Patricia Bransford

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President, The National Urban Technology Center, New York City

As founder and president of the nonprofit National Urban Technology Center, Patricia Bransford’s work is focused on developing educational products that use technology to transform the conventional classroom into a more stimulating environment for teaching and learning. Her goal is to reverse the achievement gap and high risk, unproductive behavior among urban youth. She has even expanded Urban Tech’s reach to include health education, tackling issues such as HIV/AIDS and obesity among youth with programs such as Get Healthy, Harlem!

The road to the establishment of Urban Tech was far from straight. With a degree in mathematics from Catholic University of America, Bransford spent two years teaching that subject, and then joined IBM. She married Tom Bransford, had three daughters with him and decided to stay home to raise their children. She later rejoined IBM, where she held various marketing positions before retiring in 1992. Retirement proved to be anything but, as Bransford promptly proceeded to earn a MBA at New York University. The creation of Urban Tech in 1995 was an unsurprising next step for one whose life had been tied to mathematics and technology for so long. “I have often wondered why the sciences are viewed as a man’s world. My mother was a wonderful mathematician who mentored and tutored lots of students, both male and female,” Bransford says.

She credits her parents, Clarence and Marie Moss Smith, with instilling in her the core values of family, education, community service and spirituality, all of which still guide her today. She has received myriad accolades for her contributions to her community, most recently being named a Freedom Hero by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

A grandmother of six, Bransford is hardly ready to retire a second time. “I still have lots to do. My vision is to make the curriculum and programs of Urban Tech available to all at-risk kids,” she says. “I am seriously committed to helping the underdog since I was once one.” That was in 1948, when she was the first Black student in Washington, D.C.’s Catholic school system.