Dr. Amber Johnson Avery
- Tougaloo College
- LeMoyne-Owen College
- Jackson State University
- Purdue University
Dr. Amber Johnson Avery is a Jackson native and a class of 2006 graduate of Lanier High School. At Lanier, Dr. Avery was a member of the girl’s basketball team and earned All-State honors within the program. She graduated from Lanier with a GPA in the top 10 of her class. From there, she attended Tougaloo College for two years on a basketball scholarship and also ran cross-country for the institution. She continued her educational matriculation and cross-country collegiate career at LeMoyne-Owen College and received her bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2011. Dr. Avery received her master’s degree in computer science from Jackson State University in 2013.
In a continued pursuit of her education, Dr. Avery decided to attend Purdue University in Indiana, which has one of the best computer science programs in the country. Graduate school was a challenge for her as the only black woman in her department; however, she persevered and deemed her overall experience as a learning and growing opportunity. While at Purdue, Dr. Avery was asked to introduce and meet many influential celebrities who visited the university to speak at events. She met Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of "Hidden Figures"; Tarana Burke, the creator of the #MeToo movement; Danielle Feinberg, the director of photography for lighting at Pixar; Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code; and John Carlos, the black Olympic runner who is famous for the iconic, raised fist during the 1968 awards ceremony.
Despite facing challenges in a new space, Dr. Avery became the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in computer science from Purdue University. Shortly after graduating from Purdue in 2019, she was honored by the Jackson City Council for her achievement and began working as a software engineer for Northrop Grumman, an American multinational aerospace and defense technology company.
Dr. Amber has worked with organizations such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Lead, and BRIGHT-CS, which all aim to bridge the digital divide and pour into youth through tech programming. Dr. Amber’s experience in several sectors of tech such as cybersecurity, healthcare, and cloud computing, has been a driving force for innovation through consulting, software engineering, software development, as well as research.
Currently, Dr. Avery is the the interim, chief operations officer of The Bean Path, a $25 million tech incubator and technology consulting nonprofit in Jackson that helps local businesses and individuals with their technology needs. Dr. Avery is also the owner of The Kidult Life, a lifestyle brand designed to empower and encourage authenticity. A kidult (kid + adult) is someone who is a kid at heart no matter where they are in life. Thus, kidulting is a reminder to embrace the kid that lives within and be fearless in who you are.