Lewis Latimer Fellowship

All cultures that thrive need the nourishment provided by their risk-taking heroes. Without openly recognizing and celebrating these heroes, the culture would be devoid of its critical “inspiration layer” that educates the next generation of aspiring citizens about what is possible and encourages bold thinking at a systems level.

An Accelerator Program for Black Innovators

At the Edison Awards, while channeling the spirit of Edison’s principal collaborator Lewis H. Latimer, we recognize that it’s time to fully celebrate and acknowledge Black, modern-day hero innovators that remain largely hidden in the long shadows cast by cultural institutions that have benefited from their innovations

The Edison Awards introduced an accelerator program in 2022 for Black Innovators with the passion and dedication to innovation that Lewis Latimer represented. Modeled after Y Combinator and the McArthur Genius Award, Lewis Latimer Fellowship is designed to provide special access to the Edison corporate innovation network, mentorship and capital to an annual cohort of six black innovators per year.

The Intention of the Lewis Latimer Fellowship is to:

Celebrate

Promote the huge intellectual contributions being made by black innovators today and tomorrow

Connect

Introduce these brilliant minds to forward-leaning, innovative corporations that appreciate the power of diversity

Commune

Grow the community of black innovators and to encourage regular dialogue and idea exchange.

2024 Lewis Latimer Fellows

Adrian Burrell

Artist

Latimer Fellow Biography

Adrian Burrell

Adrian Burrell is a third-generation Oakland artist utilizing photography, installation, and experimental media. His work examines issues of race, class, and intergenerational dynamics, inviting moments where collective storytelling could be a site for remembering.

Burrell has lived and worked on four continents. He is a US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA) and Stanford University (MFA). At Stanford, he lectured, served as Black Graduate student community outreach chair, and was a visiting Artist with Stanford's Institute for Diversity in Arts.

He was in residence at the Black Freedom fellowship in Salvador, Brazil, in 2023, was a resident at SF FILM, was a YBCA creative cohort fellow between 2021 and 2022, and was awarded the renowned Black Rock residency in Dakar, Senegal, in 2022. His solo exhibition, "Venus Blues," opened at the Minnesota Street Foundation 20,000 square feet space in October 2023. His first solo exhibition was on view at the ICA San Jose, California, from September 2022 through February 2, 2023.

Burrell's work has been featured in the New Yorker, Black Star Film Festival, PopUp Magazine, Photo Ville, the Pingyao International Photography Festival China, and SXSW, among others. In 2021, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art acquired "It's After the End of the World Don't You Know That Yet." This collective self-portrait examines normalized violence inflicted on black lives.

Tiffany Griffin

CEO, Co-Founder, and Co-Owner,
Bright Black

Latimer Fellow Biography

Tiffany Griffin

Tiffany M. Griffin is the CEO, Co-Founder, and Co-Owner of Bright Black, a North

Carolina-based social enterprise that pioneered the art of using scent to share positive

stories about the beauty and brilliance of Blackness. Since launching in 2019, Bright Black has gained national and international notoriety, attracting the attention of Beyonce, Zendaya, Jordan Peele, Nike, and others.

Uniquely, Bright Black synthesizes cooperative economics theory with revenue-sharing

practices to amplify their social and economic impact through strategic partnerships. These collaborations have included partners such as the NBA and WNBA, Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote, and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, and have resulted in over $30,000 in donations to social organizations working to improve the lives of Black people around the world.

Before founding Bright Black, Tiffany was a Strategic Advisor in the Center for Resilience at the US Agency for International Aid (USAID), where she helped to spearhead the Agency’s first resilience policy and corresponding programming and evaluation frameworks. Before her work at USAID, Tiffany was a health and safety nets policy staffer for Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. Tiffany has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where she focused on decision-making as a conduit of racial discrimination. She also has dual BAs in Psychology and Communications from Boston College.

When not running Bright Black, you can find her developing recipes, dreaming about new vacation destinations, or going on solo nature walks to decompress.

Sidney McLaurin

CEO, Fleet Robotics

Latimer Fellow Biography

Sidney McLaurin

Sidney McLaurin is the CEO of Fleet Robotics. Sidney and his co-founders started fleet as a simple, automated mobile robot platform to help industrial companies proactively maintain large industrial structures. Starting with the maritime industry, their collaborative robots live permanently on commercial ships and help simplify inspection, maintenance, and cargo operations. The robots are best known for their novel walking ability on vertical surfaces in harsh conditions — even underwater while the ship is in motion.

Sidney incubated the concept for Fleet while he was a Partner at Material Impact, a

Boston-based venture fund. Before the fund, he worked at Lime where he joined as its first GM in 2017 and helped scale the company from a single market to the global presence it is today.

McLaurin credits his interest in climate to growing up around the outdoors in Mississippi. He is a mentor and advisor for a variety of folks within the climate startup ecosystem, including the formation of a new start-up incubator in London. Sidney is an engineer by training — he started his career at Siemens in Industrial Automation and holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Florida. He transitioned into climate entrepreneurship with an MBA and an Environmental Management degree from Duke University.

John Pasmore

Founder and CEO, Latimer.ai

Latimer Fellow Biography

John Pasmore

As the Founder & CEO of Latimer.ai, John founded and launched the inclusive large language model (“LLM”) Latimer.ai. Latimer is building the premier online Artificial Intelligence resource for accurate historical information and bias-free interaction for Black and Brown audiences.

Unlike other LLMs, Latimer builds its training platform using licensed content from esteemed sources, such as the recently announced exclusive partnership with New York Amsterdam News. Using licensed content improves data accuracy and the fairness of economic sharing between content creators, owners, and data deliverers. Latimer's construction is a Retrieval Augmented Generation model ("RAG" Model), which has several key advantages.

John served as co-founder and CEO of the venture-backed, video-based travel platform VoyageTV which raised $10 million in an A-Round led by Syncom Venture Partners. It was sold to Next 1 Interactive in 2013.

He recently served as a partner at the Family Office, TRS Capital, and at Movita Organics, an organic supplement company led by filmmaker Spike Lee’s wife, Tonya Lewis Lee. John sits on the Board of Directors of Outward Bound USA. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the State University of New York and a B.A. in Computer Science from Columbia University.

Sian Proctor

Geoscience Professor, Afrofuturism
Space Artist, Astronaut

Latimer Fellow Biography

Sian Procter

Dr. Sian Proctor is a Geoscience Professor with the Maricopa Community Colleges, an Afrofuturism Space Artist, and an Astronaut. She is the Chief Inspiration Astronaut of Space2inspire and founder of The Proctor Foundation for Art and Science. She was the mission pilot for SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian orbital mission. She is the first female commercial astronaut spaceship pilot and the only African American woman to ever be a mission pilot. She is also the first African-American commercial astronaut, and the first African-American to paint in space. She is currently serving as a member of the National Space Council Users’ Advisory Group representing the Maricopa Community Colleges. Her motto is Space2inspire where she encourages people to use their unique strengths and passion to inspire themselves and those within their reach. She uses her unique artistic style and poetry to share her love of human spaceflight and to bring her EarthLight experience down to Earth. She believes that we need to actively strive for a just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive (J.E.D.I.) space both on Earth and beyond.

2023 Lewis Latimer Fellows

Lisa Dyson, Ph.D.

Founder & CEO, Air Protein
Latimer Fellow Biography

Lisa Dyson

Dr. Lisa Dyson is a mission-driven entrepreneur and founder of Air Protein, a remarkable, NASA- inspired technology that converts elements in the air into sustainable protein that eliminates compromise between taste, nutrition, and climate threat.

“Air meat” is crafted through a process similar to how beer and yogurt are made and can be produced exponentially faster than traditional meat production.

Lisa has a PhD in Physics from MIT, and is a Fulbright Scholar from the University of London where she received an MS in Physics. She is a researcher and scientist at heart, working on projects in Bioengineering and Physics at Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University, the University of California, San Francisco, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.

Her background paved the way for her to see through the devastation we are experiencing on the planet; and find a way to feed our planet sustainably.

D. Fox Harrell, Ph.D.

Professor of Digital Media & Artificial Intelligence, MIT
Latimer Fellow Biography

D. Fox Harrell, Ph.D.

D. Fox Harrell, Ph.D., is a Professor of Digital Media and Artificial Intelligence in the Comparative Media Studies Program and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT.

Prof. Harrell’s interdisciplinary research — based in computer science, cognitive science, and digital media arts — explores the relationship between imagination and computation and involves inventing new forms of digital media and computer-based art.

As the Director of the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, Prof. Harrell aims to pioneer innovative experiences using computing technologies that paint a layer of imagination atop the physical world. In addition to virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality, he investigates other media forms, like synthetic media, that generate content using artificial intelligence-based techniques and other forms of interactive narrative technologies supported by AI.

Dr. Harrell holds a Ph.D in Computer and Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego, a master's degree in interactive telecommunication from New York, University, and a BFA in Art (electronic and time-based media) and BS in Logic and Computation from Carnegie Mellon University, each with high honors.

Jacquelle Amankonah Horton

Founder & CEO, Fave
Latimer Fellow Biography

Jacquelle Amankonah Horton

Jacquelle is the founder and CEO of a new social platform & marketplace called Fave dedicated to recognizing and rewarding superfans.

Horton became Google's first black Product Manager in Europe at age 26. She then lead a team of 150+ people working on the transformation of the Google Assistant. Before this role, Horton was a product lead at YouTube where she doubled the user base of the Creator app.

Her new venture recently won Startup of the Year in music tech and earned $2.2M in seed funding from major companies such as Sony, Warner, HYBE, and more.

Receiving her Master's degree from USC at just 20 years old, Jacquelle has been named one of the "Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs in the World", "Top 50 Women Product Managers in Europe", and in 2020 made the esteemed "Forbes 30 Under 30" list.

Shameik Moore

American Actor, Singer, and Rapper
Latimer Fellow Biography

Shameik Moore

Shameik Moore an American actor, singer, and music artist.

He gained recognition with his portrayal of Malcolm in the 2015 film Dope, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Indiewire included Moore on its list of "The 12 Major Breakouts of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival" for his performance in the movie.

In 2018, he voiced Miles Morales / Spiderman in the film Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse, and its upcoming sequels.

In addition to his talents, as an artist and performer, 2023, Shameik is also launching a new innovation and e-commerce platform designed to build economic and cultural development in African-American communities.

Ian Randall

Founder and CEO, Maglev Aero Inc.
Latimer Fellow Biography

Ian Randall

Ian Randall is Co-Founder, President & CEO of MagLev Aero Inc., an innovative aerospace technology startup in Boston developing a novel electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing(eVTOL) Air Vehicle Platform. He held leadership roles across projects and programs spanning eVTOL UAVs, NASA and Blue Origin sponsored Suborbital payloads, a Land Speed Record Electric Motorcycle program with Purdue University, Long Endurance UAVs, and Fault Tolerant Cloud Computing Workload Management.

With his cofounder, who happens to be his father and fellow tech entrepreneur, Rod Randall, Ian further developed the concept, and now has 10+ issued patents, has raised capital, and built a team of talented engineers and scientists to build MagLev Aero into a global electric propulsion and aircraft leader.

Ian graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and a Minor in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in System Design, and Dynamics & Controls. He is also an avid music and film enthusiast, enjoys jamming on bass, guitar or ukelele, playing Table Tennis, and practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Soton Rosanwo

Founder & CEO, Centinel
Latimer Fellow Biography

Soton Rosanwo

Soton is an entrepreneur, science fiction writer, and artist.

Her company Centinel.ai, is patent-pending technology that provides claims-free coverage for hard-to-insure risks, like climate or event disruption.

Before founding Centinal, Soton worked at Allstate Insurance as senior manager of product innovation, defining strategy and orchestrating collaboration across Innovation, Product, Data Science, Pricing, and Marketing teams to develop new-to-industry risk assessment products.

2022 Lewis Latimer Fellows

Ayana Holloway Arce

Future of Space

Latimer Fellow Biography

Ayana Holloway Arce

Ayana Holloway Arce is an Associate Professor of Physics at Duke University. She works on particle physics, using data from the Large Hadron Collider to understand phenomena beyond the Standard Model. Holloway Arce has a BA with honors from Princeton University, and a PhD from Harvard University. She has worked at the Collider Detector at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Audrey Bowden

Future of Healing

Latimer Fellow Biography

Audrey Bowden

Audrey Bowden is Associate Professor of Biomedical and Electrical Engineering, Vanderbilt University. She has a BSE in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University, and Postdoctoral training in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. Bowden's research interests include light-based biomedical photonic tools for applications to medicine and biology, such as for early detection, diagnosis and therapy for cancer; development and deployment of low-cost, high-performing point-of-care technologies for rural and global health applications

Dario Calmese

Future of Black Culture

Latimer Fellow Biography

Dario Calmese

Dario Calmese was the first African American to photograph the cover of Vanity Fair. He has a Master’s in photography from the School of Visual Arts and is the Founder of the Institute of the Black Imagination, in association with the Ford Foundation. Calmese serves on the global advisory board for Estee Lauder Companies. He is a professor at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Rayvon Fouche

Future of Social Sciences / Black Innovation

Latimer Fellow Biography

Rayvon Fouche

Rayvon Fouche is the Division Director, Social and Economic Sciences - National Science Foundation, He is a Professor of American Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Purdue University Fouche has a Masters and PhD in Science & Technology Studies from Cornell University, and a BA in Humanities (History & Philosophy of Science) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Asegun Henry

Future of Materials Science

Latimer Fellow Biography

Asegun Henry

Asegun Henry is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, where he directs the Atomistic Simulation & Energy (ASE) Research Group. He was an Assistant Professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech from 2012 to 2018. Asegun has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Florida A & M University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. His primary research is in heat transfer, with an emphasis on understanding the science of energy transport, storage and conversion at the atomic level, along with the development of new industrial scale energy technologies to mitigate climate change.

Byron Jones

Future of Sustainable Housing

Latimer Fellow Biography

Byron Jones

Byron Jones is a cornerback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL) He holds the unofficial world record for the standing long jump at 12 feet 3 inches. Jones has a BA in Political science at the University of Connecticut and is a member of I Am Nation, a prestigious collective of professional athletes interested in community development, legacy building and investing.

Apply to be Named a 2024 Latimer Fellow

Who Was
Lewis Latimer?

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848–1928) was a patent draftsman and inventor who worked with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison in the post-Civil War era. His name will be forever associated with two of the most revolutionary inventions of all time: the telephone and the incandescent electric light bulb.

Latimer Fellowship Founding Leadership

Jon Cropper

Latimer Fellow Founder Biography

Jonathon Cropper

Jonathan Cropper is a respected luxury brand strategist, global creative director and futurist. Envisioneering and futurecrafting is his trade and passion.

Jonathan is the founder of Futurlogic Advanced Concepts, a highly confidential, business development, design, and branding studio.

Current areas of focus:
● Future of home-living
● Future of food
● Luxury 3.0
● Post-Covid, social impact entrepreneurship
● Immersive, interactive, content development

He has designed and implemented innovation strategies with the leadership of:

Aston Martin, Credit Suisse Private Bank, Airbus, Feadship, Sir David Adjaye, Four Seasons (Private Jet Program), Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, BIG Architects, S3 Architecture, ITV, Warner Bros / DC Comics, Hearst, Lockheed Martin, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Ralph Lauren, to name a few.

Futurlogic is also an agent representing Aston Martin Design, and is an experience design affiliate for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab at CalTech.

Most recently, Jon was the Head of Global Real Estate, Aviation & Marine Partnerships for Aston Martin Lagonda.

In this unique role, he was responsible for creating the overall strategy, alliance formation, and execution of the brand’s expansion into these new verticals.

Jon began his career at MTV: Music Television, where he helped design the business plans for MTV’s expansion into Asia, Latin America, and South Africa.

After MTV, he was recruited by cultural icon Quincy Jones, to serve as Director of Business Development for his media company at Time Warner. He was responsible for sourcing and evaluating all multimedia and new venture opportunities.

Jon later joined Nissan North America as Senior Manager, Head of Youth and Urban Communications (a new internal unit that he created). In this capacity, Jon was responsible for all youth, multicultural marketing, and strategic alliances for both the Nissan and Infiniti brands. Jon efficiently managed a $100 million annual budget, and oversaw the production of dozens of multimedia communications campaigns.

Jon was recognized by Brandweek Magazine as the “Best Marketer Under 40 in America” for his marketing innovations.

He was also the Chief Marketing Officer for Badboy Worldwide Entertainment Group, Sean “Diddy” Combs’ collection of companies. During his tenure, Jon was instrumental in developing partnerships with Estee Lauder (launched the "Unforgivable" fragrance that became the #1 men's fragrance in the U.S.), Sprint, and Diageo (designed the repositioning strategy for Ciroc Vodka, one of the biggest successes in recent spirits industry history).

Prior to his role at Badboy Worldwide, Jon was an Executive Creative Director and Senior Vice President at Young & Rubicam Brands, where he led diverse creative teams, and formed an advanced mobile media and communications think tank. He designed and executed numerous campaigns for clients such as Sony, Vodafone, Starbucks, Telefonica, Jaguar and AT&T.

Jon received his BA in International Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys travel, multimedia art, collecting first-edition magazines, beautiful architecture, and science fiction.

Frank Bonafilia

Frank Bonafilia

Latimer Fellow Founder Biography

Frank Bonafilia

Frank Bonafilia is both the Executive Director of the Edison Awards and co-founder of Edison Universe, a non-profit organization focused on fostering the next generation of innovators. In 2020, Frank co-founded the Lewis Latimer Fellowship–a program that supports the advancement of Black Innovators through mentorship. Frank is a 25-year marketing executive with an award-winning career in financial services, advanced retail solutions and the successful development and launch of profitable new products and services. Early in his career Frank was involved with the Edison Awards when he managed the Sponsorship and Awards Division of the American Marketing Association. In that capacity, he was responsible for the Division’s overall profitability and extension of the Edison Awards brand, which is manifested in the Edison Awards’ current status as an independent organization. Frank holds an MBA from Saint Xavier University and a BA in International Communications from the University of Kansas. When he’s not working he enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife Anna watching their three children Franco, Dante and Gianna participate in sports and school activities.

Carmichael Roberts

Latimer Fellow Founder Biography

Carmichael Roberts

Carmichael is co‐founder and managing partner of Material Impact, a fund that builds resilient technology companies developing products to solve real‐world problems using innovative materials. He is also the co‐lead of the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a mission‐oriented group chaired by Bill Gates committed to creating and building companies that address climate change and the long‐term sustainability of the planet.

Prior to venture, as an entrepreneur, Carmichael built several successful companies that create innovative products by applying material science. His strategy as a venture investor is based on his successful career as an entrepreneur in materials innovation, blending a unique business model of licensing university technology and commercializing it through targeted partnerships with Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to his career as an investor, Carmichael co‐founded several ventures, in which he served as President and CEO or Chairman.

Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Carmichael worked in business development at GelTex Pharmaceuticals, acquired by Genzyme for $1.3 billion, and in new product and business development at Dow Chemical (formerly Union Carbide Corporation).

Elected to the Board of Trustees of Duke University in 2013, Carmichael currently serves as Vice Chairman. He was appointed to the Duke University Health System Board of Directors in 2017 and currently serves on the Audit and Compliance Committee.

Carmichael also serves on the boards for the Consumer Technology Association, WGBH, and Massachusetts General Hospital Physicians Organization. Carmichael was selected by the Aspen Institute to participate in the Finance Leaders Fellowship program as a senior leader in the venture capital industry.

Carmichael received his BS and PhD in organic chemistry from Duke University and completed his postdoctoral National Science Foundation fellowship at Harvard University. Carmichael also has an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.