization still does the formative programs from seven to eighteen, but there’s also an alumni program that helps them from the career development perspective.

RML: I was going to ask you about that because I think it would be interesting to track, in some fashion, where the girls who have been a part of the Black Girls Code program have landed. Have they used the experience ­successfully? What kind of experiences have they had?

I realize that, at one point, you had a relatively ­public confrontation with the board of Black Girls Code. Is Black Girls Code still operating, or what kind of update can you give us on that?

MS. BRYANT: Absolutely. I transitioned away from the organization officially around this time last year, in August of 2022, and started to really focus on ­working directly with other founders and innovators, which evolved into the vision for my new venture, the Black Innovation Lab. But, thankfully, the organization has continued to push forward. It’s still in operation. It has an office and a team in New York City primarily, but it still has a presence here in the Bay Area, and they still do, for now, run the chapter programs. But the organization has mostly survived, which is something that was my biggest concern, because I do see that there is so much work that needs to be done in the tech industry, especially in regards to creating pathways for and supporting Black and brown girls in the STEM fields.

Bryant photo 3.gifRML: I’m so delighted to hear what you just said because I think it’s such a beautiful concept. I didn’t know what the upshot of all of the discussion was in 2021, but I’m happy to hear this. I think it would be a tragedy to lose all that wonderful activity.

MS. BRYANT: I think, and I firmly believe, that the strongest legacy of the organization lives in the girls and the alumni who have been part of the program. My ­daughter graduated from college last year and is now working as a product manager at Microsoft. My goal initially was to start this organization to create a support system for my daughter. But little did I know I would gain even more daughters in the course of doing this work. That’s exactly what I did. But there are still girls who are coming into the program and discovering it now. Black Girls Code still needs to exist in the world.

I only have one biological daughter, but my company, Black Girls Code, was also my baby. The fact that it can still survive and do this super important work in the world is something that makes my soul happy and at ease.

RML: I think you and I share a sense that the people whom we involve ourselves with become something of an extended family. I taught at MIT for thirty years. And the students who have been through my lab are like my children. I care about them. I try to help them. I love to watch them grow. One of my students is the dean of engineering at Tel Aviv University. I’ve been very concerned about him, given the recent course of events. But there have been deans and corporate CEOs and, for me, I sense the same thing in your comments: Watching all these young people grow is part of a legacy that is so wonderful. I applaud what you’ve done with this. I think it’s wonderful.

Is the Black Innovation Lab a follow-on to Black Girls Code? How is it distinct from Black Girls Code?

MS. BRYANT: I would not consider it a follow-on, but it is an extension of the work. I think one of the things that I was so focused on when I led Black Girls Code is creating an opportunity for other founders and innovators like myself in the nonprofit and for-profit realm, so that they would have support to build their dreams and to learn the things that they may not know. I started to talk a lot to founders on both the nonprofit side and the for-profit side, and I loved it. I found that I got so much energy from that and sharing my experiences, my challenges, my ups and downs, and my advice. But I wanted to do more than just give pieces of advice. I wanted to write a check for many of them who were also challenged with being able to find the support they needed to build their dreams. I resonated with that, so fiercely, based on my experiences trying to build Black Girls Code.

So, this concept of creating a Black Innovation Lab became a very strong vision for what I wanted to do next. I often brought up this concept of creating a Black ­Innovation Lab years ago, before I ever left Black Girls Code. I wanted to create an innovation lab in our New York office space, and then I did. We built an office. There was a mini lab in there, but it wasn’t like the vision of the Black Innovation Lab that I have now.

It came up again in 2020, when we were doing our long-term strategic planning. I was like, this is great, but what about this innovation lab? The consultants were like, that is a great idea, but does it have to be here at Black Girls Code? Maybe you could do that separately. And I was like, do you think I can? They were like, yes.

When I did transition from the organization, I cer­tainly wasn’t initially thinking this, but I started to have these conversations. That’s when I evolved. I thought: Now is the time to build this innovation lab. It doesn’t have to be a part of Black Girls Code and it actually is an extension of that work, but in a different way, and focusing on, not just creating this pipeline of coders, but creating a pipeline of innovators who are building the next generation of technology companies. I can go back to my hometown, Memphis, Tennessee, and seed a tech movement around ownership in the realm of technology in a way that I haven’t even thought of before. That’s the vision and the goal of the Black Innovation Lab. Memphis has a significant racial equity gap. Memphis is a “majority minority” city with over 63% of its population identifying as Black or African American. Unfortunately, Black residents in Memphis experience higher levels of poverty, lower rates of homeownership, and lower levels of access to capital than white residents. This disparity extends to the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, with Black-owned businesses making up only a small percentage of the city’s startup scene. My goal is to address these disparities by seeding a startup district, anchored by the Black Innovation Lab, and investing in companies founded by entrepreneurs from socially and economically disadvantaged communities in Memphis and throughout the region. By creating a robust program to accelerate these companies, we can provide a significant return on investment while also addressing the racial equity gap.

KG: In what ways is the Black Innovation Lab an extension of what you’ve been working towards over the course of your career, and in what ways is it a departure?

MS. BRYANT: One of the things that I felt so strongly about as I was building Black Girls Code was that, at some point, it was part of our mission statement that we were going to teach these technology skills to girls from underrepresented communities with a focus on entrepreneurial concepts. When we put that vision in place and in action within the organization, there was always that underlying tone of entrepreneurship, but it really evidenced itself and blossomed from the girls themselves. As we did this research with our students from the time when we began in 2012 and throughout 2020, ’21, and ’22, we would find that many of the girls and students who were coming to our program were building this strong entrepreneurial mindset. It wasn’t necessarily intentionally in the curriculum, but these were the types of mindsets and processes that they were organically developing, and that was great.

Bryant photo 4.gifAs I left the organization, I felt very strongly that, with the changes in the tech industry and certainly some massive layoffs that plagued the industry over the last couple of years and even my own experience as a founder of a nonprofit organization, we needed to do more than just feed these girls into a tech pipeline. They may survive it, but maybe they won’t. Maybe these companies won’t value them. We needed them to be the makers and the creators. I saw an opportunity to focus all of the knowledge and connections that I’d gained into creating this pipeline of founders, as opposed to just a pipeline of tech talent, and to create a pathway for more economic inclusion by opening up opportunities for founders from marginalized communities to achieve success in science.

This builds on some of the work that I have done from a pipeline perspective but in a different way, focusing on how to recreate more economic equity here in the United States, and even abroad, by creating ­opportunities for founders of color to rise and be able to scale into a company.

KG: That’s wonderful. I just want to zoom out a little bit. You’ve been a trailblazer in terms of diversifying the tech industry for such a long time and you have a long view of what has happened in the conversation around it. I’m wondering where, if anywhere, you are seeing progress when it comes to diversifying the tech industry and where you’re still noticing blockages when it comes to including more Black women and other women of color in the tech industry.

MS. BRYANT: I think that, unfortunately, when I started Black Girls Code in 2011 and 2012, there wasn’t a lot of focus on diversity and inclusion in the industry and there was even perhaps a bit of denial that we had an issue. That started to change around 2013 when companies such as Google and Facebook were required to release their diversity and inclusion numbers. The elephant in the room became very clear: We actually did have a problem in the industry when it came to diversity. At that moment, that was a threshold change for Black Girls Code.

Those diversity reports were released and made available to the public in 2013 by a lot of the efforts of technologists like Tracy Chou. It was a night-and-day difference from before 2013 to after. Before 2013, we were almost begging people to support us and give us a donation. It was a challenging time. And that changed almost overnight when those diversity numbers were made public. People started to come to us saying, “We have some diversity challenges. Your program could help us.” Not that all my problems went away in that moment. They did not. It was still challenging, but it wasn’t as challenging as it was before. That was a marked change in how we were able to do our work.

Between 2013 and the next seven years or so, things slowly improved in terms of opportunities for people of color to work for a lot of these tech companies. I saw lots of improvement from the standpoint of women being able to go into these tech companies and also being able to rise a bit through the leadership ring. I did not see as much movement into the leadership ring for some other marginalized communities. Women did increase their presence within tech companies, and the needle moved a little bit.

Things changed in 2020, the year of COVID and the strong racial reckoning. I like to call the summer of 2020 the summer of resistance. I think what that turning point meant is that organizations like Black Girls Code received an overwhelming amount of commitment and support financially and otherwise from all sorts of everyday people as well as large corporations and such. But it didn’t move the needle. Like I said, dollars were poured into these organizations and commitments were made. But when you look at the numbers now, in 2023, the numbers in terms of diversity and inclusion in many of these companies, especially for African Americans and some other marginalized Latino communities, are not good. There are fewer Black women in the tech industry now. The numbers have actually decreased over the last ten years rather than increased. Women have done fairly better, but it’s certainly not at the equitable place where it should be.

It’s crucial to ensure that the multitude of advancements unfolding over the next century that profoundly impact humanity are fueled by a rich diversity of thoughts and ideas. This diversity will be the driving force behind innovations that not only create opportunities but also uplift and support all of humanity.

That tells me that there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’m still undecided about what is at the root of the lack of progress after 2020. I’ve been asking this question a bit in my interactions with folks who are still in industry: Is there still a commitment to diversity in these companies? I often get told there is. But I think perhaps what we are seeing is maybe a bit of disillusionment on the side of folks who would perhaps be looking to join companies. When it comes to trying to get into tech, people are tending to opt out as opposed to opting in.

That brings us to a place where there’s also opportunity in this, right? I think there’s an opportunity to create avenues for people to become the creators of the jobs we have so often sought to fill through various pipeline movements. This is certainly not an invitation for everyone to become entrepreneurs—it is certainly not an easy path to pursue. But I think we have an opportunity to infuse the innovation economy with new energy, new perspectives, and new ideas by developing space for more innovators to build, and there is no better time than now.

RML: What are your goals for the next five or ten years?

MS. BRYANT: I have been on this journey of learning this new industry, from venture capital investment to building the Black Innovation Lab, and learning about how to build an accelerator. I’m finding myself in rooms where there is a lot of talk about what’s the next iteration of innovation.

I think, expectedly, everybody is talking about artificial intelligence right now, but there are other tremendous opportunities in space and innovation for space. We will probably be on Mars a lot quicker than many people realize, and the industry has a lot of growth and opportunity in that and innovation that will go into those colonies and space exploration. It’s not just about Elon Musk or what Amazon is doing, or Bezos, or Blue Origin. There’s going to be a lot of innovation required for space exploration, but also in the work that is done off-planet that supports things that we’re doing here. There’s a lot of opportunity around sustainability and, of course, incredible advancements in healthcare and other areas that impact our rapidly aging society.

I believe we’re on the cusp of a new golden era of innovation, marking the onset of what I term the fourth industrial revolution. It’s crucial to ensure that the multitude of advancements unfolding over the next century that profoundly impact humanity are fueled by a rich diversity of thoughts and ideas. This diversity will be the driving force behind innovations that not only create opportunities but also uplift and support all of humanity. That is my goal.

The focus of my current efforts with the Black Innovation Lab is squarely on addressing this issue—creating a significant impact within a confined space where only a select few emerge as creators, founders, and builders. My goal is to rupture this exclusive bubble. I want to establish a robust pipeline of builders who, like myself, represent diversity and can contribute positively to the betterment of the world, using technology not as a solution but as a lever.

RML: That’s a wonderful vision of the future and goal from the perspective of all of the things you are doing, Kimberly. You’ve just been a wonderful addition to our interview series. I want to thank you for that.

MS. BRYANT: Thank you. And thank you for having me.

RML: You’re such an inspiration. Your commitment to all this is so palpable. I don’t think anything happens unless people are really committed. I can tell that you are fully committed. That’s a wonderful recognition, I think, to feel the commitment just in the way you speak about this. Thank you.

About the Author:Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO, the Black Innovation Lab, and founder, Black Girls Code