On Tuesday morning, Kimberly Bryant, founder and CEO of Black Girls CODE, tweeted “Press release: so it’s 3 days before Christmas and you wake up to discover the organization YOU created and built from the ground up has been taken away by a rogue board with no notification.”
The board of Black Girls Code emailed a statement to Business Insider, which stated in part that Bryant does remain on staff for the company, but “serious allegations of workplace impropriety are being investigated.” Although exact details were not disclosed, the statement went on to say that “[t]he board of directors is committed to the long-term health, stability and viability of this organization…On behalf of the young women we are honored to serve, we look forward to building on the foundation established by Ms. Bryant and creating a brighter future for millions of Black girls.”
According to Forbes, this announcement comes after “months of infighting between Bryant and a handful of board members, including the current interim chair, Heather Hiles…In a memo sent in October…Bryant protested Hiles’ appointment as interim chair, and accused her of conflicts of interests, violation of board governance protocols and of creating a hostile work environment.”
In concert with the memo and interviews with those knowledgeable about “the matter, the dispute started when three employees resigned over the summer. In their resignation letters sent to the board, each employee highlighted ‘cultural and interpersonal issues’ at the organization…prompting the board to open an inquiry into workplace culture at the organization, and hire Monterroso as a consultant,” Forbes reported.
Monterroso, who earlier in the year was hired to perform a cultural assessment of Black Girls Code, tweeted her support of Bryant, “This is an unfathomable mess handled in the most unjust way humanly possible to a woman who was a huge part of building this movement.”
Bryant has yet to respond to a request for comments, but has tweeted that she is “preparing a formal statement.”
Black Girls Code was founded in 2011 after Kimberly Bryant enrolled Kai, her 12-year-old daughter into a coding class at Stanford during the summer. But, after seeing her daughter “was the only African American student in her class, Bryant decided to act. ‘I thought this is crazy…She shouldn’t be the only one – so I decided to create something myself.’”
More than ten years later, the non-profit organization has amassed a $3 million+ annual operating budget, with more than twelve chapters across the nation, offering technology educational courses to more than 20,000 African American girls, with the goal of empowering young women of color who are interested in the tech industry.