Awards / DC

DC, it’s time to vote: Meet your 25 Awards nominees for 2023

Voting is open through Nov. 30 for this year’s top invention, community leader, tech company, CTO and culture builder.

The annual Awards honor the top community leaders, companies and more. ( Brown) Awards 2023 is underwritten by Comcast. This article was independently reported and not reviewed by Comcast before publication. Comcast is a client.

As we wait for the turkey to be pardoned, rush to finish the year’s goals and hold off until just the right moment to hang up holiday decor, there’s another annual tradition to celebrate.

That’s right, DC tech — I’m talking about the annual Awards, honoring 2023’s top innovators, technologists, community leaders and more. With an ever-changing (and hopefully improving) economy, the boom of generative AI and a changing workplace landscape, 2023 really was a year of building. With that in mind, we wanted to pick folks who are on the ~cutting edge~, lifting up the next generation and building up the tech of tomorrow.

This year’s picks were pulled from both community member nominations and our past reporting, and curated by our team here at the newsroom. But now, it’s all up to you — winners are selected solely on community votes. Voting will be open through Thursday, Nov. 30, with winners announced Wednesday, Dec. 6.

Got all that? Meet the 2023 nominees below, and cast your vote for your faves!

Vote in the 2023 Awards

Invention of the Year

What product, project or release this year is best poised to change its industry?

  • Alive Podcast Network — Founder Angel Livas created a platform for Black podcasters with an AI function to market shows, a chat tool for hosts and listeners, and a planned ecommerce marketplace.
  • Gallaudet U’s AR Helmet — With the help of AT&T, university players and coaches developed a football helmet that helps deaf and hard-of-hearing players communicate with coaches through augmented reality.
  • QLab — The $20 million National Quantum Lab, launched by IonQ and the University of Maryland, lets researchers, students, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and more research, develop and design quantum tech out of the Discovery District.
  • PerVista — Developed by the former CIO of Prince George’s County, this tool uses AI to analyze video streams and detect firearms in real-time to help lower gun violence.
  • Throne’s Tech-Based Bathroom — An eco-friendly public toilet accessible via a QR code or app, with real-time cleanliness rating and a map of available Thrones in the area.

Vote in the 2023 Awards

Tech Community Leader of the Year

Who has most made this community better through coalition building, nonprofit work, access-minded initiatives, policymaking or other pathways?

  • Kiante Bush — Bush is the founder of Venture for T.H.E.M., a funder of early-stage entrepreneurs from historically Black colleges and universities. The accelerator hosts weekly Founder Fridays workshops, hosts monthly Rocket Pitches pitch competitions and connects founders to mentors.
  • Mackenzie Loy — Loy created Homemade in DC, an online marketplace that helps food vendors share their products with companies and corporations for events. She’s also the founder of equity crowdfunding network The New Majority.
  • Amir Ansari — Ansari, a board member of XPRIZE, is the cofounder and executive director of xFoundry@UMD, a new accelerator program for students interested in entrepreneurship, but who might be lacking in a solid idea. They’ll partner up with other students and eventually pitch for the chance to win $2 million.
  • Gerald Brooks — Over in Arlington, Brooks leads the AWS Skills Center, a free training center for anyone interested in learning about cloud computing. The center also hosts networking and job placement events.
  • Kaitlin Capobianco — The senior manager at Halcyon is also a content lead for DC Startup Week and helped create the DC Startup Calendar tool, which connects founders with local events.

Vote in the 2023 Awards

CTO of the Year

Who is leading groundbreaking technical work within their company or organization? (Similar titles beyond CTO were accepted.)

  • The i-Team — Jenny Kessler, Matt Gerken, Lindsay Quarles, Peter Varley, Marie Lachance, Paul Elliott and Ro Stephenson make up DC’s innovation team. Though not exclusively tech-focused, they use technology to solve some of the top problems in DC today.
  • Daryoush Mansouri — Mansouri is the CTO of Arlington, Virginia restaurant tech company GoTab. This year, GoTab was named to the Deloitte Fast 500 list, honoring fast-growing companies, and raised $18 million in a Series A round.
  • Viveca Pavon-Harr — The newly appointed chief data scientist at Accenture is also the director of the Applied Intelligence Discovery Lab and innovation lead, overseeing 800 people in total.
  • Jeff Highman — Highman is the CTO of Trua, a McLean, Virginia-based startup that wants to reduce the amount of personal information people need to share online with a new digital wallet tool. The company emerged from stealth earlier this year.
  • Steve Brumby — Brumby is the cofounder, CEO and CTO of Impact Observatory, a startup that uses deep learning and AI to generate maps of anywhere in the world and help leaders make climate decisions. Prior to this, he worked in data visualization at National Geographic.

Vote in the 2023 Awards

Tech Company of the Year

What promising startup or growth-stage company is tackling an interesting problem, shaping its industry or inspiring a brighter collective future?

  • Aledade — The Bethesda, Maryland healthtech company raised $260 million this year, the fourth year in a row it’s raised over $50 million. Aledade built a tech platform for data analytics, workflows, payer relationships and other care solutions for health providers.
  • Calypso AI — Loundon County’s Calypso helps enterprise and government entities trust and monitor AI and machine learning. In June, the company raised $23 million, it’s also been recognized by Al Core Technologies, Forrester and was the grand prize winner of the Loudoun Economic Development Innovation Challenge.
  • Brivo — In 2023, Bethesda cloud security company Brivo nabbed a partnership with Urban Outfitters, launched an access badge with Apple Wallet and raised $92.5 million.
  • Hydrosat — Dupont Circle’s Hydrosat developed thermal monitoring tech to track water stress with real-time imagery for governments, insurance companies, first responders and more. In April, the company raised $20 million.
  • Adlumin — DC managed security company Adlumin closed its $70 million Series B round this year, landed on the Inc. 5000 list for the third time and was named a Deloitte Fast 500 company.

Vote in the 2023 Awards

Culture Builder of the Year

What empathetic leader or organizer is making their workplace or professional group more inclusive, resilient or engaging? (“Leader” doesn’t need to mean they hold a leadership title.)

  • David Hall — According to his nominator, Revolution’s managing partner spearheaded the Rise of the Rest fund’s Beyond Silicon Valley Summit in DC, bringing together over 150 investors. Hall also led investments in nine new companies and traveled over 20,000 miles visiting startup communities nationwide. At Revolution, he’s always making sure the VC firm is future-oriented and looking for founders who are building the companies of tomorrow.
  • Tremain Davis — The chief strategy officer at University Startups manages how the edtech company works in the communities it serves. He’s also a longtime community leader and founder of social impact consulting firm Think PGC. His nominator said he embeds impact and mission into every touchpoint of University Startups.
  • Matthew Lowinger — The director of product management at Octaria leads with “empathy, passion and kindness” according to his nominator, who also called him “a rising star in the local tech arena.” He also cofounded Innov8MD, a student entrepreneurship initiative.
  • Mahreen Rashid — As the EVP of people services at Excella, Rashid has completely transformed the company’s employee experience, her nominator said. She puts employee interests at the center of decision-making, leads Excella’s day of action, built the internal learning program Excella University and drives DEI work.
  • Sheldon Bachstein — By day, Bachstein is an engineering lead at Nava PBC. But by night, he’s revitalizing Code for DC, now Civic Tech DC, after the org severed ties to Code for America and went through a hiatus.

Vote in the 2023 Awards

Companies: Brivo / University Startups / IonQ / Gallaudet University / District of Columbia / Revolution / University of Maryland / Accenture / AT&T / Comcast
Series: Awards

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