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Digital Workforce Challenge

Our challenge crowdsourced solutions to this issue

How can historically underserved communities prepare for, access, and prosper in the digital workforce?


Fable wins 2021 Grand Prize

Winner of the $100,000 grand prize is Toronto‑based Fable, an accessibility platform powered by people with disabilities. Fortune 500 companies, leading organizations, and governments are improving their digital products by connecting directly with people with disabilities to conduct user research and accessibility testing.

Additional challenge winners

ServiceNow employees and challenge judges chose the winners of our two other awards: Employees Choice and Racial Equity in the U.S.

Employee Choice Award

Employee Choice Award

Puffin’s mouth-operated device connects human and machine for those with complex disabilities.

U.S. Racial Equity Winner

U.S. Racial Equity Winner

Resilient Coders train and place people of color from low-income communities as software engineers.


Below are the 2021 Digital Workforce Challenge finalists.

Menlo Park, CA

BeeLine Reader

A simple way to make reading on screen more inclusive and accessible.

San Francisco, CA

Empower Work

A critical lifeline for workers amidst COVID-19.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

KOSA AI – Future Proofing AI

Building AI governance software that detects and mitigates AI bias through the ML lifecycle.

Delaware City, DE

SheWorks! Academy Train the Trainers

Bridge the economic gender gap by equipping women with digital skills to compete in the job market.

Minneapolis, MN

SIID ™ Technologies

Harnessing the intuitive power of machine learning, mitigating systemic & institutional bias.

New York, NY

The Knowledge House

Expanding career opportunities for historically underserved communities of color in the Bronx.

San Francisco, CA

The Last Mile

Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth for justice-involved individuals.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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BeeLine Reader Nick Lum

We have developed a new way to display text that makes reading on screen more efficient and accessible. Instead of displaying black text, we use a subtle color gradient that helps pull the reader’s eyes through the text, improving visual tracking and making reading easier for all people.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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Jaime-Alexis Fowler, Empower Work

Empower Work addresses a critical gap and complements workforce training programs by blending emotional and tactical coaching, reaching workers via SMS or chat. Trained counselors guide texters in exploring the larger context, evaluating options, identifying next steps, and connecting to resources.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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Layla Li, KOSA AI – Future Proofing AI

KOSA AI helps organizations improve hiring, retention, and promotion practices by mitigating biases present in AI decision-making tools. Our proprietary AI governance software solution supports organizations to recruit and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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Carla Cassanello, SheWorks! Academy Train the Trainers

SheWorks! is an online academy that teaches high-demand digital skills to women from low-income communities to improve their employability and access better-paying jobs. Being based on internet learning, women can learn at their own pace and from anywhere in the world, without having to travel.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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Eriv O'diah, SIID ™ Technologies

SIID™ Technologies applies big data and emerging technologies to evaluate, uncover, and correct the influence of human biases in decision-making and communication.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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Jerelyn Rodriguez, The Knowledge House

The Bronx Digital Pipeline is a partnership with workforce development nonprofits and higher ed institutions offering tech skills training to Bronx-based jobseekers. TKH developed to connect Bronx residents to digital literacy training, tech training, and upskilling.

2021 Digital Workforce Challenge Finalist

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Sydney Heller, The Last Mile

TLM is disrupting the system of mass incarceration in America by providing opportunities to justice impacted individuals to gain training and marketable skills. TLM offers comprehensive vocational training programs and wraparound reentry support to people who are incarcerated.


2020 Grand Prize Winner

ChargerHelp! enables on‑demand repair of electric vehicle charging stations via their innovative app and the local workforce. These Los Angeles‑based innovators are focused on promoting workforce development in the new green economy.

Judge: Pedro Barata

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Pedro Barata

As the Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre, Barata works with the key project partners to realize the Centre’s mandate and objectives: to build a network of key partners and stakeholders, lead and invest in cutting-edge research, test and evaluate innovative projects, and ensure that knowledge is shared and acted on.

During his tenure as United Way Greater Toronto’s Senior Vice President of Community Impact & Strategy, he oversaw United Way’s $94M community investment and partnership strategy as well as communications, policy and public affairs, research and evaluation, and cross-organizational strategy. Prior to joining United Way, Barata held roles at the Atkinson Foundation, Family Service Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, and the City of Toronto. Barata holds a Bachelor of Arts from York University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Toronto.

Judge: Nisreen Farhan

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Nisreen Farhan

Ms. Farhan has been working as an Economist at the IMF since 2001. Prior to her role as Chief of Public Affairs, she was an Advisor on Digital Transformation in the Strategy Department at the IMF. The focus of her work is on automation of work processes and integration of IT tools with business capabilities, based on better knowledge and content exchange. Ms. Farhan has experience in economic policy making in countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Previously, she was Chief of Internal Communications at the IMF – working on building internal engagement, consistency of messages internally and externally, and HR-related communications – and Deputy Chief of Public Affairs – where she worked with IMF Management on external communications of the IMF’s policy and country work. Before the IMF, Ms. Farhan taught economics at the University of Durham in the North of England. She holds a BSc in Economics and Statistics and an MSc in Finance and Economics from the University of London, England. She also did her PhD studies in development economics at the University of Durham, England.

Judge: Nichole Francis Reynolds

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Nichole Francis Reynolds

Nichole Francis Reynolds is the Vice President & Head of Global Government Relations at ServiceNow, Inc. She leads the company’s global government relations, public policy, and advocacy agenda domestically and internationally. As a lawyer and the company’s top lobbyist, she works with Administration officials, Members of Congress, State and local public officials, the diplomatic community and industry associations on domestic and international technology policy issues.

Prior to joining ServiceNow, she served as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the Interstate Natural Gas Association. Prior to that, she served for five years as Vice President of Public Policy & Community Relations at Mastercard. Prior to joining Mastercard, she spent ten years in Washington D.C. in a variety of senior roles on Capitol Hill including Chief of Staff to two Members of Congress, as District Director, and as counsel on the Homeland Security Committee. She also gained political experience working on national presidential elections and congressional races.

Ms. Francis Reynolds graduated cum laude and with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Spanish from Eastern Michigan University and received her law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She is a Member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Postsecondary Values Commission and serves as a Trustee on the Governing Board for Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School, The Shakespeare Theatre Unternehmen, Teach for America DC Region, Imagination Stage DC, Ed Farm, and the Corporate Advisory Council for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.

Judge: Kemi Jona

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Kemi Jona

Dr. Kemi Jona is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Digital Innovation and Enterprise Learning at Northeastern University. His portfolio includes the design of digital experiential learning platforms and the formation of strategic enterprise partnerships for talent development to enable seamless, lifelong learning pathways for all learners. Dr. Jona has worked at the forefront of the learning sciences and learning technologies fields for over 20 years. He is a thought leader in applying insights from cognitive and learning sciences to the design of technology-mediated learning environments and in developing innovative partnerships for new talent and credentialing strategies.

Judge: Radhika Josyula

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Radhika Josyula

Radhika Josyula is the Head of Corporate Strategy for ServiceNow. As part of her role, she helps define the long term strategic direction for the company and translating the strategy into critical near term priorities. Her responsibilities cover corporate and strategic planning, to product strategy to GTM strategy.

Radhika has more than 20 years of experience in the Technology industry. Prior to ServiceNow, Radhika spent 7+ years at Bain consulting. Her work at Bain largely focused on growth strategy consulting for Technology companies.

She started her career as an Engineer at Cisco systems focused on Software development. She has a Bachelors and Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering and an MBA from the Booth School of Business in Chicago.

Judge: Megan Kollar Dwyer

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Megan Kollar Dwyer

Megan Kollar Dwyer (she/her) is Director of Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at ServiceNow. Megan leads the strategy and team focused on enabling and empowering people across ServiceNow through both behavioral inclusion and structural inclusion initiatives. Megan blends D&I subject-matter expertise with deep learning and development experience, D&I consulting work, strategic partnerships experience, and a strong belief that we all have the capacity for change. Megan first developed her commitment and skills to drive inclusion and equity during her years as a classroom teacher. Since transitioning out of the classroom a decade ago, she has never taken for granted the ability to use the restroom when she’d like and has vowed to stay a lifelong learner.

Judge: Janet Lane

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Janet Lane

As Director of the Human Capital Centre, Janet Lane champions the development of a skilled and productive workforce able to fulfill the potential of the West’s — and by extension, Canada’s — economy. As the demands on the workforce evolve, her work focuses on the need to understand and build the competencies required for new jobs and changing work environments.

Janet is a subject matter expert in literacy and essential skills development and in leading programs and organizations in the literacy field. Janet has advised and led projects involving sponsors and stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. Previously, she built a successful career in financial services. Her education, experience, and proven track record for growing organizations contribute to her ability to connect human development with the skills and competencies that western Canadian industries need.

Judge: Lindsey Nefesh-Clark

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Cat Lang

Catherine (Cat) Lang is responsible for making sure that the people who architect, implement, administer, and use ServiceNow solutions have the proven skills and knowledge they need to be wildly successful. Cat looks after Enablement, Training, and Certification for ServiceNow’s customers and partners and, in that role, brings content, programs, and operational support to everyone who is or aspires to be part of the ServiceNow ecosystem. Prior to joining ServiceNow in late 2017, Cat was part of the Executive Leadership Team at Appirio (a Wipro Unternehmen) as Chief Learning Officer and Change Management Practice Owner and where, at times, she was also CHRO, Head of Product Strategy and Development, and Community lead. In previous lives, Cat was head of Google Enterprise University and Vice President of Training and Certification at Salesforce. Cat holds an Ed.D. in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

Judge: Genevieve Lim

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Genevieve Lim

Genevieve is an Engagement Manager in AlphaBeta’s Singapore office. Her areas of expertise are the digital economy, skills development and urban strategy. She has worked with a range of public and private sector clients to develop insights for the implications of digital technologies for jobs and skills in the Asia Pacific region, and helped shape skills development strategy to improve economic opportunities in the digital age. She is also passionate about the development of smart and sustainable urbanisation solutions. During her previous role as an urban planner in Singapore’s public sector, she was involved in the master planning and development of innovation districts. As part of this role, she was involved in strategizing urban policy reforms as well as pilots for smart and sustainable urban solutions such as autonomous vehicles, and played a key role in developing the economic positioning for the new districts in Singapore. Genevieve holds an MPhil in Planning, Growth and Regeneration from Cambridge University, and a BSc in Economics and Geography with First-Class Honours from University College London.

Judge: Elizabeth Lindsey

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Elizabeth Lindsey

Elizabeth Lindsey became CEO of Urban Alliance in April 2021. Previously, as CEO of Byte Back, she was one of The Root 100 most influential African Americans of 2019. Under Elizabeth’s nationally recognized leadership, Byte Back thrived as a dynamic nonprofit with a pathway of inclusive tech training that leads to living-wage careers, and Elizabeth led Byte Back’s successful expansion into Baltimore.

Prior to joining the DC-based organization in 2015, Elizabeth was Chief Operating Officer of Groundswell, where she oversaw its evolution from a community nonprofit into a nationally recognized social enterprise. She earned her bachelor’s from Swarthmore College and her master’s in public affairs and urban and regional planning from Princeton University. Elizabeth led development efforts for minority- and women-owned businesses for the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, and she developed workforce training programs for the DC Department of Employment Services.

Elizabeth serves on the Federal Communications Commission’s Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment and is a member of the Washington, DC Mayor’s Innovation & Technology Inclusion Council and the Verizon Consumer Advisory Board. She is on the Board of Directors of the Goodwill Excel Center, The Engine Room, OATS, and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.

In addition to the The Root 100, the Washington Business Journal named her to its most competitive list – 40 Under 40. She was a three-time Washingtonian Tech Titan and was named a Champion of Digital Equality by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council. Elizabeth won a DC Inno 50 on Fire award and two DCA Live New Power Woman of DC Tech awards, and she was named a 2019 Enterprising Woman by Tagg Magazine and a 40 under 40 Queer Woman by the Washington Blade. She led a panel at SXSW in 2018, delivered a TEDx talk, and was named a top 100 leadership speaker in Inc.

Elizabeth is dedicated to helping thousands of people thrive in a digital society, to creating a pathway to living-wage careers, and to influencing a shift toward a diverse and inclusive tech sector.

Judge: Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke

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Lindsey Nefesh-Clarke

Lindsey is the Founder & Managing Director of W4 (Women’s WorldWide Web), an international non-profit organization and Europe’s first crowdfunding platform dedicated to girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world with a focus on promoting girls’ and women’s equal access to and participation in information and communications technologies (Sustainable Development Goal 5b). After completing her B.A. at Cambridge University, Lindsey worked in human rights and development in West Africa and in South-East Asia (Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, Enfants d’Asie). In 2008, she trained in Bangladesh with Grameen Bank (founded by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus) and went on to obtain an Executive MBA at ESCP-Europe, Paris, in 2009, for which she received the International MBA Student of the Year award, bestowed by AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and The Independent newspaper. In 2011, Lindsey was named a “40 under 40” European Young Leader by EuropaNova & Friends of Europe and was nominated a “Women in IT Role Model” by the Digital Agenda of the European Commission in 2013. In 2015, Lindsey was named one of the Inspiring Fifty, Europe’s 50 most inspiring women leaders in the technology sector. In 2016, she was nominated a G20 Young Entrepreneur and was invited as a member of the French delegation to participate in the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Beijing. In 2018, Lindsey joined the Board of Directors of the Women’s Economic Imperative (WEI) to take forward the work of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Judge: Rosemarie Powell

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Rosemarie Powell

Rosemarie Powell is a passionate advocate for social, economic, and environmental justice. Throughout her career, she has advanced equitable approaches to policy development and implementation at various levels of government as it relates to land use planning, infrastructure investment and urban development. She has led for over 20 years from the grassroots up, managing and developing several innovative and impactful community programs and services to support under-represented group’s access to the labour market. Her community engagement and environmental advocacy work earned several awards for leadership and imagination.

Over the past four years as the Executive Director of the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), a non-profit community-labour coalition representing over 120-member community organizations and groups, unions, and social enterprises. Rosemarie has grown the community benefits movement and strengthened the coalition to create good jobs and opportunities through government investment in infrastructure and urban development for Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples with a focus on those who are youth, women, and newcomers.

Rosemarie built on TCBN’s initial success in negotiating Ontario’s first Community Benefits Framework for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and led the coalition through subsequent campaigns to secure community benefits for the Finch West LRT, West Park Healthcare Centre, and Rexdale Woodbine Casino expansion. In the process, she has built strong partnerships with community, labour, government, and industry partners to address systemic barriers and increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the construction industry.

Judge: Priyanka Sharma

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Priyanka Sharma

With a firm belief in the transformative power of education and technology, Priyanka Sharma leads innovative projects on college and career readiness, technology integration, digital transformation, and digital skills development as a project director at the EdTech Center of World Education Inc. Priyanka co-leads Digital US, a national initiative with a cross-sector approach to design a learn and work ecosystem that fosters digital resilience for all learner workers in the U.S. Within Digital US, she leads its core strategy through the Digital Navigator project and the Employer Network Advancing Digital Skills and Equity. She also directs the New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC), leading projects that emerge from collaboration among the policymakers, professional developers, and practitioners in the five New England member states.

Priyanka has authored many publications including Mentoring Toolkit and English Now! Implementation Guide. She has contributed to Mapping the Financial Journey, a financial literacy guide focused on adult students transitioning to postsecondary education and training. She has also co-authored, Leveraging Technology to Increase Opportunity and Economic Security for Adults.

Prior to joining World Education, Priyanka managed a non-profit organization raising its profile to a national level by engaging new partners, and leveraging supporters. As part of her commitment to equity and community involvement, she served as the Board Chair of The City School, a youth leadership organization. She has previously served as the Board President of Friends of Community Learning Center, an adult basic education program in Cambridge, MA. Priyanka is a graduate of the State University of New York and is based in Boston, MA.

Judge: Matt Sigelman

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Matt Sigelman

Matt Sigelman is CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, a leading labor market analytics firm. For more than a decade, he has led Burning Glass in harnessing the power of data and artificial intelligence technologies that have cracked the genetic code of the job market. Powered by the world’s largest and most sophisticated database of jobs and talent, Burning Glass delivers real-time data and breakthrough planning tools that inform careers, define academic programs, and shape workforces. Burning Glass has helped to fill millions of jobs and its data drive initiatives for more than a dozen state and national governments. Matt is consulted frequently by national media, by researchers, and the White House. He served previously with McKinsey & Unternehmen and Capital One. He holds an A.B. from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from Harvard.

Judge: Andrew Tein

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Andrew Tein

Andrew received his B.S. in Economics and Diplomacy from Georgetown University and MBA from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He also serves on the Board of Directors for CHOR Inc., a not-for-profit public-private partnership to increase public access to peer-reviewed publications that report on federally funded research.

Judge: Toni Vanwinkle

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Toni Vanwinkle

Toni is a seasoned digital transformation executive with extensive strategy, execution, and organizational change leadership experience. The Digital Workplace Group named Toni the "2019 Digital Workplace Leader of the Year," recognizing the impact of her inspirational leadership. Toni currently leads Adobe's Digital Workplace Experience organization to keep Adobe employees innovative, collaborative, and productive from anywhere. Her team won the 2021 CIO100 award recognizing thought leadership and positive business outcomes.

In addition to her functional role, Toni always makes time for mentoring and community service. She founded Adobe's Black Employee Network and currently serves as the Site Council Leader at Adobe's Headquarters in San Jose. In her Site Leader role, she is an employee ambassador leading a Site Council whose mission is to amplify Adobe's culture and connect employees to the communities where they live and work.

Toni is a lifelong learner. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, is an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow and fought to earn her Black Belt in Tai Kwon Do.

Judge: Dave Wright

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Dave Wright

Dave Wright is the Chief Innovation Officer for ServiceNow. In this role, Dave is responsible for establishing the strategic direction of ServiceNow, from high-level investment areas in product development through to pricing. The strategic direction of the company can cover many different areas including strategic partnerships, acquisition strategies, and investment areas.

Previously, Dave was the Global Vice President of Solutions Consulting for ServiceNow. In this role, Dave was responsible for driving the company’s value and technical portfolio in order to promote technology excellence to customers and partners across the globe.

Dave has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry, specifically within Virtualisation, Cloud Infrastructure, service management, performance management, data centre automation, and software development.

Prior to joining ServiceNow in 2010, Dave spent over six years with VMware as Vice President of Technical Services for EMEA, where he was responsible for all pre-sales, professional services, training, and technical account management delivery across this region.

Dave also headed up the technical division for Northern and Southern Europe for Mercury Interactive and spent six years at Peregrine Systems, where he held a variety of senior technical and marketing positions. Previously, Dave worked for Boole & Babbage (BMC) and Candle Services (IBM).

Judging Criteria

All criteria given equal weight

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The judging committee for the Digital Workforce Challenge is comprised of experts and leaders from across industries.

Alignment: The solution addresses the challenge that has been set forth using technology.

Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to impact lives and drive economic growth internationally.

Scalability: The solution can be scaled to affect the lives of more people.

Feasibility: Solution implementation is feasible, and the team has a plan for financial sustainability.

Innovative Approach: This is a new solution, a new application of a solution, a new business model, or a new process for solving the challenge, and the team clearly identifies its competitive advantages (e.g. intellectual property).

Inclusive Human-Centered Design: The solution is designed with and for underserved communities, and the solution team demonstrates proximity to the community and embodies and addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion through their solution.

Partnership Potential: The applicant clearly explains how the solution would benefit from the broad range of resources that ServiceNow is positioned to provide.

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