Photo: Marlon on a hike a few years ago at Blanca Lake, near Baring, WA.
While Marlon (he/him/his) wasn’t raised with computers, he was always curious about how things worked. The summer before college, Marlon stepped into a computer lab for the first time and realized almost immediately that he wanted to become a computer scientist. “Things just clicked,” Marlon reflected. This was true for Marlon’s wife as well too—a mechanical engineer. “That’s just how we are,” Marlon shared with a smile.
Marlon began his career at a tech company, moving into management and eventually to other companies. Community service was a big part of his life, but he’d always kept the two separate. When 9/11 happened, he felt a shift—and a need to bring his love of community closer into his working world.
He began to explore roles beyond IT, including teaching at universities and dabbling in financial planning. Eventually, Marlon’s journey led him to follow in his mother’s footsteps into social work. He ran an independent living program for the state helping foster youth who were preparing for adulthood, which was especially meaningful having learned about his mother’s experiences in the foster care system. He held both programmatic and IT roles at Casey Family programs, collecting data and creating resources to support foster youth with housing and postsecondary education.
Creating IT solutions for mission-driven work felt right, and in 2017, he joined the University of Washington Continuum College as Senior Director of Technology and Data Services. Meanwhile, Marlon’s desire to share lessons and make technology accessible led him to create a blog and achieve a lifelong dream of publishing a series of books with lessons on at-home technology support.
Throughout his career, Marlon navigated workplaces without encountering colleagues or supervisors that shared his lived experiences. He never had an African-American teacher, college instructor, professor, or supervisor. “As a person in gatekeeping roles, I feel a duty to make sure those gates are equitably open to all,” he said. As the spouse of a Mexican American woman and father to two sons, Marlon is deeply committed to building a world that actively works to dismantle all forms of oppression and honors each of our unique experiences and identities.
At Inatai, Marlon is excited to bring these many lessons and experiences with him. “I hope my background allows me to not just respond to what people are asking for, but to actually contend with the challenges and develop better solutions and systems together,” he shared. If he’s doing his job, Marlon says, people will be able to focus on their work –because technology will be supporting it.
Beyond the screen, you might find Marlon with his family at a Mariners game or, even better, a Sonics game if they ever return (he’s still holding out!). Once a competitive marathoner, he likes running with his kids. Though he rarely comes in first, Marlon likes to remind his sons, “You can’t take away my trophies!”