Learn more about this year's virtual BraveIT event on 9/16 & 17 on the event website.
Learn more about the nominees:
We applaud all of the candidates who were nominated by their peers for the 2020 BraveIT Award. Each of the nominees is truly a credit to the IT profession, their organization, and the community. The winner will be recognized on September 17 at the BraveIT virtual conference, with a commemorative plaque and $10,000 donation to the non-profit organization of his/her choosing.
Diverse in Tech
Jill Binder helps technology conferences and companies get more speaker diversity on their stages and, ultimately, in their leadership. Jill first recognized the need to support diverse tech speakers in 2013 when she became a co-organizer of a tech conference. In her first year in the role, the final speaker lineup had only 14% diversity representation. There are many underlying causes, but one reason that kept coming up when Jill asked people from marginalized or underrepresented groups to apply to speak was their Impostor Syndrome. They mistakenly felt like they didn’t know enough to be able to give a talk. Jill was inspired to help these diverse speakers find their expertise and their voice. She led a team that created a new workshop which in just 4 hours helps people bust through their Impostor Syndrome, find a topic to share with their community, and develop the tools to start speaking. The workshop was an immediate success! The following year, her conference had 3 times the number of diverse applicants and fully 50% speaker diversity!
Since 2018, Jill and her teams have gone on to help over 40 conferences in 4 major technology communities set up for success and improve diversity results. The 350+ people from marginalized or underrepresented groups from 35 countries who have gone through her program have self-reported public speaking confidence scores increase by 60%. The resulting speaker lineups typically go from 10% or less diverse representation to 50% or more. Can you imagine? This is incredible! She was honored as a Featured Person on WordPress.org in 2019, named one of the top 100 Influencers of WordPress in 2014 by Torque Magazine, and listed one of the top 10 Women of WordPress by CloudWays.
In 2020, we are now seeing more organizations finally tackle the diversity questions that Jill has been working on for years. Once people start using their voices on stage, many go on to use their voices for more. Her vision for more diversity on conference stages and within companies continues to empower new tech leaders, strengthen organizations, produce better products, and inspire people from marginalized and underrepresented groups around the globe. Here is a 3-minute video explaining Jill’s work: http://diversein.tech/video/
A Silver Lining Foundation
Shannon is a National Channel Manager at Avant, a leading technology advisory firm serving IT leaders, and she is passionate about giving back to the community, working with national and local Chicago charities. Through Avant's Inclusion and Diversity committee, Shannon teamed up with Xposure, a channel-born and focused organization to help launch a new national strategy to educate, promote, and recruit diverse candidates into channel from all backgrounds and specifically black, latinx to make sure our channel continues to evolve and diversify for years to come. Shannon is also the Co-Captain of Alliance of Channel Women Chicago Chapter, growing the chapter from 3 to 75 members over the past year and held 15 events supporting women with mentor programs.
In the last year, Shannon has raised over $100k for various charities across 30 different organizations, including the collection and passing out of 100+ survivor supply bags of goods to the homeless community in Chicago, making over 100 face masks on her sewing machine that were donated to hospital staffs, raising $13k+ for Fisher House Foundation, an organization supporting military families of injured soldiers, and she holds fundraisers for A Silver Lining Foundation, an organization supporting women who cannot afford mammograms to be proactive about breast cancer health.
A Silver Lining foundation is near and dear to Shannon’s heart, as the founder, Dr. Sandy Goldberg, is Shannon's mentor and inspiration to become a charitable person. A Silver Lining foundation was founded in 2002 after Dr. Sandy's own journey with breast cancer, and the foundation provides cost-free breast health testing and on-going fully funded treatments to women who need financial help, may be uninsured, undocumented, ineligible, or without the proper resources for care. If Shannon wins the BraveIT award, she plans to donate to A Silver Lining Foundation as it would go a long way to support thousands of women.
Bob Schukai is a technologist who runs his own blog, and leverages his reach to support organizations like Downtown T-Rex (tech start-up incubator in St Louis) and Apps for Good, a non-profit which teaches children 10-18 to become entrepreneurs.
Bob is an excellent speaker, authentic and relatable in his style, and he helps the techies understand tech-leadership and conversely helps tech-leadership understand the techies. Bob's passion is lending his talents for people-development and tech-development into the next generation of technologists.
The Harbor Entrepreneur Center
Sam Staley likes to fix things. Take, for example, elementary school fundraisers. A few years ago, Staley’s wife, Caroline, was on the auction committee for their children’s school, Sullivan’s Island Elementary. “I was watching all of the stuff they had to do — all the paperwork,” he recalls. “I couldn’t help but try to fix their process.” And that he did. He created an SMS bot to allow attendees to text their bids in and receive outbid notifications via text; the event doubled its regular profits. “I knew we had something,” says the self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. “ ...and I found out quickly that nearly every event struggled with similar problems and that Event.Gives offered a much-needed solution.”
Fast forward to 2020, Event.Gives (https://event.gives) is a full-featured event management platform with ticketing and fundraising tools built for non-profits. Sam was on track for his best quarter yet with Event.Gives, supporting more than 700 events, when COVID-19 hit. "By March 15 we had lost every in-person event we had scheduled for the rest of the year." Sam recalled. Sam went to work around the clock to create a new virtual event experience that provided sub-second video streaming, allowing event organizers to stream live auctioneers and other content while allowing participants to bid and donate in real-time inside the video stream. Since launching the new software in April, Sam has been able to help organizations raise more than $1,000,000 virtually and expect to reach at least $5,000,000 by the end of the year. Sam worked tirelessly to build a technology solution so that non-profit organizations can still hold fundraising events and raise money for their good causes.
Sam continues his passion for fundraising and leveraging his technical skills to support budding nonprofit organizations in the Charleston SC region and to find new ways to help them raise more money. Sam has been involved in a number of ventures and is the Founder and CEO of Event.Gives — an event software platform that has won several awards along with an investment from AOL Founder Steve Case. Staley also serves as CTO at CODE/+/TRUST, another company he co-founded, and is a mentor at The Harbor Entrepreneur Center in Charleston where he helps guide and grow other start-ups in the region.