By TRICIA COMPAS-MARKMAN, founder DayOne Response and a 2014 Toyota Mother of Invention
Female engineer. Risk-taker. Trailblazer. Passionate mother. Visionary leader. This is just a slice of what Kimberly Bryant embodies as a bold entrepreneur and founder of Black Girls Code. I had the honor of witnessing Kimberly's story as she was recognized as a Toyota's "Standing O-Vation" honoree at the Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend in San Jose.
Experiencing life in the corporate world as a minority female engineer and witnessing her 12-year old daughter was the only girl of color attending a technology summer camp at Stanford University, Kimberly made a bold move. She started Black Girls Code to teach computer programming and entrepreneurial skills to girls of color, ages 6 to 17, hoping to train them to become tech leaders of the future.
In just three years, Black Girls Code has reached 3,000 girls through chapters in seven U.S. cities and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kim is not stopping anytime soon. She is on track to build eight additional chapters this year and the goal of reaching 1 million girls by 2040.
Kim did receive a standing ovation from the 10,000+ participants at the Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend. As a fellow female engineer and entrepreneur, I am inspired by Kim's story. Further recognizing her boldness, Toyota gifted Kim a surprise $25,000 grant to continue her inspiring work.
Through the continual commitment of Toyota to women entrepreneurs, I was invited to the Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend, to take a step back, be refreshed and do a "design-review" (as I like to call it) on the life I am living. Plus, it is always good to be reminded how to breathe by Deepak Chopra.
Over the course of two days, Oprah took the stage to share her story, insight the audience with life lessons, and unleash the visions of the "life trailblazers", including Elizabeth Gilbert, Iyanla Vansant, Deepak Chopra, and Rob Bell. Many powerful statements were made, but for me the three main take-aways included:
(1) Oprah's life's mantra: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." [Invictus, William Ernest Henley],
(2) Applying Newton's 3rd law of motion to our work and relationships. For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action; and,
(3) "When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it."
Five years ago, I started my own journey as an entrepreneur. I founded DayOne Response, Inc. to design, develop, and deliver clean drinking water solutions to those affected by disasters. But it was back in 2005, when a tsunami struck South East Asia and Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. that my soul-awakened. As a civil engineering student at the time, I was reminded by my professor that engineers have the skill set and tools to develop appropriate water and sanitation solutions to change the course on how people are living and to actually prevent diseases and saves live. It was at that moment that I wanted to be "the master of my fate; captain of my soul." I decided to dedicate my life's work to addressing this need, innovating technology that will give disaster survivors, soldiers, or anyone in distress purified water.
Fast forward to today, DayOne Response has now worked with relief organizations and government agencies in deploying water solutions to over 14 countries including Thailand, Benin, and Haiti. And providing over 6 million liters of clean drinking water in less than a year. But, the entrepreneur's journey does not happen alone. With initiative and intention, "When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it." It is through teams, strategic partners, advisors, mentors, and a lot of hard work that the journey grows beyond oneself. For example, after receiving Toyota's Driving Solutions grant as a Mother of Invention at last April's Women in the World Summit, DayOne Response was able to expand our efforts in the Philippines and Uganda. Now, growing our efforts to respond to the Ebola crisis through partnership with ChildFund International, P&G's Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, and the DripDrop Foundation.
Now back to the base principle, Newton's law of motion – for every action there is an equal and opposite re-action -- brings us to the work of people like Kimberly and the Black Girls Code. The work will have a snowball effect of inspiring more girls to be innovators and leaders. I am inspired by Kimberly's work and accept the challenge to Be Bold for today and for the next generation to initiate a positive re-action. This is the world we live in and the world we need to continue to grow together.
This post is part of a series from Toyota's Mothers of Invention who are attending Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend. Tricia Compas-Markman is the founder of DayOne Response (@dayoneresponse) and a 2014 Toyota Mother of Invention recipient.
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