Jax leader trying to get more Black professionals into tech sector (Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) — Alana Whitaker is a 35-year-old Jacksonville native and retired nurse whose interest in technology was piqued by happenstance.
Last year, Whitaker was appointed president of the Jacksonville chapter of Blacks in Technology, an organization founded 10 years ago in Cincinnati that now has 76 chapters and 26,000 members around the world.
The Jacksonville chapter was dormant for close to two years but revitalized by Whitaker, with a meeting in September attracting 100 potential members. Here’s what she shared with the Business Journal:
How did you become interested in the tech industry?
I literally came home from work one day, and my roommate’s boyfriend had charts up on the screen, and I’m like, ‘well, what are you doing?’ This was my first exposure to technical analysis. From there, I just became fixated on the assets that he was trading and wanted to learn more deeply. I started reading white papers to really understand how blockchain technology worked and cryptocurrency. I learned what blockchain was capable of: It’s a permanent ledger of information that’s stored online and there’s so many implications, such as transforming the way we handle documentation right now in the Florida.
Why do you think interest in Blacks in Technology has been so robust?
First off, technology is one of the most rapidly growing industries. Blacksandtechnology.net was founded in 2008, so it’s almost been around for 15 years and established legally in 2012. It’s the largest community organization that focuses on Black people, specifically in the tech industry. Instead of saying people of color or other entities, we need our own community as well. We have our regional conference coming up in Nashville, and I’ll actually be the MC for that event. I want to see Black people in technology in Jacksonville. I’m super tech curious, love networking and want to meet people and share those contacts with my chapter.
What are your short-term goals for the Jacksonville chapter?
Honestly, I’m the founder of Jacksonville Tech Week, so I would love to be able to aggregate interested and talented individuals that I can highlight what everyone inside of the chapter can do. Then people who don’t know where to go or want assistance in breaking into tech that would be a great job. Creating a fair hiring portal and just a great place for people to congregate and highlight Jacksonville in the tech industry because we really don’t highlight ourselves. Another short-term goal would be funding for the chapter. I’m self-funded, so I’m doing a lot of this for my community out of the kindness of my heart.
Photo courtesy of Black Enterprise Magazine