Change Catalyst builds inclusive innovation ecosystems through training, consulting, coaching and events. We are leaders in driving diversity and inclusion solutions globally and have worked with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies, startups, and venture capital firms over the years. We partner with clients as extensions of your team—working together to develop diverse, equitable, and inclusive teams, culture, processes, and products.
In 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.
Since 2015 we’ve been growing our training, consulting, and coaching practice throughout the tech industry and beyond. In all our work, we focus on solutions: solutions that incorporate the latest research and behavioral science, strengthen communities and ecosystems, and build lasting change across organizations.
In just six years we have held more than 50 events and reached more than 50 countries around the world. We have worked with 130+ startups, 350+ community partners, and 360+ tech companies. Our events have hosted over 28,000 Attendees and provided job opportunities to 11,700 job candidates.
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
TED speaker, diversity and inclusion advocate, and leader building inclusive innovation around the world.
Melinda Briana Epler has 25 years of experience elevating brands and developing business innovation strategies for startups, Fortune 500 companies, and global NGOs.
As CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda works with her clients and partners to solve diversity and inclusion together. Using her background in storytelling, behavioral science, and large-scale culture change, she is a strategic advisor for companies, innovation hubs, and governments around the world. She also co-founded Tech Inclusion, a series of global solutions-focused conferences where she partnered with over 450 tech companies and community organizations and hosted over 50 solutions-focused diversity and inclusion events. Previously, Melinda was a Marketing and Culture Executive and award-winning documentary filmmaker.
Melinda is a TED speaker who speaks, mentors, and writes about diversity and inclusion, inclusive innovation, empathy, and entrepreneurship. She is the author of the upcoming book How to Be an Ally (McGraw-Hill) and the host of the popular “Leading With Empathy & Allyship” podcast. She has spoken on hundreds of stages worldwide, including SXSW, Grace Hopper, Wisdom 2.0, the World Bank, White House, Clinton Foundation, Black Enterprise, Google, Indeed, Capital One, UC Berkeley, and McKinsey.
Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and founder of the Icon Project (501c3 non-profit). The Icon Project mission is to address Black and Brown Men’s mental health and professional development needs in Tech. Wayne is also the co-founder of Change Catalyst. Change Catalyst builds inclusive innovation ecosystems through strategic advising, startup programs, and resources. 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 has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising entrepreneurs, Sutton’s life goal is to advocate for the awareness of humans to address their mental health.
Wayne has over 14 years of 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.
Ariyah brings nearly 20 years of experience in mission-driven marketing communications. She first began work with Change Catalyst in 2009 and, over the years, has delivered on marketing, project management, business planning, and client services across industries. At Change Catalyst she handles everything from marketing strategy to social media.
Ariyah has worked in communications for organizations in Seattle, San Francisco, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. She earned an MBA in Consulting and Sustainable Enterprise at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2009 and a bachelor’s in English and Women’s Studies at Duke in 2001.
Ariyah and her family, which includes two rescue pups named Ava and Rocco, call Durham, NC their home. She enjoys being actively engaged in her local community and is a certified Master Gardener and photographer.
As the Finance & Operations Analyst at Change Catalyst, Renzo oversees the company’s finances across the planning, tracking, and evaluation stages. He also provides in-depth technical and data analysis support for research projects on diversity and inclusion.
He is passionate about supporting communities, especially underrepresented groups, to create safe spaces to pursue excellence. Through his expertise and love for data and numbers, he hopes to build more equitable opportunities for everybody. He is committed to bring valuable and visible impact in identifying solutions for diversity and inclusion.
Growing up in the Philippines, his values were honed by his parents’ humble beginnings in the Northern provinces of the country.
Christina Swindlehurst Chan supports the marketing team at Change Catalyst through event coordination, communication, and content creation. She previously worked in marketing for music and financial services organizations, where she became passionate about addressing systemic inequality and the need to improve diversity and inclusion across a wide range of industries. She also serves on the board of wayOUT LGBT, which empowers LGBTQ+ youth to feel safe as they are.
Christina holds a Master of Music and a Postgraduate Diploma in voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is an internationally trained opera singer, but now prefers to spend her time painting, cake decorating, and exploring the world for the next best thing to eat.
Juliette Bouquerel is Producer of “Leading with Empathy and Allyship” and Executive Producer and Host of the 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.
Emilie has a background in Hospitality Management and for the past 10 years, she has been dedicated working for Booking.com in different commercial capacities as well as operations management. By volunteering, she wants to make a positive impact and contribute to increased diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
Originally from Meshoppen, Pennsylvania Justin Cobb is a 2019 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications Media and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. With five years of experience– his professional career includes different industries but linked together by one theme: diversity, equity, and inclusion. Change Catalyst’s innovative and strategic approaches to addressing systemic inequalities in the workplace inspire him. His background in strategic communication and data analysis are up for the challenge. Outside of the office he is a creative who uses his talents to bring differing communities together through mediums such as artistic expression and entrepreneurship.
Gabriella Mahmoud is an Inclusion, Empathy, and Allyship Researcher who helps Change Catalyst design and manage research projects to help build a more inclusive and empathetic environment in the tech industry. With a passion for supporting people and communities from all walks of life, she also volunteers her time with CHEER San Francisco raising money for various beneficiaries. Gabriella has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business from San Francisco State University.
Olivia Wirsching is the Social Media Coordinator at Change Catalyst. She is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College studying Computer Science and Mathematics. At Bowdoin, Olivia has curated Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds for the nation’s oldest continuously published college weekly, The Bowdoin Orient. She is passionate about working toward the common good by using design and technology to make a positive impact.
Merve works as a Data Analyst Intern at Change Catalyst, leading data analysis and visualization mainly for the Allyship Report and Leading With Empathy & Allyship Project. With a background in Brand Management for more than 6 years, she holds an MBA and a Master’s degree in Business Analytics from Hult International Business School.
Originally from Turkey, she is fueled by her passion to promote a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion and delivering data-driven impact at the personal, team and organizational level.
Thank you to all our volunteers, interns, and core team members that have contributed to our work over the years. We could not have done this without all your expertise!
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:
- A Local City Coordinator to help organize the event and
- 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!