Political Hacktivist, Councilmember, Entrepreneur, Writer & Author
Just a kid from Brooklyn, Kalimah Priforce (kuh-LEE-muh, PRY-force) is the friendly neighborhood hacktivist in Emeryville’s city council as a former serial entrepreneur, local democracy advocate and early pioneer of the “Learn to Code” movement before becoming California's first Haitian American elected official and an Assembly District 18 Democrat state delegate for Oakland, Emeryville, and Alameda.
By utilizing "hackathons” as breakthrough educational models, Kalimah served as the nation's foremost hacktivist educator for low opportunity youth addressing the world’s biggest problems through tech innovation. In forming Emeryville's first tenant union and homeowner alliance, he has emerged as a leading voice in reshaping public policy and philanthropy that closes equity gaps among social and digital divides.
An eight year old Kalimah held a successful hunger strike against his Bedford-Stuyvesant group home to add books to its library. This drew the attention of Buddhist monastics who privately tutored him until the age of 14. By hacking his eighth grade attendance records, he was admitted to his dream school in Harlem. Upon discovery, his principal, Dr. Lorraine Monroe became his mentor as he inherited her mission to transform children's lives.
Sold before his 20th birthday, he launched his first tech venture at 16. Driven by the traumatic loss of his eighteen year old brother to gun violence, he became founder and CEO of Qeyno (KEE-no) Labs, an Echoing Green funded social enterprise that introduced the first globally-televised hackathon to millions for the MSNBC mini-documentary, "Swimming in Their Genius," and is the central figure for the award-winning indie film, "Code Oakland.”
As senior fellow for Van Jones's Dream.org, Kalimah presented the first hackathon, on behalf of Prince, to the Essence Festival for the 30th anniversary of "Purple Rain,” and has been featured on Forbes, Black Enterprise, PBS, KQED, NPR, TEDx, and the front pages of USA Today for his work. In helping to also form The Hidden Genius Project, an Oakland non-profit that trains young men of color in coding, his journey was recognized by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change.
His upcoming memoir, "How To Raise A Hacker," reveals his formidable journey from group homes to Silicon Valley boardrooms while also serving on the National Advisory Council for Forward Promise.
A member of historically-Black, progressive parish, St. Columba Church, Kalimah continues to bring mindfulness towards building healthy villages for the next generation of hacktivists for social good.