Maya Penn

Maya Penn

African-American Maya Penn is a serial entrepreneur who started her first company at the age of 8.

Maya Penn
Maya Penn

Maya Penn first came up with a cartoon called “Malicious Dishes“, an animated series about computer viruses, after trying to clean viruses off her computer. She thought, “What if viruses in my computer have personalities?”, and drew an animation about the stories of these viruses, who travel via USB drives around a computer world that humans are unaware of. Penn also drew another series called “The Pollinators” about bees and other pollinators and their impact on the environment.

At 10-years-old, she realized that all her work came from ideas, she set up her website, Maya’s Ideas, which she coded on her own by learning basic HTML.

This homeschooled entrepreneur has been on Forbes’ list of “Sixteen Grade School Entrepreneurs”, been featuredon CNN, Wired, Essence, NPR, The View, Redbook, Ebony, Fox 5, IBM, Black Enterprise, and more.  Now 15, she is working on a project with her nonprofit where she has created eco-friendly sanitary pads for girls in developing countries. MedShare has partnered with her to distribute the pads.   Her latest book, ‘You Got This’ helps guide budding entrepreneurs on ways to find their path and change the world.

Learn more about her on her official website.

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Lyndsey Scott

Lyndsey Scott

African-American Lyndsey Scott was the first ever African American to get an exclusive contract with Calvin Klein for New York Fashion Week.

Lyndsey Scott
Lyndsey Scott

She has also modeled for brands like DKNY, Victoria’s Secret, Gucci and Prada. This beauty has serious brains though and taught herself Python, Objective C, and iOS. She built 7 or 8 apps, two of which have made it into the Apple store.  She’s ranked as one of the top iOS answerers on the #1 programming site, Stack Overflow; has recently joined the prestigious tutorial team at raywenderlich.com; and has done video tutorials for kids co-starring the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for Code.org.

She builds apps in her spare time for her company, Standeable Inc. and has a dual-degree in computer science and theater from Amherst. Her first publicly released app, coded in iOS, benefited a charity called Educate! which sponsors young Ugandan scholars. Her second public iOS app, called iPort, offered a digital way for models to carry around their portfolios. Squarify is another app she developed to  convert your rectangular video and images into squares directly from your device to make them Instagram ready.   She has also helped develop ImDown (an entertainment network for videos under a minute long) and beautifulBook (you choose the look of your reading experience from a selection of artistically designed themes)

Lyndsey has been featured by CNN, The BBC, NPR, Good Morning America, Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar, and many other news outlets for both her computer programming skills and her efforts to promote diversity in tech and has recently been named one of the 100 Women of the Year for both UK Elle and AskMen.com.

Learn more about her on her official website or follow  her on Facebook.

Jeanette Jo Epps

Jeanette Epps

African-American Jeanette Jo Epps is an engineer, an CIA intelligence officer, and current NASA astronaut.

Jeanette Epps
Jeanette Epps

After graduating, Epps worked in research at Ford Motor Company, then as a Technical Intelligence Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was selected in July 2009 as 1 of 14 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class. She graduated from Astronaut Candidate Training that included intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, Extravehicular Activity (EVA), robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training.

Epps earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from LeMoyne College in 1992, as well as a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1994 and 2000, respectively. She is the author of several highly cited journal articles describing her research involving extensive testing of composite swept-tip beams, comparative analysis of analytical models and experimental data for shape memory alloys, and the application of shape memory alloy actuators for helicopter rotor blade tracking.

At Ford Motor Company she developed magnetostrictive actuators to reduce vibrations that enter a vehicle via the suspension control arms. Dr. Epps also investigated automobile collision location detection and countermeasure systems, which resulted in the granting of a U.S. Patent.

She was a three time recipient of the Exceptional Performance Award (2003, 2004 and 2008) while she was at the CIA. Dr. Epps is a member of AIAA and the Society for Science and the Public. Dr. Epps is the first Ph.D. graduate of the University of Maryland’s Dept. of Aerospace Engineering to become a NASA Astronaut.