CodePath recently had the privilege of attending the Congressional Black Caucus Conference in Washington, D.C., alongside our partner Amazon. Joined by Jesse Oseafiana, a junior at the University of Maryland and CodePath student, we sat in on a panel discussion featuring speakers including Candi Castleberry, the VP of inclusive technology experience at Amazon; and Earl Flood, a legislative director in the office of Rep. Robin Kelly.
These were the top takeaways and insights from the event.
1. The need for impactful AI legislation
The event showcased that AI is currently a major legislative priority. We learned that Amazon has been actively collaborating with the Biden Administration to champion the safe and inclusive use of AI. This partnership is just one way that big tech companies can get involved in shaping the future of technology by ensuring it is equitable and ethical.
2. The rise of “born inclusive” technology
A central theme of the panel discussion was the concept of "born inclusive" technology. This philosophy emphasizes the importance of building technical systems with diversity and inclusion at their core, right from the foundation. It's a departure from the traditional approach, which often adds diversity measures as an afterthought, and it's a powerful step toward creating truly equitable tech ecosystems.
3. Education as a catalyst
The event highlighted the important role that education plays in enabling people of color to participate meaningfully in tech careers. The panelists stressed that building a pipeline for underrepresented student populations to enter the tech industry is imperative.
4. CodePath and AmazonNext’s impact
One of the most gratifying moments for the CodePath team was when a panelist recognized Jesse Oseafiana, a student participant in the CodePath and AmazonNext program. This summer, our partnership provided 100 college students from five colleges and universities — George Mason University, Howard University, Northern Virginia Community College, University of the District of Columbia and University of Maryland College Park — with a hands-on learning experience to jumpstart their careers in tech.
Through a mix of CodePath’s programming and mentorship from Amazon engineers, students received real-world training to prepare them for competitive software engineering roles, including those at Amazon. The recognition validated the power of our programs to diversify and strengthen the tech workforce and highlighted the critical importance of providing opportunities for underrepresented students to excel in tech careers.
5. The power of representation
For Tori Darby, Senior Manager of University Partnerships at CodePath, the highlight of the event was witnessing Oseafiana’s experience. “Jesse mentioned several times how captivated he was to be in a room full of people who looked like him and were doing the work he aspires to do in the future,” said Darby. “The panelists' words resonated with him and affirmed that he, too, belongs in tech. It was a friendly reminder of the impact of the work that we are doing.”
The insights gained from this event reaffirmed that the future of technology lies in our ability to embrace diversity and inclusion early and often. CodePath is proud to be part of the movement to create a brighter, more inclusive future of tech.
More photos from the event: