Diverse Tech Professionals Converge at Salesforce for Second Annual “40 Under 40: Tech Diversity – Silicon Valley” Reception and Awards Ceremony

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More than 300 diverse tech professionals, as well as officials from the City of San Francisco, were in attendance at the second annual “40 Under 40: Tech Diversity – Silicon Valley” Awards Reception on the evening of Thursday, December 8.

Founded in 2015 by theREGISTRY Bay Area and Digital Diversity Network (DDN), the “40 Under 40: Tech Diversity – Silicon Valley” recognition program again celebrated the achievements of 40 leaders from diverse backgrounds, under the age of 40 in the Innovation Economy. Two special categories, Influencer and Game Changer, were awarded to Rachel Williams, Head of Recruiting, Diversity & Inclusion, Yelp, and Dr. Marc Hannah, Co-founder & Former Chief Scientist, Silicon Graphics, respectively.

Salesforce and its Boldforce employee resource group (ERG) were the program partners and hosts for the second annual awards reception held at the Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco.  Malia Cohen, San Francisco City and County Supervisor; and Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer for Salesforce, were on hand to deliver a warm welcome.  Fatima Mekkaoui, a SalesforceAccount Executive,as well as a writer, poet and performance artist, emceed the event along with her Salesforce colleague, Brandon Smart, Business Systems Analyst.

With a heightened focus in the tech industry to embed diversity into their companies, services and products, as well as their working practices, “40 under 40: Tech Diversity-Silicon Valley” is designed to highlight the underrepresented role models and achievements of the wide range of people who make the tech industry brilliant. Specific goals of the recognition program include:

  • Acknowledging tech industry progress and promise in advancing diversity
  • Facilitating networking and introductions among diverse tech professionals, hiring companies and tech investors
  • Inspiring future generations to pursue innovation and tech careers, regardless of socio-economic background
  • Inspiring tech companies and the industry at-large, to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.

A public call for nominations was issued November 7-18, 2016 by theREGISTRY Bay Area, Digital Diversity Network and more than 25 outreach partners, including tech diversity organizations and tech company employee resource groups. The response was robust and yielded a list of young professionals from Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area corporations, start-ups, accelerators, venture capital firms, non-profits and pro-social enterprises—all of whom are influencers in the industry.

Honorees were evaluated on the basis of their outstanding achievements; career success; volunteer and civic engagement; influence and impact; and honors and recognitions by a selection committee comprising respected tech professionals.

Dr. Marc Hannah received the Game Changer award in recognition of his pioneering leadership as a Co-founder of Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI), a company famous for its innovations in computer graphics. Hannah is known as a special effects whiz.

A specialist in three-dimensional, or 3-D graphics, he was principal scientist and vice president of the company, which designed the computers used to create the effects for such movies as Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Aladdin, The Abyss, Death Becomes Her, The Hunt for Red October, Beauty and the Beast, Field of Dreams, and Lawnmower Man. In addition to several television commercials, SGI effects can also be seen in two of Michael Jackson’s videos, Black and White and Remember the Time.

In his acceptance remarks, Dr. Hannah, encouraged everyone to “reach back and encourage others to reach their potential.”  Rachel Williams, Head of Recruiting, Diversity and Inclusion at Yelp was recognized as an Influencer for her role as a leader in advancing the diversity conversation in Silicon Valley. She credited all of the honorees as being “influencers and game changers.”

The 2016 “40 Under 40” event sponsors, in addition to Salesforce, included Google/You Tube, LinkedIn, Hewlett Packard, Pandora and Mosaic Coaching Solutions.