As we wrap up the year, we recall a time-honored tradition here at Technical.ly to celebrate those in our community who work hard, innovate for good and influence others to do their best. That’s right — it’s time to announce the winners of our 2021 Technical.ly Awards.
While we talk to folks in our communities all year long, it feels special to honor the people, companies and ideas that have shined brightest, even in moments of darkness. And 2021 has certainly had plenty of both. For the last few weeks, we’ve been collecting nominees, curating a list and asking you — our community —to vote.
Over seven days earlier this month, thousands of votes poured in for the 30 nominees across six categories. And today, we celebrated the winners during a virtual Slack awards ceremony. Meet them below:
Invention of the Year — Hey, Auntie!
This online platform connects intergenerational Black women in Philadelphia around mentorship, and professional and life development. It was created by Well City Challenge winner Nicole Kenney to be a safe, authentic, culturally sensitive place for connection and resources “with wiser and more seasoned women.”
In a mini acceptance speech on Slack, Kenney wrote: “Wow, thank you! I am deeply honored and humbled by this win!!! Thank you so much to the Economy League and Independence Blue Cross for the #Well City Challenge and for creating a space for me to create a multigenerational platform that connects Black women and improves our mental health. I’m am also deeply honored to be nominated with so many dynamic change agents and innovators in my community. Thank you again.”
Tech Community Leader of the Year — Tracey Welson-Rossman
Welson-Rossman has been a tech scene mainstay and representative of Chariot Solutions for a long time, but she launched her own startup, chronic conditions resource Journal My Health, this year. She also helped the tech community celebrate 10 years of the Women in Tech Summit this October, alongside her work with nonprofit TechGirlz.
In a mini acceptance speech on Slack, Welson-Rossman wrote: “Thank you! This is such a nice way to end the year! I appreciate everyone who voted for me after being in such a great field of nominees.”
CTO of the year — Jennifer Kurtz
Kurtz is CTO of Infinite Blue, the Collegeville-based SaaS company that focuses on business continuity software via a “low-code” platform. Before joining Infinite Blue, she worked her way up from software developer to the same role at King of Prussia’s Vertex. In her leadership toolkit: psychological safety and open communication.
In a mini acceptance speech on Slack, Kurtz wrote: “Humbled. Thank you all who voted for me. It has been a great year with Infinite Blue; a great honor to win. So many great CTOs in our Philly region to be nominated with, too.”
Startup of the Year — LifeBrand
This social media startup uses AI and machine learning technology to scrub the platforms of a social media user for potentially harmful posts. Last year, it got a glowing rec from Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, and this year, it’s adding more than 20 people to its small but growing team while raising a Series A.
Growth Company of the Year — EverWash
The car wash industry-focused subscription management software platform made an acquisition this year, of real-time vehicle analytics and machine learning platform omniX Labs. The deal will bring 30 employees to the company’s already 50-person team. Earlier this year, the company also raised $5 million.
Culture Builder of the Year — Justin Roberts
Roberts is the director of optimization and innovation and DEI lead at Kepler’s Philadelphia office and recently helped Kepler become one of the first 15 companies nationally to achieve the Black Equity at Work Certification, joining companies like Nike, Deloitte, PNC and BlackRock. He leads biweekly all hands meeting with employees worldwide on rotating DEI topics and provides staffing and retention analysis on diversity.
In a mini acceptance speech on Slack, Roberts wrote: “The nomination alone was humbling beyond description. My congratulations to the nominees — if you’re in this work, I see you and appreciate you for it. Thank you for the acknowledgment to those who voted.”
Surprise: Technical.ly’s overall Technical Leader of the Year is Jennifer Kurtz
In addition to the winners decided by the public, Technical.ly’s editors also named an overall winner in each category, picking from among the local winners. And the winner of this year’s overall Technical Leader of the Year is none other than Jennifer Kurtz.
How did we make the call? We looked across our five markets to determine who best represented each category of leaders, judging according to who we felt was poised to most shape their industry’s future, or impact their communities. When we look back on 2021, we’ll remember it was their year.
Congrats to all the winners and honorees!
Thanks to everyone who joined our “live” ceremony on Slack and helped celebrate these awesome people and companies! Join us there to see all the messages of congrats, and hey, stick around for the community.