IDEAL IT Launches People of Color in Technology (POC-IT) Affinity Group

Felicia Smith and Rodney Carter speak at the POC-IT launch event
Felicia Smith and Rodney Carter speak at the POC-IT launch event

On Jan. 15, the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have celebrated his 91st birthday, technology professionals across Stanford gathered to launch Stanford People of Color in Technology (POC-IT), the newest IDEAL IT affinity group that advances representation, engagement, and support for people of color in technology roles at Stanford.

A historical connection

Introductory remarks were made by Stanford CIO, Steve Gallagher, and POC-IT Program Lead, Rodney Carter. Steve spoke about Ernest Johnson, the first African-American student to attend Stanford. After applying to Stanford and not hearing back, it was Jane Stanford who contacted the university president at the time and advocated for Ernest’s acceptance. As a result, Ernest was able to earn his bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford.

Bringing your authentic self to the workplace

Senior Vice Provost for Education and Vice President for the Arts, Harry Elam, gave the inaugural keynote address on the importance of diversity on campus and bringing your authentic self to work. Elam discussed how he has encountered feelings of isolation through lack of representation and ways that he has attempted to narrow the divide between his authentic self and his Stanford self.

“As we strive to secure a time, a place, a space at Stanford where there is no feeling of isolation, where there is no dichotomy between what you understand as your authentic voice and what you have come to use as your Stanford voice – that we all have felt compelled to adopt in certain moments – we may ask ourselves, ‘What is my responsibility? To ourselves, to our community, to this institution... ‘When is just doing my job not enough?’

We all know and have seen that change can come through acts both small and seemingly inconsequential, and much larger. So we have the chance through our actions and commitment, through our mere assembly together, to make change, to make Stanford better, and in the process, understand and enjoy the fact that you are not alone."

After the keynote presentations, there were opportunities to interact with fellow colleagues and engage in conversations about the future direction of Stanford POC-IT. Learn more about the launch event and ways to get involved by taking a look at the following resources.

Additional Resources

People of Color in Technology Webpage
Zoom Recording of the Event
Slideshow of the Event
Photos of the Event