Kendall Rankin (IE 2017) has been passionate about mentorship for women since she was an undergraduate student at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE). This year, she was honored as a part of Georgia Tech’s 2021 alumni class of 40 under 40 for the success of her nonprofit, The Diamond Campaign (TDC), as well as her work centered around female representation in the venture capital industry.
Rankin was a second-year at Georgia Tech when she founded TDC, a program empowering Black women to embrace their 4 C’s: cut (body image), color (personal brand), carat (self-worth), and clarity (vision for the future). The initiatives she created were inspired by her own personal experiences navigating her college career and trying to find her place as a Black woman in STEM.
“Confidence was always something that I struggled with when I was growing up,” Rankin said. “I saw how it impacted the way I showed up – whether socially, academically, professionally, or emotionally. I wanted to help other women like me on campus who felt like they didn't have a community or were overcome with imposter syndrome.”
After graduating from Georgia Tech, she worked briefly for Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a national nonprofit that helps individuals from underrepresented communities to realize their full potential. Upon leaving MLT, she moved to Chicago to join LinkedIn for a business leadership rotational program, later transitioning to work in customer success and data analytics. But while these experiences helped launch her professional career, she sought more leadership opportunities.
This year, Rankin began working as a program manager at All Raise, a nonprofit with a mission to accelerate the success of female founders and funders in the tech ecosystem. It was born out of a grassroots movement to increase partner-level female representation in venture capital firms, which in turn increases the ability to invest in female entrepreneurs.
“What I was really craving was more responsibility and the ability to actually build,” Rankin said. “At my core, I'm an innovator. I love to be creative and test new things and see what works, then iterate based on that – a true engineer.”
The pivot brought her to a newer company with a much smaller team, in an industry she was unfamiliar with. However, the fast-paced startup environment allowed her to have ownership over projects from day one and be more involved in social impact. As a senior manager, she led All Raise’s expansion to Chicago and continues to manage operations in the region.
However, Rankin hadn’t forgotten about The Diamond Campaign. After leaving Georgia Tech, she needed to make the decision to either continue TDC on campus or turn it into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and bring it to Chicago. She chose the latter, and after orienting herself in the new city, she held a launch event where she recruited new team members.
TDC’s first initiative after the launch was a virtual mentoring program that paired high school girls with young professional mentors. Rankin noticed that while engaging high schoolers was challenging, the mentors were very invested in the experience. This inspired her to create The Diamond Academy, a six-month program for Black women in their 20’s dedicated to personal and professional development.
“I grew up around a strong community of people who supported me, whether it was family, friends, or mentors, and so it was important that I helped create that community for other people like me at a similar stage in life,” Rankin explained.
In 2020, TDC received a boost of support from McKinsey & Company, who announced an initiative to give $5 million to Black nonprofits as part of their commitment to advancing racial equity and economic empowerment. TDC was selected as one of 40 organizations globally to receive funds, which will help build program infrastructure and support operational needs, such as expanding The Diamond Academy to other cities beyond Chicago.
Receiving the funding was a pivotal moment for Rankin, who says that the donation reaffirmed the value of her work and pushed her to continue building TDC. One of her favorite quotes taps into the power of confidence: “The people who think they can and the people who think they can’t are both right.” Through her numerous accomplishments, Rankin has proven she is one of the former.
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering