Christina Lewis Halpern

christinalewishalpernA month before his untimely death from brain cancer in 1993 at age 50, financier Reginald F. Lewis appointed his 12-year-old-daughter Christina to the board of their family’s foundation. This decision by Lewis, one of the most successful American businessmen of his era and one of the wealthiest black men in history, profoundly influenced his daughter, now 35. “It was one of the last memories I have [of my father],” said Christina Lewis Halpern. “I grew up thinking about grantmaking.”

Ms. Lewis Halpern, who began her career as a journalist and worked at The Wall Street Journal, has since embarked on a quest to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry. In 2013, she founded All Star Code, a New York-based nonprofit that prepares young men of color for careers within the tech sector. Its flagship program, a six-week summer intensive course, expects 40 students (double the number from last year) and incorporates a computer science curriculum while fostering management skills. “Tech today is like Wall Street in the 1960s,” Ms. Lewis Halpern said. “It’s a relatively closed, clubby, insider-y world.” But she envisions a more inclusive future: “In 10 years, I’d like to say that All Star Code has transformed the tech landscape,” she said. “I’d like to say that we created the new generation of diverse tech entrepreneurs who are bringing new ideas and new innovation to our country that will make a more equal place for all of us.”—Danielle Schlanger

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