Diversity & Inclusion
Awards / Engineering / Events / Startups

Meet the winners of DC’s 2019 Technical.ly Awards

On Wednesday we took over Mindspace to celebrate our inaugural RealLIST Engineers and award #dctech companies and people across seven categories.

The house was packed at Mindspace for Technical.ly DC's 2019 awards ceremony on Dec. 18. (Photo by Sam Markowitz)
Correction: The name of Equal Reality's second cofounder has been corrected. (12/21/19, 12:12 p.m.)
As we prepare for 2020, we took a second to breathe, and appreciate those companies making this D.C. tech community thrive.

On Wednesday evening, the #dctech community took over Mindspace to celebrate the 2019 Technical.ly Awards. We celebrated eight individuals and organizations across seven categories for the work they accomplished this year — and yes, there was even a tie for one of those awards. Last night we also recognized the RealLIST Engineers, our inaugural list of 12 influential technologists in the region for both their coding skills and community leadership.

This celebration came after we announced award nominees back in October — five for each category — then invited public voting. After gathering hundreds of votes, these eight victors came out on top.

These are the D.C. winners of the 2019 Technical.ly Awards:

Invention of the Year: Equal Reality’s VR diversity training platform

Founded by Brennan Hatton and Rick Martin, the pair relocated from Australia last September after being accepted into the Halcyon Incubator for fall 2018. Equal Reality used VR tech to curate personalized trainings for diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment, workplace bullying and unconscious bias by putting a user in someone else’s shoes.

Brennan Hatton, Equal Reality cofounder, at WeDC Fest 2018. (Photo by Michelai Graham)

Impact Leader of the Year: Kelly O’Malley, manager at the Georgetown Venture Lab

After two years with the Vinetta Project and leading SEED SPOT’s accelerator program this past spring, O’Malley accepted a position to manage the Georgetown Venture Lab back in September. With the space at full capacity, she has been working on identifying where the lab can build in additive programming and how it can engage more alumni and the greater D.C. ecosystem.

O’Malley managed her last Vinetta Project showcase on Sept. 12 during DC Startup Week.

Kelly O’Malley receiving her award at the 2019 Technical.ly Awards in D.C. (Photo by Sam Markowitz)

CTO of the Year: Jess Szmajda, Axios

Szmajda joined the Axios team in February after leading Optoro’s tech team for nearly a decade. At Optoro, she “personally built” the company’s original tech while leading a team of more than 90 technologists, her Linkedin reads. Szmajda is also the mastermind behind the DC Tech Slack group and the Joy of Programming Meetup, which has nearly 1,500 members.

Startup of the Year: HUNGRY

HUNGRY is a Rosslyn, Virginia-based office catering startup that curates an online marketplace that connects independent chefs directly with the catering market. The startup closed an $8 million Series A funding round back in April and snagged the #1 spot on Technical.ly DC’s 2019 RealLIST Startups earlier this year. HUNGRY came to the District in January 2017 and continues to grow through venture capital, team expansion and even an acquisition.

Growth Company of the Year: FiscalNote

FiscalNote, the downtown D.C. company that analyzes legislation, and stepped into media with the acquisition of CQ Roll Call, has shown tremendous growth since its inception in 2013. According to Crunchbase, the company has had successful funding rounds every year since its launch, except in 2017 when it didn’t have an active round. Before the CQ Roll Call acquisition, FiscalNote also acquired South Korea’s MyCandidate, grassroots advocacy tool VoterVoice and Brussels-based Shungham.

Corporate Innovations of the Year: Capital One Labs and the Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Center

Whew, this one came down to a true tie — so instead of picking one winner, we honored what the community voted on, which was these two companies for their corporate innovation work this year.

Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Center, born from the McLean, Virginia-based IT consulting firm that’s playing an increasingly active role in the #dctech community, launched this Northwest D.C. innovation center to support entrepreneurship initiatives such as SEED SPOT’s accelerator and Vinetta Project’s pitch events.

Capital One Labs, a subsidiary of the large financial corporation headquartered in McLean, is an Arlington,Virginia-based team applying emerging technology in finance. The lab works with Capital One to build tech products to enhance the customer experience.

 Culture Builder of the Year: Julie Elberfeld, Capital One

Elberfeld is the senior VP of shared technology at Capital One, who launched the company’s internal Women in Tech program in 2015 and is a leading voice for diversity initiatives across the company. She began her tenure with Capital One in 2010 and since then, she has climbed the ranks as a woman in tech while leading efforts to increase diversity at the large corporation.

And we can’t forget a group photo of some of our RealLIST Engineers who came to celebrate with us:

Some of Technical.ly DC’s 2019 RealLIST Engineers. (Photo by Sam Markowitz)

Here a full list of our inaugural D.C. RealLIST Engineers:

  • Emmanuel Apau, lead site reliability engineer, Cvent
  • Laurie Barth, software engineer, Ten Mile Square Technologies
  • Sheena Bryant, software engineer, Nava PBC
  • Rami Chowdhury, principal engineer, Python, Upside Business Travel
  • Dylan Gaffney, lead engineer, VEDA Data Solutions
  • Andrew Garcia, founder and CTO, Goodshuffle
  • Frank Goodman, CTO and COO, Happied
  • David Holmes, director of engineering, U.S. Digital Service
  • Veni Kunche, senior software engineer, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Daniel Krinke, software engineer, Aquicore
  • Taylor Poindexter, backend engineer, Crowdskout
  • Shannon Turner, founder, Hear Me Code
Companies: Mindspace / Capital One / FiscalNote / Technical.ly

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


9 don't-miss events for technologists and entrepreneurs this July

Top 3 vital trends founders should know before pitching investors in 2024

An OpenAI advisor wants to help tech leaders embrace the humanities

Leaders at Baltimore Region Investment Summit praise collaboration and push for equitable growth — EDA funding or not

Technically Media