Introducing the Chi Hack Night & City Tech Black History Month Speaker Series

Published on Feb 2, 2018 by Sonja Marziano , Derek Eder

Introducing the Chi Hack Night & City Tech Black History Month Speaker Series

Last March, hundreds of technologists, civic leaders, and community members heard from talented, diverse women who work in civic-driven technology across Chicago. As a collaboration between Smart Chicago Collaborative and Chi Hack Night, the Women in Tech speaker series was created to address the lack of diversity we see in the civic tech community and elevate the personal narratives of women driving impactful efforts throughout our city.

Our six events highlighted incredible speakers from different sectors who shared the experiences that inspire their work. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, for example, spoke about her career as a teacher and being a woman in public office. Melissa Pierce, an independent film director, shared her inspiration to document Grace Hopper’s extraordinary story as one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. Sandee Kastrul, president and co-founder of i.c.stars, shared her experiences founding this innovative technology training program in 1999 to prepare inner-city adults for technology careers and community leadership.

We also hosted Chi Hack Night’s first community satellite events that highlighted entrepreneurs and women utilizing technology to amplify civic engagement. These community events became a growing priority to diversify our thriving technology community and develop opportunities to bring new programs into the community.

Women in Tech Community satellite event at Homan Square Community Center in March 2017.
Women in Tech Community satellite event at Homan Square Community Center in March 2017.

Since last March, great things happened for each organization– Smart Chicago merged with City Digital to become City Tech Collaborative and Chi Hack Night expanded to host regular community-based events in Logan Square– but we still acknowledge the need to further highlight diverse individuals in the civic and technology sectors.

This year, we are expanding our series to celebrate Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March.

Our speaker series will coincide with the eight weekly Chi Hack Night events that occur on Tuesdays at Braintree in Merchandise Mart for the months of February and March. Additionally, two community events will be held the last week of February and March in satellite community locations. We hope you will join us!

In celebration of Black History Month

February 6th - Alvyn Walker, Leave No Veteran Behind

Leave No Veteran Behind

On February 6, we will welcome Alvyn Walker of Leave No Veteran Behind** **(LNVB), a national non-profit organization that invests in veterans through employment training, transitional jobs, and educational debt relief scholarships. After his own service in the military, Al now supports veterans through workforce development programs that focus on technology training and youth mentorship. Al also contributes to collaborative community-based connectivity initiatives to set up Wi-Fi networks in Chicago’s South Shore community.

Tuesday, Feb 6, 6pm
Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
RSVP

February 13th - Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx

Kim Foxx

On February 13, we will hear from special guest Kim Foxx, the first African-American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Elected to the second largest prosecutor’s office in the county, Kim Foxx advocates for reform to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Tuesday, Feb 13, 6pm
Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
RSVP

February 20th - Fabian Elliott, Black Tech Mecca

Fabian Elliott

For our third event, Fabian Elliott will share his experiences that led him to found Black Tech Mecca in 2015. Black Tech Mecca is a data-driven think tank serving and mobilizing the Black tech community to use technology to transform Black communities.

Tuesday, Feb 20, 6pm
Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
RSVP

February 27th - Charlene Carruthers, BYP100

Charlene Carruthers

On February 27, we will hear from Charlene Carruthers. Charlene serves as national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a national member-based organization of Black 18-35 activists creating justice and freedom for all Black people. BYP100 envisions a world where all Black people have economic, social, political, and educational freedom.

Tuesday, Feb 27, 6pm
Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
RSVP

February 28th - Colony 5

Colony 5

We will host a satellite event the last week of February with Colony 5, a cohort of neighborhood-based entrepreneurs who are identifying ways that technology can support their business.

Wednesday, Feb 28, 6pm
Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation
815 W 63rd St
Chicago, IL 60621
RSVP

We hope you will join us and Chicago’s civic technology community next month in celebration of Black History Month!


About the author


Sonja Marziano focuses on User Experience & Product Design at City Tech Collaborative. In this role, Sonja identifies and creates intersections for partners to learn from users and implement impactful changes to their products. In addition, she fosters sustained, meaningful collaboration with residents around data and the creation of technology through programs like the Civic User Testing Group (CUTgroup).


Derek is an entrepreneur, developer and one of the leaders of the civic technology community in Chicago. He is a co-founder and partner at DataMade — a company that tells stories and builds tools with data — and is the lead organizer for Chi Hack Night.