Magazine - Spring 2021

The Magazine is a fresh, new perspective of value that provides empowering insights and information to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals. We have teamed up with Fortune 500 Leaders and Tech based Entrepreneurs to enable our community of STEM students and professionals to become a smarter, more capable version of themselves.

S T E M + D I V E R S I T Y + C O L L A B O R A T I O N | S P R I N G 2 0 2 1


Diversity of Thought


Building a BRIDGE of Diversity, Inclusion, and Collaboration

Our Team.


see possible.

Sometimes all we need are examples of the possibilities. is an inclusive community of STEM (science, technology, engineering, & mathematics) professionals that collaborate and share solutions. Our mission is to bridge the skills gap between professionals at all levels, and our professional development opportunities help our community members to achieve success in their careers. We were created to serve as a platform for all STEM professionals to share and leverage value. stem+ diversity + collaboration The efforts to increase the percentage of Black STEM professionals in industry have been outstanding, however since the start of the new millennium the number of students that actually graduate with STEM degrees have been declining. We hope to solve this problem by inspiring minority students to pursue STEM careers and by providing resources to those who have already begun their journey. See Possible.





Anyone can research our database of professional stories and connect with other people in hopes of developing collaborative relationships. We want to take the stress out of professional development by providing a bridge between developing and senior level professionals.


Enjoy and continue living like there is [no box]!





A blueprint for Building and Redefining Inclusion through Development, Growth and Empowerment.

work environment. We also know there are pockets of our population who don't believe they can express themselves as they are while still collaborating and developing their talents. People of color who experience microaggressions in the workplace are more likely to exit and more than a third (35%) of Black professionals intend to leave within two years compared with 27% of white professionals, with rates being slightly higher for Black women (36%) than Black men (33%). If we explore this even further, a 2019 report from the Work Institute highlights that nearly one in four employees voluntarily leave their jobs because of career development. The apparent opportunity is how do we drive higher employee engagement, reduce attrition rates among African-Americans, and also harvest the untapped, potential financial value for our organizations? There are three key indicators from the Work Institute 2019 Retention report that sets the stage on where the opportunities are; (1) the number one category of employee retention, that directly relates to Career Development, has decreased by 32% since 2013 (2) advancement or promotional opportunities has decreased 46% since 2010, and (3) lack of growth and development opportunities continues to trend up over the years, with a 170% increase since 2010. 2019 Work Institute Retention Report


Diversity of Thought

Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance; Collaboration is choosing the music together.


leaves a massive 70% feeling disengaged. The cost of that disengagement to the U.S. economy alone is $450 - $550 billion annually. Many companies are making a valiant effort to drive an increase in their percentage of ethnically diverse leaders, which is very encouraging, however looking beneath the surface at ethnic diversity amongst the lower levels of organizations, we see a trend that also needs improving. In many cases, the attrition rate for minority employees is 2 to 3 times higher than that of non-minority employees. Just as important, not everyone feels as if they belong or can bring their true selves into the

THE OPPORTUNITY Organizations that lead in inclusion and diversity (I&D) reap the diversity dividend because there are benefits of having a diverse team. A diverse team improves the quality of decision-making, increase customer insight and innovation. An encouraging and inclusive workplace enables companies to hire and retain the best team. In fact, research shows that companies suffer a penalty for opting out of I&D. Those in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 29% more likely to under-perform on profitability. Exclusion comes at a cost for those companies who are not proactively seeking engagement from everyone, Data shows that only 30% of the American workforce feels actively engaged, which


immediate action by sponsoring and mentoring the next generation of professionals and leaders. They may not have as many professional scars and examples of psychological trauma as a result of systematic barriers that have both intentionally and unintentionally been put in place. I can’t speak for them but from my vantage point and what I’ve seen in the recent protests, the next generation has a much different perspective that is fueled by hope and the belief that we can do better as a society. So, what is the next step? How do we take action? How do we change generations of racism and oppression? Over the course of the last year, I’ve given some thought to these questions and my perspective is by no means a comprehensive solution but it is a starting point towards B uilding and R edefining I nclusion through D evelopment, Growth and E mpowerment - BRIDGE.

The pillars that I propose are five elements that support advocacy in many forms. Each one contains actionable steps that positively impacts our I&D journey. The blueprint is designed to promote progress, and it guides us from having tough conversations to realizing equality and representation. I share these elements because like with so many complex challenges, many times we don't know where to start. From individuals, community

B.R.I.D.G.E THE GAPS Twenty years ago I started my first internship, so you can say I’ve been in industry for just about two decades. In that time, I can count on one hand how many times someone asked me specifically about what they can do to support people of color or how can we partner to take the conversation deeper. Yes, I’ve been in many town hall meetings and group discussions but I am directly referring to having one on one conversations about these topics. If I am honest with myself, I have actually never even prepared a response to such questions. I’ve thought about them but never in an articulate perspective that leads us to action. As the world begun to take notice after George Floyd’s murder, I received numerous invites to share my thoughts on I&D, and my response has been, I am not sure how “I” can change generations of racism and oppression as it will take lots of energy and time from both sides before healing can begin. However, we can take

organizations, or corporate businesses, it is my intent to

leverage this approach to anyone seeking out an opportunity to drive diversity of thought.


25% of employees who enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary-grade change, compared to only 5% of workers who did not participate. Mentees are promoted five times more often than those not in a mentoring program. development. The aim is to establish a vibrant relationship that will either increase job and career satisfaction or prepare aspiring professionals to enter into new opportunities. Identify networks of potential candidates who are qualified or preparing to step into industry. Having a talent pipeline in place allows you to nurture and build relationships with prospective candidates. It’s an intentional, proactive approach to identifying, qualifying and nurturing candidates towards securing career opportunities. MENTORSHIPS Mentoring is an active partnership between committed professionals to foster growth and career

Retention rates are higher for both mentees (22% more) and mentors (20% more) than for employees who did not participate in a mentoring program. RETAINING DIVERSE TALENT Retention must be intentional and leaders have an opportunity during every interaction to boost engagement through valuing, challenging, rewarding, and developing their diverse talent. I believe that this can be accomplished while also delivering some value creation to the bottom- line. If we can identify opportunities within our organizations and align our talent’s strengths to those needs, then we can spark value creating passion projects. These projects accelerate retention because think about it, who wouldn’t want to use their sweet spot and

skillset to solve costly challenges or resolve difficult problems.

is reinforced throughout post secondary education. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel as there are hundreds of non-profits, academic organizations, and professional societies that need our help and input to accomplish their missions. We just need to get plugged into those groups, learn more about their visions, identify how we can support them, and then volunteer our time to execute. I’m sharing this blueprint as encouragement for everyone to think about how you will take action in 2021 and beyond. This is just the beginning but if we build a BRIDGE to accelerate Diversity of Thought, then we can guide our way to (1) developing and retaining minority professionals, (2) securing the pipeline of diverse talent, and (3) create value for our organizations and across the world. ▪


As unfortunate as George Floyd’s murder was, it did ignite most of us to take some level of social action. But why do we need to be triggered? Can we take a proactive approach to social justice? Sure we can all vote to support political action and policy reform but we can also highlight the unsung hero’s that are making a difference where they are. Let’s promote examples of diverse leaders, professionals, and students who are making an impact in their industries and communities. OUTREACH Let’s build our tomorrow workforce today with programs and partners who support I&D initiatives. It starts as early as the elementary age and Nutrition Facts Serving Size: 24 hours a day Serving Per Container: 365 days a year

Amount Per Serving*


100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%


Persistence Discipline Ownership Execution

*Percent Daily Values are based on high levels of accountability






Conduit brings together the brightest people from across the globe and leverages technology to help humanity. Members of the Conduit team have been featured in Forbes, have consulted at the most successful companies in the world, have published research in prestigious scientific journals, and have made new innovations in their fields. Unified by a passion for making a positive impact in people’s lives, Conduit’s team strives for excellence in both professional and personal endeavors. WHAT IS CONDUIT COMPUTING? Ryan Robinson is one of the youngest people to ever work with the White House. Recently, Ryan received his first provisional patent alongside Collins for nanoSPLASH, an at-home COVID-19 Diagnostic Test that can detect new strains of COVID. A result of Conduit's computational work, nanoSPLASH is a combination of nanotechnology and synthetic biology that has shown the potential to save millions of lives from future outbreaks. Ryan has been featured in MIT News, American Inno, Boston Business Journal, Information Age, CNN, Moguldom, Forbes, and the World News. Ryan has also been named as one of the most interesting people to ever live. In addition to this, Ryan is a published poet and jazz saxophonist.

T R E N D I N G L E A D E R S Black Excellence In STEM

Examples of the possibilities.

Ryan Robinson is a visionary who is creating quantum technology to change the world. Born in Miami, Ryan began taking college classes at Harvard at 16. He then competed in DECA, the world's biggest business competition and scored in the highest percentile (99%) for both economics and marketing management. After being accepted to MIT he began researching Dark Matter at 18. After studying under Eric Lander, Ryan then created a company named Conduit - dedicated to using computers to create products that solve the world's biggest problems, all while still a student at MIT. Advised by Seth Lloyd, Ryan created his own major, "Quantum RYAN ROBINSON | CONNECTING THE WORLD THROUGH THE CONDUIT

Engineering," becoming the first quantum engineer in the world at 20. Ryan then graduated from MIT with 3 majors, mechatronics, international humanities, and quantum engineering. He also published a paper about gender bias in the workplace. At 22, Ryan was named in Forbes under 30 for Conduit's work in solving real-world problems. Ryan then raised $1M+ for Conduit and lectured at MIT about quantum computing and cryptocurrency. Ryan then premiered Conduit's 100x speedup at MIT where he was compared to "Steve Jobs in his prime" by MIT Professors. In 2020, Ryan began working with the White House to find a cure for COVID- 19 alongside Conduit's Lead Scientist, Logan Thrasher Collins. With the White House, Conduit used computing power to develop a computational microscope to detect the curvature of the viral membrane and help find therapeutics to stop COVID-19.


made me aware of my other ancestors. But, there was one problem.

he held her hand the way one might hold a dying rose. At this point, he had two hearts. One inside himself and one inside his mom - and as one began to fail the other began to bleed.

Q: What was the defining moment that inspired you to become a STEM professional? Ryan: I was inspired to make technology the day my cousin died. When I was a child growing up in South Florida I visited my cousin Alice regularly. With several years between us, she was really like a grandma to me and anytime I went over to her house she offered me food. With all the angel figurines around her house, it felt like I was stepping into heaven every time I walked through the door. Her walls were decorated with pictures of family members I knew nothing about but looked vaguely like me. A nose here. The eyes there. I found myself staring at familiar strangers. Her house had much more food than she could ever eat. And her kitchen always smelled like southern food. She was sweet as pie but came with a side of sass. She was loud and warm. She played music of legends past and danced to the beat of soul and elegance as she carried food across the kitchen. She came from a simpler time that younger people only hear about. When manners were universal and neighbors made sure to keep an eye out for your kids. Every time I saw her she told me the life story of another family member - to whom I was somehow related in the deep mangroves of my family history. As a child I listened to the details and tried to make sense of the essence of my family and by extension myself. She told me of my mother before she was a mother. In turn, my mother told me of a time where Cousin Alice's beauty wasn’t so hidden by the years - when Cousin Alice and my grandma were young and hip. Then Cousin Alice talked about my grandma like she could write her biography. I didn’t know how she knew all these things but she narrated them with such confidence that I knew they had to be true. I felt history fill the room as if Cousin Alice had convened a special meeting with my ancestors to support her claims. Cousin Alice was the griot of my childhood - the ancestor that

Cousin Alice had cancer.

As a child, cancer was this esoteric thing that seemed reserved for the “you’ll understand when you’re older” part of life. Cancer to me as a child wasn’t cells in the body malfunctioning but the pause at the end of a sentence. Cancer was the look in someone’s face as they stared off into the distance. Cancer was the ‘buddy’ your friends and family played with that explained why you hadn’t seen them in a while or why you hadn’t seen them ever again...I didn’t know what type or for how long but I knew that it was life-threatening. Fortunately, Cousin Alice had undergone surgery months before to get rid of the cancer. Unfortunately, the hospital failed to realize that the cancer had never fully left. Cousin Alice had 3 months left to live. It was the fastest 3 months of my life. By the end of the three months, Cousin Alice no longer lived in her house but in a hospital room. The last time I saw her she wasn’t in her joy-filled house but contained within the grey walls of a generic hospital room. The figurines of angels had been replaced with prescription bottles with names you couldn’t pronounce. The pictures of family members at parties, in the pool, or just sitting awkwardly before the camera waiting for their picture to be taken had been replaced with the blank walls of a hospital room that seemed to hold no memories and promise no future. The music of idols past was replaced with the soulless metronome of a heart monitor. It felt as if the room itself had died long before anyone else died. As my mom took me into the room I was at a loss for words. As I sat in that room the silence amongst family members spoke for itself. The cousin that was usually bouncing from the pantry to the stove-top was confined to the hospital bed. Her eyes were half open and half closed. She was lost somewhere in the valley of the shadow of death. She was alive but she was gone. The silence was broken by the sobbing of her only son. Normally, they would be arguing about who left out the cereal or leftovers in the fridge or when to leave for a doctor's appointment but today he just wanted a response back. He called out “Momma!” as

He called out for her again and again,

“Momma!” “Momma!” “Momma!”

And at the last outcry Cousin Alice did something no one expected. She moved. Her head tilted towards him and muttered what seemed to be his name. Her eyes flickered like a bulb on its last stand. I knew that this simple movement took all of her strength. But I also knew that Cousin Alice had heard her son. She was still there. Somewhere. As he called out her name again hoping for a revival, I hoped alongside him that Cousin Alice would suddenly spring out of the bed and yell “take me home!” with the hint of a southern accent that typically colored her words. But, she didn’t. Instead her head tilted more to the side not out of exertion but as if her neck could no longer hold up her head and her hand - tense inside her son’s - fell relaxed. Cousin Alice was gone. Why did this make me want to make technology to help people? Because normally when people pass away we try and justify why. When we watch an upsetting headline on the news we explain away the tragedy of it all by saying “well, that person shouldn’t have been out so late” or “they shouldn’t have been in the wrong part of town” and we end with something like “I would never make that mistake.” We cling to these artificial explanations to comfort ourselves in the face of death. We position unexpected death as something avoidable. We try and remind ourselves that *we* are in control and that the world around us is only as threatening as we are foolish. But Cousin Alice wasn’t foolish. She didn’t make a mistake.

alongside studying quantum engineering I saw them both as one in the same. Both were a source of contradicting wisdom of truth and intangibility. As Nietzsche once said, “Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions.” Finally, what drove me to go beyond my love for quantum physics to looking at applications of quantum physics - quantum engineering - was the challenge in applying quantum physics to our everyday lives. First, I discovered a love for history and wanted to be a part of making history myself. Next, I fell in love with quantum physics for what it has taught me about the world. And then finally I was drawn to the challenge of quantum engineering. Innovating new applications demands a lot. You have to understand both the technical potential of your field and then the demands of everyday life. You have to work on something that is both innovative but also easy for someone without your experience to use. You have to be able to discern what technology would need to exist as a prerequisite before you make leaps into the future. You have to recruit people of different talents and personalities and get them to work together on something that has never existed before. You have to raise money for the application. You have to imagine not just new applications but a new world where that application exists. When you are creating the future your life begins to exist at the border of what is and what can be. On one hand you are high in the clouds - deep within your imagination - and on the other hand your feet are buried in the dirt - embedded in the logistics of the day-to-day. Your existence lies at the crossroads of duality where you look to your right and you see the illusion of what can be then you look to your left and see the illusion of what is.

In fact, cousin Alice passed away because the hospital she went to was in a low-income area that couldn’t afford up-to-date technology. The reason it took months to learn she still had cancer was because the hospital just got new machines. These machines were more sensitive. They weren’t new machines but the hospital didn’t have the budget to update their machines regularly. Cousin Alice took her medication. She ate right. Cousin Alice died because the technology wasn’t there when she needed it. Seeing Cousin Alice in the hospital inspired me to create technology that helps people. It isn’t enough to create but you must also serve. Technology both begins and ends at our common humanity. When the pandemic hit, Conduit had already planned to create nanoSPLASH to diagnose diseases with just a drop of spit. But in seeing the devastation the pandemic caused

Q: As the world’s first MIT-trained “Quantum Engineer” you are definitely challenging the status quo. What was your motivation for pivoting from studying Quantum based theory to innovating new applications? As a child I was always fascinated by history. I would read college textbooks about history and watch documentaries in my spare time. I would even write letters to college professors about history. I actually exchanged letters with the Dean of History at Harvard in 5th or 6th grade. He sent me academic journals about things like Franco’s Spain and I would learn so much. I’ve personally always loved history because the stories are not only real but interconnected. Eventually, I loved history so much I wanted to make history. It’s the same idea as when you listen to a great song and it makes you want to learn to play an instrument. I am just a musician playing his instrument. My instrument just happens to be technology. Secondly, I have always been fascinated by quantum physics and what it said about the world we live in. The ambiguity at the heart of quantum mechanics speaks to me in a similar way that poetry does. That's why when I was studying humanities at MIT

we designed nanoSPLASH to diagnose COVID19. We made

nanoSPLASH, something you can take at home without going to a hospital. We made it simple to use and

painless so everyone can use it. We made nanoSPLASH to put your health back into your own hands. We made nanoSPLASH to save lives. We made nanoSPLASH to return to normal. We made nanosPLASH for Cousin Alice. Ryan Robinson - Conduit Feature Video

Q: Collaboration is one of the cornerstones of, and Conduit’s foundation is also built on collective problem solving. Why is collaboration so important to you? Ryan: I define true collaboration as collaboration that exists across the axes of intersectionality. Part of our success thus far is due to working with people of many backgrounds. We do not just recruit from MIT and Harvard but we also recruit people without a college education at all. We work with everyone from single mothers to PhD students. As long as someone has a burning passion to change the world and is a team player, we are open to working with them. By recruiting from all backgrounds, Conduit is able to get perspective on what we’re doing and make less costly mistakes. Is what we are doing too complicated? Does the whole team understand the important parts of our work? Is our product simple enough for our users? What are we doing for our community? Are we being inclusive of everyone’s perspective at this meeting? What value do we each bring beyond what is written on our resumes?

Q: We believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we navigate as business and community leaders. We call it “Bringing Our Whole Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work? Ryan: I First, I remember that being who I am is a gift. There is no one like me in the world - for good or for bad. The same applies to everyone else. Why try and be like Superman when you’re actually Batman? One of my high school teachers, Mr. Oscar Siflinger taught me “to never forget where I came from.” The trials and opportunities in your life are uniquely tailored to who you are as a person. Life is the outfit to our soul. When it doesn’t fit you feel discomfort but when it does then you feel empowered to be your best self. When it comes to my work I make sure I am being authentic by taking ego out of it. I appreciate my gifts as literal gifts - something for me to use in service of humanity. This helps prevent my ego from clouding my intentions and thereby empowers me to take actions in service of our users, team, and vision. In addition to this, I also normalize constructive feedback within Conduit. At Conduit, we write what we call “Quarterly Self Reviews” (QSRs) where team members document their own performance. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. We write about where we fell short and where we shined. Then we present these reports to the team and ask for feedback. As founder, I go first to set the tone for operational transparency and emotional honesty. It offers team members an institutionalized opportunity to speak truth to power. Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?


Collaboration doesn’t stop there.

Collaboration shouldn’t be rated exclusively on its ability to add to a bottom line or its productive capacity. The quote goes “we are what we repeatedly do” not “we are what we repeatedly sell.” Collaboration is a celebration of the colors of the human spirit. Meaning, collaboration is in the quirky laugh of a team member. Collaboration is in the “good job” one team members tells another when they hear their short story was published in a magazine. Collaboration is in asking a team member how their mom is recovering from surgery. Collaboration goes beyond what we produce but who we are as people.

Keep going. ▪

Covid-19 has reminded the world of the ever-present threat posed by viruses. From universal vaccines to miniature organs that can assess the lethality of a virus, scientists are racing to find new solutions that can prevent future disasters from happening. Here is one of the most innovative ideas for stopping the next pandemic before it begins.

click here for information

succeed beyond measure R . B U RN E T T B R AND


proudly fulfilled her legacy of joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in the spring of 1999. Alicia attributes a lot of her school success to her line sisters and other classmates who kept her motivated and showed her the ropes at OU. She also interned with great companies like Baker Hughes and Marathon Oil while in college. Each opportunity helped her build invaluable life skills. “My first college internship helped me to develop emotional intelligence and problem solving skills quickly. My leader sent me to different well sites around the state to learn drilling technology. This was before GPS was a thing. I printed out directions online and prayed for the best. Nothing builds perseverance like being lost in the middle of nowhere during peak tornado season and all of a sudden the sky turns dark!” Alicia began working at Dow, Inc. right out of college as a Production Engineer and later became a Reliability Engineer. She left Dow in 2004 to join a supervisory development program at another company. She acquired her MBA in 2007 from the University of Phoenix before returning to Dow in 2008. She has held roles in maintenance and reliability, operational excellence and leadership. She is currently supports Dow in a Merger and Acquisitions Project Manager role achieving her career vision of hanging up her hard hat for good and pivoting into a more customer-facing business role.

Alicia is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt Project Leader and enjoys mentoring and coaching new talent. She has been an active mentor with Dow's EDGE new engineer program and a Dow recruiter for the National Society of Black Engineers conference and the M&E Florida A&M University recruiting team. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, writing and traveling with family. Alicia is married to Sterling and has an 8 year old son, Sterling II.


Q: You have an amazing background and with all of your success early in life, why did you choose a career in STEM? Alicia: Like many kids who grew up in my era, I was sure I wanted to be either a doctor or lawyer like the Huxtables but I fell in love with math and physics of all things. Then in the 11th grade I got the opportunity to intern with City Public Service in San Antonio (now CPS Energy). The opportunity came with a college scholarship and a paid internship the summers after my junior and senior year. This was the first time I interacted with engineers and what was even more unique about this experience was my leader was a Black female over operations and my mentor was a Black male from Prairie View A&M University. I saw myself in them both and became confident that I, too, could master a career in engineering. Now in all honesty, I originally applied for the biomedical engineering program at my school. Due to low enrollment the program was dropped before my first semester and I enrolled in the mechanical engineering with pre-med option program. After 5 hours of chemistry, I dropped the pre-med option and knew engineering was my niche at the time.

ALICIA WASHINGTON | PURPOSE DRIVEN LEADERSHIP Alicia Washington is a native of San Antonio, TX who graduated as valedictorian in 1996 from Sam Houston High School. Determined to be successful in life and help her mom, a SAISD elementary school teacher, she ambitiously applied to at least one school in each of the 50 states. Ultimately, she decided on the University of Oklahoma (OU) and graduated in 2001 with her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. While attending OU, Alicia was involved in campus activities and

Alicia Washington - Feature Video

Q: From being a supermom and wife to leading maintenance and reliability teams around the world and even volunteering your time to support so many organizations like Jack and Jill, how do you continue to deliver excellence in the midst of supporting so many people and projects? Alicia: I am a spiritual person and one of my favorite verses is Colossians 3:23 which in the NLT version says, “work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.” I try to remember this once I’ve committed to a task or organization. Yes, there are times when I’m not at my best but before I close the page on a deliverable, I make sure I’ve given it everything I have. My grandmother used to say she would rest in heaven. I didn’t like to hear that when I was young but now that I’m older I think about it often and it fuels me to get the work done. As long as we keep waking up, we have another opportunity to give selflessly. Q: What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome as a STEM professional? Alicia: Honestly, the most difficult challenge even now is blocking out noise and thoughts of not belonging. As a minority and a woman in STEM, I’ve been looked over, talked over and often times made to feel as though my voice wasn’t welcome in the room. When those feelings of self doubt start to seep in, I remember that often the loudest person in the room is overcompensating for the silent internal struggle he or she is dealing with by hiding behind the “power mask.” In that moment I remember to see our similarities instead of our differences. We all fight external and internal battles. I’ve been known to follow up one- on-one with those people at the

right time but ultimately I can choose which battles are worth me fighting. I can’t change people or their personalities but I can advocate for myself and choose to keep a positive attitude no matter what I’m facing. Q: We believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we operate as business and community leaders. We call it “Bringing Your Whole Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work? Alicia: I do a lot of analyzing. Some would even say I over analyze situations. One thing I’ve learned is to listen to my inner voice. If something doesn’t feel right, I hit the pause button. I utilize peers and mentors to talk through my concerns until a decision is made. I’ve had to tell leaders before that I wasn’t in alignment with the path forward. Although they didn’t like it, they had to respect my decision. Doing what feels right no matter what is the best way I can be authentic to myself and my work.

Q: Your article in the Winter edition of the Magazine, “Making your student work experience work for you,” resonated with many of our subscribers. What was an eye opening experience for you as completed your internships? Alicia: I had no idea when I started college that the internship opportunity I had in high school would open so many doors. My university really pushed student work experiences and there were many sophomores and juniors who had not secured these opportunities yet. I think I landed 5 interviews the very first time I submitted my resume. It was overwhelming but such a blessing. When I began to look for full time work, I received multiple offers. I didn’t always understand the value of my internships as I was experiencing them. I remember lots of downtime and sometimes being all out bored at work. I would finish tasks quickly and beg for more to do. This is why I wanted to write the article. Had I truly understood the value of those experiences then, I would have never allowed boredom to set in. I would have been adamant about spending every extra minute acquiring as many valuable tools as possible to add to my toolkit. Q: What keeps you up at night? Alicia: This is a great question. Many things including an 8 year old who still prefers my bed over his! LOL. However, from a professional standpoint it’s the thought of running out of time before I get to maximize my impact. STEM has changed so much since I first started my career. There is so much innovation happening all around me and so many talented people with whom I want to collaborate. I want a chance to experience it all and deliver my contribution to leaving our planet a better place for my son and future generations. ▪

Q: You are a natural leader and have accomplished so much in your career. What advice would you give to other young professionals or students looking to take their career or education to the next level? Alicia: The only advice I would give is to think it through, weigh the pros and cons and in the end if fear is the only thing holding you back, do it anyway! Fear is like a critical block valve. It’s designed to fail safe but as motivated professionals we have to be able to override our fears. Q: At, we believe in challenging the status quo. Tell us about the most impactful opportunity you have conquered. Alicia: I’ve worked on many projects and initiatives of which I’m extremely proud. However, for me the most impactful is the work I had to do in complete silence. My years as a people leader were definitely the most trying and lonely. There were so many things happening behind the scenes that I couldn’t share with anyone. There were times when my leadership made staffing decisions I didn’t agree with but wasn’t given a choice. For the most part I was always able to find the best case scenario for many of my direct reports, however. They were not usually happy with the decisions and of course called me all sorts of names behind my back and to anyone who would listen really. As a person who values integrity, this was hurtful. However, those employees kept a job. Whether it was in a new company that had been divested or a different department, they were able to feed their families and continue to thrive. Most will never know the battles I had to fight on their behalf nor the emotional or physical toll those years took on me. But when I see those folks still thriving, my heart smiles despite the side eyes and eye rolls I get from them (yes grown professionals do this in the hallways, break rooms, etc.). Leadership comes with many challenges and sleepless nights but you have to do the right thing even when you’re not supported. You have to find the win-win scenarios even though you are sometimes mistreated by the very people you are looking out for. Leadership is bigger than you and the moment you are in. Many people enter leadership for power or status of some sort. This is why such a large percentage of leaders in corporations and our nation are such poor examples of how leadership should look. If you are not in it to serve others, you have completely missed the opportunity to make the biggest impact (albeit maybe in silence) of your lifetime.

AVO I D NEGA T I V I T Y f ( x ) = | x |


David Jones

Injen Labs, the parent company of Lumena Energy one of the largest software development firms in the Midwest. David is a brilliant entrepreneur and solar energy subject matter expert. Headquarters in 2019, his vision has led Lumena Energy to becoming the largest minority owned renewable energy company in the Midwest. He is not only enabling cleantech to some of the most remote areas of the world, David is doing it in style. His virtual power plant is managed completely from an app and whether your city's entire power grid fails, you will have access to reliable power. Lumena Energy's cloud-based network combines decentralized energy resources into a single aggregated sources, which increases your reliability. Renewable With the successful launch of Lumena Energy at the Google energy, cutting edge technology, enhanced customer experience, and all at your fingertips...Re.volutionary! David Jones is a technologist, inventor and serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of Lite Injen Labs and Lumena Energy. David holds a BFA from The Juilliard School, and an MBA from Massachusetts

Institute of Technology. He is currently leading the firm to the expansion of the world's first black owned virtual power plant network which aims to power 1 billion households globally.


Q: From studying music composition at The Juilliard School to producing a clean energy technology enabler, what inspired you to pursue entrepreneurship in technology and software development? David: Believe it or not, technology has always been my passion. In my family I've always been the de facto Wi-Fi wizard, eradicator of viruses and amateur coder, this extended to both family members and schoolmates. Growing up in a middle class Black household, actually turning those skills into a monetizable career was a pipedream at best. There's power in representation, and during the 90's --and unfortunately even now in the 2000's, there hasn't been a whole lot of noteworthy Blacks in Tech for enterprising youth to look up to. I got into the entrepreneurial side of tech out of necessity. 6 years ago, I was an airline pilot and had a great idea for an aggregator app that would display real-time pricing for products and services globally. However, I didn't have $40,000 to build a working MVP and no one would give me a dime. So, on overnights and during downtime I taught myself a coding language called Ruby. After a few months of trial and error, I had a working prototype and that started me down the path toward becoming a tech founder.


Nowadays, smartphones are ubiquitous. In fact, mobile data traffic across the globe is projected to have increased nearly sevenfold from 2017 to 2022. We all expect that information can be transferred, services organized, and problems solved on the go. But, do you expect your mobile device to address the challenge of providing clean energy to developing countries? Or even to access an Energy Management System via a virtual power plant? Well let me introduce you to David Jones, founder and CEO of Lite

David Jones - Feature Video

Two years later, after traveling the world I began to see an unmistakable common thread. Typically in black and brown countries, energy grids held together with duct tape and bubblegum all exhibited the same socioeconomic problems. High crime rates, lower educational standards, and subpar living standards. I taught myself electrical engineering and went on to receive my NABCEP Associate certification to bring resolve to some of these global issues. It was also paramount that my team and I serve as role models for future generations, this issue is far too grand to tackle alone.

infrastructure, the branches are the power lines, the leaves are individual homes and buildings. Stored energy is collected in the trunk that can be used when demand is too high or blackouts occur, and the entire system is regulated by Cloud architecture.

concentrations; naturally with bleeding edge technology such as Cleantech, IoT, Machine Learning etc. there's a steep learning curve for anyone not directly involved, that poses a big challenge when engaging with the public. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention how much institutional racism has bottlenecked our progress, it's truly a vexing scenario, despite the modern marvels of African American contribution. Every associated practice of STEM is what it is in part due to Black brilliance, and yet we are still stifled and scoffed at.

These transactions are all managed through the Cloud.

Q: What has been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur in the STEM industry?

David: STEM in itself is a deeply nuanced, highly specific set of

Q: Tell us more about Lumena Energy. What is a virtual power plant? David: Lumena Energy is a cleantech firm, our core focus is an IAAS based Energy Management System (EMS). We aim for our EMS to serve as a backbone for municipalities seeking to create smart grids. The simplest way to describe a virtual power plant is by thinking of an energy grid as a tree. The roots are power plants from which the energy originates, the trunk is the

Q: What keeps you up at night? David: I'm not big on sleeping, especially at night. BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR IS NOT AN EASY FEAT, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. I worry about competitors and enemies of progress, but conversely there is a high level of eustress associated with being kept awake. I'm in a constant state of creation and iteration, majority of my most impactful ideas happen when the world is silent and I am free to get lost in my imagination. ▪



Make short term, mid term and long term goals and stick to them. Invest in your education. Protect your reputation at all costs. Command your worth. Be relentless in your pursuit of excellence. Address niche problems, go far off the beaten path where there is no rulebook and blaze your own trail. David: I've always been the black sheep of my family ergo, individuality and uncompromising authenticity come with the territory. However, people can see through a phony quickly, especially when you're at the tip of the spear. So if the goal you are pursuing is anything beside fervent enthusiasm to solve a problem, you're selling yourself and your team short. Q: What advice would you give to other young professionals or entrepreneurs looking to take their career or education to the next level? David: Q: At, we believe in challenging the status quo. How you are applying your background in the arts to solving technology challenges around the world. Q: We believe that our personal expressions should translate into how we operate as business and community leaders. We call it “Bringing Your Whole Self” into any situation. How do you ensure that you are authentic to yourself and your work? David: Maintaining an up-to-date knowledge base on current events, industry standards and emerging tech keeps me oriented with market needs, this gives me a firm grasp on which to begin iterating on concepts. Sprinkle in a little creativity and ingenuity and a viable idea is born. ▪

Imposter Syndrome

Imagine a world with reliable clean energy powered and managed completely from an app. Whether your city's entire power grid fails, you will have access to reliable power in your home when you need it most.

Monitor energy usage from your smart device

A cloud-based system means no more dangerous power lines

Developing countries need not rely on unstable power grids

Join our network of other VPP subscribers and ditch the grid

24/7 uninterrupted power | CleantechConnects UsAll







Academy Member 1

Grammy Nominated






0 0 1

2 3 0













Joseph was born and raised out of Brooklyn, NY. In 2012, he graduated from Benjamin Banneker Academy with academic honors, and in 2015, he graduated from Queens College with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics after completing a 30-credit load (10 courses) semester. During his time as an undergraduate student, Eli was a dual student-athlete, serving as a member of the Men’s Basketball (2013-2014) and Track & Field program (2014-2015). As a student-athlete, he earned 4 All-ECC accolades (Division II) in the 110 and 400-meter hurdles and as part of the 4x100-meter relay, 4x200-meter relay. While working full-time on Wall Street, Eli pursued his master’s degree in business administration at the Brooklyn College, where he completed the curriculum in 1 year (May 2016). In August 2016, he left Wall Street to pursue his Doctorate degree in Business Administration (D.B.A.) at Felician University.

As a 22-year-old doctoral student, he became a business faculty member at Marymount Manhattan College- teaching courses in Business Statistics, Economics and Information Technology. By the age of 23, he became an Economics faculty member at Queens College, where he also gave a TEDx talk, discussing the idea of

The streets

are familiar with Music producer, Corey

determining team success without the use of a scoreboard in sports. By the age of 24, Eli became a faculty associate at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies, teaching applied analytics courses to graduate students.


Dennard who got his start as a trained classical musician, band member at Southern University and

In addition to becoming a member of the Grammy Recording Academy (GrammyU), he was also awarded the Forbes Under 30 Scholars distinctions in 2018 and 2019. In May 2019, he completed and successfully defended

DJ. With his musical flair for heavy hip-hop anthems and radio buzz records, Mr. Hanky is soon to be a household name. His production credits include Young Dolph, Colonel Loud, DJ Luke Nastyy, Young Greatness, Soulja Boy, Mystikal, Lil Chuckee, Waka Flocka, Young Jeezy, V.I.C., Travis Porter, Ying Yang Twins and various local Atlanta talent.

his doctoral dissertation, becoming the first scholar in the history of Felician University to ever graduate with a doctorate degree in Business Administration.

Mr. Hanky has earned a name for himself and a reputation that is hard to match. Various artists can attest to his work ethic and his ability to create classic hip-hop records as well as dance, techno, R&B and pop tracks. With a busy schedule in the studio, Mr. Hanky is always in high-demand. “Everyday I continue to look for ways to be more creative and to come up with records that the people want,” he says. “I make music for the people.” It’s not easy to get a session with Mr. Hanky, but the wait is well worth it. He proclaims his ambition to be one of the best producers in the South and eventually the world. Born Corey Dennard and raised in East Atlanta, his musical roots date back to childhood. Both his mother and sister are trained musicians, and young Corey got his feet wet in music playing trumpet in the school band and learning the piano. He cultivated those talents into landing a scholarship to Historically Black University & College, Southern University, where he played in the Human Jukebox Marching Band. It was in college that he started making beats in his dorm room and hustling burned CDs for extra cash. By the time he finished college and moved back home to the A, word had already made it back home that the kid had some heat. Building his resume, he worked with several independent artists and eventually landed a position as in-house producer at Collipark Music. In 2006, he launched his own imprint Mr. Hanky Productions and since then, his client list has swelled to include some of the most well-known artists in the music industry.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78

Powered by