Past event…

Event Ended

Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway, Oakland 94612

Hosted by Qeyno Labs

In his State of the Union address on January 28, President Obama announced that he was “reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.”

EVERYONE (Whites, Asians, Latinos, old, young, men, women, and so on) is invited to register for this event and help answer the question, “Could An App Have Saved Trayvon Martin?”

A Silicon Valley that lives up to the dreams of Dr. King is our vision for the first global hackathon for Black Male Achievement and Oakland’s first Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. Headquartered in Seattle, it is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs and innovators with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.  From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and launch their ideas.

But this Startup Weekend will be different...

Similar to Startup Weekend Women events, Startup Weekend Oakland is an inclusion vertical by focusing on progressive community problem solving supported by diversity of thought and collaboration among all ethnicities and genders.  We are encouraging developers, designers, and innovators from all backgrounds to tackle issues related to what today’s statistics reveal – from health, to education, to incarceration rates, young Black males have untapped potential.

The Trayvon Martin tragedy opened up a global conversation on race, class, and stereotype threat.  Can innovation in technology, business and design, create opportunities for a safer society for all of us?  As a community of technologists and startup founders in Oakland, we recognized an opportunity to bring this conversation home to the Bay Area in a way that united us all around solving problems that hit closer to home – with a hackathon!

If you are looking to find a technical co-founder for your venture, want to test out your app development skills, or use lean startup methods to find the best approach to solving a problem, you’ll find it here at Startup Weekend Oakland.

Diverse Teams – to support the assembly of diverse teams for this event, we are recruiting from organizations like The Hidden Genius Project to ensure that there will be plenty of young Black males excited to work alongside you during this event.  There will be five tracks to choose from:


The education track focuses on issues related to the academic achievement of people of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds and can include topics related to college readiness, access, completion and career guidance.


The health track focuses on issues related to the public health of people of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds such as improving wellness, increasing diversity in the medical profession, and helping Black males navigate and gain access to quality healthcare.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice seeks solutions related to preventing the criminalization of economically disadvantaged people, and strategies that empower ex-offenders to transition from the prison walls to successful members of the community, and providing valuable intervention resources to high school dropouts or college dropouts.


Gaming is an opportunity to re-think how devices like the Xbox and Playstation and other interactive forms of media can be used to improve the lives of people of diverse ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and especially Black males. The focus isn’t just on gaming (games can be created for all the tracks) but is specifically focused on gaming console apps.


The sustainability track challenges participants to create an app or design solution that preserves our environment and encourage personal practices such as recycling, garment collection and redistribution, food production, resource sharing, energy efficiency, and water conservation.

Startup Weekend Oakland isn’t just for techies.

Startup Weekend Oakland is for people with ideas, business people, designers, students, teachers, anyone who wants to contribute and support solving these problems.

If you are not sure that this event is right for you, shoot us an email with your questions and concerns so we can support you.

Do not be surprised that after the exciting process of launching an app or design that you’ll walk away feeling invigorated and supercharged by the relationships you have forged during this weekend.

And things don’t just stop there.  There will be a special reception on Saturday night just for hackathon participants and our family of supporters and sponsors: Join us for the #YesWeCode Oakland Reception: An Evening with Van Jones & Friends – at Impact Hub Oakland (2323 Broadway).

With a few more surprises in storeStartup Weekend Oakland – Black Male Achievement (BMA) is history in the making.  So what are you waiting for?  Register now and let’s make history – together!

Follow us on Twitter: @swoakland #swobma

– Team Startup Weekend Oakland BMA

Photo Credit: The Level Playing Field Institute

Photo Credit: The Level Playing Field Institute

FAQS – Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: I’m not black or male and really interested in these issues.  Can I still attend?

A:  Yes, not only can you attend, we INVITE you to attend. We want people of all different backgrounds to believe in this cause and to help it move along. Doesn’t matter what color you are, your age, etc.

Q: Are there prizes for winners?  Is this still a Startup Weekend competition?

A: Yes.  We are working with our sponsors to put together the prize packages for each category.  There will be a first place and runner up in each track and a grand prize overall.

Q:  I’d like to support this event as a sponsor.  Are you still accepting sponsors?

A: Yes.  We are still accepting sponsorships.  Please contact and we’ll send you a sponsorship form.

Q: I have an idea for an app but I’m afraid someone will steal my idea.  Are there non-disclosure agreements between team members?

A: Startup Weekend Oakland is a collaborative forum for sharing, learning, building, and having fun.  It is our job to provide you with an incredible networking and learning opportunity. Our intention is that you meet some amazing people that you might actually start a company with, build relationships with coaches, and learn from your peers. The event is intended to be a collaborative forum for sharing, learning, building, and having fun. As such, by registering as a participant, you acknowledge that any ideas shared by you or anyone else over the course of the event are contributions to the overall experience and community. If you as a participant are worried about someone stealing your ideas, please reconsider your participation in the event itself or simply refrain from sharing specifics about your idea.

Q: How will I be treated at this event? Is there a code of conduct?

A: This hackathon is a community event intended for innovation, collaboration, and engagement in the community, to support this vision we’ve adopted a code of conduct in collaboration with Hackbright Academy. All participants are expected to be respectful, thoughtful, open and awesome. For more details read the full code of conduct here.




Feb 7
  • Doors Open & Registration
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Feb 8
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Feb 9
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Pitch Preparation
  • Dinner & Announcements
  • Judging & awards
  • Rite of Passage Ceremony led by Gregory Hodge
Tier 1 Sponsors
Tier 2 Sponsors
Community Partners
Speakers & Judges

Van Jones

Founder of #YesWeCode, CNN Crossfire Host, Best Selling Author, and a champion of smart solutions for America's middle class.   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Van Jones is the co-host of Crossfire on CNN, and is his official site and the digital home of the #TeamVan community.

Van Jones is also the President and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the U.S. economy. A Yale-educated attorney, Van has written two New York Times Best Sellers: The Green Collar Economy, the definitive book on green jobs, and Rebuild the Dream, a roadmap for progressives in 2012 and beyond.

In 2009, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House. There, he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green energy recovery spending.

Van is the founder of Green For All, a national organization working to get green jobs to disadvantaged communities. He was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act.

Mitch Kapor

Co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact

Mitch Kapor is the Co-chair of the Kapor Center and works with startups using information technology platforms to drive disruptive innovation. He is a seed stage investor in Uber, Twilio, Inkling and University Now. His focus is increasingly on driving positive social impact, especially in leveraging IT to close gaps of opportunity and access in education, health care and other areas.

Mitch founded Lotus Development Corporation and designed Lotus 1-2-3, the “killer application” which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980s. He is the co-founder of The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which protects freedom and privacy on the Internet and the founding chair of the Mozilla Foundation, creator of the open source web browser Firefox. He is also a founding investor in Linden Lab, maker of the first successful virtual world, Second Life.

Currently he serves on the board of Level Playing Field Institute, whose mission is to enhance equal opportunity in education and the workplace. Mitch is also on the Advisory Board of Generation Investment Management, a firm whose vision is to embed sustainability into the mainstream capital markets.

Kimberly Bryant

Founder & Executive Director, Black Girls Code

Kimberly Bryant is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer programming with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts. Ms. Bryant's has enjoyed a very successful 20+ year professional career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an Engineering Manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 100 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer.

Since 2011 Ms. Bryant has helped Black Girl CODE grow from a local organization serving only the Bay Area, to an international non-profit organization with chapters in 7 US cities and Johannesburg, South Africa serving over 2000 African/African-American, Latina, and Native American girls. Ms. Bryant serves on the National Champions Board for the National Girls Collaborative Project, and the National Board of the NCWIT K-12 Alliance. In August 2012, Kimberly Bryant was also given the honor of receiving the prestigious Jefferson Award for Community Service for her work to support communities in the Bay Area.

In 2013 Black Girls Code and was selected by Business Insider in 2013 on its list of’s list of The 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology and was named to The Root 100 list, and the Ebony Power 100 list in 2013. Ms. Bryant was honored in 2013 as a Champion of Change by the White House for her work in tech inclusion and for her focus on bridging the digital divide for girls.

She has been identified as a thought leader in the area of tech inclusion and has spoken on the topic at events such as Personal Democracy Forum, TedX Kansas City, Platform Summit, Big Ideas Festival, SXSW, and others.

Dan Portillo

Talent Partner, Greylock Partners

Dan joined Greylock as VP of Talent in 2011 and was promoted to Talent Partner in 2013. Prior to Greylock he was VP of Success & Engagement at Rypple were he defined the deployment strategy for the first Social Performance Application. Dan was instrumental in bringing early customers such as Facebook, Jive Software & Gilt Groupe online and to define performance systems that employees enjoyed using.

Dan was also on the executive team at Mozilla, creators of Firefox, where he lead HR, Recruiting and University Relations. He helped them grow from 20 people in Mountain View, to over 300 with offices in 7 different countries. Earlier in his career Dan spent a decade building out successful early-stage, venture-backed consumer and enterprise companies.

He was a nominee for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's San Francisco Man of the Year.

Dan is fluent in Spanish, struggling with Greek and an avid diver.

He studied Economics at UCLA and lives in San Francisco with his wife.

Cedric Brown

Managing Partner, Kapor Center for Social Impact

Cedric Brown is a Managing Partner, co-leading the organization as he oversees programs and partnerships. He brings over 20 years of experience as an educator and funder, working with the Kapor Foundation, SF Foundation, SF Education Fund, Switzer Foundation, SF Cultural Equity Grants, and Level Playing Field Institute among others. He has served as a board/committee member of Northern California Grantmakers, Funders Committee for Civic Participation, and Council on Foundation’s Family Philanthropy Committee, and Bay Area Blacks in Philanthropy. Cedric received the 2010 ABFE Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Award and was profiled as a 2011 Changemaker in the San Francisco Chronicle. Cedric holds degrees from the University of North Carolina and Stanford University and executive certificates from Georgetown and Rutgers universities. A native North Carolinian, Cedric practices diplomatic arts of a Southern gentleman and is physically only able to do progressive social impact work. He lives as an artistic director, racking up creative pursuits as life unfolds.

Frank McCormick

Director, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, focuses his research on signal transduction pathways in cancer cells , specifically the Ras pathway. He currently serves as Director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Prior to joining UCSF, Dr. McCormick pursued cancer-related work with several Bay Area biotechnology firms. More recently he has taken a leadership role at the Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research, overseeing an NCI supported national effort to develop therapies against Ras-driven cancers.

Monique Woodard

Innovation Fellow for the City of San Francisco

Monique Woodard is an entrepreneur and product expert with over a decade of tech experience.

Most recently, she has been a Mayor’s Innovation Fellow for the City of San Francisco where she has worked on community broadband access, product management of civic tech products, and overseen strategic partnerships for the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.

Monique is the creator of Speak Chic – the mobile app that teaches you how to correctly pronounce fashion brands.

Monique is also one of the founders of Black Founders -- a professional organization that supports diversity in the tech industry.

Previously, under Brand Institute, she led brand development projects for clients that included Avon, Starbucks, and Bayer. Monique has direct and relevant experience championing products that speak to consumers and drive adoption.

Monique Woodard is a SXSW speaker, TED attendee, and was named one of the “Black Women in Tech You Need to Follow on Twitter” by She has been interviewed on topics around startups and diversity for ZDNet, KPOO radio, Madame Noire, TheRoot, and Essence Magazine. You can find out more about her at:

Christopher Lyons

Deputy Chief of Staff at Andreessen Horowitz

Christopher Lyons is the Deputy Chief of Staff at Andreessen Horowitz and currently plays an active role in Silicon Valley’s investment and entrepreneur community. Prior to Chris’s work in venture capital, he spent over 12 years in the music and technology industries as an entrepreneur. Chris most recently founded PictureMenu, a mobile application that allows restaurants to easily have their menu viewable on smartphones and tablets.

Outside of investing and advising startups, Chris also enjoys working behind the scenes in the recording industry as a producer and certified mix/mastering engineer. He previously apprenticed under Jermaine Dupri and has mastered songs for artists such as Future, 2Chainz, Yo Gotti, Travis Porter, KE on the Track, Gucci Mane and more.

Nicole Sanchez

Managing Partner, Kapor Center for Social Impact

Nicole Sanchez is a Managing Partner, co-leading the organization as she oversees Staff and Operations. She is a serial social entrepreneur, having founded several organizations focused on justice issues involving marginalized and under-represented populations.

After graduating from college, Nicole spent several years at City Year, a model AmeriCorps program, and became its first National Program Director. She then returned to Stanford as Associate Director for the Program in Ethics in Society where she co-founded “Hope House Scholars,” a program in which Stanford professors teach the humanities to recently incarcerated women in Redwood City. Nicole also helped launch the Stanford Center on Ethics, a multi-disciplinary institute that ensures ethics training for all students in the university’s professional schools. In addition, Nicole led two student-focused endeavors—one that aimed to close the achievement gap in Berkeley, CA and one that engaged young people in the US in global poverty alleviation. She was born and raised in the East Bay, received an undergraduate degree from Stanford, and an MBA from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. Besides discussing social justice, you can really make her light up by talking baseball with a special emphasis on her beloved Oakland A’s.

Shaun Tai

Founder and Executive Director of Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center

Shaun Tai is the founder and Executive Director of Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center (, an independent 501(c)(3) community building organization working to bridge the digital literacy and opportunity divide. Oakland Digital provides digital literacy education to small businesses and professional development training to design students in Oakland, CA, and the San Francisco East Bay.

In 2008, Shaun Tai successfully documented the history of Bay Area urban music, creating an online campaign that exceeded 14-million video views. The project opened his eyes to a lack of positive role models and opportunities afforded to young adults in East Bay inner-city communities—a realization that would play a large part in his decision to create Oakland Digital.

Shaun Tai has taught at San Jose State University, where he received an M.A in Architectural & Urban Design (Interdisciplinary Studies, 4.0 GPA) and a B.S in Advertising Management (Magna Cum Laude, 3.8 GPA). In 2002, Shaun Tai graduated honors from California State University, East Bay with a B.A in Digital Graphics.

Shaun Tai is currently the Principal at ZTY MEDIA, a full-service digital marketing firm with clients including Facebook, Accel Partners, Social Data Lab, and the City & County of San Francisco. At Oakland Digital, his success in digital entrepreneurship is lent to the task of helping Oakland citizens use technology to succeed in their own ventures.

Laurence Toney

CEO of LearnStreet

Laurence (“Lo”) Toney is a seasoned consumer Internet executive who likes to work in exciting environments with passionate people. He enjoys solving complex problems by building, leading and developing world-class teams motivated to create great products and user experiences that solve real problems. In addition to his professional career, Lo works with a number of startups as an advisor/mentor and has personally invested as an angel.

He is the CEO of LearnStreet an Ed Tech platform that provides individuals with the skills they need to pursue a career in technology. LearnStreet has partnered with leading companies such as Wiley's Dummies series to bring their content to life as interactive tools. The company is funded by Khosla Ventures with Vinod Khosla on the board.

Prior to LearnStreet, Lo worked with Zynga where he was a General Manager. He was GM of Zynga Poker with full P+L responsibility for Zynga's largest franchise. During his leadership, web bookings increased by over 150% while increasing margins. In addition, he led the Casino strategy and was the sponsor for two acquisitions to drive new game development and acquire expertise in real money gaming. While at Zynga, Lo also led YoVille and worked on mobile publishing.

Before Zynga, Lo worked with strong consumer brands such as Nike, + eBay in product and general management roles.

He received his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business (University of California at Berkeley) where he completed the Management of Technology program - a joint curriculum program with the College of Engineering. Lo received his B.S. from Hampton University in Virginia.

Mark Sutton

Policy and Program Analyst for the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF)

Mark Sutton is a Policy and Program Analyst for the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF), a community development financial institution that provides financing and technical assistance to nonprofits and cooperatives. Prior to joining NCCLF, Mark worked as a Research Analyst at Impact Assets, a San Francisco-based impact investment firm. Mark has experience in the environmental markets, having worked with the San Francisco Carbon Collaborative and participating in the launch of the carbon market startup Ecoanalytics. He has also been active in sustainable economic development with Green Economy Think Tank, a non-profit that convenes sustainability leaders to catalyze ideas into action to grow the green economy.

Mark holds an M.B.A. in Sustainable Business Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, and a B.A. in Mathematics and Music from Williams College in Williamstown, MA.

Obai Rambo

Co-Founder, of Black Young Democrats of San Francisco (BYDSF)

Obai Rambo is the cofounder of the Black Young Democrats of San Francisco (BYDSF), the Political Action Committee Chair of the California Democratic Party’s African- American Caucus (PACAAC), was recently appointed to be the Western Region Chair of the College Democrats of America’s National Finance Committee (CDA), and will be graduating from the University of California, Berkeley this May.

After cofounding the BYDSF in early 2012, Obai helped lead the organizations successful movement against Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed reproduction of the unpopular “Stop-and-Frisk” policy – a measure that would give police officers extra powers to perform searches and seizures – in San Francisco. Most recently, Obai ran and won as an alternate in the California State Assembly District Delegate race representing Assembly District 19, which includes the western side of San Francisco and into the Peninsula.

Cheryl Contee

Partner at Fission Strategy

Cheryl Contee, Partner at Fission Strategy, specializes in helping non-profit organizations and foundations use social media to create social good. She was also the co-founder of Jack and Jill Politics writing as “Jill Tubman” on one of the top black blogs online. Cheryl was recently named as an Affiliate of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Cheryl is included in The Root 100 list of established and emerging African-American leaders. Huffington Post listed her as one of the Top 27 Female Founders in Tech to Follow on Twitter in 2011. Fast Company named her one of their 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech. She has over 15 years of award-winning interactive expertise and previously served as Vice President and lead digital strategist for Fleishman-Hillard’s West Coast region in San Francisco.

Cheryl has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, BBC, Current TV, MSNBC and CNN, among other media appearances. She is also proud to serve on several boards and advisory committees: Netroots Nation, BlogHer, Focus100/Digital Undivided, and Public Radio International. She received her B.A. from Yale University and has an International Executive M.B.A. from Georgetown University. In her spare time, Ms. Contee enjoys hiking, yoga, movies and tai chi sword.

Gregory Hodge

Organizational Development Consultant for Khepera Consulting   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Gregory Hodge is a social change activist and organizational development consultant with Khepera Consulting. Khepera helps people and organizations strategically think, connect and act in the relationships that spark transformative change.

Working as a strategist, meeting designer, facilitator and coach, Gregory works with a range of groups from small non-profits and foundations to public agencies, particularly school districts. He has served a lead consultant on the Equal Voice for America’s Families Campaign, an initiative of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys, two national initiatives. He is currently working as a partner with the Association of Black Foundation Executives as its Black Male Initiative coordinator and trainer for the Race Matters Institute/Responsive Philanthropy in the Black Community work.

As a leader in his community, Gregory served two four-year terms as a member of the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education beginning in January 2000, including a year as president of the board. He served nine years on Workforce Investment Board, City of Oakland.

Hodge has also worked as an attorney in private practice handling a variety of civil litigation matters. His involvements include work with African American youth as a teacher and mentor

Sean Daniel Murphy

President & Managing Director, Fund Good Jobs

As President & Managing Director of Fund Good Jobs, Sean is leading the charge for positive disruption in small business funding. His vision is to create an innovative model that will have global impact on good job creation for those who need it most.

Prior to Fund Good Jobs, Sean was the COO at Inner City Advisors (ICA). Sean joined the ICA Staff in 2009 as Portfolio Manager and created a sustainable model for the organization to effectively scale its programs impact through best practices in mission-ROI due diligence processes, impact tracking, and capital readiness. Sean managed $163M total revenues, facilitated 50+ unique financing transactions and served as a strategic advisor to hundreds of small businesses. Through this work, it was clear to Sean that access to capital was the largest barrier for small business growth and good job creation. Fund Good Jobs has grown out of this knowledge in order to address this pressing need.

Prior to joining ICA, Sean was a lead consultant for The MattMar Group, Inc., a global consulting firm. Sean worked on financing transactions for Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Salman Partners and Royal Bank of Canada. He led operation planning sessions for start-ups in Canada, Europe, Africa and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sean has over a decade of experience as a community organizer, and nearly half a decade of professional experience working with entrepreneurs to improve and scale their businesses. He believes a healthy economy is critical to a vibrant community. Sean earned his bachelors degree in Sociology and minor in Education from UCLA, and has also completed the entrepreneurship curriculum at Stanford University.

Wayne Sutton

Founder at PitchTo

Wayne Sutton is the founder of PitchTo, which manages and rates founder pitches and cofounder of Student Ventures ( , a nonprofit organization which mission is to expose middle and high school students to the world of entrepreneurship and STEM through online education, mentorship, project challenges and hackathons. Wayne share’s his experiences with entrepreneurs as one of the Wall Street Journal Startup Gurus in a weekly article. In 2011, co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4 in 2011 and launched a mobile location-based startup in 2009. Wayne has 14 years experience in design and business development and has founded two software companies. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter which as lead to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but Facebook and Google+. His blog has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world.

Wayne is a past TED attendee and has spoken at universities, major internet and technology focused conferences such as Stanford, Duke, UNC, NC State, World Wide Web Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), BlogWorld, and more. While managing PitchTo, Wayne is also an Angel Investor In Training via Astia and the Pipleline Fellowship.

Ashara Ekundayo

Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Impact Hub Oakland

Ashara Ekundayo is a cultural worker and connector of the urban landscape and has served as catalyst, curator, educator, and producer for more than 23 years. Considered a thought-leader in the area of creative placemaking, she honed her business skills in the non-profit sector and is often found moderating or presenting in forums exploring the intersections of sustainable design, money, and meaning. As a consultant she works with organizations to build capacity for increased community engagement through the uses of creative arts practice, exhibition, and project management. A Certified Permaculture Designer, serial social entrepreneur, and lifetime activist committed to social justice, Ashara has supported individuals and companies in the redesign of their brand and marketing strategies utilizing a myriad of tools and practices. Her many interests and talents have gained her the loving title of "Jedi" by her peers and clients.

Selected by the Ashoka Foundation as a social innovator “stimulating the green economy," Ashara works as a sustainability mentor by designing innovative curriculum and programing to support transformative healing in communities around the world. She was hired by the U.S. Dept of State to help implement their first Professional Fellowship in Food Security, is a Fellow with Green For All, and is the co-founder The GrowHaus, an interactive aquaponic farm in Denver, CO. She combines her passions for food, art and tech to increase the dialogue on regenerative design and has shared her vision for cultural equity at conferences such as SOCAP, SXSW, Net Impact, Tedx MileHigh, and the World Social Forum.

Most recently Ashara Ekundayo is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Impact Hub Oakland, LLC, an innovation collaboratory & co-working space for social entrepreneurs engaged in building a just society through business development. She is also the Curator for Omi Gallery, a visual and sound arts venue featuring one-person exhibitions and performances.

Drew Lisac

Panelist Moderator

20+ years in start-ups, entrepreneurship, venture capital, fundraising, and philanthropy, with high level expertise in public service, and higher education. Specialties: Start-up strategies, Angel investing, Business development, Public-Private partnerships, Government liaison, Corporate philanthropy, Non Profit management, Fundraising, and Arts economic strategies. At Stanford University, Drew was the director of one of the first new media labs in the world and went on to work on many digital media success stories from the Silicon Valley. In the past 10 years Drew has helped define the new social enterprise field through philanthropy and capital investments.

Aimee Allison

Senior Vice President of PowerPAC

Aimee Allison is senior vice president of PowerPAC, a group dedicated to electing social justice champions. She is a political and communications strategist who served as a director at the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women. She was also an author and radio and TV talk show host in the Bay Area. She graduated from Stanford University.

Cameron White

Associate Director, co.lab

Cameron White is the Associate Director of co.lab, an accelerator by NewSchools Venture Fund and that supports startups leveraging the power of digital games to build transformative educational technologies for PK-12 students and teachers. Previously, Cameron worked at NewSchools as a Fellow and Learning Technology Specialist. He has also worked at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, DC, where he helped to align out-of-school programming with the school’s broader missions.

Cameron graduated with a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University, where he wrote his undergraduate thesis on the intersection between child psychology and environmental design. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University’s Teachers College, studying instructional technology and media.

Alex Cowan

Founder and CTO of Leonid Systems

Alex is the founder and CTO of Leonid Systems, an enterprise software startup with offices in the Bay Area, Washington, Toronto and various points abroad. Leonid's products are deployed to many of the world's largest cloud communications operators which together earned over $350 billion in revenue last year.

Alex is also the founder of Brand Lattice, a brand strategy platform for designers and markets, as well as an advisor and board member to startup’s and enterprises.

His book, Starting a Tech Business (Wiley, 2012), is a primer for non-engineers who want to up their game with the latest techniques and foundations concepts in software product development.

Marc Philpart

Senior Associate at PolicyLink

Marc Philpart, Associate Director, leads Black Male Achievement initiatives at PolicyLink and co-directs the Institute for Black Male Achievement. The Institute is a national membership network dedicated to improving the life outcomes of Black men and boys through systemic change.

Philpart has specific expertise in supporting and developing networks that advance policy and promising practices to further race and gender equity in the areas of health, education, employment and juvenile justice. Prior to joining PolicyLink, Philpart worked in the president’s office at PATH, a non-profit global health organization.

He holds masters degrees in public affairs and public health from the University of Washington in Seattle and earned his BA in History from Xavier University of Louisiana. In his spare time he enjoys international travel, reading, and the paradoxical life of being a fitness junkie and foodie.

Media Sponsors

Yazmine Soubra

Public Health Nurse Educator

Track: Health

Yazmine Soubra joined SF Department of Public Health in 2011 as a Public Health Nurse Educator. She currently coordinates the health education department providing patient education with chronic conditions, specializing in diabetes.

Yazmine designed a diabetes self-management education (DSME) program by following the DSME model offered in various community health clinics. She currently Facilitates diabetes self-management education (DSME) classes and provides one-on-one DSME to patients with chronic conditions in a primary care clinic.

She empowers patients to care for their diabetes as well as build self-care skills. Yazmine teaches the patient how to adhere to a healthier lifestyle by maintaining a diet that is closest to the patient's ethnic choice of meals. Yazmine is also managing a pilot program that is a Kaiser funded grant on diabetes self-management education (DSME) for seniors living in San Francisco.

Laquitta DeMerchant

Founder, Aequitas

Track: Education

Under the leadership of Laquitta, Aequitas evolved into a career management solution. Prior to founding FuzionApps, Laquitta has worked for NetIQ Corporation as a Service Account Manager, Facility Security Officer and Global Consultant on Demand Project Manager. Throughout her IT career of 17 years, she held positions ranging from Security Consultant, Business Development Director and Technical Services Consulting Manager. While driving multi-million dollar sales quotas, Laquitta averaged 100% quota attainment.

While working full-time as a Systems Analyst supporting check authorization and verification software, she also went to graduate school full-time, earning a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV). For undergrad, Laquitta earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems from the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), while working 30+ hours per week. She has been an active alumnus speaking and volunteering for both the UHD and UHV.

Seyed Amiry

Co-Founder, President & CEO, Cooperative Education Ventures

Track: Education

Seyed Amiry is Co-Founder, President & CEO of Cooperative Education Ventures and Project Leader of Cooperative Education Project. Seyed Amiry has over 25 years of senior management experience in the postsecondary education, consumer products and technology industries. Mr. Amiry has led transformational initiatives in accreditation plans, operations and learning systems for multiple universities through his leadership roles as President of Altius University, President of Presidio Graduate School, Dean of School of Technology at Golden Gate University and Chief Operating Officer of Heald Colleges.

Mr. Amiry began his successful career in the consumer products industry and has held senior management positions in finance and operations with leading agricultural cooperatives, including California Gold Dairy Products and Tri-Valley Growers, as well as notable consumer brands, including Atari Corporation and Specialty Brands. Mr. Amiry has also served on the board of San Ramon Tri Valley Incubator. Mr. Amiry received his B.S. in Accounting from West Coast University in Los Angeles and MBA from California State University in Los Angeles, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Stanford University.

Sharon Simmons

President, CEO/Founder of Trafalgar Solutions

Track: Restorative Justice

Sharon Simmons is an entrepreneur and brings thirty years of logistics management experience to Trafalgar Solutions. Sharon’s is the creator of “iGotem", an app that empowers users to monitor crime in their neighborhoods.

Sharon was an opening speaker at the Top Ten Blacks In Tech Awards during SXSW 2012.

Hyman Scott

Research Fellow, Infectious Diseases, UCSF

Track: Health

Hyman Scott, MD, MPH currently provides care for patients living with HIV in 360: Positive Care Center at UCSF and conducts research on technology-based HIV prevention interventions. After receiving his MD from Yale School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and chief residency at UCSF where he is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. His current research interests are in HIV-related disparities among gay and bisexual men in the U.S. with a focus on development and implementation of novel HIV prevention strategies to address these disparities. He is evaluating a novel online HIV prevention tool, and developing an intervention to support home HIV self-testing and linkage to HIV prevention and care services among young Black and Latino men in San Francisco and Oakland. He is actively engaged with community organizations and AIDS service organizations in the bay area, serving on the San Francisco AIDS Foundation speaker’s bureau and providing webinar lectures for the ETR Associates Tabono CBA Project.

Dwight Smith

Undergraduate Programs at Net Impact

Track: Sustainability

Dwight joined the Student Programs team at Net Impact in 2013. Net Impact is a nonprofit that empowers a new generation of leaders to work for a sustainable future. He currently works to support the undergraduate chapter network by advising student leaders and recruiting new chapters while expanding the network's diversity.

Before joining Net Impact, Dwight spent time working with Siva Cycle, a start up that aims to provide usable, clean power not only to the avid cyclist here in the States, but also to those in the developing world who lack access to any form of power.

As a Coro fellow in 2012, he participated in the Coro SF Social Enterprise Pitch competition where he and his team won first place for piloting a family fitness program called ACTIVATE.

Dwight has worked extensively with underrepresented youth, and especially young men of color, focusing on education and community development. He is passionate about empowering students to think creatively, have a 'No Ceilings' mentality, and reach their potential in spite of adverse circumstances. He has served the community as a mentor, coach, and educator. Dwight currently sits on the board of the Coro Center for Civic Leadership in San Francisco.

Calvin WIlliams

Program Coordinator, Boys and Men of Color Initiative

Track: Restorative Justice

Calvin Williams Calvin Williams is the Director for the Health Equity Fellowship - a new partnership program between The California Endowment and Greenlining Institute. As Director, he coordinates special projects at The California Endowment designed for emerging public health leaders committed to creating equitable health outcomes for all Californians through research, policy, advocacy and philanthropy. His commitment for social justice has led him to work in organizing, education, youth leadership development and philanthropy. Calvin taught high school in Mississippi and Alabama. In 2006, he moved to New York to become the Fellowship Coordinator of YP4 and transitioned as the outgoing Deputy Director of Trainings in 2009. He managed the Generational Alliance Alumni Program, coordinating trainings and leadership development programs among member organizations of the GA. Calvin was a 2012 National Urban Fellow working as a statewide youth engagement coordinator for The California Endowment Boys & Men of Color initiative.
Calvin received his BA in Political Science at LaGrange College, Georgia and his MPA at City University of New York, Baruch College School of Public Affairs. He currently resides and organizes in Oakland-where you can find him engaging in social media organizing, spoken word open mics and the occasional b-boy cypher sessions.

Pryce Jones

Director of Graduate Studies for the Academy of Art University’s School of Game Design

Supermentor: Gaming

Pryce Jones, director of graduate studies for the Academy of Art University’s School of Game Design, has led successful careers in both architecture and the game industry — including contributing to some of the industry’s biggest titles. Jones was recently profiled by about his career and the prospects game design holds for today’s students.

Jones has a degree in architecture and worked in the field for a number of years before he decided to pursue a career in game design. But it wasn’t too much of a stretch, he says, as his college studies included sculpture and painting. In the last decade since making the switch, he’s held positions including environment artist, concept painter and art director.

The roll of titles he’s participated in is impressive: Pool of Radiance, Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Tomb Raider: Legend and others. But he’s proudest of his work on The Lord of the Rings. “Before the first movie came out, nobody knew it was going to be very big,” he recalls.

In the interview, Jones emphasizes preparing oneself to enter the game field by doing what they love, whether that’s drawing, animating, programming, designing or modifying existing games.

Jones is active in Blacks in Gaming (BIG), an organization which exists to “demystify the video gaming industry for people of color,” according to its website.

Adrienne Philpart

Principal Consultant for the Center of Health System Performance at Kaiser Permanente

Track: Health

Adrienne Philpart is a Principal Consultant for the Center of Health System Performance at Kaiser Permanente and is an entrepreneur and founder of The Life Designed™. She has been an innovator and Improvement Advisor in healthcare for more than a decade. During her career, she has contributed to redesigning workflows within the business and clinical settings, including co-developing a globally recognized process for safe handoffs for hospital patients and clinicians known as Nurse Knowledge Exchange (NKE). As an entrepreneur working across social sectors beyond healthcare, she is adept at using her experience in design thinking, process development, and improvement science, to coach other entrepreneurs to discover the point of intersection at which career, passion, and service meet.

Murtaza Kapedia

Head of GMP Solutions, Bayer

Track: Health

Murtaza Kapadia has experience in the biotech/pharma industry in strategy, business development and engineering. He has developed a business model for a digital health startup in the UCSF Lean LaunchPad for Life Sciences program. He has helped companies like Wyeth, Amgen and Isis Pharma obtain FDA approval for their therapeutics. Murtaza is currently at Bayer Business & Technology Services to help grow their consulting business and build additional technical services. He holds an MBA from Copenhagen Business School and a BS/MS in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers University.

Sue Amar

Sustainability Expert

Track: Sustainability

Based in San Francisco, Sue Amar is a dynamic community-focused leader with 14+ years of professional experience in the technology and entertainment industries. Amar was responsible for creating and successfully launching’s environmental strategy where she established a successful team and directed the company to leadership rankings. She managed all aspects of strategy, business planning, carbon emissions tracking, reduction goals, research, public relations, internal engagement and short and long-term investments.

Prior to this, Amar was a Senior Technical Analyst where she worked with customers to optimize business processes and application usage. Prior to she spent 8 years working in the film business. Amar served on the board of directors for the Salesforce Women’s Network, and the development committee for GRID Alternatives.

Andrews-Junior Kimbembe
Krys Freeman
Daniel Goldman
Isabelle Mussard
Leonard Medlock
Kenny DeMerchant
Kortney Ryan Ziegler
Gina Bianchini
Dayna Rose
Michael Hendrix
Ivy Lee
Ben Glass
Khalil Fuller
Angie Chang
Lilian Chou
Amir Reavis-Bey
Ashanti Branch
Oluwatomisin Elelu
Klein Lieu
Kevin B. Hailstock
Leah McGowen-Hare
Brian Clark
Rebecca Taylor
Sieva Kozinsky
Chapman Snowden
Silke Bradford
Samujjal Purkayastha
Yorman Garcia
Rachel Walker
Dale Allender
Elika Aird
Chelsey Roebuck
Bob Christopher
Yiming Roberts
Jason Young
David Geeter
Adria Richards
Misha Cornelius
Joevonte Kelly

Kalimah Priforce

Chief Organizers   |   LinkedIn

Co-founder of Qeyno Labs, a developer of a multiplayer career discovery game and is a 2013 Echoing Green Black Male Achievement fellow.

At eight years old, Kalimah Prforce held a successful hunger strike against his Brooklyn group home to add more books to its library which drew the attention of a community of Buddhist monks and nuns who privately tutored him until the age of 14. By 16, Kalimah started his first computer tech company that primarily served low income neighborhoods and the elderly. After his teenage brother was shot and killed behind their childhood elementary school, Kalimah formed a lifelong commitment to transforming the lives of under-served kids towards mindfulness of their path and purpose.

Ayori Selassie

Lead Organizer

Product Manager, Co-founder/Executive Director, Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum

Self taught developer since age 11 and first founder at age 16, Ayori spent the last 5 years at building business solutions for Human Resources and Customer Support Divisions. Her passion for startups led her to start Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum, which is a non-profit program to develop startup ecosystems in underserved communities. After supporting entrepreneurs through Pitch Mixer she co-founded Intuitive Interactive, and has since designed, developed and released a science game for children for the Jim Henson Company featuring Sid the Science Kid. Ayori serves on the Communities Board for the Anita Borg Institute which encourages women and girls to pursue studies in technology. She has served as a mentor for TechWomen (2012, 2013) and is partnering with the U.S. Department of State to develop women leaders throughout the Middle East and Africa. Ayori is passionate about faith, education, mentoring and making the world a better place through communities of practice, friendship and love.

Rani Croager

Lead Organizer

Rani Croager has nearly 15 years of experience advising organizations on strategic and financial planning, capital raising and mergers and acquisitions and over the last 5 years, has been involved in starting and advising educational organizations. Ms. Croager was a member of the founding team and vice president at Altius Education where she raised over $30 million of capital to fund development and expansion of the company’s educational ecosystem. Ms. Croager began her career as a successful investment banker and has led and participated in over 30 financing, merger, acquisition and joint venture transactions, representing over $15 billion in value, for leading information technology and business services companies. Ms. Croager is also on the advisory council of the Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative and has served as an entrepreneur coach for the Alliance for Community Development and judge for Duke University Startup Challenge. Ms. Croager received her B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from Duke University, was a recipient of the university’s prestigious William J. Griffith university service award and was selected as a semifinalist for Young Trustee on the university’s Board of Trustees.

Rochon Perry

Events Manager (Hackathon)

An award winning marketing and media professional and book publisher, Rochon Perry has over 30 years of experience in several industries. During her years in the hotel industry, Rochon handled public relations, promotions, design and marketing for both the Hyatt on Union Square and Mark Hopkins hotels in San Francisco. She started her first company, Rochon Perry Productions, a graphic design, promotions and event-planning firm in 1983. In 1988 she became the art director for KOFY -TV20 San Francisco.

She formed Black Ink in 1992 to provide promotional and marketing direction for self-publishing and creative business ventures. Black Ink morphed into Red Licorice Studios in 2006 and added a multicultural aspect to the company's expertise.
She has rebranded companies, helped launch startups for non-profits and for-profits

Jesse Biroscak

Developer Evangelist   |  

Jesse Biroscak is co-founder of, an organization that integrates Collaborative Economy companies and organizations into the fabric of neighborhoods and cities. Most recently, BayShare brokered a partnership between its member companies and the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM). In the event of an emergency, BayShare member companies will coordinate directly with DEM respondents to provide hyper-localized assistance to folks in need.

Outside of BayShare, Jesse works as Director of User Operations at and is a dedicated member of the Code for America San Francisco brigade. However, you can often find him scheming up ways to use technology to positively impact large numbers of people, too. Even though Jesse considers teaching himself Rails, R, and statistical analysis a "good time", he is a product guy, specializing in human-centered processes: User Experience, User Research, User Journeys, User Feedback, User Operations... everything users, all the time.

In his former life, Jesse worked as a post-conflict reconstruction specialist at The World Bank, concentrating on the Middle East region with topical expertise in climate change adaptation policy, maritime transport economics, and entrepreneurship.

Abby Bobé

Outreach and Special Guests Coordinator

Abby Bobé is a technology activist and social entrepreneur. As former Community Marketing Lead at Black Girls CODE, Ms. Bobé successfully managed a $100,000 crowdfunding campaign to help the organization educate 2,000 girls and seed fund 7 chapters across the United States. Prior to her work with Black Girls CODE, Ms. Bobé worked internationally, creating a Computing Technology Program in Tamil Nadu in South India that taught 80 school aged children and 20 women digital technology. Ms. Bobé holds an MBA from Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, where she also studied back-end and front-end development courses in Mills' Computer Science program.

Her past includes leading the building and expansion of the community partnership program, ACME Tape Saver, donating over $1 million to nonprofit organizations in the Greater Philadelphia Area and implementing marketing campaigns for multi-billion dollar companies like the Philadelphia Eagles, Procter & Gamble and Unilever during her five year tenure with Supervalu.

As one of the first members of her family to pursue education beyond middle school, Abby Bobé's journey to Silicon Valley is an unusual but important tale about the impact that one laptop and a lot of hard work can have. Her life mission is to empower communities around the world through technology.

Nashilu Mouen

Volunteer & Mentor Coordinator

Nashilu was born in London, UK, where she rode red double decker buses into her teens before moving to the Bay Area for her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley.

As a Political Commentator, Nashilu has written for a number of publications including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Berkeley Political Review, touching on issues ranging from the rise of the BRICs, to U.S. foreign policy, to the ongoing campaigns for more diversity within Western fashion. Since graduating, Nashilu has worked in marketing and communications with and Lennar Urban at The San Francisco Shipyard. In both roles, she strives to create opportunity within underserved communities by unlocking key access to resources and capital. A firm believer that development and empowerment can be achieved through entrepreneurship and education, Nashilu is the founder of, an online platform that connects young African innovators with visionary mentors and investors from the African continent and around the world.

Brett Noyes

Managing Partner of Noyes Limited, Startup Weekend Organizer

Brett Noyes is managing partner of Noyes Limited and a Startup Weekend organizer/facilitator. Brett has a great passion for entrepreneurship and education. He has been influential in bringing entrepreneurial resources to rural and middle market communities.

Brett received his MBA in finance from Gonzaga University. He has successfully started two brokerage companies and helped launch 6 companies in the last 2 years. As managing partner of Noyes Limited he helps early stage companies raise seed stage capital. He has worked for several angel investment groups and provides convertible notes to startup companies.

Brett has organized 4 startup weekends and helped start 2 in adjacent markets. He currently serves as a facilitator for Startup Weekend. Brett is passionate about providing entrepreneurs with the needed resources to create great businesses and transform communities.

Julian Bryant

Global Facilitator for Startup Weekend

Julian Bryant (@juliankbryant) a Global Facilitator for Startup Weekend and has been organizing tech and entrepreneurship events with Startup Weekend since 2009. He also works as an iOS developer with FreshForm Interactive in San Diego, CA.

Julian graduated from the University of Notre Dame with majors in Government, Computer Applications, and Japanese. After graduation he worked for the Japanese government for several years before launching his own startup out there. After 5 years he returned to the US to attend law school. After graduating from Georgetown with J.D. he moved to California to join silicon valley tech law firm Cooley LLP as an attorney. However, after a short stint working in venture capital he decided that rather than "making partner" he'd like to "make client" and left to build iPhone apps.

Pamala Springs

Founder and Executive Director of PRIDE Museum

As Founder and Executive Director of PRIDE Museum, a nonprofit organization, Pamala brings 30+ years of leadership development and a commitment to civic and cultural education programs for youth and community. Pamala’s corporate career began when Silicon Valley was in its gestation period and her work includes roles within GE Intersil, McDonnell Douglas, British Telecom, Aris Project, Johnson & Johnson and Self-Help Enterprises.

Pamala’s diverse experience encompasses responsibilities in executive administration, program development and management, international marketing, meetings and conventions, team building and community service. Pamala releases a cosmic range of creative energy to her projects and is an effective communicator with unique insights and an earnest connection to youth, making her an influential and well-respected mentor and youth leader.

In 1997 she created Kwanzaa Village Youth Expo, a seasonal holiday program which delivers educational workshops and a festive cultural affirmation celebration of all that is good in the African American community. In 2010 Pamala founded PRIDE Museum, a nonprofit organization committed to expanding educational perspectives on technology and science for youth in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.

Shelly Jefferson

Event Planner

Shelly Jefferson has been a Bay Area resident for over twenty years and has built a network of contacts spanning the greater area. With experience in corporate management and event planning, she excels at precise planning with a creative approach. She maintains consistent and successful results. Addressing the needs of each individual client, she offers guidance and provides the highest quality of service. She holds a BA in Hospitality from Cal State University East Bay.

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