Building a New America: Wayne Sutton

 |   Bay Area Staff

Microsoft Bay Area is committed to helping solve local challenges through technology, deep relationships and a commitment to serving the needs of the Bay Area community. Here on our blog, we’ve focused on the organizations and civic leaders that are moving our cities forward. In our latest series, we’re highlighting fellows from New America CA, which supports social entrepreneurs at the forefront of local innovation.

Technology spurs change — and no one knows that quite like Wayne Sutton, New America California fellow and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs.

Change Catalyst’s Startup Fellows Program and Tech Inclusion programs work to create a more diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem. It looks at all aspects of the tech industry — education, workplace, entrepreneurship, policy, media and the ecosystem as a whole — to bring opportunity and skills-focused training to those who need it most in the tech industry. Through  trainings and workshops for companies, Change Catalyst consults with several tech companies in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, providing PDFs, toolkits, and video series that provide educational materials for companies looking to create an inclusive culture.

Wayne Sutton came to New America California through a referral from a former Tech Inclusion speaker. Sutton tells us that this speaker was working for a nonprofit that focused on connecting the tech industry to the government; she went to work at New America and inspired Sutton to join the New America California fellowship program to further the work that Change Catalyst does and to increase his work telling the stories of unrepresented entrepreneurs.

“My involvement with New America has been one of education,” Sutton explains. “I’ve been learning a lot. It’s been one of growth, also. Being part of New America California has allowed me to take a step back and see how we can do this work better.”

In his time with New America California, Wayne Sutton has taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from the program’s other fellows, while participating in the program’s workshops, 101s, feedback review sessions, and storytelling sessions from industry leaders.

“I’m now in a position to implement what I’ve learned,” he tells us. And he’s doing just that.

Sutton believes that people can transform communities through technology multiple ways. One way, he says, is using tech to convene people together around a cause to have an awareness or greater understanding of that community. Rather than using tech to build apps or launch new companies, he’s looking for ways people use technology for convening, education, or awareness.

“Technology is a part of everything we do in our lives today, and I believe communities, large and small, should look at using technology for more humanitarian and social good/impact that can be good and beneficial to that hyperlocal community,” says Sutton.

He’s seeing the impact Change Catalyst is making through technology from the stories he hears from those who have attended Change Catalyst’s Tech Inclusion and Startup Fellows programs. These individuals have gone on to impact their organizations and bring inclusion to the tech industry on a whole new level — from policy to behavior changes to business strategy. And he’s thankful for the opportunity to do that.

“Sometimes, you need that courage to just keep doing that work and standing up for what’s right, to focus on creating an inclusive environment,” he says.

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