Vancouver diversity champion on Ebony's Power 100 list

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

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See Vancouver’s Deena Pierott and all the other movers and shakers on Ebony magazine’s Power 100 list.

She's not the type of woman to let a bout of walking pneumonia slow her pace.

Vancouver resident and iUrban Teen Tech founder Deena Pierott has been quite the jet-setter lately, not only being invited in August to the White House as a "Champion of Change" but to a star-studded Ebony magazine gala this month at Lincoln Center in New York City. The magazine — which focuses on black culture in America — named Pierott on its annual Power 100 list as an "emerging leader."

And despite her pestering illness, she's been able to keep on trucking through the busy time. As an entrepreneur, it's in Pierott's nature to bash through any roadblocks in her way.

"I've been on this whirlwind while being sick," she said a week after returning home from the Ebony party, where she was able to not only promote her efforts to make technology and scientific career paths accessible for everyone but hobnob with Motown founder Berry Gordy, "The Butler" director Lee Daniels and others honored at the event.

"That was all because of iUrban," she said about her nod. "This is truly a project of love."

Pierott created the nonprofit in 2011 with a mission to break down the barriers to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, known as STEM. The program hosts an annual educational summit at Washington State University Vancouver, tours of companies and other programming throughout the year. It aims to inspire "brilliant, but unengaged kids." It focuses on black and Latino male teens — traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers — but welcomes everyone to get involved. Parents are also invited to take part.

"We are not exclusionary," Pierott said.

Pierott runs diversity recruiting firm Mosaic Blueprint and sits on the Washington State Commission on African-American Affairs, among other endeavors. She also organizes an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast every January at the Heathman Lodge.

The success of iUrban, which draws nearly 150 teens a year to its summit, has led Pierott to branch out into other communities. She just launched a version of the program in Kirkland and said she has signed an agreement with City University of Seattle to do the same there. She hopes it will spread nationally.

And it doesn't end there. Pierott is also starting iUrban Code on Nov. 16 in Portland for teens to learn computer coding for free.

"It is a great year," she said. "I feel like the best is yet to come."