The first official event for the new Blacks in Technology (BIT) Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter kicked off last week on March 9 at The Collective co-working space. The networking mixer had 66 attendees who rubbed elbows with other tech professionals interested in advancing the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Roanoke-Blacksburg communities.
“The tech world didn’t represent the community,” said Harvey Brookins, VERGE board member, on why they formed the new BIT chapter. “We wanted to do something very deliberate, so we brought together all the stakeholders to figure out the best ways to connect and showcase the Black community members. Then we reached out to BIT national.”
Get2KnowNoke also spoke with Angela Dickerson who volunteered as the first chapter president. She explained that the Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter leadership determined three areas of focus:
- Educate K-12 students about the opportunities that STEM can afford them.
- Increase engagement among those that work in tech and tech-adjacent fields.
- Provide opportunities for certification, networking, and mentoring.
So who can join BIT, and what does membership entail?
Membership is 100% free. Members just need to identify as Black and be interested in growing their knowledge in the tech space. Members receive benefits such as free or deeply discounted certifications.
As far as engagement and events are concerned anyone, regardless of race, can come and learn how to grow their tech careers.
**Currently membership is with BIT Virginia Chapter.
The next event is in Blacksburg on April 14 with special guest Dennis Shultz, the executive director of Blacks in Technology, who also happens to be a Hokie.
“Since BIT is an international organization, Dennis meets with people all over the world on Zoom,” said Angela Dickerson, BIT Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter president. “On all his international calls, he [Shultz] proudly hangs his Hokie flag directly behind him in his office.”
Dickerson, Brookins, and the rest of the newly formed BIT Roanoke-Blacksburg board have high hopes for the future of the club. They plan to identify opportunities for grants and funding to start getting the community the training and support needed to be successful. They also are looking for sponsors interested in helping to create programming and bring inspiring speakers.
If you are interested in sponsoring or learning more about membership, please email Angela Pope Dickerson.
To receive updates for the April 14 event and all future opportunities related to the BIT Roanoke-Blacksburg chapter, sign up for the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council e-newsletter.