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Thankful For These Four Female Leaders

The Forrest Four-Cast: November 24, 2016

On Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the many many blessing in my life. I am particularly thankful for the many tech industry leaders whose creativity has guided and inspired me to continue to improve. Four women who merit specific recognition are as follows:

  1. danah boyd: Vital to the growth and development of SXSW were the many years that danah contributed her energy to the event (including a keynote speech in 2010). More recently, the duties of a growing family have restricted her presence in Austin — but her legacy continues. danah’s ongoing work on privacy as well as the impact of technology on teenagers have never been more relevant than now. A passionate voice for progress, she is a leading conscience for the connected world.
  2. Sara Brand. Previously a founder at (512) Brewing Company, Brand is now a partner at Austin’s True Wealth Ventures. This firm’s female-first approach is less about politics than it is about business value: “True Wealth Ventures investment thesis is that women-led companies perform better financially, yet are an untapped market for investors since only 3% of venture dollars go to women-led start-ups and 15% to those with a woman on the leadership team. In addition, since women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions and 80% of healthcare decisions, True Wealth Ventures believes there is an additional advantage for companies with women on the management team in designing products for, selling to and servicing these women customers in these markets.”
  3. Suzi Sosa. The first time I heard Suzi speak was at an Ernst & Young awards dinner a few years ago. In her acceptance speech at this dinner, she outlined her goal to make Austin the global capital of social entrepreneurism — and I’m always impressed with people who have a targeted plan for a better tomorrow. Today, her startup Verb partners with corporate, foundation and government clients to build innovation ecosystems focused on pressing social and environmental issues.
  4. Manoush Zomorodi. While I have never met Manoush (pictured above), the many hours that I’ve spent listening to her wonderful WYNC podcast “Note to Self” make me feel like we are close friends. The target audience for her show (“anyone trying to preserve their humanity in the digital age”) mirrors the demographic we aim to attract at SXSW. Sometime soon, I hope that we can get her to come to Austin in March to talk about her vision of a more people-friendly future.

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