AfroTech Conference attendees embrace empowerment as Black women in the tech industry

For three working at Amazon Studios, their careers are a way to set examples for future generations.

By Tiara Allen, Terry Gutierrez and Laura RiceDecember 23, 2022 11:15 am, , ,

The 2022 AfroTech Conference, which was held in Austin this fall, brought a wealth of talent and influence from across tech to center the Black voices that make up the industry.

Big industry names like Amazon Studios were well-represented at the conference, with three in particular taking part: Jessica Fernandez, Courtney Sims and Trishae Cole.

For Fernandez, who is head of communications for Amazon Studios, her first time attending the conference helped her to live up to a notion she quotes from Oprah – that of embracing being the only Black woman at the table.

“That’s something that I try to embody because it’s a norm, unfortunately, for us,” Fernandez said. “I don’t think it will be for long, but it is for us for now. And to come into our room and to really have a voice as a Black woman has been super empowering.”

The empowerment she has felt in her role has also helped her set an example for her daughter.

It’s a sentiment shared by Cole, who sees her presence in the industry as one that will help Black girls see that they, too, have a space for them in tech.

“You have all of these industries that are disposable, but the way that we’re moving – like although there’s so much happening, good and bad, in the technology space – tech is here to stay,” Cole said. “So why not be in that industry and be an example for those coming to find us?”

For Sims, who leads global internal communications at Amazon Studios, the experience at AfroTech has also given her tangible skills and lessons she can bring back to her team.

“I feel like I’ve been very lucky just in terms of navigating my career, and it’s all brought me to this one moment,” she said.

Listen to more from the three AfroTech attendees in the audio player above.

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