ISyE Alumna Errika Moore: Making an Impact in STEM

Jan 2, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Since Errika Moore (BSIE 96) was in high school, she has followed the mantra “making an impact, making a difference.” Throughout her distinguished career, Moore has remained engaged with Georgia Tech through several boards, as well as the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, providing volunteer leadership and service while abiding by her personal philosophy.

In this interview, Moore discusses her particular passion for supporting female and minority participation in STEM fields, why she made the career move from corporate to nonprofit work, and how she continues to give back to Georgia Tech and ISyE — including serving on the ISyE Advisory Board — in what she calls “a lifestyle of servant leadership.”

You contribute considerable time to organizations in support of increasing minority participation in STEM-related fields. When did your passion for this begin, and how has it developed along with your career?

It actually began when I was at Tech. [In the early 1990s] women made up 10 percent of the student body. That’s in comparison with the 40 percent female population today. In addition, in my time at Tech, minorities represented about 10 percent of the student population.

As a result, I wanted to ensure that others could either have the same opportunities — or ideally, opportunities with even greater access. It became a personal passion that whenever I could specifically be involved with an organization that would increase access for women and minorities — such as my being president of the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization or serving on the board of the Georgia Tech Women Alumnae Network — I would raise my hand and join in.

For women in technology, there’s been a significant decline in the number of women graduating in STEM fields since the 1970s. And when you look at the upcoming job opportunities — by 2022, there will be 1.2 million tech-sector jobs — I want women and minorities to fill those jobs.

Previously you were the vice president of member services & external affairs at IT Senior Management Forum (ITSMF), a nonprofit organization that promotes African American representation in senior technology positions within Fortune 500 organizations. Currently, you’re the executive director for the Technology Association of Georgia Education Collaborative (TAG-Ed). Describe what you've done in these roles.

I opted to come out of corporate to specifically focus my energy on nonprofits, hoping to make a difference and be an advocate. At ITSMF my responsibilities included everything from identifying to recruiting to supporting black technology executives.

Because black tech executives only represent six percent of the technology population, I had a huge opportunity for increasing and supporting the technology pipeline from higher education to career and to change the narrative that black tech execs don’t exist.

I cultivated strategic relationships with organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) or INROADS or Per Scholas — organizations that feed that executive pipeline. These organizations are tapped into the 18-30 age demographic. This gave ITSMF the opportunity to plant seeds, provide career literacy, and help to ensure the likelihood that they’ll transition into executive opportunities.

This provided the perfect segue into my new role at TAG-Ed where we are responsible for strengthening Georgia’s future workforce by providing students with relevant, hands-on STEM learning opportunities by connecting TAG-Ed resources with leading STEM education initiatives.

You’ve said before that serving and volunteering are an integral part of your lifestyle. Why is that?

I’ll explain it this way. I have two sons: Jordan, who is 13, and Jaylen, who is 15. Wherever I’ve served, they’ve served, whether it’s the American Diabetes Association, the Gifted Education Foundation, or the Georgia Tech Alumni Association Board of Trustees. My sons have been part of who I am and what I do, and it’s not something I compartmentalize.

There’s no delineation between being a mom, serving on a board, or serving as a STEM advocacy executive. I want Jaylen and Jordan to see it and be an active part of it.

You’re involved in the Million Women Mentor initiative as well as the Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s Mentor Jackets program. Why is mentoring so important?

When I was at Tech, there were alums who actively created a support mechanism for those of us who were students. They set the example of “paying it forward.” You may not immediately realize when you’re graduating from Tech the phenomenal foundation you’ve received, but the moment you do realize that, you also realize the responsibility of making sure you’re supporting the students there now.

I had the honor and pleasure of being recognized in 2016 by the Georgia Tech Society of Black Engineers (GTSBE), which graciously gave me the Alumni Trailblazer award. GTSBE said, “Whenever we call, you’re there. Whenever we need support, you’re there.” And as much as I appreciated the recognition, I shared with them my perspective that this is what we’re supposed to do because someone did the same for us.

Since I’m in nonprofit, I don’t have the checkbook that other people have to give financially, but I can add value by giving my time. I can give my support. And I can share my experiences.  Because if we’re all doing what we can, how we can, then hopefully we’re creating opportunities where someone can trump whatever we’ve achieved. And we’re collectively making a difference and making an impact.

Who was an influential ISyE professor for you?

Augustine Esogbue, who is now professor emeritus. He was the first black professor at Tech and was like a surrogate father to me. Today he continues to be one of my greatest champions, confidants, and supporters.

He was also an advisor for the GTSBE, which was one of the first chapters of NSBE. He went on to influence hundreds of lives by serving as an advisor for the national organization.

In fall 2016 you received the Woman of the Year award from Women in Technology (WIT). What did winning this award mean to you?

To say it’s a huge and humbling honor is honestly an understatement. WIT is an organization that is highly committed to empowering women in every stage of life — from young women in high school and college to seasoned professionals.

My other mantra in my life is “to whom much is given, much is required.” So the Woman of the Year Award was not only a phenomenal recognition, but it was also a phenomenal responsibility to both uphold receiving the recognition and to ensure I’m doing something positive for the women I come in contact with through that recognition.

Where do you see yourself in the next three to five years? What would you like to be doing?

I have decided to stay committed to the nonprofit sector. There’s a saying that “only a life lived in the service to others is worth living,” so I’ve decided that’s the space for me. I’m fulfilling the purpose that was given to me 20 years ago. Now, how I will continue to serve in that capacity — that may be the question mark. As long as I can be an advocate and a champion, that’s what’s most fulfilling for me, from a career perspective and from a volunteer leadership capacity.

I also give thanks for having the opportunity to serve on the ISyE Advisory Board. [Former School Chair and Professor Emerita] Jane Ammons asked me to serve on the board, and coming from her, it was quite the honor to be asked. And the honor continued by serving under current School Chair Edwin Romeijn’s leadership as well. Being asked to serve and represent the department that shaped who I have become has been one of the most fulfilling opportunities I’ve had while serving Tech.

  • Errika Moore (BSIE 96)
    Errika Moore (BSIE 96)
  • Errika Moore with ISyE School Chair Edwin Romeijn at the 2016 WIT Awards ceremony.
    Errika Moore with ISyE School Chair Edwin Romeijn at the 2016 WIT Awards ceremony.
  • Errika Moore with her family
    Errika Moore with her family