Melanie Araujo is a San Francisco-based Product Designer and the founder of Front & Center. She has designed end-to-end experiences for companies large and small. In her design practice, she combines research, organization, aesthetics, and prototyping to enable teams to solve complex problems. She’s had the pleasure to collaborate with and learn from some amazing design leaders, teams, and companies, like John Maeda, YouTube, Honor, CODE2040, Telenav and more. She’s currently improving people’s health through compassionate care and innovation, at Doctor On Demand. When she’s not designing, she mentors new design talent from non-traditional backgrounds at Front & Center. Through Front & Center, she applies her academic background in Behavioral Neuroscience and experience in product design to illuminate education and career opportunities for women of color, primarily through mentorship and design workshops.
Albrey Brown is a community oriented educator interested in distributing equitable opportunities and building inclusive spaces to the those who are identified as underrepresented in tech. In 2015 Albrey founded Telegraph Academy, the first boot camp specifically geared toward people of color. Through that experience, he learned the value of raising capital, building an organization, and ultimately how to get acquired by larger organizations. Currently serving as Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Hack Reactor, his diversity and inclusion philosophy relies on a combination of data and empathy driven practices. Albrey believes that strong organizations are the best at hiring, developing, talent from all walks of life and hopes to help build a framework Silicon Valley can use to do that.
Janel Martinez is an entrepreneur and multimedia journalist. She has written columns and features for various media outlets and companies such as Univision Communications Inc.'s Flama, Latina, NBC Latino, Remezcla, Vivala and Orgullosa.com, among others. Martinez is the co-founder and Chief Content Officer at 2020Shift, an education startup focused on teaching diverse professionals the skills needed to find a career they love in technology. She is the founder of an award-winning website, Ain't I Latina? (AintILatina.com), which highlights and celebrates Afro-Latinas.
Martinez previously served as Content Producer at NewME, a customizable support platform that transforms cool ideas into great businesses. Prior to NewME, she served as Technology Editor at Black Enterprise. The Bronx, NY native graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Martinez has been recognized as an artist, activist, and creative repping for Afro-Latinidad and one of nine young Central American creatives and thought leaders you should know by Remezcla. BET named her one of 30 under 30 to watch in NYC and she received the Afro-Latino Festival of New York's Digital Empowerment Award.
You can follow Martinez on Twitter @janelmwrites.
Previously, Willie served as the Director of Web Optimization at W3 EDGE, a Boston-based interactive web development, and marketing agency. In this role, he supported users of products such as W3 Total Cache, a popular web performance framework for WordPress.
Before W3 EDGE, Willie relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina and spent five months immersing himself in a foreign culture to challenge himself and his assumptions about life outside what’s familiar.
In 2011, Willie served as the CTO of The Domino Project, a publishing company in New York City started by bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin. In its year-long life cycle, The Domino Project published twelve books, all of which became bestsellers, and redefined the way books are created, published, and shared.
The theme of Willie's talk was Getting Real! He spoke about how to ignite change through challenge.
There are three reasons in particular why Melissa has a strong love and passion for social media: it cannot be controlled, it gives a voice to the voiceless, and it has the ability to create transformative experiences for all those involved. In recent years, social media has not only changed how we consume and dissect information, it has also raised the awareness of every industry and it's consumers. It has also put the power in our hands to express ourselves in ways that are true to who we really are as brands, as businesses, and most importantly, as people. She teaches mission driven Creatives and brands how to leverage their stories online for offline success.
Melissa has worked with small businesses, major brands such as McDonald's and the NFL, mission driven startups, entrepreneurs, and Creatives to share their brands through social media campaigns and consultations, handling social media for live events, brand ambassador and influencer programs and more. She currently serves as the Senior Social Media Manager for EBONY Magazine.
Her ultimate objective is to use social media as a tool to bring service to the forefront of our brands and businesses through education and empowerment.
The theme of Melissa's talk was "First Generation Dreamers". She spoke about the realities of making a living as a #blkcreative.
Lisa Nicole Bell
Lisa Nicole Bell is an award-winning media entrepreneur who successfully started her first company at 19 and went on to start two others. As the founder and CEO of media and technology company Intersect Studios, Lisa and her team conceive, develop, and distribute original groundbreaking content across film, television, and digital platforms. Their current slate includes an Australian documentary, an American cable series, and a multimedia travelogue project.
Lisa is the host of Behind the Brilliance, a weekly podcast distributed by CBS. The show features Lisa's musings about life and business along with interviews with some of the world's most dynamic and innovative figures from art, technology, business, and positive psychology.
Having mentored other founders and assisted startups in raising millions of dollars, Lisa is a savvy strategist who is frequently tapped to speak at conferences and events across the globe. Her past engagements include TEDx, USC, UCLA, S.T.R.A.W. Bahamas, the national CEO conference, SXSW, and others. Her direct, engaging, and humorous presentation style is a consistent hit with creative and business audiences.
The theme of Lisa's talk was "The Blueprint for Making Bread". She spoke about how you can turn your creativity into a profitable career.
Morgan DeBaun is the CEO and Founder of Blavity, a startup and digital community for black millennials who are not represented in mainstream media. Since founding Blavity, Morgan has been quoted in nationwide outlets such as Forbes, Washington Post, TechCrunch, NPR and Huffington Post as a voice of her generation.
Morgan has deep insights into the culture of technology and the progressive movements around them and is passionate about building the next generation of consumer web and mobile technology. She is a native of St. Louis and graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to starting Blavity, Morgan was a product manager at Intuit.
The theme of Morgan's talk was "Taking the Leap of Faith." It was a discussion about getting out of your head and transitioning from idea to reality.
Julian Mitchell, award winning content creator and contributing writer at Forbes and The Huffington post will be explaining the new business model for creators and how to capitalize on the wave of authentic entrepreneurship.
Julian launched REVOLT's network (owned by Sean "Diddy" Combs) as the social media director-shaping the voice, content, conversations and platforms. REVOLT was the first network to launch digital. He then became the editorial director, building out the bi-coastal team of writers and content producers.
The theme of Julian's talk was based on the column he writes for Forbes, "Get Paid to Be Yourself." He says, "The best brands in the world are not companies – they are the foundation from which great companies are born."
Benoni has created a brand that appeals to urban millennials who are looking to understand business, finance and real estate in a digestible manner.
Benoni began his career in the music industry working on the management teams of artists such as: Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Jordin Sparks and Mindless Behavior. An integral part of The Jonas Group, Benoni was brought on to manage and grow the group’s global digital presence, accompanying the Jonas Brothers throughout North and South America on their Jonas Brothers World Tour.
Shortly after, Benoni began working with Issa Rae Productions to further develop business practices and create ancillary revenue streams. In addition to managing all of the social media channels, he developed a digital distribution platform, which would eventually lead to a partnership with Pharrell Williams’ “I Am Other” YouTube network. By negotiating content deals, as well as deals with other production companies to distribute their content, Benoni was able to help build Issa Rae Production’s digital business model and brand.
Recently, Benoni founded the first and only all hip-hop music network on YouTube, Volume Visual. Volume Visual works with artists on their digital content and acts as a liaison for branded content and integrations. By signing artist’s YouTube channels to the Volume Visual network, Benoni serves as a consultant to the artists on increasing their digital footprint and facilitates strategic partnerships with brands.
Benoni’s shared his story of the success of Awkward Black Girl and his personal mission to inspire and educate others to remain consistent as they persevere to achieve their dreams.