Acho Byrd, my paternal great grandmother, who we affectionately called “Ma Byrd” lived in Uvalda, Georgia, a little country town about 15 miles south of Vidalia, home of the Sweet Onion and 95 miles from Macon, the next metropolis. Being on a large farm, she was healthy and lived to 103. During college, I interviewed her for an economics research paper regarding technological change.
I asked her at the age of 89, "If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?"she boldly stated, “Embrace technology and Embrace change. There is no money in being the follower. Too often, it takes Black people decades to catch on to an idea and by the time they do, they have missed the money.”
She only had a 3rd grade education and washed clothes for “the White Folks” on a rub board. When the washing machine was introduced, she attempted to convince her neighbors and fellow colleagues to pool their monies and buy 1 washing machine to be shared by all. She believed they could wash 20 times more clothes collectively and make more money. The masses got into a squabble on who was going to house the machine and hence never bought it. It took her 10 years to save the money to purchase her own machine. Fifty years after the incident, she was still emotionally furious regarding her neighbors slack. If they had only bought the washing machine collectively, they all could have made more money and improved their lives faster.
She looked at me with her puppy dog eyes and stated, “If you don’t like your circumstances, you change them. The world will hate you. Move on anyway.”
I have lived by her wisdom every day of my adult life. She reinforced the pioneering spirit my father, a trucking entrepreneur had. I have attempted to deposit that spirit and technological innovation into my own children and now every family I touch through Uplift, Inc.
Ida Byrd-Hill’s mission, to improve people’s lives financially, is weaved throughout her entire life; first as a financial advisor, where she grew a firm from 0 to 353 million in managed assets for 2200 individual clients and 10 corporate clients. Then as an Executive Search Consultant, aka “Headhunter Extraordinaire” where she placed 72 attorneys in the patent, environmental and FDA areas. Today, she is an urban economist and Ideapreneur seeking to spur the largest matriculation of urban residents, both parents and students, into automation jobs by immersing them in invention, technology and entrepreneurial activities at home, at school and in the community.
Essence Magazine in its May 2010 article, Helping Our Children Achieve Excellence, states “Byrd-Hill is the very personification of Detroit's refusal to surrender.” She keeps implementing ideas to reinvent urban cities into incubators of economic prosperity and excellence.
She is an urban economist, futurist, host of Automation Workz held at the North American International Auto Show, the inventor of Fluke – the wealth building game of accidental inventions, radical transformer of 5 urban public schools, the creator of the first cyber blended alternative high school catering to adjudicated youth in America - Hustle & TECHknow Preparatory High School and CEO of WEYN, LLC, a robo-financial wellness coach.
She has presented at:
- iNACOL (International Association for K-12 Online Learning)
- ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education)
- National Charter School Conference,
- Inner City Economic Summit, 2013
- New York State STEM Conference, 2014
- National Alternative School Conference, 2014
- NABSE (National Association of Black School Educators) Annual Conference, 2014
- Techweek Detroit, 2015
- MEATA (Michigan Educators Apprenticeship and Training Association) Spring Conference 2015.
She earned a MBA from the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University 2014 after receiving a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics 1989 from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. She serves as the Chair of the LIFT (Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow) Workforce Development Attracting Youth to Manufacturing subcommittee.
Ida Byrd-Hill is the divorced mother of twins, Karen and Kevin Hill, who graduated from Detroit School of Arts and then matriculated to Western Michigan University and Rochester Institute of Technology, respectively.
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A Detroit Mom’s Quest to Breathe Innovation Into Young Minds
Associated Press Article
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