Ep 66: Redefining Tech Inclusion in the Age of Trump with Melinda Epler
Melinda Epler (@changecatalysts) is Founder and CEO of Change Catalyst, a certified B Corp whose mission is to empower diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation through education, mentorship and funding. Change Catalyst won a Certified B Corporation “Best for the World” award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World” overall in 2015.
Melinda has more than 20 years of experience elevating brands and developing business innovation strategies for social entrepreneurs, mature social enterprises, Fortune 500 companies and global NGOs.
As Founder & CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation through events, education, mentorship and funding. Through Tech Inclusion, an initiative of Change Catalyst, she partners with the tech community to solve diversity and inclusion together. Her work spans the full tech ecosystem, from Education to Workplace, Entrepreneurship and Policy.
Melinda speaks, mentors and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs and investing. She is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker – her film and television work includes projects that exposed the AIDS crisis in South Africa, explored women’s rights in Turkey, and prepared communities for the effects of climate change. She has worked on several television shows, including NBC’s The West Wing.
In this episode, we discussed:
- building bridges toward inclusiveness in tech after a damaging and divisive presidential campaign season
- key areas the diversity and inclusion and policy communities should focus on in a Trump administration.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and members of the intelligence community want President Obama to fire National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers, according to Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.
Clapper and Rogers cite numerous instances of security breaches under Rogers’ watch, including one by Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Harold T. Martin III, who was arrested in August for the largest ever theft of classified government data. There was also another breach in 2015 allegedly carried out by an individual whose name has not been disclosed, but who has since been arrested.
President-elect Trump is considering putting Rogers in charge of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and Congressional Republican leaders have come out in support of Rogers, including California Representative David Nunes who also serves on Trump’s transition team, who praised Rogers in the Washington Post.
Rodgers is also the head of U.S. Cyber Command. Ash Carter has not been impressed with Rogers’ performance in that role, either, as the cyber command’s operations in Syria and Iraq have been largely unsuccessful, according to Carter.
Further annoying Carter and Clapper is the fact that Rogers met with Trump last week unbeknownst to the White House.
Further complicating matters, Clapper and Carter are also looking to split Cyber Command from the National Security Administration, a move opposed by Senate Republicans including John McCain.
Meanwhile, as Mallory Shelbourne at The Hill reports, at a news conference in Peru last week, President Obama called Rogers a “patriot”.
In separate comments, Obama told German newspaper Der Spiegel that he had no plans to pardon Edward Snowden. The president said Snowden would first need to appear before a court.
Mark Jamison, a member of Trump’s tech policy transition team, suggested in a blog post last week that maybe the FCC shouldn’t exist. Jamison wrote, “Most of the original motivations for having the FCC have gone away.” He also said there are few monopolies in telecom, an assertion with which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has disagreed. Brian Fung has this story in the Washington Post.
A new Stanford University report found that most students from Middle School to college are unable to tell the difference between sponsored content and real news.
The study of 7,804 students found 82% could not tell what was sponsored and what was real. Seventy percent of middle schoolers also found no reason to distrust a finance article that was written by the CEO of a bank. Amar Toor has the story on The Verge.
Downloads of the encrypted messaging app Signal have soared by 400% since Donald Trump’s election, according to Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike. Governments have the ability to tap unencrypted text messages for intelligence gathering. Paresh Dave has the story in the LA Times.
Following a successful effort to get the FCC to clear its entire November meeting agenda, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune have now asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez and Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Elliott Kaye not to move forward on any controversial regulations. Upton and Thune wrote that the American people decided to make a change on November 8th and that agencies should this refrain from passing new regulations. Trump, of course, lost the popular vote by over 2 million.
Finally, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai issued a statement last week praising Trump’s Department of Justice nominee Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Sessions is widely seen as a climate change skeptic and his entire career has been dogged by accusations that Sessions is a virulent racist, which cost him a federal judgeship back in ’86. Sessions has been quoted as saying that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”
Pai is reportedly on the short list to become Trump’s nominee to Chair the FCC.