In the past year Austin has been thrusted into a complex conversation balancing the emerging title of the Silicon Valley of the Southwest and a city of innovation and an expanding economically segregated city. However, there is both ingenuity and thought-leadership taking place in Austin to help elevate the visibility and engagement of communities of color in the digital space and the world of blogging.
Come engage in a conversation with some of the thought leaders leading the conversation in the capitol city, while making their mark on the national stage. This surge of energy around the digital space/start-up buzz in Austin's community of color is being lead by voices like lifestyle guru, UrbanBushBabes' Nikisha Brunson, Taco Journalist Mando Rayo and co-founder of Localeur, the #1 blogging travel app, Joah Spearman.
Nikisha Brunson | UrbanBushBabes / Pineapple Life
Nikisha Brunson is the Co-founder and Editor-and-Chief of two online life style sites Urbanbushbabes.com and Pineapple.life. Her expertise in natural hair, healthy living, cooking, DIY, and social media has helped to catapult her brands to over 200K+ viewers across her social media platforms. Raised in Brooklyn (NY), she currently resides in Austin (TX). She is a former public school teacher and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Childhood Education. She has been featured in the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan,Yahoo Beauty, Refinery 29, Carol’s Daughter, Essence, Camille Styles, Motel Rocks, Afropunk, Flare Magazine, Once Wed, Texas Monthly, Tribeza, Brides Magazine and ABC’s KVUE News.
Mando Rayo | Taco Journalism / Mando Rayo Collective
By day, Mando is a digital marketer and by night, a Taco Journalist. Mando is CEO and Engagement Strategist at Mando Rayo + Collective, a multicultural advertising agency based in Austin, Texas. Mando is an award winning Texas blogger and author of Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day. Mando's work has been featured on Bon Appetite Magazine, The New York Times, Slate, Texas Monthly, NPR and Latino USA. Mando works with local and national brands including TimeWarner Inc., Whataburger, General Mills, REI, Austin Film Society, Blanton Museum of Art, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and is currently working on his next book, The Tacos of Texas with The University of Texas Press. Follow Mando on Twitter at @elmundodemando or @MRCollectivos.
Joah Spearman | Localeur
Joah Spearman is the CEO and co-founder of Localeur, an Austin-based startup with a mission to help you experience local wherever you go. Launched at SXSW 2013, Localeur was named the Best New Startup in Austin in 2013 and more recently has been named one of the top travel apps by The Today Show, Forbes, TIME, Mashable, MSN, MTV and The Men's Journal. Before Localeur, Joah was director of operations and strategic initiatives at Bazaarvoice before its 2012 IPO where he led the company's travel strategy, and co-founded the fashion segments for SXSW and ESPN X Games working with emerging brands such as Chicago-based sneaker line Bucketfeet and Australian menswear line Zanerobe. Joah previously co-founded a Downtown Austin-based pop-up sneaker boutique, Sneak Attack, and served as a social media and communication adviser in both Austin and Washington, D.C. for companies such as FedEx and Volkswagen, along with organizations such as the University of Texas and the Beijing Olympics.
Joah is currently serving on the board of directors for AIDS Services of Austin, which he joined in 2011, and as a member of the board for KLRU-TV (Austin's PBS affiliate), which he joined in 2014. Previously, Joah served as vice chair of the Austin Music Commission and as a member of the Downtown Comission, where he was appointed by the City Council and Mayor to advise the city on music-related and Downtown living issues. Joah was recently named one of the Top 10 Black Innovators of 2014 by MVMT ("Movement") 50 and was named the Emerging Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Austin Black Chamber in 2013 along with being a four-time finalist for the Austin Under 40 Awards.
Joah is the co-author of Real Role Models: Successful African Americans Beyond Pop Culture (Univ. of Texas Press 2010) and is currently putting the finishing touches on his second book, Indisputable: A Fan's Guide to the Live Music Capital. A long-time blogger at Diatribes by Joah, he has also been a frequent contributor to Huffington Post along with outlets such as Art & Hustle magazine, The New York Times Sports Blog, Xconomy and Austin publications such as Tribeza, Austin Monthly, and Vetta, and has spoken in more than 100 public schools around the country in partnership with Teach for America in cities such as Charlotte, Houston and Memphis, along with the Wharton School of Business, McCombs School of Business, and at numerous technology conferences such as South by Southwest and Tech808, a New York-based conference bridging the gap between the tech and hip-hop communities.