Between the three of them, Amazonians Robyn Kanner, Bowen Ames and Annabelle Richard Backman have a long list of accomplishments: they’re award winning designers, entrepreneurs, activists and innovators. But after being selected to serve as voices for the LGBT community at the LGBT White House Tech and Innovation Briefing, they can add White House technology advisor to their lists of titles.
Kanner, a UX designer, Ames, an art director for Amazon Devices and Backman, a senior SDE for Identity Services, were selected from 3,500 nominees to join the final group of 180 people from around the country to attend this year’s briefing, a daylong seminar where individuals with diverse backgrounds come together to tackle crucial issues facing the LGBT community and beyond.
The 180 Summit attendees will reconvene in November to finalize their findings and projects.
The day was about “building community in a really great way with really smart people,” Kanner, who was assigned to the team on Workplace Inclusion, said. She drew on her experience as an entrepreneur to contribute to her team, having invented a startup called MyTransHealth, which she co-founded and designed, as well as her work within Amazon.
As a designer, Ames says a huge part of his role at Amazon is to tell customers how our devices fit in with the human experience and how technology can have a positive impact on their lives. At the White House, he joined the team focused on Entrepreneurship and drew directly upon his experience at Amazon to contribute to his group’s discussions.
“Everyone agreed that as LGBT leaders, we must work to flip the paradigm of silo entrepreneurship and strive to create an atmosphere for the November summit that fosters and helps hone the ideas of budding technologists far beyond networking,” he said.
Kanner, Ames and Backman used words like “humbling,” “remarkable” and “spectacular” to describe the substantive parts of the day, but all agreed that two surprises – getting to meet the Obamas' dogs, Bo and Sunny, and getting an exclusive, rope-free private tour of the East Wing – were some of the highlights of the day.
“We sat on the same couches as the Kennedys, perused the books in the library, and had our photo on the front steps!” Ames said. “So cool.”