On the Tech Trail: Walks with Strategic Leaders

Season 2 Teaser

March 18, 2021 MassTLC & Matter Season 2 Episode 0
On the Tech Trail: Walks with Strategic Leaders
Season 2 Teaser
Show Notes Transcript

What is Boston’s Brand Problem? How did the pandemic shine a light on issues of equity and access? What opportunities for growth and positive change have come out of this past year’s challenges? And how are we, as a tech community, coming together to be leaders in our commonwealth and beyond? 

In our first season, we heard conversations between leaders in Boston’s tech community, as they maneuvered through the complex realities of the COVID pandemic. But one conversation, between Anthony Williams of Akamai and Susan Hunt Stevens of WeSpire, left us questioning the very notion of Boston’s place as an incubator of talent and social change. Is Boston truly America’s most racist city? According to a 2017 survey by the Boston Globe, 54% of Black people around the country believed Boston to be unwelcoming to people of color. In what ways is this true, and how are we, as a community, working to fight both the realities and the reputation? 

This season, On the Tech Trail, we take Boston’s Brand Problem out of the shadows and directly tackle the burning questions left from season 1. So, join us as we hear candid stories of challenge and transformation from some of Boston’s most influential voices.  

  • Phyllis Barajas - Founder, CEO of Conexion 
  • Sheena Collier - Founder, CEO of Boston While Black 
  • Anthony Williams - EVP, CHRO at Akamai 
  • Pratt Wiley - President, CEO at The Partnership 
  • Debbie Theobald - CEO of Vecna Technologies 
  • Firdaus Bhatena - Chief Digital Officer at CVS Digital 
  • David Meredith - CEO, Board Director of Everbridge 
  • Tim Rowe - Founder, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center 
  • Carol Vallone - Board Chair of McLean Hospital 
  • Mark Butler - President of Cigna New England 
  • Katherine Newman - System Chancellor for Academic Programs, SVP for Economic Development at UMASS 
  • Secretary Jim Peyser - Massachusetts Secretary of Education 
  • Liz Reynolds - Principal Research Scientist, Executive Director of MIT Industrial Performance Center 
  • Stephanie Browne - VP of Talent and DEI at Blue Cross Blue Shield 
  • Lee Pelton - CEO, President of The Boston Foundation 
  • Kathleen Mitford - Chief Strategy Officer at PTC 
  • Christina Luconi - Chief People Officer at Rapid7 
  • Art Pappas - CEO, Co-Founder of Bullhorn 
  • Mike Volpe - CEO of Lola.com 
  • Chris Comparato - CEO of Toast, Inc 
  • Pam Reeve - Vice Chair at The Commonwealth Institute 
  • Aimee Sprung - Director of Digital Transformation at Microsoft Airband 
  • Josh Ness - Sr Manager of Verizon 5G Labs 

Season 2 of On the Tech Trail is brought to you by a joint effort between MassTLC and Matter Communications. Special thanks to everyone who contributed: 

  • Tom Hopcroft - Host  
  • Kristen Keane - Booking  
  • Mackenzie LeBert - Booking  
  • David Riemer - Producer, Writer, Editor  
  • Gabe Gerzon - Producer, Writer  
  • Beth York - Producer, Writer  
  • Shaw Flick - Writer  
  • Mandy Lawson - Editor  
  • Tanner Bjorlie - Graphic Design  
  • Tim Bradley - Executive Producer, Writer 

Music (“All Systems Go”) was written by Michael Thomas Geiger and Jessie Marie Villa, and performed by Mikey Geiger. To read more of the Globe’s groundbreaking series from 2017, head to https://apps.bostonglobe.com/spotlight/boston-racism-image-reality 

Pratt Wiley:

Boston has a reputation.

Sheena Collier:

We have this moniker as the most racist city.

Stephanie Browne:

I think about my career back then, and I can't even remember anybody of color, honestly. I was always the only one.


What is Boston's brand problem? How did the pandemic shine a light on issues of equity and access? This season, On the Tech Trail, we tackle burning questions left from season one, and hear candid stories from some of Boston's most influential voices.

Pam Reeve:

If there's one thing this COVID environment has done as it's drained the swamp, is shown that big rock of digital inequity and connectivity inequity.

Art Papas:

The pandemic has been particularly hard on two groups, people of color and working women.

Mark Butler:

When we look at their ability to access care, they have been much more limited than others.


Coming off a year of intense change, our leaders share how they manage the good alongside all the bad.

Elisabeth Reynolds:

If there's a silver lining to this terrible, terrible time it's that those things have been exposed even more shows than ever.

Firdaus Bhathena:

Some of the first questions we ask about any technology we look at is the equity piece.

Aimee Sprung:

It brings everyone up. The more people that have access, all good things happen.

Joshua Ness:

5g is going to be able to close the digital divide in ways that we haven't before.

Kathleen Mitford:

2020 was really a year where everyone focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.


Get a window into the resilience, the partnerships, and the advocacy that has come out of today's crises.

Christina Luconi:

One of the biggest trends coming out of all of that has been more empathy.

Tim Rowe:

We're seeing a shift, if you will, in this desire to be global and fully diverse.

Debbie Theobald:

That frontier is new people, new ways of doing things, new systems, and pushing that forward.


Join us on Spotify, masstlc.org, or wherever you get your podcasts for season two of On the Tech Trail.