At the recent Fairness Matters Forum hosted by The Level Playing Field Institute (LPFI), founder Freada Kapor Klein was recognized as “the moral center of Silicon Valley and an O.G. in technology,” as Benjamin Jealous put it.
As a visionary who has addressed the issues of hidden bias in Silicon Valley, she was given a heartfelt recognition for her impact on diversity at the event, which was held at the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on Dec. 4.
Kapor’s work through the LPFI Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH) has diversified the pipeline for people of color in the tech industry.
“Twitter and I have benefitted from Freada’s generosity, brain and heart and I am thrilled to support such a great woman and organization,” said Janet Van Huysse, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Twitter.
The event included a panel discussion moderated by David Loftesness, Director of Engineering at Twitter, and featured guest speaker former Vice President Al Gore.
“Freada is just amazing and her work is a testament to her beliefs,” said former Vice President Gore.
Benjamin Jealous, former NAACP President and CEO and Kapor Capital Partner, also spoke on the challenges and solutions for more diversity in the tech industry.
“Black men are incarcerated 3 times more than apartheid in South Africa – when you see all kids as your kid, mountains can be moved and outcomes can be changed,” he said, noting that California spends 15 percent of its budget on prisons and six percent on public universities.
“We are behind Singapore in education because Singapore invests more in poor youth than the rich,” Jealous continued, challenging the U.S. to invest more in education.
He also recognized LPFI President and Chief Education Officer Jarvis Sulcer for “being the only Black PhD in nuclear science in the year he graduated.”
“I’m rarely speechless – these students do all the work, this award and honor goes to these scholars,” said Kapor.
“This is an unprecedented moment in my career and people ask me when will I retire or do something different – well as soon as we end racism, I will take time out to do other things I like to do,” she said.
In her desire to expand the SMASH program, Kapor suggested that $500 million of the state prison budget be reinvested to give 10th graders an opportunity to enter the program.
“That would be a bargain, considering the lives it would change and the benefit to our nation,” Kapor said.
For more information visit www.lpfi.org.