Collective Spotlight

9 Black Founders & Operators Forging Paths in Tech

Angie Coleman

At its core, Black History Month is all about shining a light on often unrecognized Black greatness. The doors to the tech ecosystem have long been inaccessible to people from underrepresented groups, and we strive to bring together impactful leaders and hidden figures from all backgrounds to the forefront at Operator Collective.

We’re honored to celebrate these 9 brilliant Black founders and operators in our community. They continue to carve a path forward through sheer excellence - not just for themselves, but for many more to follow - and are changing the face of venture from the ground up.

Cindy Kent (@cindyrkent)

Chief Operating Officer, Everly Health

Cindy is a healthcare executive, corporate director, and philanthropist widely recognized for her innovation and transformational leadership across different sectors in healthcare. Prior to joining Everly Health, Cindy was EVP and President of Senior Living Operations at Brookdale Senior Living. Before her role at Brookdale Senior Living, Cindy held roles of successive leadership at Eli Lilly, Medtronic, and 3M--a $32B diversified technology company known worldwide for its innovation. Currently, she is the Chief Operating Officer of Everly Health, the digital health company at the forefront of the virtual diagnostics-driven care industry and parent company to Everlywell, Everly Health Solutions (formerly PWNHealth), EverlyDx, and Natalist. 

Deon Nicholas (@dojideon)

Founder, Forethought

Deon Nicholas is the CEO and Co-Founder of OpCo PortCo Forethought, a 2018 TechCrunch Disrupt winning company whose mission is to transform customer experiences with human-centered AI. Forethought has raised $100M in venture capital and was listed in the Next Billion-Dollar Startups in 2021. Before starting Forethought, Deon built products and infrastructure at Facebook, Palantir, Dropbox, and Pure Storage. He also crushes it on the karaoke stage!

Francessca Vasquez (@francessca_v

Vice President, Customer Experience, Solutions, and Technology, AWS

As the Vice President of Customer Experience and Technology for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Francessca is responsible for technology architecture, enterprise modernization & migration, innovation engineering, and workforce diversity, equity & inclusion across the worldwide commercial organization (!).  Prior to AWS, she spent 11 years at Oracle, most recently as the Group Vice President of the North America Cloud Infrastructure team. Francessca also serves as the Executive Sponsor for the AWS Global CIO Council. 

Kendra Mitchell

Chief People Officer, Chief

Kendra Mitchell is Chief People Officer at Chief, where she brings a passion for making global workplaces more equitable and inclusive. Immediately prior, she served as Chief of Staff in Cisco Security’s Strategy Office and the Duo Security Business. As Chief of Staff to Duo’s CEO & Co-Founder as well as the Head of Belonging, she helped ensure the success of strategic initiatives and led a team that focused on creating a space where barriers to brilliance are erased and a culture existed where every single employee could bring their full, authentic self to Duo and work to their highest purpose. Empathy and equity were at the heart of her work and remain key to how she approaches any role.

Mitchel Scott

CEO & Co-Founder, Sliderule

Mitchel and co-founder Nick Latourette worked together at Palantir on fraud, compliance, and customer risk for large financial institutions. They co-founded OpCo PortCo Sliderule in 2020 to take on old-school rules engines with a modern, no-code solution to help fintech companies large and small manage decisioning logic to fight financial fraud and reduce risk, without relying on engineers to make every change.

Molly Ford (@QueenMollyMol)

Vice President, Global Talent Brand Marketing, Salesforce

As an advocate for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, Molly brings her deep focus and unique lens to Salesforce where she serves as the Vice President of Global Talent Brand Marketing, ensuring representation is present in all Salesforce does. With 15+ years in Communications & PR, she leads efforts around a global data-driven approach to driving diversity, overall Equality strategy, employee engagement, and events, sponsorships, and partnerships with a diversity focus. 

Rashida Hodge (@RashidaHodge)

VP, Azure Data and AI | Customer Success, Microsoft

Rashida is a technologist and executive leader at the forefront of AI and emerging technologies that are changing how businesses operate. Currently she leads the Data and AI Customer Success Worldwide Commercial Business at Microsoft. Rashida’s differentiated leadership approach is grounded in her ability to connect deeply with teams and clients. She lays out blueprints for never-before-seen functions and teams, collaborates across continents, builds relationships of trust, and delivers complex technology solutions from research to commercialization, at scale. Dubbed the “Superhero of IBM Watson AI,” Rashida led the commercialization and global launch of IBM Watson, where she influenced the development and scale of IBM’s most significant technologies and rose to be the highest-ranking African American woman executive.

Shannon Nash (@shannonnash)

Chief Financial Officer at Wing (an Alphabet Company)

Shannon Nash is a qualified financial expert, attorney, and CPA with over 25 years of experience. She is the Chief Financial Officer of Wing, a drone delivery company and subsidiary of Alphabet, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL). As Chief Financial Officer, Shannon taps into her history of scaling companies for growth through strong financial and operations leadership and is responsible for all corporate finance, accounting, investor relations, fundraising, and regional/partner operations.

Window Snyder (@window)

CEO & Founder, Thistle Technologies

Window is the Founder and CEO of OpCo PortCo Thistle Technologies, a security company built for developers. She has been building security technologies into platforms and operating systems for more than 20 years - and is responsible for the security on systems that we all use today, including Microsoft Windows, macOS, iOS, and Firefox. Window is a security industry veteran and former Chief Security Officer at Square, Fastly and Mozilla. She’s also the co-author of Threat Modeling, a manual for security architecture analysis in software. As an advocate for security and cyber safety, she frequently speaks at conferences, and continues to encourage women to explore the field.

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