Citation to the 2019 Honorary Degree Recipient
Presented by Presented by Joseph Fargnoli, M.S.,
Assistant Professor of Business and Management
May 19th, 2019
Ms. Melissa James, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Tech Connection, the largest minority-owned and woman-run recruitment firm in the Northeast. The company’s mission is to help companies make meaningful connections that empower and engage diverse talent by promoting inclusive hiring best practices.
She is the daughter of immigrants, and like many of our students, was a first-generation college student, and graduated, with honors, from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
An entrepreneur is generally described as a person who is a risk taker, a problem solver, someone who recognizes an opportunity and fulfills a need. Melissa James recognized the lack of diversity in the hiring of technical talent by high technology companies and was determined to form a company that would address it. She founded The Tech Connection to recruit and place technical talent from the minority community. She differentiated The Tech Connection by assisting candidates with skill assessment, feedback on performance, and by providing an online portal for career development.
To ensure that there would be network opportunities and to provide a platform for the impact of technology on the African American community, she applied her entrepreneurial skills and founded the Black Tech Boston Meetup.
She is relentless in her commitment to community and diversity in the technology industry today, and for generations to come, through STEM education. During an interview in 2015, shortly after she founded The Tech Connection, she said, “We want to create a solution that is going to have a lasting impact in our community, and the way that we see that is by bridging the gap between underrepresented technical talent and getting them into these tech companies,” This is reflected in her company’s mission and her passion for its success and recognized by the national and local awards she received, including the U.S. Presidential Service Award, the UMass Distinguished Young Alumni Award, Bostonian’s 50 on Fire Award, the Mosaic Award from the MA Technology Leadership Council, and the 2015 Pursuer Award from the African Youth Excellence organization.
Through her own career path, and the commitment she demonstrates to advance equity and workplace equal opportunity, she is a reflection of the College’s mission. Like Melissa James, we strive to help our students realize their abilities, and gain the knowledge and skills to become key-players and change-agents in solving issues affecting our community.
Pine Manor College is proud today to have her join our community with the award of this honorary degree.