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avatar for Holly Rachel

Holly Rachel

Freeman Incubation and Innovation Center
Executive Director
Holly Rachel is a seasoned executive, educator and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience. Rachel began her career at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as a special agent. During her three year tenure, she also held roles as a forensic scientist and data analyst.

In 2017, Rachel and friend Lena Winfree, who co-founded the Data Science Institute at Meharry Medical School, launched Rachel and Winfree, a technology consulting firm specializing in helping small to midsize businesses strategically scale with data. Since then, the two have consulted with more than 30 small to mid-sized companies across the globe.

Acutely aware of the lack of diversity in Nashville’s tech scene, she and Winfree chartered the Nashville chapter of Blacks in Technology, a global organization that seeks to increase the number of minorities in tech by expanding education opportunities, in 2021.

As president, Rachel has grown the membership of the local chapter to 750 individuals, making it one of the largest chapters in the U.S. She has secured seven figures of funding — in the forms of membership, sponsorships and donations since founding the chapter two years ago. She and Winfree have put these funds to work. organize and host a total of 34 virtual events and 15 in-person events — ranging from workshops to 100+ person hackathons to job fairs.

At the helm of BIT, she has created and launched seven successful education programs. Through the programs she has served underrepresented Tennesseans ranging from elementary-age to executive-level. BIT Nashville’s Local Tek Thrive
and Healthcare Data Training programs are two of the most shing examples of the chapters impact:

● Local Tek Thrive: BIT collaborated with Tennessee State University, Nashville State and to create and fund a year-long technology course for all 150 juniors at Republic High School — a north Nashville charter school whose student body is 91% non-white. Students who successfully complete the course will receive 6 credit hours of college credit from TSU — 3 hours for
coding languages and 3 hours for app development — and have the opportunity to earn a Google Certification thanks to Nashville State.

● Healthcare Data Training: BIT collaborated with Nashville Software School, HCA, Dell and Next Generation Health Analytics to provide a 12-week healthcare analytics course for employees at 15 Tennessee non-profit hospitals. BIT’s programs and events have received major media coverage. Local television — News Channels, 2 and 5 — and online — Nashville Post, Nashville Business Journal, WPLN (Nashville’s NPR Station), Tennbeat — news outlets have all covered BIT programs and initiatives.

The programs also caught the attention of The Blacks in Technology Foundation — who awarded the chapter the Impact Award — and the Nashville Technology Council — which recognized the nonprofit as the “Diversity and Inclusion Initiative
of the Year.” To launch these programs and expand opportunities, Rachel wielded strategic education partnerships with 5 institutions — Nashville State Community College, Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University and Fisk University.

● Nashville State and TSU are partnered with BIT on the Local Tek Thrive program. TSU is providing 6 hours of college credits to all 150 juniors who complete the course and Nashville State is providing the students with the opportunity to earn Google Certifications.

● Vanderbilt partnered with BIT to provide entrepreneurship courses to students at Fisk University Rachel has also created synergies with other local nonprofits including Women in Technology of Tennessee (WITT) and the Nashville Technology Council (NTC) — organizations she has served as a board member of the last three years — as well as The Table and the National Institute to Unlock Potential.
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