Meet Our Team

The #BlackTechFutures Research Institute team is composed of leaders in academia, civic technology, research, philanthropy, and policy making. We are dedicated to growing a thriving community-centered Black tech ecosystem.

Our Stewards

Leadership Team

Dr. Fallon Wilson

Lead Principal Investigator and Co-Founder

Dr. Fallon Wilson is the lead principal investigator on the project. She is a Co-Founder of #BlackTechFutures Research Institute and the former Research Director of Black Tech Mecca. Recently, she was awarded a Kauffman Foundation’s Open Knowledge grant to launch #BlackTechFutures Research Institute.

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Dr. Fallon Wilson is the lead principal investigator on the project. She is a Co-Founder of #BlackTechFutures Research Institute and the former Research Director of Black Tech Mecca. Recently, she was awarded a Kauffman Foundation’s Open Knowledge grant to launch #BlackTechFutures Research Institute. She is a member of the Federal Communications Commissions’ Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment.

Dr. Wilson is a 2019 TEDx Speaker (e.g. Stop Ignoring Black Women and Hear of Our Tech Prophecies). She is a Board Member of the State of Tennessee’s Future of Work Taskforce and Co-Chairs Nashville’s smart city plan, Connected Nashville. Given her tech activism and organizing Nashville’s first Tech Inclusion Conference, she is a 2017 recipient of the International Society for Technology in Education Digital Equity Award. Recently, Dr. Wilson was recently appointed to Google’s Education Equity Board and has been named by Venture Beat as the modern day Fannie Lou Hamer for tech equity.

Dr. Wilson’s research on first generation black college students’ alternative tech pathways and tech ecosystems has garnered notable research grants from Kapor Center for Social Impact & Kauffman Foundation. Dr. Wilson chairs the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s HBCU Success Board.

Dr. Wilson has written countless opinion pieces for the Tennessean, Venture Beat, Dr. Wilson has a BA from Spelman College and MA/PhD from the University of Chicago. As a public interest technologist, she discusses race, gender, faith, and civic tech issues. She is on twitter @SistahWilson

Melissa Brown-Sims, M.A.

Co-Principal Investigator and Co-Founder

Melissa Brown-Sims, M.A., the Co-Principal Investigator, has recently co-authored two research reports for the cities Chicago and Philadelphia examining the intersection of racial equity and Smart Black Tech Ecosystems. She earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago in 2006.

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Melissa Brown-Sims, M.A., will serve as the Co-Principal Investigator. Brown-Sims is a Senior Researcher and experienced project director at the American Institutes for Research (AIR).She has more than 13 years of experience successfully seeking funding and managing multiple, multi-year and concurrent projects with annual budgets ranging from $300,000 to $2 million. She managed research teams of 5 to 15 people.

Brown-Sims has in-depth experience with overseeing the execution, collection and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data such as interviews, focus groups, and surveys and is able to triangulate data into a clear, coherent, and precise narrative in easy to understand language to clients.

Brown-Sims has recently co-authored two research reports for the cities Chicago and Philadelphia examining the intersection of racial equity and Smart Black Tech Ecosystems. She earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago in 2006.

Jurnell Cockhren

Instructor

Co-principal investigator Jurnell Cockhren is the CEO of Civic Hacker, bringing over a decade of experience in creating and contributing to open source software with a work history spanning Neuroscience, Optics and Astronomy, providing an enriched perspective of the applied sciences.

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Co-principal investigator Jurnell Cockhren is the CEO of Civic Hacker, bringing over a decade of experience in creating and contributing to open source software with a work history spanning Neuroscience, Optics and Astronomy, providing an enriched perspective of the applied sciences.

Civic Hacker’s mission highlights the primary elements of what I call activist-centered technologies, or ACTs. Activist-centered technology, acknowledges the importance of social activism and seeks to increase the capacity of activist groups. By using a combination of software, policy and data, it is possible to interface with the parts of social movements which are the most critical to activists. The choice to center activists comes from the reality that activist work is the result of the volunteer efforts our most vulnerable groups and their allies.

William “Isaac” McCoy

Stillman Business School Advisor

William “Isaac” McCoy will serve as the Stillman Business School Advisor. McCoy is an educator, professional mentor, and business development executive skilled at navigating the busy intersection of nonprofits, public entities, corporations, and social impact investments.

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William “Isaac” McCoy will serve as the Stillman Business School Advisor. McCoy is an educator, professional mentor, and business development executive skilled at navigating the busy intersection of nonprofits, public entities, corporations, and social impact investments. He is a former White House Appointee in the Obama Administration who led economic policies and initiatives to support the growth and sustainability of minority-owned businesses.

McCoy, is the co-founder of the Jamii Group, a social impact and business development firm that is committed to helping business leaders create greater opportunities for themselves, redefine their competitive edge and impact their company’s triple bottom line: the financial, the social and the environmental, with efficiency and ease. He was also selected by the U.S. State Department to serve as a Global Innovation Fellow.

McCoy currently serves as the Dean of the School of Business at historic Stillman College where he is responsible for the development and execution of the school’s vision, strategy, goals and objectives that focuses on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology, Accreditation, Fundraising, Globalization, and Civic Engagement and Responsibility.

Our Foundation

Meet the Partners

Our partners are leaders in academia, civic technology, research, philanthropy and policy making, dedicated to growing a thriving Black tech ecosystem by championing community-centered research and collaboration to solve issues of racial tech disparity.

Stillman College is a liberal arts institution committed to fostering academic excellence, to providing opportunities for diverse populations, and to maintaining a strong tradition of preparing students for leadership and service.

Civic Hacker uses Open Source software to implement your vision for a better world. Custom-tailored for your team. Civic Hacker tracks millions of data points, spanning all sorts of fields of study. If it doesn’t already exist, we can help you create it.

UmanityEDU builds black tech innovation ecologies, with Black joy, research, and community-centered programming, to build a national black tech ecosystem. 

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