Leading Google's Digital Coaches: Meet Angelina Darrisaw

By Bill Reeve, Staff Writer | Product Inclusion

Angelina Darrisaw is a social entrepreneur, an international business and career coach and a digital media strategist. She is the founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach, a career-coaching platform that provides development resources to diverse working professionals.

Prior to founding C-Suite Coach, she was the Senior Manager of Digital Business Development at Viacom where she developed strategic business opportunities and partnerships with companies like Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr and ESPN.

Angelina holds an M.A. in Management from Wake Forest University, a Certificate of Coaching from New York University (where she is now an adjunct professor) and a B.A. in Political Science from Davidson College.

How and why did you begin working with Google?

I grew up in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, New York, and I commuted almost two hours to a school on the Upper East Side. During that train ride, the great disparities in access that I saw made me passionate about social justice.

I entered that school late, and at a disadvantage because I didn’t even know how to type, while my peers were learning how to make websites. That made me passionate about narrowing the digital gap for everyone, using programs and resources to support access and opportunity.

I wanted the opportunities that I made for myself to become less of an anomaly and more of the mainstream experience.

I believe in the power of networking. While speaking on a panel about two years ago, I connected with a young woman in the audience. She had heard about an opportunity to serve communities as a Google coach, and she thought I would be a great fit. Within days, I had interviewed and was asked to join the pilot for Google’s Digital Coaches Program as the coach for New York City. This was in 2017.

This year, we've expanded the program, revamped the mission and made the program truly scalable and sustainable.

What is your role and mission?

I am the founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach, an organization that provides and designs coaching programs for companies seeking to engage and retain their diverse talent.

This year, I began leading Google’s nationwide Digital Coaches Program. Digital Coaches is a free program that makes skilled digital coaches available to help diverse, small business owners. We want to bridge the digital divide by making sure that no business owners are left behind for lack of technical proficiency.

We teach key skills that have been proven to help businesses accelerate their growth. We are all about being accessible and demystifing difficult concepts.

My role is to support and train the coaches in the eight major metropolitan areas we currently cover, plan our expansion to add even more value, and engage Googlers that want to be a part of this work.

I want to emphasize that many of our digital coaches have reached exceptional levels of professional success. They are all knowledgeable about Google tools, and are able to bring these resources to small business owners.

I'm very appreciative that these successful business people and community leaders, who have won awards and are regularly in news publications, generously provide their time to help other people.

Can you share what digital inclusion means to you?

My life’s mission is about leveling the playing field, and making sure that business leadership is truly reflective of the population.

When I think about digital inclusion, I think about leveling the digital playing field, and making sure that diverse talents are equipped with the same technological resources that are helping everyone else succeed.

With digital tools, people can have access to knowledge, but if you don't understand how to use those tools, you are still facing a gap and an unfortunate disadvantage. I want to close that gap, so that business owners from diverse and under-resourced communities have more skills and opportunities to grow.

I would also love to see more high school programs that give people engineering and coding skills to prepare them to succeed in this digital world.

What inspires you most about this work?

Every day our digital coaches are getting feedback from people saying, “Your 2-hour workshop has changed the course of my business. I feel more in control of my marketing strategy, and I feel more hopeful because I have access to tools that before felt unattainable.”

I am proud that in eight months we have engaged more than 7,000 diverse small business owners. It shows me that we are addressing a real need.

I am inspired to expand the Digital Coaches program! We are currently in Austin, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Washington DC, Chicago and New York. We have plans to expand in the next few months to more markets, so we can help even more small business owners.

What advice can you give to people who want to get involved in Google’s Digital Coaches program?

There are many different ways to get involved.

If you are a community leader, and you have an organization looking for resources and training workshops, you can contact your nearest Google Digital Coach. We can help bring training to your community.

If you are a small business owner and you want to attend a workshop, go to the accelerate.withgoogle.com, digital coaches page , and find a coach that's in your area to see what programs they have planned.

If you are someone who wants to be part of this work, please connect with a digital coach. Let them know about the relationships that you have in your community and let's talk as the program expands.

If there is a topic or Google resource that can move the needle for your business, let us know so we can be on the pulse of what's needed to make small businesses succeed and grow.

Photo credit: James Anthony

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