10 Chicago Black folks in tech to be proud of

Kara Carrell
Feb 28, 2017 · 5 min read
10 Black folks in tech doing all the things in Chicago, and I am so very proud to know them all!

Coming back from Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco, I was reminded of how energizing it feels to be around “your people”; folks who share some part of your experience, and “get it”.

As we close out Black History Month 2017, I wanted to highlight a few of the folks that energize me here in Chicago, that are doing amazing things in tech, and we should all be listening to, lifting up, and gettin’ loud about!

Safia Abdalla, She/Her

Safia Abdalla

Open Source Software Engineer & Data Scientist

Safia has been growing in the Open Source space, and everything she touches is better for it! she’s the co-creator of nteract.io, a desktop application that allows you to develop rich documents that contain prose, executable code (in almost any language!), and images. She has an awesome newsletter called, The Captain’s Log (*Trekkie-Swoon!*) and is an active member of the Open Source Community, (she’s even up for a Red Hat, Women in Open Source Award!

Tiffany Mikell, She/Her

Tiffany Mikell

‎CEO/CTO at BSMdotCo

Under the umbrella company of BSMdotCo (BlackStarMedia), in partnership with another amazing entrepreneur Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Tiffany heads up AerialSpaces, a service providing customizable, real-time social broadcasting spaces for virtual education, and works with Kortney on Trans*H4CK, a Collaborative tech production for the transgender community that’s launched dozens of new applications used across the globe, and helped to birth several startups and social enterprises including: Trans*Code (UK), TransTech SE (US) & RadRemedy (US)

Rose Afriyie, She/Her

Rose Afriyie

Co-Founder & Executive Director of mRelief

Rose’s work with mRelief has gotten over 100,000 families connected to social services through their quick survey, cutting through hours of barriers and blocks keeping folks from knowing how to get the help they need. To say Rose is a BOSS doesn’t do her enough justice. She’s also a writer, and a Chicago Council Member on the National Team for the Black Youth Project 100.

Sandee Kastrul, She/Her

Sandee Kastrul

President & Co-founder of I.C Stars

Sandee has been in the game of transformative change for our community for decades. You could say their work finding and training talent in tech is a precursor to the all famous bootcamps we’re seeing now. You can see the impact of her work throughout Chicago, and hear her speak in a few weeks for Women’s History Month, at the Women In Tech Leaders Shaping our Future event, by the Anita Borg Institute, Chicago chapter.

Arelia Jones, She/Her

Arelia Jones

Software Developer, Co-Founder of CoderSpace

I met Arelia at a local Google event, and only by doing more research on her did I fully realize how AMAZING she really is! She’s co-founder, and instructor at CoderSpace, where youth ages 14–17 learn to code, collaborate on local client projects and develop leadership skills for a digital world.

Danie Banks, They/Them

Danie Banks

Activist & Technologist at ThoughtWorks, creator of Hampton 2.0

Imagine if the Black Panthers had a free technology education program. Where self-determination, technology, and radical political education combine to provide marginalized communities with access to the skills necessary for solving 21st century challenges. This is the type of technology education training Danie & team are looking to create with Hampton 2.0. Stay tuned for event details by following Danie at @daniehacks.

Jeff Smith, He/Him

Jeff Smith

Senior Engineer, Co-Founder of Chicago Nerd Social Club

I met jeff from our early days of twitter (before it was cool, and we had TWEETUPS!), and through the years, they’ve been doing BOSS work in the tech community, speaking all over on his DevOps knowledge, and recently moved from GrubHub to Centro, both major Chicago tech companies! Keep an eye on their fantastic geekery on their blog, AllThingsDork.

Dominic M Liddell, He/Him

Dominic M Liddell

Founder of TechWhileBlack

Dominic is an educator, coder, digital marketer, and social entrepreneur that began his professional career in technology in 2006. Prior to founding Tech While Black, Dominic founded and operated Apex Website Services helping entrepreneurs develop and maintain their online presence.

Emile Cambry, He/Him

Emile Cambry & Crew

Blue 1647

Emile, along with his team of superstars, has been breaking barriers throughout the city, and across the globe with technology and entrepreneurship incubator, BLUE1647. I wanted to emphasize the entire team at Blue, from their COO Antonio Rowry, to their various interns, each person involved is making it happen! (disclosure, I teach at Blue1647)

Ray Hightower, He/Him

Ray Hightower

Software Developer, Creator of Windy City Rails

Ray Hightower founded and ran a technology company for twenty-one years before selling the company to 8th Light in 2016. Today, Hightower serves as Director of Sales at 8th Light. He continues to blog, and speak at technology conferences around the world on technology and business growth. He’s also an avid community member, running Chicago Ruby meetup, and always ready to engage with new folks to the dev community, like me.

Are there more folk?! OF COURSE THERE ARE! I already got 5 more just from writing this list out! Post in the comments which local black folks in tech you’d like to give a shout out to!

Props to the Vocalo #MorningAmp team for letting me speak on’ it! the recording of my Cash Tech Tuesday convo with them is here: https://soundcloud.com/vocalo/cash-tech-tuesday-kara-carrell-on-promoting-black-women-in-tech

Also, props to Robyn Jordan at NewRelic for sparking my interest in collecting some great notes about these awesome folks, by writing about 6 other young black women making a difference in tech!

Last, Peep this collage of wonderful folks over at my twitter account: https://twitter.com/KaraAJC/status/836653033803165696

Kara Carrell

Written by

Digital explorer, Pilsener@, Blaxican, Community advocate, Tinkerer, idea fox, Makin' It Happen!