February 2023 | Black History Month | Employee Spotlight Intro — Amelia Avery-Bradley
It is a privilege to honor Black History Month.
Rooted in an event that began as a week-long celebration in February 1926 by the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), the celebration inspired schools and communities across the country to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures. The mission of the organization (later known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History), founded by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland, is to promote, research, preserve, interpret and disseminate information about Black life, history and culture to the global community.
In the mid-1960s, it was extended to a month-long event — and in 1976, the first official, federal observance began with President Gerald Ford.
This year, we celebrate Black History Month in a myriad of ways, through the lens of what Black History Month means to our employees.
One way that we amplify Black voices is through our Employee Spotlight series. This week, you’ll get to know Christian Simpson, our Diversity and Learning Specialist; Alex Chaney, a Principal Cloud Engineer; and Amelia Avery-Bradley, our Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. They discuss how they landed at Zynga, what their role really means, what it means to be a person of color in technology and gaming, their thoughts on what we need to create positive change for the future — and so much more.
Thank you to Christian, Alex, and Amelia for being a part of this series.
Amelia Avery-Bradley, Zynga Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Tell us how you came to Join Zynga.
I started as a contractor and was blessed with the opportunity to apply for a permanent role that became available. I’ve been working at Zynga for about a year and a half now.
Please describe your role here at Zynga.
I have the amazing opportunity to champion best practices and strategies to drive equity and inclusion here at Zynga as the Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I also have oversight of our social impact portfolio.
What do you appreciate most about the culture at Zynga?
The culture here at Zynga, which recognizes the importance of belonging, is the reason I wanted to have a permanent position. Oftentimes being the only black woman on a team can feel lonely, and if you have a great culture, you feel empowered to share and connect.
What does it mean to you to be a person of color in technology and gaming?
I feel that I am a reminder of our legacy of innovation. Gaming connects many lives, and I feel fortunate to be part of that. The tech industry has had lots of challenges, like many industries, and being a black woman in this space it is a gentle reminder of so much work to be done to create equitable spaces. That is the reason why I am so passionate about creating awareness for the work that I do. Many people from the various communities do not even know that my role exists or ways to enter into tech or DEI/ Social impact roles. That is one of the reasons that I speak to students as often as I can to share with them the work that I do and inform them that they can be the future of gaming.
How have you seen the gaming industry change?
The gaming industry is an ever-evolving engine. Because of the nature of the industry, you have to stay on your toes and have innovative ideas to stay competitive — that is not achievable without diversity of thought. I haven’t been in the gaming industry long, but I have heard amazing stories about how the industry is shifting.
What do you feel is needed to create positive change for the future?
Seeing the humanity in people and having a commitment to learning and understanding others are really needed to create positive change. And I know it’s taboo to say — but more love. Understanding that love is acceptance, even acceptance of difference. We have to be self-aware of our own bias walking into conversations and choose actions that support moving past the bias.
Who is a change agent you are inspired by and why? i.e. Dr Martin Luther King or Marcus Garvey?
Marcus Garvey, for sure, because he was a revolutionary. At times you have to be courageous enough to have a contrasting opinion and know that the movement you are trying to make is not always going to be popular or accepted.
I am also really inspired by Tabitha Brown, a black actress, social media personality, and author. She isn’t as well known, but she has amazing core values that really resonate with me — and she is a testament to what you can achieve if you believe in something and want to share it with the world.
A fun part of cultural history months is celebrating what food means to culture. What is the food that best reflects you and your culture?
Seafood and rice! My father is from Louisiana, so rice would be served at every meal. Also, seafood and gumbo with homemade roux and homemade ice cream — the process of churning it by hand speaks to the process and love that goes into the prep of food.