Lisa Mae Brunson: Founder of Wonder Women TechFebruary 15, 2021
Lisa Mae Brunson has been committed to providing a space for underrepresented populations in STEM, including women, people of color, and members of the queer community since she noticed the disparity in representation while looking for STEAM speakers for the Wonder Women Tech conference she created in 20151.
“I had no idea how to build a conference or what exactly I was doing. I just followed my intuition and created solutions and did a lot of what I call “Fearless Asking,”” said Brunson. “I listen to story after story of women who felt marginalized, discriminated against, shut out, underpaid, underfunded, underrepresented, and simply not provided the same access and opportunity as their male counterparts”1.
Brunson first decided to build the Wonder Women Tech (WWT) conference, after organizing a hackathon called Hacks4Humanity which started the ball rolling on Brunson’s altruistic advocacy event organizing career1. Leaders of the California Women’s Conference to notice of Brunson’s Hacks4Humaity event and asked her to create a hackathon targeted at girls and women, which was in turn attended by members of the Commission on the Status of Women in Los Angeles who asked Brunson to organize another event—the WWT conference1.
“I learned so much about what the needs are through building the first Wonder Women Tech Conference…More importantly, I understood the needs because all my life, I have lived under the shadow of discrimination, being underfunded, taken advantage of, and simply cast aside as I pushed forward daily to be seen, invested in, and represented,” Brunson said. “As a Black, Latina and Indigenous woman, born hard-of-hearing with invisible disability, I was passionate about equity, equality and inclusion all my life”1.
The conference was intended to be a one-time event, however much like the chain of events that led to the conference, the success of the WWT snowballed. Brunson was offered a three-year contract by the Mayor of Long Beach, California where the first conference was held, and then a six-year contract1. The WWT has expanded geographically too, with Brunson having brought the conference to cities as far as London and countries like Brazil1.
In addition to the WWT, Brunson has engaged in other events to promote diversity including launching EqualityTV; a photo campaign titled “I Am Equality” that involved 17 cities in 5 countries; and the Love, Hugs and Inspiration project, during which Brunson printed and handed out a poetry anthology to people with hugs to inspire and spread joy1, 2, 3.
In recognition of the impacts of her projects and programs, Brunson was appointed as Commissioner on the Commission for Technology and Innovation for the City of Long Beach, in December 2016, was included on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2019 list of “100 Powerful Women,” won the Long Beach Post’s 2017 “40 Under 40” title, received the 2020 Heart-Centered Tech Award from California Senator Ben Allen, and received an award honoring her work organizing STEAM career fairs for middle school students from Congressman Alan Lowenthal2, 3.
Brunson has enjoyed obvious success following her passion to bring awareness to issues impacting minorities in STEAM while providing a voice to this diverse group, however, she does not quantify success by the impact of her projects as many would.
“I personally define success through simply showing up every day, even when you want to give up…for me, success is recognizing that, recognizing where you need to pivot (as we all do right now) and choosing to go forward out into the unknown and keep pushing forward,” said Brunson1. “I do what I do so that the next generation can be inspired to carry the torch our collective ancestors have passed on to make the world a greater place"4.
- VoyageLA. (2020, November 9). Meet Lisa Mae Brunson of Wonder Women Tech in Long Beach. Retrieved from http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-lisa-mae-brunson-wonder-women-tech-long-beach/.
- Wonder Woman Tech. (2020). Lisa Mae Brunson. Retrieved from https://wonderwomentech.com/speaker/lisa-mae-brunson/.
- HuffPost. (2021). Lisa Mae Brunson. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/author/lisamae-900.
- Entrepreneur. (2021). Lisa Mae Brunson, founder of Wonder Women Tech. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/311157?fbclid=IwAR1AetTUHnEieFqC1iBBAruikR-6YO1xl1IjIO_h_8lItk9vYD6dV-r59TI#16.