Bridgette Wallace has been a driving force behind change in Roxbury, from helping launch the Innovation Center to taking on commercial gentrification with her nonprofit SkyLab. Both initiatives offer resources to local business owners, whether it’s logo design, website building, workshops or other programs to spread the effects of the tech boom beyond Kendall Square and the Seaport—a neighborhood that is only a Silver Line ride away. “We have young people in our community who are looking at double-digit unemployment, and we have tech companies who can’t find enough people to fill a number of different roles. And we’re not connecting with each other enough to say, ‘What are the skills that these young people will need, and how do we create these pipelines to you?’”

Wallace has been working on that pipeline as the co-founder of [G]Code House, a co-working and living space where women of color ages 18-24 will develop coding skills. As an urban planner who worked on rental assistance policies with the Department of Housing, Wallace saw firsthand the importance of stability, including in her own home. “I looked at my daughter and the forces in her life that led her on a path of success. One of the major pieces was having stable housing and a support team that she could rely on.” When the first of 14 women begin moving into the Victorian home next summer, that’s what they’ll find, tackling a curriculum that involves classes at nearby schools like Northeastern University, internships and eventually full-time jobs. After she fought a yearlong legal battle to purchase the property, she hopes [G]Code can keep the women focused on advancing in the industry. “If you’re constantly thinking about where you live, what your next steps are,” Wallace says, “you just don’t have the ability to think outside of how you’re going to take care of yourself.” 

What have you learned from a setback in your career?

“As a woman, person of color and entrepreneur, we often feel pressured to keep multiple balls in the air all at once. … In working full-time and trying to maintain an existing startup and launching another, my health began to suffer and I was hospitalized twice. My daughter reminded me that she needed me more than any project ever would, and I was reminded of who and what was really important to me. I learned to put initiatives I was passionate about on hold and prioritize self-care so that I could regain my health and wellness in order to re-engage with those projects. I became comfortable with saying no. I sought out other folks to be part of my team that could help with tasks, share the load and expand the vision.”


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