The LPFI Fairness Matters Forum


The 2014 Fairness Matters Forum was a night to remember. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us and to all our supporters who commit to eliminating barriers for underrepresented students of color in STEM.

Special thanks to Twitter for hosting the event and for providing the spectacular venue and tasty food.

A few Highlights:

  • Our SMASH alumni and scholars were the stars of the night. They shared their stories of success and how SMASH “opened up a whole new world of STEM.” They are promising leaders of color in tech and we are so proud of them!
  • Ben Jealous inspired the audience as he asked us to consider what Martin Luther King, Jr. would think if he were to walk the halls of our tech companies and stated: “Let us stay uncomfortable, until our companies look like our communities.” And, former Vice President Al Gore and long-time friend, provided the introductory remarks!
  • Our founder, Freada Kapor Klein, accepted the Lux Award presented by LPFI scholarship recipient, Luz Gonzalez, and challenged us to “shatter the glass ceiling together.” 
  • Speaker Roberto Ortiz shared his personal story and stated: “Change one life, you change a family’s life. Change one family’s life, you change a community. Change a community and you change a city.”

The night was full of inspiration and recognizing accomplishments. But, as Ben Jealous reminds us, what we need to change is “not how we educate the privileged, but how we educate the rest.”

See you at the November 12, 2015 event! Check back for details soon.

2014 Fairness Matters Forum Speakers

Ben Jealous

Keynote Presentation
Partner, Kapor Capital

Benjamin Todd Jealous is a Partner at Kapor Capital and is the former president and CEO of the NAACP. As the youngest person to lead the NAACP, he increased its operational capacity and programmatic impact by increasing the donor base, membership and positioning the organization to work on issues related to the economy, education, health, environmental and criminal justice.

He began his career as a community organizer while still in college. Over the past twenty years he has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, and secure marriage equality. A Rhodes Scholar, he is a graduate of Columbia and Oxford University and the past president of the Rosenberg Foundation, and was the founding director of Amnesty International’s U.S. Human Rights Program.


Director, StreetCode Academy

Olatunde Sobomehin has a lifelong commitment to youth and social entrepreneurship. While a student at Stanford University, he co-founded Esface, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based company that aims to “make popular culture positive” by providing innovative technological, athletic, and educational programs to youth in the Bay Area. He was a public speaking lecturer in Stanford University’s School of Engineering and currently teaches public speaking at LPFI’s Summer Math And Science Honors Academy at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Today, he serves as Director of StreetCode Academy, East Palo Alto’s new hub of technology and innovation.


VP Diversity and Inclusion, Twitter

As head of diversity and inclusion, Janet focuses on making Twitter a more awesome place to work and one that reflects the vast and varied backgrounds of our users. From 2009-13, she led Twitter’s HR and Recruiting Team. Previously, she led the HR departments at Crackle, an online video venture acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment, and, an online music service acquired by AOL.

Janet holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is @janetvh on Twitter.


UC Berkeley, ‘17
Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Hector Gonzales attended SMASH: Berkeley from 2010-2012. He is currently a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Hector is interested in developing novel ways to leverage artificial intelligence to solve common speech problems in diverse communities. Hector expects to earn his bachelor’s in 2017.


UC Berkeley, ‘18
Computer Science 

Haile Shavers attended SMASH: Berkeley from 2011-2013. She is currently a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Computer Science.  Haile enjoys coding and is passionate about exposing underprivileged youth to the joys of Computer Science.  Haile actively works to recruit African American students to Cal and expects to earn her bachelor’s in 2018.


Former Vice President of the United States
Chair, Generation Investment Management 

Former Vice President Al Gore is co-founder and chairman of Generation Investment Management. He is a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and a member of Apple, Inc.’s board of directors. Gore spends the majority of his time as chairman of The Climate Reality Project, a non-profit devoted to solving the climate crisis.

Gore was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982 and the U.S. Senate in 1984 and 1990. He was inaugurated as the forty-fifth Vice President of the United States on January 20, 1993, and served eight years.

He is the author of the bestsellers Earth in the BalanceAn Inconvenient Truth, The Assault on ReasonOur Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, and most recently, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. He is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary and is the co-recipient, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”


Head of School Partnerships and
Business Development at SchoolMint

Luz received her bachelor’s degree in 2007 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in International Political Economy. After graduating, Luz worked in the Netherlands as a court monitor at the Special Court of Sierra Leone, for the case against former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. When she returned, Luz worked as a teacher in Teach for America (TFA), and she was the co-founder of the TFA Bay Area Latino Association. Luz’s work at the ACLU started as a field fellow, a position that entailed educating Latino communities of their rights before police and immigration officials. Luz graduated from University of California, Berkeley – School of Law in 2013 and is currently working to design, develop, and implement marketing strategies and build a global brand for SchoolMint. Luz was selected as one of LPFI’s IDEAL scholars in 2004 and completed the program in 2007.

Freada Kapor Klein

Lux Award Recipient
Co-Chair, Kapor Center / Founder, LPFI

Freada Kapor Klein, PhD. Partner, Kapor Capital and Founder Level Playing Field Institute, is an entrepreneur, activist and leader in the field of organizational culture and diversity. Freada is a pioneer in developing models for revenue and sustainability of non-profits, and is an active advisor and mentor to social entrepreneurs. She is also an advocate for entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, especially people of color and women. Freada is the author of Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You Can Help Them Stay.

In 2001 she founded the Level Playing Field Institute to  promote innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces by removing barriers to full participation.

Jarvis Sulcer


Jarvis joined LPFI in 2007 as Academic Director for the SMASH Program. He assumed the role of Director of Education Programs in 2010 and has been leading the organization since 2012. He received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Science and Engineering at Cornell University in 1998. He was the only African-American male in the United States to receive a Ph.D. in his field of study that year. He graduated from Southern University in 1991 with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. In 2000, Jarvis received the Most Distinguished Dissertation Award from the National Society of Black Physicists at Stanford. Previously, Jarvis worked in Silicon Valley in the semiconductor industry as a Quality & Reliability Engineer at Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Agilent Technologies in wireless communications. He left corporate America in 2003 to found his own company. Jarvis is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is a strong advocate for education. He firmly believes that an understanding of mathematics is essential to pursuing careers in the high tech industry, as well as giving all students a strong academic foundation to pursue whatever career they choose.


Director of Engineering, Twitter

David graduated from UC Berkeley’s EECS department in 1992. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of software engineering and management roles, on systems both large (Amazon’s product search) and small (early “smart phones” like the Nokia 9000). Before joining Twitter, David co-founded Xmarks with Mitch Kapor, through which he was introduced to the work of Freada Kapor Klein and LPFI. David is now a Director of Engineering in Twitter’s Platform Engineering group, focused on building advanced traffic management systems for Twitter’s data centers.


Stanford University, ‘18
Computer Science 

Leilani Reyes attended SMASH located at Stanford from 2011-2013. She is currently a freshman at Stanford University majoring in Computer Science. Leilani is an aspiring software engineer and social entrepreneur with goals to create software to help solve social injustices particularly in public education and communities of minority youth. Leilani expects to earn her bachelor’s in 2018.


Director of Mobile, Yahoo

Roberto is currently helping lead design across Mobile and Emerging Products at Yahoo. As the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, he grew up in Philadelphia where he developed his entrepreneurial mindset and the confidence to pursue a variety of innovative jobs at tech companies including Lockheed Martin and Google. Roberto is also an emerging leader both inside and outside the tech industry and is the co-founder of ELEO, a leadership conference for aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.



Justin Steele is the Bay Area giving lead for, which supports organizations using technology and innovative approaches to make the world a better place. has given over $60 million to local nonprofits in the Bay Area over the past three years, and Bay Area Googlers provide more than 35,000 hours of community service annually.

Prior to joining, Justin served as Deputy Director of the Washington D.C. site of Year Up, an intensive one-year IT job training and internship program for low-income young adults.  He also served as an Adjunct Business Professor at Northern Virginia Community College.  Justin began his career as a management consultant at Bain & Co. and The Bridgespan Group creating strategic plans for companies and social enterprises.  He has been active in youth and community development for 15 years, serving on the boards of the National Society of Black Engineers and Citizen Schools and working in programs like BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), Summer Advantage USA, and the NAACP.

Justin received an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Virginia and earned a dual MBA/MPA master’s degree with a concentration in nonprofit management and urban social policy from Harvard.


Media Coverage of the Fairness Matters Forum

A Tree Shaker and a Jelly Maker Try to Fix Tech

by Joe Garofoli, SF Gate

LPFI Fix TechTwo civil rights leaders – one old-school, the other half his age – are attempting to tackle Silicon Valley’s diversity problem with different tactics.

Former NAACP head Ben Jealous, 41, wants to change the industry from the inside, embedding himself as a venture capitalist with Oakland’s Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

Read full article →