TechTown names Marlin Williams diversity and inclusion entrepreneur-in-residence
TechTown Detroit has named Marlin Williams its first entrepreneur-in-residence for diversity and inclusion. Williams will work with the business incubator and accelerator—and throughout Detroit’s entrepreneurial ecosystem–to establish dedicated resources and more intentional strategies to increase engagement of women and minority entrepreneurs.
Williams has more than 20 years’ experience as a global diversity and inclusion officer for two Fortune 500 organizations. She joined Compuware Corporation early in her career, where she learned to code in seven languages in 13 weeks. In less than a year she emerged as a mainframe programmer developing and maintaining code for the automotive and banking industries. During this time, Williams noticed that she was often the only woman and person of color at the technology table, thus her passion for diversity and inclusion emerged. She became the first chief diversity and inclusion executive at Compuware and she then served as the chief diversity and inclusion officer for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. She has also served as deputy chief information officer for the City of Detroit, where she and her team successfully developed the City’s first e-government initiative, and she led collaboration across ten agencies to support the technology and infrastructure for Super Bowl XL. Williams is the founder of the social enterprise Sisters Code, which educates, empowers and entices women ages 25–85 to explore the world of coding and technology.
“TechTown has been recognized as a leader in diversity and inclusion among tech incubators nationwide, but there is always more to do,” said Ned Staebler, TechTown’s president and CEO. “Marlin is a leader in her field, and we couldn’t be happier to have her on our team. We look forward not only to the impact her work will have on TechTown and our ecosystem but on how we will learn and grow in the process.”
Williams’ duties will include:
- Implementing tactics and strategies that ensure TechTown’s culture and programs are increasingly effective at serving more diverse entrepreneurs.
- Working with TechTown Detroit strategic partners to curate robust data, analysis and assessment of the true state of diversity and inclusion gaps in Detroit’s tech community.
- Offering group and one-on-one community-connecting activities that amplify an inviting, open-door policy to diversify participation in Detroit’s tech sector.
- Developing an “introduction to coding” experience specifically for the underrepresented community at TechTown Detroit and within neighborhoods, leveraging software coding as an “on- ramp” and pathway to increased education, skill set development, startup creation and business growth in the high-tech sector.
“Metro Detroit’s economy won’t thrive until we value entrepreneurs of all kinds,” said Pam Lewis, director of the New Economy Initiative, a major TechTown funder and partner. “To get there, we have to be intentional. By creating this position and bringing on Marlin, TechTown is demonstrating how an emphasis on diversity and inclusion can transform our region into a more prosperous and innovative place.”
Williams’ position was effective January 17. She joins TechTown entrepreneurs-in-residence Francis Glorie and Gerry Roston. Glorie has more than 25 years of executive leadership and most recently served as president and CEO of PHASIQ, Inc. an Ann Arbor-based biotechnology start-up. His two previous engagements were Tangent Medical Technologies, Inc. and Accuri Cytometers, Inc. At both, he led international business development and sales. He also served as managing Director–Europe for DataCore Software Corporation, CEO of MicroWarehouse‐France and a founder and senior vice president and CFO for Irwin Magnetics.
Roston serves as the CEO of Civionics, a University of Michigan startup that delivers intelligent sensor-based systems to manufacturers to help them minimize unplanned downtime. He has previously served in an executive capacity for a number of startups and has help senior engineering management positions with publicly traded companies. His experience ranges from the development of microscopic biological sensors to the redesign of diesel-electric locomotives.