Professor and Author Nicki Washington To Provide Keynote at ECC Conference


June 7, 2019—For the 11th year in a row, Marist’s School of Computer Science and Mathematics is hosting the Enterprise Computing Community (ECC) Conference, established in 2009 through a grant from the National Science Foundation.  The themes of this year’s conference are Technology in Healthcare, Big Data, and Underrepresented Student Groups in Technology.  With speakers coming from both industry and academia, the gathering will feature a variety of panel discussions with faculty members, students, and industry representatives.  The conference also includes presentations of peer-reviewed research papers.  The conference runs from June 9-11, and there is no fee to attend.  Said Roger Norton, Dean of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, “Marist is delighted to again host the ECC Conference, and we are particularly excited about this year’s focus on increasing diversity in the field of computing and technology.”

One of the conference’s themes, Underrepresented Student Groups in Technology, is intended to foster a discussion of the needs and challenges faced by underrepresented groups in computing technology.  The organizers’ goal is to increase awareness, share best practices for recruiting and supporting underrepresented students in the technology field, and encourage increased diversity in STEM.  Through the ongoing collaboration of ECC members, this project is expected to be a catalyst for the development of student success programs among historically black colleges and universities, community colleges, and other institutions with large underrepresented student populations. 

Building on this idea, keynote speaker Nicki Washington will deliver a talk entitled “Look for the Helpers: Creating and Maintaining a Culture of Allyship in Computing+Tech.”  In it, she will discuss the issues experienced by historically disenfranchised groups (Black, Latinx, and Native American) at both the university level and in the computing and technology workforce.  Leveraging her background as a black female computer scientist in both industry and higher education, Washington will discuss how organizations and institutions can create and maintain a culture in which allyship is celebrated, encouraged, nurtured, and expected.  

An associate professor of computer science at Winthrop University, Washington is the author of Unapologetically Dope: Lessons for Black Women and Girls on Surviving and Thriving in the Tech Field.  She previously spent nine years at Howard University as the first black female faculty member in the Department of Computer Science.  Her research centers on identity and the development of culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum to increase the participation and retention of underrepresented students in computer science; she has partnered with organizations such as Google, Exploring Computer Science,, District of Columbia Public Schools, and the South Carolina Board of Education to create K-12 local, state, and national computer science standards and programs.  Most recently, Washington was featured in Essence magazine’s “15 Black Women Disrupting the Tech Industry.”  A native of Durham, North Carolina, Washington received her BS in computer science from Johnson C. Smith University and her MS and PhD in computer science from North Carolina State University, becoming the first black woman to earn a PhD in computer science from that institution. 

More information about the ECC Conference can be found at:

Asset Publisher