Black people have always been masters of innovation, leading groundbreaking discoveries that have changed the world. These pioneers are expanding frontiers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Windham has shattered many glass ceilings in the automotive industry. Known for her innovation and leadership, Windham is the first Black woman appointed as executive director of global industrial design at industry leader General Motors. In her previous role as director of design for Cadillac Interiors, she led the team behind some of Cadillac’s most iconic interiors, including the 2021 Cadillac Escalade and, most recently, the Cadillac LYRIQ. Back in 2008, when Windham became the first Black female director in GM Design’s history, she spearheaded and oversaw several award-winning interiors, including the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
As a physician and lawyer advocating for justice and equity in American healthcare, Dr. Webb is the change he wanted to see. In 2020, he ran as the Democratic Party nominee for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Using his legal and medical background to advocate for healthcare policy reform, he became the White House Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity in the Biden administration in 2021.
In July, thanks to Robinson, the world saw the “deepest, sharpest infrared view of the universe” ever taken by NASA. As one of NASA’s rare Black engineers, Robinson, who joined the agency in 1989, has held numerous positions, including manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center, deputy center director of the John H. Glenn Research Center, NASA deputy chief engineer, and director of the Webb Space Telescope Program from 2018 to 2022. Before his retirement after a 33-year career, his supervisor complimented him as “the most effective leader of a mission I have ever seen in the history of NASA.”
Since becoming the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from MIT, Robinson Snowden has dedicated her career to moving the needle in the field of nuclear arms control and STEM advocacy. Leveraging her technical background, she supports the United States in its nuclear arms control and risk reduction efforts as a senior advisor in the U.S. Department of State. As a STEM advocate, she’s worked to pave the way for more women and minorities to follow in her footsteps and create a more equitable world. The nuclear engineer’s journey in STEM has been featured in Marvel Comics, on CNBC, NBC, BET, radio and in print media.
The first of two Black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Croak is an industry trailblazer. She joined Google in late 2014 after retiring from AT&T, where she developed one of the world’s largest wireless and broadband networks. Honored for her work in advancing VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology, which powers online calls and video chats, she helped businesses and families stay connected through the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Croak holds more than 200 patents, and was recently honored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Combining her natural passion for sports and technology, Butler, a Georgia Tech alum and former WNBA player, launched the nonprofit Ballin Technology to use sports as a gateway to teach low-income students coding and to prepare them for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) careers. In July, Butler opened S.T.E.A.M. Champs with the mission to give Brooklyn youth much-needed tech resources. Recognizing her significance among the greatest basketball players the city has ever seen, she’s included in the hoop doc NYC Point Gods, executive produced by jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy directors and 2021 Power 100 awardees Coodie and Chike.
A few years before the pandemic, KOBO360 put its hat in the ring to solve Africa’s transporting issues. By using technology to match cargo to trucks that can ship it, KOBO360 CEO and co-founder Ozor was able to make an immediate impact on Africa’s supply chain challenges. He is also building a Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS], a blockchain-enabled platform to power trade across the African continent. Recognized as one of Fortune magazine’s 40 Under 40 global leaders in technology, Ozor was named to the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders Class of 2021. Earlier this year, KOBO360 won for Best E-Logistics Platform at the Digital Tech 100 Awards in Kenya.
Recognized as one of Fortune magazine’s 40 Under 40 in Health in 2021 and Forbes 30 Under 30 for 2022, molecular biologist and STEM educator Baxter has found innovative ways to excite young people about science. Under her stage name “Dr. Raven Baxter, the Science Maven,” she produced an album’s worth of science-education rap videos—one, a COVID-19 primer called “Wipe It Down,” went viral—and launched a web series, The STEMbassy, featuring scientists of varying genders, races and disciplines. Her upcoming projects include a science-focused podcast and book.
Recognizing the difference STEM made in their own lives, Phillips, Coleman, and Wilson left their corporate jobs in 2008 to co-found Project SYNCERE and deliver that same impact to others. Providing opportunities for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in STEM, especially in communities plagued by gun violence, they’ve exposed 20,000 students and counting to STEM-related fields. Of those students, 83 percent reported an increased awareness and knowledge of STEM and 100 percent of their E-Cademy graduates went on to post-secondary STEM programs.
Merging technology and entertainment in innovative ways is a hallmark for McFedries. Brud Inc., the tech startup he co-founded and led as CEO, was known for launching virtual celebrity Lil Miquela, a computer-generated influencer which amassed nearly 10 million fans detailing her life as a pop star on social media. It also created one of the early successful social Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) Friends with Benefits. After Brud was acquired by NFT company Dapper Labs, known for NBA Top Shot, McFedries became CEO of Dapper Collectives.