TNJ Honoree Alum Janeen Uzzell: Riding High in Silicon Valley

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Janeen Uzzell

The Wikimedia Foundation named Janeen T. Uzzell its chief operating officer, adding to the limited number of Black women in executive positions in Silicon Valley. The nonprofit organization that supports Wikipedia and other free-knowledge projects, Wikimedia is driven by its vision of a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. Uzzell will direct the opera- tions of its critical programs, ensuring resources are utilized to best achieve its free-knowledge mission. She will part- ner with the executive leadership team in effective planning and execution against key strategic goals, and with the executive director to support Wikimedia’s global strategic plan, known as Wikimedia 2030.

“Janeen is a powerful leader with a drive to serve people and communities,” says Katherine Maher, chief executive off icer and executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “She will play a vital role in positioning the organization for success as we continue to serve our global community into 2030 and beyond.”

In her new role, Uzzell joins an eclectic club that includes Aicha Evans, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intel Corp.; Latasha Gillespie, head of global diversity and inclusion at Amazon Corporate; Valeisha Butterfield Jones, global head of Women and Black Community Engagement at Google; Wanji Walcott, senior vice president and general counsel at PayPal Holdings Inc.; Toni Townes-Whitley, president of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft; and Maxine Williams, global chief diversity officer at Facebook.

Uzzell brings to the foundation 16 years of experience from executive leadership at General Electric Co. (GE), most recently as GE’s head of Women in Technology, where she worked with the company’s global CEOs to increase the number of women in technical roles across the 300,000-person workforce. At the same time, she led operations and business development at the company’s Global Research Center within the External Affairs & Technology Programs Organization. Prior to that, she spent five years as director of Healthcare Programs for GE Africa, based in Accra, Ghana. She also served as the director of Global Healthcare Programs, director of Healthcare Disparity Programs, and director of Service Operations for GE.

“Being selected to build a strategy for GE’s healthcare solutions in emerging markets has been instrumental in my success. This is where I experienced what it feels like to be truly in the zone…the intersection of my education and training, and my true vocation,” Uzzell said in an interview with The Network Journal. “Each of my core strengths, and the areas that also needed development, were stretched as I learned to adapt to the cultures and business models of the global world.”

Throughout her career, Uzzell has worked to build transformative partnerships, collaborated with global movements, and cultivated networks of local, national, and global leaders. She has successfully helped individuals and organizations transform ideas into practical, usable, and scalable solutions. She has been recognized numerous times for her work, including being named one of The Network Journal’s “40 Under Forty Achievers” in 2005, and one of its “25 Most Influential Black Women in Business” in 2016. She is the recipient of the United Nations Global Leadership Award, and the GE African-American Forum’s Icon Leadership Award.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Foundation to use my influence and voice to lead work that can change lives, communities, and the world,” Uzzell says. “Wikipedia is a perfect example of the potential that can be achieved when we pair technology with the challenges faced by a growing glob- al society. I am excited to have the opportunity to support a community working to use technology to break down cultural divides and expose people from all backgrounds and locations to the power of instant access to the world’s collective knowledge.”

Uzzell has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and an M.B.A. in international business from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She serves on the board for the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute, and is an advisor to the InterVarsity National Believers in Business Collegiate Organization.