Press Releases

STEMployment Panel to Address Chicago’s Tech Talent Pipeline

Feb 22, 2016

Black Tech Mecca, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Cisco, IBM & Microsoft Lead Dialogue with Local Businesses and Chicago Public Schools

Downers Grove, Ill. — On a panel hosted by the Creating IT Futures Foundation, Lumity and Chicago Public Schools, Chicago technology leaders will discuss how local businesses can better close the STEM skills gap and build a talent pipeline with a focus on youth training and internships. The panel discussion, “STEMployment: An Employer Engagement Panel Discussion”, takes place March 10, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Chicago Public School’s central office, 42 W. Madison Street in downtown Chicago.

Attendees will learn about building win-win community partnerships; supporting high-wage, high-tech youth internships; advancing IT career opportunities for women, Latinos and African-Americans; and solutions to overcome youth hiring challenges.

Moderated by Brenda Darden Wilkerson, senior manager for computer science and IT education at Chicago Public Schools, the panel includes:

  • Fabian Elliott, founder and CEO, Black Tech Mecca,
  • Florence Hardy, director of small business development, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce,
  • Simon Ibbitt, account executive, US Public Sector, Microsoft,
  • Charlotte Johnson, corporate citizenship and corporate affairs manager, IBM,
  • Akari Muhisani, collaboration specialist, SLED Public Sector, Cisco, and
  • Manika Turnbull, PhD., vice president and chief diversity officer, BlueCross BlueShield.

Attendees also will hear how more than 30 companies and organizations thought outside the box to create summer internships for 100 high school juniors in Chicago’s Early College STEM Schools last summer. Chicago has five STEM schools that allow students to earn college credit toward an associate’s degree in an IT pathway while in high school as well as participate in work-based learning activities with corporate partners to while relate their education to current business needs.

“To get more kids into STEM, we need to show them what a career in science, math, engineering and technology will really be like,” said Charles Eaton, CEO of Creating IT Futures. “Schools can’t do it alone. Businesses need to partner with education. Through our work with Chicago’s Early College STEM Schools, we’re linking students with tech business leaders as mentors and helping these students find summer internships with local businesses. The more businesses step up, the more students we can help – all while growing the tech talent pipeline for Chicago.”

The panel is free, but registration is required.  Click here to register.

About the Creating IT Futures Foundation
The Creating IT Futures Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity with the mission of helping populations under-represented in the information technology industry and individuals who are lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure, and be successful in IT careers. Learn more at

Press Contact:
Lisa Fasold
Creating IT Futures Foundation