Oaktown Dreamin’: Inspiring Innovation Through Inclusion

For those unfamiliar with Salesforce Community Dreamin’ events, they are regional community led conferences where a bunch of Salesforce administrators, developers, partners, customers, etc., gather to network and learn more about the Salesforce platform. These conferences are not run by Salesforce or Salesforce employees, but are led and organized by the Salesforce community for the Salesforce community.

The inkling of the idea for a Dreamin’ style event to be held in Oakland came about a couple of weeks before Dreamforce 2019. But it was after watching President Obama and Marc Benioff’s fireside chat at Dreamforce that I really felt inspired to take action and explore the idea in more depth. So I started discussing it with a few people during Dreamforce to get a better sense for how a local Dreamin’ style event can serve the community.

While at Dreamforce I also heard story after story from aspiring Trailblazers experiencing challenges with inclusion and trying to enter the technology industry. Besides my regular day job, I was also teaching Salesforce Administration skills at night and on weekends to underrepresented groups in technology for the nonprofit Climb Hire.

Some of my Salesforce students from Climb Hire came to a Dreamforce after-party and met superstar Salesforce Consultant Aaron McGriff. One particular student really lit up when Aaron mentioned that he previously worked retail inventory control as my student was doing something similar for another retailer. As they traded stories about working in retail, Aaron explained how he was able to make the transition from retail to the Salesforce ecosystem. The message really hit home for my student that he could make that transition to the tech industry as well. It was at that moment that the focus for Oaktown Dreamin’ (Oaktown is a nickname for Oakland) would not just be on technical skills and innovation, but also focus on inspiration and inclusion.

With the underlying themes in place, it was a whirlwind of emails, meetings, and intense discussions to move forward with Oaktown Dreamin’ in 2020. We set a date with Salesforce, toured multiple locations, and built out our event team. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and as a result, a number of scheduled Salesforce and community Dreamin’ events were cancelled.

We were close to completely cancelling our event too, but felt that we had the ability to pivot to a virtual online conference. It was also important as there were and continue to be social justice issues affecting the Black community. We saw this as an opportunity with Oaktown Dreamin’ to expand the conversation on innovation, inspiration, and inclusion within the Salesforce ecosystem and technology industry as well. While our upcoming summit is not as comprehensive as the in person event we originally envisioned, we continue to move forward with a streamlined one.

So won’t you please join us on Friday, 9/25/2020 from 9am-12pm PDT for the Oaktown Dreamin’: Equity & Inclusion in Tech Summit. We have a great lineup of speakers and will be raffling Salesforce test certification vouchers.

Oaktown Dreamin’ 2020 would not be here without our volunteer dream team of Cynthia Hill, Jenh Vo, Sybil Carter-Love, Tami Lau, Steven Han, and Abiud (AJ) Amaro Diaz. Jodi Wagner and Shavaughn Baker helped out for a while as well.

Special thanks to our founding sponsors Salesforce, GetFeedback, and OwnBackup and our event sponsors Proton Text and Left Propeller for helping make Oaktown Dreamin’ 2020 possible.

Register for free at https://oaktowndreamin.org/sign-up/

Thank you and hope you can make it!
Michael Orias