Putting the Spotlight on African-Americans in Tech

Verizon Employee Resource Groups are employee-led associations sanctioned by the business and designed to further employees’ personal and professional development and help extend companywide initiatives, such as community outreach, business innovation, and inclusion and diversity.

The Consortium of Information and Telecommunications Executives, also known as CITE, is one such Employee Resource Group that’s bringing renewed enthusiasm to employee engagement and issue awareness within the company, as well as outreach efforts for the African-American community at large.

Formed in 1983, CITE is a nonprofit organization that represents more than 31,000 African-American employees of Verizon, and other minority employees.

Celebrating Black History Month

African-American heritage is celebrated every day at Verizon, and in honor of Black History Month employees and leaders have teamed up to shine an even brighter light on the profound and positive influences that African Americans have had in the technology industry.

Verizon platforms, such as Potential Of Us and Inspire Her Mind, encourage diverse audiences to reach their full potential by allowing technology to power their passions. With this spirit, CITE is supporting Verizon’s long-standing commitment to STEM by hosting a cultural event aimed toward engaging underrepresented populations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

On Feb. 3, members of CITE (in collaboration with The Verizon Foundation) will host a coding workshop for 60-plus diverse students in Basking Ridge, N.J. Students from local STEM schools will receive hands-on experience in coding and creating mobile applications, with the help of instructors.

Later in the day, employees will gather for a panel with Verizon leaders and Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls CODE. The session will be focused on the social and business benefits of engaging underrepresented groups in STEM.

Employee Spotlight

Justina Nixon-Saintil and Jonathan Fowler, Verizon employees and CITE members, share their thoughts on celebrating African American heritage and discuss what more can be done to help spur diversity in STEM.


Q: What does Black History Month mean to you?

A: Black History Month is a time for me and my family to truly reflect upon the progress African- Americans made in the U.S and to honor the brave men and women who devoted their lives advocating for the basic rights of African-Americans. During Black History Month, we celebrate civil rights leaders and learn about other African-Americans who have contributed significantly to American society. We also focus on helping others who are less fortunate, and we leave the month with a better sense of purpose. - Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of global corporate citizenship


Q: How do we continue to engage underrepresented groups in STEM?

A. Too often youth in underrepresented groups do not have a grasp of the potential that resides in each of them. It is our objective to continue to sponsor activities that will immerse and engage their minds in technology by focusing on events that stimulate excitement and curiosity at an early age. Excitement and curiosity harnessed together is a powerful tool that enables these youth to understand they are not restricted to just using technology every day, but can become innovators and creators of leading edge technology. - Jonathan Fowler, manager of Mid-America operations