As our celebration of Black History Month wraps up, we commemorate individuals who have made a lasting impact in the fields in which DLH operates, including military, health, research, government, and technology.
Today, we highlight several Black women who have helped shape these realms for the better. From integration into the field of nursing and increasing the number of Black women in STEM, to leading distinguished teams and programs at NASA – we honor their contributions and the influential impact they made.
Adah Belle Samuel Thoms
Adah Belle Samuel Thoms had an influential career in the field of nursing. In 1900 at the Women’s Infirmary and School of Therapeutic Massage, Thoms graduated as the only Black woman in her class of 30. After completing her nursing education, she was named the acting director of Lincoln Hospital and Home School of Nursing in 1906 and served in this position until 1923. Due to racist policies and attitudes, she was never able to hold the title of “director” during this time.
While serving as the acting director, she worked to organize a meeting that would later turn into the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). NACGN fought for the full integration of Black women into the nursing profession. They also advocated for equality in employment opportunities, pay, and education.
Thoms also urged the American Red Cross to admit Black nurses into their ranks after the United States entered World War I. Her determination for the rights of Black women to serve in the U.S. military helped lead her to win that fight. Thoms was predominant in leading NAGCN to being disbanded in 1950 after the U.S. Armed Forced and American Nurses Association integrated Black nurses.
Melba Roy Mouton
Melba Roy Mouton was a mathematician and head computer programmer in NASA’s Trajectory and Geodynamics Division. Her coding of computer programs led to successful calculations of the trajectories and locations of various aircrafts during her work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Before becoming the head computer programmer, Mouton served as the head mathematician for Echo satellites 1 and 2. During this time, she led a team of “human computers,” who tracked the Echo satellites. Her team helped produce the orbital element timetables, which allowed for millions of people to view the satellite from Earth as it passed overhead.
Mouton received both an Exceptional Performance Award and Apollo Achievement Award from NASA before retiring in 1973.
Kimberly Bryant is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE. Black Girls CODE is a nonprofit organization that introduces girls of color aged 7-17 to the field of technology and computer science. At the start, Black Girls CODE was a local organization solely serving the Bay Area and has grown to be an international organization with seven chapters across the United States and in Johannesburg, South Africa. There are currently over 3,000 students participating in the program as it continues to grow.
Bryant has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as an engineering manager, among other technical leadership roles. She has worked for many Fortune 500 companies, including Pfizer and Genentech. She also serves on the National Champions Board for the National Girls Collaborative Project.
Bryant is nationally recognized for her work to increase opportunities for women and girls in the technology industry. Her awards include the Jefferson Award for Community Service for her work supporting communities in the Bay Area. She was highlighted by Business Insider on its list of the “25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology” in 2013. In that year, she was also invited to the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in bridging the digital divide for girls of color.
DLH Team Participated in Featured Event
Throughout the month of February, we highlighted local opportunities in our community and encouraged meaningful education of Black history. Team DLH also joined Mike Lewis Productions for a virtual private screening of “Pride,” a short film chronicling a Black woman’s journey through reflection and activism in 2020. Our team viewed the film and had an open discussion and Q&A session led by Mike Lewis and the cast of the film.
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