About Change Catalyst
Our Story
Building Inclusive Tech Ecosystems Around the World

Change Catalyst builds inclusive tech ecosystems through strategic advising, startup programs and resources, and a series of events around the globe. Using culture and behavior change strategies, we convene and advise the tech ecosystem to drive solutions to diversity and inclusion together: across education, workplace, entrepreneurship, policy, media/entertainment and ecosystem builders.

Our Beginning

//imgur.com/a/22pWKIn 2014, the Silicon Valley tech industry released diversity numbers for the first time and they were grim. At the time, Melinda Epler was building an education platform for women social entrepreneurs and impact investors, and Wayne Sutton was building a pre-accelerator for underrepresented entrepreneurs. Both were asked to speak at numerous roundtables and events led by The White House, Small Business Administration, Federal Communications Commission, local advocacy organizations and tech companies. After participating in many events, they began to get frustrated: they were having the same conversations over and over – very problems-focused, not solution-focused.

Melinda and Wayne decided to join forces to develop a conference that brought together people across the tech ecosystem to focus on solutions to diversity and inclusion. They spent about 9 months building trust in the tech community so they would have these hard conversations, and mapping the tech ecosystem to learn the barriers and opportunities for creating real change.

They mapped out the tech ecosystem into six parts, found the gaps and levers needed to drive change, and designed an event that would convene people from each of those areas: education, workplace, entrepreneurship, policy, media/entertainment and ecosystem builders.

In 2015, Change Catalyst launched our first Tech Inclusion Conference, and it sold out – we even had to turn away candidates and companies at the career fair as well as the conference! The long-lasting impact of that event on the industry motivated the team to expand this work.

In 2016, we held 5 large events: including Tech Inclusion San Francisco, New York and Austin, and an Ability in Tech focused on inclusion for people with disabilities.

We also added consulting services – advising and creating resources for governments, tech hubs, tech companies and early stage startups.

What We’ve Done

Grey map of the world, with pinpoints in 19 cities around the world. Change Catalyst logo on top with words "We’re driving solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech ecosystems around the world."In just three years we have held 24 events in 16 cities around the world. We have worked with 130 startups, 214 community partners and 275 tech companies.

Our work has been featured in Inc, Forbes, Bloomberg, Black Enterprise, Univision, Huffington Post, Computer Weekly, Sydney Morning Herald, Los Angeles Times, TechCrunch, Geek Wire, San Francisco Chronicle, Business Wire, Tennessean, USA Today, Smart Company, The Times, Entrepreneur, Mercury News, Ebony, International Business Times, Reuters, Miami Herald, Al Dia, El Nuevo Dia and much more.

And we’re just getting started!!

“Never in my career had I met so many people from across so many sectors, ages, levels and dimensions of diversity, all joining together as one inclusive group to address today’s diversity challenges, in the workplace and in our communities…” – Becky Bearse, Huffington Post
Meet the Team
Melinda Briana Epler
Founder & CEO

Melinda Briana Epler has over 25 years of experience developing business innovation and inclusion strategies for startups, Fortune 500 companies and global NGOs.

As CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda currently works with the tech industry to solve diversity and inclusion together. Using her background in storytelling and large-scale culture change, she is a strategic advisor for tech companies, tech hubs and governments around the world. She co-leads a series of global solutions-focused conferences called Tech Inclusion. Melinda is also Director of Program Development at Backstage Capital, a venture capital firm, where she develops startup curriculum and builds inclusive local and global entrepreneur ecosystems for underestimated founders.

Previously, Melinda was a Marketing and Culture Executive and award-winning documentary filmmaker – her film and television work includes projects that exposed the AIDS crisis in South Africa, explored women’s rights in Turkey, and prepared communities for the effects of climate change. She has worked on several television shows, including NBC’s The West Wing.

Melinda speaks, mentors and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, allyship, social entrepreneurship, underrepresented entrepreneurs and investing.

Wayne Sutton
Co-Founder & CTO

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program. Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years experience in technology, design and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

Salem Kimble
COO

Salem Kimble is a founding team member at Change Catalyst, serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO) across our Tech Inclusion events and Startup programs. Previously, she focused on growth, marketing and customer experience at Sparrow, a nationwide social impact mobile provider and served in project management and operations roles in sustainable tourism and telecom for nonprofits. She is passionate about technology, women leaders, and catalyzing change through in-person events. She helps coordinate a number of events including Wisdom 2.0, and previously with Women 2.0 City Meetups, and the Market Street Prototyping Festival.

Salem also served as President of the San Francisco B2B Networking for B Corps and is Co-founder of Mindful Networking, a workshop series. She serves as advisor to Track it Forward, a time tracking startup serving nonprofits. Salem holds a BA from UC Santa Barbara and has self-produced two albums of original music.

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Brandon Harrell
Partnerships Director

As Partnerships Director at Change Catalyst, Brandon uses his 10 years of demonstrated background in global urban innovation and community building to help scale radical #techinclusion and systems change.

Prior to joining Change Catalyst, Brandon was General Manager and Interim Director of Impact Hub San Francisco where he oversaw the Hub’s various systems and programs, led local efforts to ensure that the community and work of the Hub reflected the diversity of the Mission District neighborhood, supported engagement with the traditional working-class residents of the Mission District, and contributed to the economic opportunities and stabilization of its residents and culture.

Brandon is Co-founder of Regeneration Rising, a workshop and event series focused on equitable food systems, regenerative agriculture, and AgTech. He also serves as a partner with the Urban Permaculture Institute of San Francisco.

Hien Huynh
Hien Huynh
Operations Coordinator

Hien Huynh is the Operations Coordinator at Change Catalyst. He’s also earning his MBA at Hult International School of Business.

I’m a data-oriented self-starter with an interest in helping others understand how data can influence and support business decisions. I led the first project to analyze my alma mater’s enrollment data to help direct the department’s recruitment efforts. In addition, I held numerous leadership positions that helped me to advance my abilities to effectively communicate with people from diverse background.

Moving to San Francisco, I’m now completing my Master of International Business with a Dual Degree in Business Analytics to develop my skills and deepen my knowledge. I’m excited to be exposed to the dynamic tech, fin-tech, and financial industries and looking to connect with like-minded people.

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Renzo Santos
Finance and Operations Analyst

As a Finance and Operations Analyst, Renzo oversees finance-related transactions of the company across the planning, tracking, and evaluation stages. Previously, he worked as a Finance Graduate Trainee in Philip Morris International where he had rotations in the Financial Planning & Analysis, Business Development & Planning, and Operations Finance Departments. He also worked as an intern in Unilever, focusing on the customer development of its ice cream brands. He holds an MSc in International Business from Hult International Business School, specializing in Data Analytics. He also finished BS in Management Engineering and BA in Economics-Honors from Ateneo de Manila University.

Growing up in the Philippines, his values were honed from the humble beginnings of his parents from the Northern provinces of the country. He is passionate about community-building, serving as a student leader in his postgraduate and undergraduate academics. He hopes he can give back to the community by promoting diversity and inclusion through his love for data and numbers.

Meet The Catalysts

These incredible people volunteer their time, energy and passion for diversity, inclusion, and accessibility to support our mission to drive change throughout the tech industry. They forever have our appreciation.

Juliette Bouquerel
Juliette Bouquerel
Podcast Executive Producer & Host

Juliette Bouquerel is Executive Producer and Host of our Tech Inclusion podcast series, elevating diverse voices of innovation. Juliette is also the founder of Be Your Change, a media platform with a focus on social and positive change. She has worked in audio for 15 years, starting in the music industry, moving on to internet radio, and finally podcasting. Juliette is also active on the board of Women in Audio – which provides audio engineering training to 1,500 girls annually, helping them get into STEM and creative technology industries.

Liva Neyroud-Rajaonah
Liva Neyroud-Rajaonah
HR Strategist

Liva is a Human Resources Strategist at Change Catalyst, developing content for our toolkits and other resources for the tech community. She is also a Career Advisor at JVS on the Job Search Accelerator team where she partners with clients in job transition to maximize their success – through career advising, skills development curriculum, peer mentoring and coaching.

Liva is a Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources and a Certified Coach, with experience in HR, Organizational development, Talent Management, Coaching and Education in the Bay Area, CA and Paris, France.

Andrea Vu Chasko
Andrea Vu Chasko
Operations

Andrea Vu Chasko works on operations at Change Catalyst. She is also a Leadership and disAbility Engagement Coach, a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and Scholarship Reviewer for the Anita Borg Institute. Previously she was Co-Founder and Chief Academic and Innovation Officer at Coding Autism.

Tej Yale
Tej Yale
Catalyst

Tej Yale works as a Catalyst at Change Catalyst, helping coordinate our Tech Inclusion Detroit event, research local tech ecosystems and develop content for our Tech Inclusion City Reports. He is also Founder of Think Impact, a business and marketing consulting firm for small businesses in Detroit, Michigan.

Zachary Tomlinson
Zachary Tomlinson
Ecosystem Analyst & Writer

Zac Tomlinson works as an Ecosystem Analyst and Writer at Change Catalyst, conducting research and analysis on local tech ecosystems and developing our Tech Inclusion City Reports.

Vivian Cheung
Vivian Cheung
Volunteer and Career Fair Coordinator

Vivian is our Volunteer and Career Fair Coordinator. She’s a 4th year student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo studying Industrial Engineering and Science, Technology and Society. As a first generation college student, she hopes to engage and create a more inclusive environment in the tech industry. She’s worked with organizations such as Women in Business as a mentor to underrepresented students and with Society of Women Engineers to increase representation in STEM.

Camille Edwards
Camille Edwards
Project Manager

Camille Edwards is a Project Manager at Change Catalyst, working on our Tech Inclusion Career Fair and other programs. She also works in tech operations at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative where she is a founding member of their Employee Resource Group Committee. Previously she worked at CBS, Fox News, Edgeworth Economics and was a Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow.

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Antonia Ford
Content Lead

Antonia is the Content Lead for the Tech Inclusion blog. She is currently finishing her degrees in Spanish and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at San Francisco State University. Her research and published articles while in school center on topics including gender-balance in the workplace and encouraging female leadership. In her free time, Antonia is an active member of her academic and religious communities, advocating for interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue

FAQ

We love partnering with companies that care about and support this work, and have several opportunities available. Please email us so we can send you more information and connect!

Fantastic! We have an awesome team of volunteers working with us. Please let us know your interest by filling out our Volunteer Form here.

In 2018, we have a Career Fair attached to our Tech Inclusion 2018 Conference in San Francisco. Expect about 40-50 companies and 1500-2000 candidates to join us. If your company would like to join us, contact us for more information.

Note: we don’t currently have the staffing capability to help with individual staffing needs outside of our Career Fairs. But we are working on a platform for the future, let us know if it’s something you’d like to help us build.

We are incredibly excited to expand our work to new cities where we can help build a local tech ecosystem that is inclusive.

In order to make it work, we need:

  1. A Local City Coordinator to help organize the event and
  2. A local Presenting Sponsor to help fund it.

Sometimes we start our work in a new city with a smaller Roundtable or evening Summit to bring local stakeholders together for the first time.

We’re happy to talk through the details if you are ready to take this on!

Contact us here.

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