In order to highlight Austin Tech Alliance’s growing membership of individuals who support our mission to promote civic engagement in Austin’s tech sector, this is a regular feature profiling members of ATA.
Up now: Elise Graham.
Introduce yourself and where you work in Austin’s tech sector.
I’m Elise Graham, and I’m originally from Longview, TX, where my older brother taught me how to code when I was ten years old.
Since then, I studied IT at Texas A&M, spent time at Intel, Inc. 500 companies, and nonprofits, but currently I serve as a co-founder, product designer, and advisor for several startups.
Right now, I’m the creator of Olivia AI and the Head of Product at Keet Health.
What do you love about Austin?
What’s not to love about Austin? I love the community here because we have smart, talented, and kind people minus the egos you find in other technology hubs. Also, Barton Springs and tacos.
What do you think are the community’s biggest challenges?
I think some of the biggest issues in our community are related to discrimination and inclusivity.
Whether it’s the LGBTQ+, people of color, immigrant, or female communities, marginalized groups are beginning to have voices, and we need to make sure as a whole we’re doing everything we can to amplify their voices and become allies.
A lot of companies view diversity as just a buzzword, but when we include viewpoints and empathize with people from different backgrounds, we’ll ultimately build better products, companies, and communities.
Why is it important for the tech community to become more civically engaged?
Tech communities are the most optimistic of any industry because we see the world as it could be, not just the status quo. Success begets influence, and as technology leaders, we owe it to our communities to use this influence for good.
We are the culture builders of today’s society, and we need to be more civically engaged from a local, national, and global perspective. Being in tech doesn’t mean we insulate ourselves and create a bubble from the outside world’s issues; it’s not a zero sum game. When our greater community wins, we all win.