2019 Innovation & Inclusion Awards Honoree Bios

Change Agents

Sayid Abdullaev, Product Marketing Manager, YouTube

In just over 3 years, Sayid has built an impressive career at Google. He has received several internal accolades and has excelled in all areas– from creating a program to help digital marketers stay connected with Google’s latest news, to growing subscriptions, to pioneering co-marketing partnerships through Think WithGoogle.Since being promoted to product marketing manager at YouTube, he helped develop a market strategy for Educons, a program designed to provide support for education/learning creators.

Sayid comes from a long line of refugees. His grandparents were Uighur slaves in China who sought asylum in Kyrgyzstan in the early 20th century. But circumstances remained bleak, as the Uighur’s were still targeted for ethnic violence. Because of his own activism on behalf of oppressed minorities and the courage to live as an openly gay man in Kyrgyzstan, Sayid became a target of the regime and was forced to seek asylum in America. He arrived at JFK airport 10 years ago, all alone, and with $30 in his pocket that his mother had worked for three months to save.

Motivated by his personal experience with homelessness and violence, Sayid has served as an advocate for refugees around the world. He has worked as a consultant to the United Nations; has also founded multiple initiatives for LGBQT++ asylum seekers and refugees; and has helped raise over $1 million to support multiple social causes.
Currently at Google, he is harnessing the power of big data and technology to create the first Digital Empowerment Refugee Center to serve as a resource hub for policy and programs related to capacity building and advocacy for refugees. His vision is to create a comprehensive database of basic human needs resources to especially help LGBQT+ refugees find shelter, legal representation and scholarship opportunities.

Sayid has been recognized by multiple organizations and foundations, including former US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, for excellence in global activism. He was recently ranked #4 on the Financial TimesOutstanding Top 30 Rising LGBQTLeaders.

He is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School’s Venture Management Fellowship and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Point Scholarship to complete his bachelor’s degree in political science and entrepreneurship.

Jackie Kim, VP, Ad Sales Strategy, NBCUniversal

Jackie is a recognized expert in monetizing Olympics content and leads ad sales strategic planning for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo games. In her current role, she champions efforts to develop innovative partnerships with advertisers and introduce the Olympics to a new generation of fans.
A passionate fan herself, Jackie works closely with NBC Sports’ business, marketing, and production teams to ensure that audiences can watch their favorite athletes compete anytime, anywhere. Under Jackie’s leadership, NBC Sports adopted real-time analytics during the 2016 Rio games. Working in close cooperation with Freewheel, Jackie developed innovative analytical tools to drive smarter ad delivery decisions and achieve record revenue.
In addition to her work on the Olympics, Jackie has spearheaded other advertising initiatives that are reshaping the media landscape. Those initiatives include defining NBCUniversal’s monetization strategy for virtual MVPD’S (multichannel video providers). Jackie was instrumental in building a cross-functional team to fundamentally rethink how NBCUniversal approaches VMVPD partnerships. Her analysis led to NBCUniversal shifting from its longstanding practice of linear monetization to a digital framework.

Jackie first joined NBCUniversal as a manager in digital advertising sales in April 2011. Prior to joining NBCUniversal she was an associate in the General Electric financial management program, an early career accelerator for corporate financial professionals. A graduate of Columbia Business School and Trinity College, Jackie enjoys watching Broadway shows, cooking Korean food, and practicing Buddhist meditation.

Code Breakers

Atul Prashar, Founding Partner, Sava360

Always keeping ‘profit with a purpose’ in mind through various career roles as a hedge fund analyst, music producer & now investor/entrepreneur and social philanthropist, Atul Prashar is founding partner of umbrella investment/advisory company, KMH group, focusing on tech in media/sports verticals as well as various entertainment projects.

Atul manages two portfolio companies, Sava360 Ventures, a diversity driven platform connecting influential leaders with innovative entrepreneurs to share ideas and source deals, and The Results Venture, a social impact advisory group.

Prior to this, Atul produced music for Sony music artists &TV programming for all major US networks as well as two Bollywood films produced by the acclaimed Chopra family. Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl, Girlfriends and Bernie Mac are just a few of many shows to feature Atul’s music.

Atul also gives back to the community with a hyper focus on supporting diversity, gender equality and global sustainability initiatives. He is a founding board member of philanthropy organization, Nexus Global India; a 1871 entrepreneur/tech center mentor; NYC ambassador for Digital Diversity Network; 2019 NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) alum, past board member of NAMIC-NY; and programming chair for NAMIC national for the past two years.

Imari Oliver, Founder & CEO, Bond & Play

Imari possesses 20 years of experience in advertising, digital production, marketing and sales in both b-to-c and b-to-b roles. A proponent of systems thinking, he has the proven ability to identify market shifting trends and connect them with high-value business growth opportunities.

He is currently the founder &CEO of Bond &Play, a product, media, technology and entertainment company, that builds IP and platforms rooted in innovative business models and strategy. He designed and built Bond &Play as a bridge between culture, entrepreneurship and commerce with a bias towards action.

Imari is also a leading business executive in the e-sports and competitive video game industry and has produced and spoken at events around the world about the growing influence and power of e-sports. He also consults with brands, advertising agencies to develop and execute e-sports strategies.

Prior to launching Bond &Play, imari, established his reputation as a creative, strategic and cognitive thinker and producer at companies including: Endeavor, Sparks and Honey, McGarry Bowen and Grey, DDBO, AKQA.

Imari has an innately creative spirit and expresses it through shopping at farmer’s markets and cooking with random ingredients along with his personal travel goal to visit every aquarium in the world at least once.

Culture Catalysts

Ayana Baraka, Award-Winning Cinematographer & VR Content Creator, Edamame Films

Ayana cut her teeth as a feature documentary cinematographer. Her past work includes: the Oscar- nominated film, The Hunting Ground,which examines the rape culture on college campuses; Behind the Curtain: Eclipsed, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira; and United Skates, winner of the Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award.She has also worked on feature films including,Black Nativity and The Amazing Spiderman II.

Baraka’s foray into immersive storytelling came while attending the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts for her Master of Fine Arts degree. She joined a team of innovators at USC’S mixed reality studio, a Siggraph winner for creating photo-real animation for virtual reality.Baraka went on to become a 2018 YouTube VRCreator Fellow, 2018 Oculus Connect Fellow, and a 2019 Black Public Media 360+ Incubator Fellow.

Her immersive experience about Black Wall Street and the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, called Greenwood Avenue, will release this year. Her goal is to expose more people to African American history that has been excluded from secondary education.

In addition to being proclaimed as a person on the rise in Hollywood, Ayana is also a mom, wife, and educator at the Don Tyson School of Innovation in Arkansas.

Brandon Felton, Brand Engagement Lead/ Online Marketing, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Brandon plays a critical role in an upstart non-traditional marketing department at a legacy nonprofit which has grown substantially in Trump-era America.
Under his leadership in expanding brand performance through digital platforms, the ACLU, the nation’s leading multi-issue social justice organization with over 1.5 million members, has been able to reinvent itself by attracting and galvanizing a new population of activists, organizers and advocates who are now literally wearing their activism on their sleeves.

Brandon was especially instrumental in overcoming internal resistance to the threat of cannibalizing cash donations with the ACLU’S newly launched online store. He devised online marketing and advertising strategies to turn the fledgling, online store into a sustainable business that has generated more than $2 million in revenue in just a few years. Moreover, he has successfully integrated his digital marketing and merchandising strategy within the ACLU’S 50+ state offices.

Brandon instinctively understood that demonstrations reacting to Trump’s election and police brutality were both educational opportunities for civic activism and for the ACLU to connect with people in a timely, more intimate way. In response, he orchestrated a marketing strategy to support and connect new-found activists to the ACLU by publishing and promoting the organization’s Know Your Rights materials, a legal guide for protesters, and creating incentives for activists online and in real life, with branded merchandise.

Product placement, printed collateral and targeted digital advertising led to major increases in apparel sales, donations, celebrity and influencer photo opportunities and mentions, all leveraged by key moments in a now politically charged pop culture.
Brandon has helped lead the charge in making the ACLU significantly more accessible both inside and outside of its walls. He continues to exercise his principled commitment to ensuring a voice for everyone, using technology to push innovation and drive aspirational values in culture.

Inventor / Innovators

Alexandrea Alphonso, Service Design Lead & Senior Solutions Consultant, Google

Driven by her passion for the philosophy of design and practice of design thinking, Alexandrea uniquely created and carved a role for herself in Google’s product support organization, a group that crafts support and care experiences for Google users across their dozens of consumer products.

In her role, Alexandrea drives collaboration and partnership with senior stakeholders on high-impact design sprints and leads teams through the design sprint methodology to arrive at more user-centric support experiences. She has fundamentally changed the way Google pushes for support innovation and problem solving.

Alexandrea has also been the lead architect for the planning and execution of 10 design sprints across multiple product areas globally within Google, reaching the full spectrum of stakeholders from VPS to senior collaborators. Those sprints have focused on aspirational vision for support, Pixel care design, and next billion users design for emerging markets.

At Google, Alexandrea extends and volunteers her time regularly to other teams as a design sprint master, in a capacity known as 20% time. As part of a small, exclusive collective at Google, she seeks out opportunities that allow her to push for design evangelism.

Alexandrea is also responsible for partnering with Google’s University Programs &Outreach team to co-create and facilitate a design thinking workshop targeting college, technical, and nontechnical students across North America. In less than a year, the workshop has scaled to 7 major cities reaching close to 400 students and counting.
She is also an active member of the Black Googler Network, and specifically leads programming that advances their professional development. More recently, she has teamed up with the Google for Startups initiative and will be working directly with the Founder Gym team to learn more about how Google can support entrepreneurs and start-up teams.

Outside of Google, Alexandrea combines her passion for technology and community as of head of partnerships for Black Tech Women—an organization that was created in 2017 on the premise that an engaged and supported community is key to advancing black women, globally, withinthe tech ecosystem.

Nosa Olomu, Manager of Service Operations, Boingo Wireless

Nosa is a highly decorated engineer who has been instrumental in catapulting Boingo to its most successful year in company history. He led the migration of Boingo’s services from 100 percent on-premises to a 100 percent cloud-first strategy, enabling the business to scale quickly and seamlessly address network issues virtually, without deploying boots on the ground, contributing to a tremendous savings of cost and resources.

His career achievements have included: rollout of artificial intelligence (ai) and machine learning. Nosa advanced Boingo’s cloud portfolio by launching a self-healing access point management strategy, made possible through machine learning capabilities.

Alsoamong his numerous achievements is the proprietary cloud quality assurance launch. Putting his engineering expertise into action, Nosa launched a proprietary quality assurance certification for all military wireless networks Boingo manages to ensure the customer experience is never compromised. Thousands of service men and women on more than 60 military bases can stream, game and browse with ease.

Nosa also gives back to the community and helps to advance diversity in tech through volunteerism with a number of organizations, including Girls Who Code and Pledge LA—an initiative from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti that is working to bring a more inclusive and diverse approach to recruitment and retention in technology.
He also founded AFRICASC, a first of its kind group that brings together African students lost and disillusioned while attending universities in the US. The group was formed in 1997 when Nosa was attending the University of Southern California and lives on today.

Social Entrepreneurs

Angelina Darrisaw, Founder & CEO, C-Suite Coach

C-suite coach is a social enterprise whose mission is to scale coaching for diverse working professionals and small business leaders. The company collaborates with employers to create business solutions that empower and educate teams, as well as retain and engage diverse employees.

C-suite Coach has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Business Insider, Fast Company, Forbes, Thrive Global, Essence, and career sites such as levo.com, recruiter.com and monster.com. A 1st prize winner of Uber’s NYC pitch competition, C-suite coach has corporate clients across various sectors, including education, law, advertising, technology, and transportation.

With the 20+ coaches and facilitators across the C-suite Coach network, the company has served institutions such as New York University, Zendesk, Oscar Health, WIX, Year Up, TIAA, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, T. Howard Foundation, and individual entrepreneurs across the United States, Israel, Australia, Canada, and more.

Angelina, who covered Google’s Thrive magazine, highlighting women business owners who partner with Google, services small businesses as a national Google digital coach. Through this role, C-suite Coach leads Google’s efforts in bridging the digital divide, offering free coaching and resources to over 25,000 us-based, diverse small businesses through more than 300 programs with 10 coaches in key metro markets.

Angelina has also supported small businesses as a mentor through General Assembly’s inaugural mentoring program and has received several accolades for her efforts.
She is also a My Black is Beautiful and Pantene brand ambassador. She was featured in national ads in Oprah, Ebony and Essence magazines and profiled in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and bet.com. and has also hosted self-esteem workshops to inspire women, girls and young people across the country.

Angelina holds an M.A. in management from Wake Forest University, a certificate of coaching from New York University (where she serves as an adjunct professor) and a BA. in political science from Davidson College.

DeShuna Spencer, Founder & CEO, kweliTV

Kwelitv is a video streaming platform that celebrates global black culture through curated, film festival-vetted indie films, docs, web series, kids shows & events from North America, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Kweli means truth in Swahili. Its mission is to curate impactful content that’s a true reflection of the global black experience.

During the Ferguson, Missouri unrest, De Shuna was frustrated by some of the media coverage. While kweliTV was just an idea on paper at that time, the coverage confirmed her rationale for building a media company that told authentic black stories produced by other creatives of color—because the lack of diversity in media creates implicit bias.

She was starving for educational documentaries, global black history and cinematic films with clever storylines and engaging black characters. She was curious about black culture in other parts of the world that didn’t show disease, poverty & corruption—but instead showed stories that celebrated black culture–something that we don’t always see in the media.

KweliTV also creates a pipeline that pays filmmakers of color for their work with 60% of its revenue going to creators allowing them to produce new impactful content.

In 2018, DeShuna launched kweliGIVES in which 1% of kweliTVs revenue goes to a non-profit organization making an impact in a community of color. The first recipient is Black Millennials for Flint, which provides clean water, advocates on policy and offers support to Flint residents and other black and brown communities dealing with environmental crises.

A former Americorps*Vista and Chips Quinn Scholar, DeDhuna recently completed her first documentary, Mom Interrupted, which was an official selection at the Alexandria Film Festival. She is a Halcyon Incubator Fellow, a VoqalFellow and a Google NexGen Policy Leader.

In 2017, Spencer won first place in the Harvard Business School African business conference pitch competition. She’s an Envest 40 under 40 awardee; she received the “Who’s Got Next” award from the National Action Network and was honored with the Bold &Innovative Truth Teller Award at the 2018 Black Millennial Convention.

In 2019, DeShuna’s entrepreneur story was featured in the book,How We Fight White Supremacy,along with other esteemed contributors such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, TaranaBurke and others.

Special Recognitions

Champion Award

Lisa Gelobter, CEO & Co-founder, tEQuitable

As the CEO And co-founder of tEQuitable, Lisa Gelobter is utilizing technology to achieve equality in the workplace.

This independent, confidential platform addresses issues of bias, discrimination and harassment in the workplace with the goal of getting ahead of and preventing harassment, not just catching it after the fact. Employees are provided with a confidential sounding board to explore their options in reporting incidents. Companies are provided with data and recommendations to proactively prevent harassment.

Having raised $2 million for tEQuitable, Lisa is one of only 40 Black women to raise at least $1 million in venture capital. She has also pioneered internet technologies that have been used by billions of people including: Shockwave, Hulu, and the ascent of online video. She was the chief digital officer for BETNetworks and was a member of the senior management team for the launch of Hulu.

Most recently, she worked at The White House, serving as the chief digital service officer for the Department of Education, under President Obama. It was there that she recognized the opportunity to harness the power of tech to solve seemingly intractable problems and make systemic, impactful change.

She developed the College Scorecard which educated potential college students of all backgrounds on how to find schools that best suited them. Scorecard provided school information and made a vast data trove accessible to developers, researchers and the public. It enabled 700+ developers to build apps based on metrics that rank colleges not by prestige or alumni donations, but by tuition prices, student loan repayments & graduation rates.

According to the New York Times, College Scorecard “has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges.”

Lisa was named one of the Fast Company’s Most Creative People, is spotlighted in Eric Eies’ book, The Startup Way, and serves on the board/steering committees of Times Up Tech, /dev/color, the Obama Foundation’s Tech Council, and The Education Trust.

Lisa was mentioned in the book,The Lean Startup; is a Women Leaders in Stem and Social Justice honoree; 1 of 17 Black Women in Science &Tech You Should Know, and a Hue Tech Summit award recipient.

DDNext Award

Jacqueline “Jackie” Ros, Regional Director forThe Americas, Techstars

As Techstars’ regional director for The Americas, Jackie is responsible for creating and executing the strategy for a region that extends from Alaska all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, also including Brazil. She manages a multi-cultural remote team that supports the Techstars network, and also supports governments building innovation ecosystems.

Techstars invest in, supports, and educates some of the best entrepreneurs on the globe. With a portfolio of over 1,100 companies with a total market cap of $65 billion, Techstars operates in 150 countries with a massive network of mentors, investors, founders, and community leaders.

Jackie is an alumnae of the Techstars accelerator program where she led her company, Revolar—a leader in the personal safety device industry. Revolar products enable users to communicate with friends, family members, and significant others within seconds.

As Founder & CEO of Revolar, Jackie raised over $5million from investors such as Foundry Group and Techstars and is one of approximately only 30 Latina founders to have raised more than $1 million. She also launched two hardware products within one year.

Jackie is truly a woman of the world. She was born in Miami, has lived in Mexico City; Boulder, Colorado and Switzerland; and is now based in New York City. Jackie also has experience working with governments and was formerly a Teach for America educator.

Groundbreaker Award

Darline Jean, Chief Digital Officer, Essence Communications

DarlineJean is a pioneering tech executive and currently serves as chief digital officer for Essence Communications, the number one media, technology and commerce company focusing on the African American audience globally.

In her role as chief digital officer, she leads digital transformation which includes the development of the brand’s new digital products and technological capabilities, including a proprietary ad tech platform and comprehensive data and insights strategy.

She also oversees a team of technologists and engineers responsible for digital revenue operations, audience development strategy, digital syndication/distribution, e-commerce and product development.

Before joining Essence, Darline was the chief operating officer at Pulsepoint, a programmatic advertising technology platform. In this role, she was responsible for shaping strategy—including innovation, product development and expanding revenues and partnerships to drive growth and profitability. And she accomplished all of this by tripling the company’s revenues in three years.

Prior to Pulsepoint, Darline was president and CEO of the About Group, directing the business unit of the New York Times Company that included about.com, caloriecount.com and consumersearch.com. During her tenure as president and CEO, she significantly increased the company’s revenue and led the sale of about.com from the New York Times Company to IAC in 2013. Previously, Darline held various c-level roles at about.com including chief financial officer, where she focused on acquisitions and expansion into emerging markets, including China.

Darline was awarded the 2009 NAFE’S Women of Excellence Rising Star Award; 25 Most Influential Black Women in the Class of 2012; and New York Business Journal’sWomen of Influence in 2014. She was also featured in Huffington Post’s Women in Business Q&A.

Darline earned an MBA with a dual concentration in accounting and finance from Long Island University and a B.S. degree in psychology and business from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.


Marcelino Ford-Livene, Managing Director & Head of the Executive in Residence Program, Intel Capital

Throughout his career, Marcelino Ford-Livenehas made an impact in fostering a culture of inclusion in the workplace; delivering technology training and career pathways to youth in communities overlooked by the tech industry, and advocating for greater access to capital for women and minority entrepreneurs.

Marcelino created, developed and launched the Intel Future Skills Program to bring hands on innovation skills training to workforce development centers serving youth facing income and education inequalities. Under his leadership and direction, Intel developed 1000 hours of hands-on technical training in key areas such as autonomous systems, AR/VR, data visualization/analytics, and the application of iot in agriculture, logistics and manufacturing.

Marcelino successfully scaled the Intel Future Skills Program in India, Indonesia, Germany, Turkey, Mexico and the U.S. to deliver hands-on technology skills training to over 30,000 at-risk global youth. He received an Intel division recognition award for his work in spearheading this program.

As part of Intel’s $300m diversity and inclusion initiative which was launched in 2015, Marcelino developed Intel’s public policy and communication’s strategy for educating external stakeholders about Intel’s diversity, inclusion and social impact initiatives.

And, as the most senior African-American executive inside of Intel Capital’s investment group, Marcelino stepped up to provide leadership for Intel Capital’s $125m diversity initiative which includes not only working with minority-owned start-ups but also educating entrepreneurs on the ins and out of raising capital and how to prepare for success.

Marcelino has given back to his community through volunteerism and civic engagement. He serves as a mentor, advisor and financial supporter of the Gamma Zeta Boule Foundation and its leadership-achievement-management-professionalism (LAMP) program which promotes the advancement of African-American high school males.

He has held leadership roles in Intel’s Black Leadership Council (IBLC) and currently serves as the IBLC business unit leader and mentor for African-American executives at Intel’s corporate venture capital group, Intel Capital.

Marcelino has also been an actively involved in the Intel Involved campaign, which seeks to foster more civic and community engagement through volunteer work with local non-profits, schools and other non-governmental entities and charities.

Outside of Intel, Marcelino has served as the division chairman of the Interactive Media division for the American Bar Association’s forum on the entertainment and sports industries; and he served for eight years as a board member and executive committee member of the Television Academy. He is also a founding board director and advisor for Digital Diversity Network.