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Haile Clay
Founder & CEO
Navitent, Inc.

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On Black Innovation

Multiple part series on a uniquely Black experience in Silicon Valley tech and implications for a micro-funding strategy.
If you could reinvent the Internet or Social Media, knowing what we know now, what would you make?
Harlem by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
     Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

     Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

     Or does it explode?


If you could reinvent the Internet or Social Media, knowing what we know now, what would you make?

Navitent is our answer. 

Navitent is our tool, platform, and service for social good and human achievement. Created by Haile Clay, Navitent is an Intelligence Augmentation Platform for continuous sustainable evidence-based improvement of the human condition. Our transformative content and developmental material is accessible as modular processes and workflows, so that everyone can thrive and have access to an American Dream rooted in growth, achievement, and self-actualization. 

Our services, which include DeeperIntel™ and our HumanChangeNetwork™, have been forged from generational wisdom and hard-won success; and, as a result, we are deeply dedicated to continuing the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and access. 

Navitent’s story starts with a legacy of Black Technological Innovation in Silicon Valley and is the manifestation of overcoming racism and the deep trauma of being born Black in America.  Achievement in the face of significant barriers and challenges is the genetic material that makes up the core of our technology.  Navitent is the realization of an intergenerational dream that refuses to be deferred.

In this series, we share with you the story of Navitent - how we’ve gotten here, the challenges we’ve faced, and what keeps us going, day after day. 

Part One: On The Shoulders of Giants - A Legacy of Innovation 

“You will face racism the rest of your life, but don't ever let that be a reason why you don't succeed.” - Emma Jean Greenfield Clay, Haile’s Grandmother


Navitent, Inc. both perpetuates and is, itself, the product of a multi-generational transfer of wisdom across a lineage of Black Silicon Valley pioneers. It is only because of the experience handed down from Haile S. Clay and Roy Clay, Sr., two brothers, innovators, and leaders who broke down color barriers in education, technology and business, that Haile E. Clay (“Haile”), their son and nephew, was able to nourish his dreams into reality. 

In this article, we pay homage to the inspirational Clay family pioneers who helped realize and manifest our platform for meaningful and lasting change. 

Haile S. Clay & Roy Clay Sr: Two Brothers with Undefferable Dreams

In the early 1960s, Haile S. Clay and Roy Clay Sr., Haile’s father and uncle, migrated from Kinloch, Missouri to Silicon Valley. Next door to Ferguson, Kinloch is the oldest African-American incorporated community in Missouri.  

During his childhood, Haile S. Clay, Haile’s father, ran track with and was best friends with Dick Gregory, a legendary American comedian and civil rights activist. While Haile S. eventually headed to California - there was a mutual respect and admiration between the two graduates of Sumner High School that allowed them to both follow successful careers breaking barriers and transforming their respective industries. 

Prior to his journey to California, Haile S. earned his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri, where he was one of the first Black students admitted to the program and graduated as part of the first racially desegregated class in the University’s history. After graduating with his Masters, Haile S. worked for McDonald Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft Company in Missouri which later, through a series of mergers, became McDonald Douglas and then Boeing. 

Similarly, Roy Sr., Haile’s uncle, majored in Mathematics at St. Louis University, and graduated as the University’s first Black graduate in 1951. 

In the 1960s, both Roy Sr. and Haile S. decided to try their luck in California and migrated to a nascent Silicon Valley, where they pooled their resources and lived together in Palo Alto, two young Black innovators with big ideas for a developing industry. 

Haile S. Clay in Silicon Valley 

Once settled in Silicon Valley, Haile S. began an engineering career in the defense industry. Starting with GTE Sylvania Electronic, where he designed satellite guidance systems, Haile’s legacy would grow to include engineering calculations used in missile telemetry systems that helped win the space race; the Missile Defense Alarm System used to ward against the then Soviet threat; and several patents for the Atomic Energy Commission. Over the course of his career, he also worked at North American Aviation, Sylvania Defense Systems, and at Stanford’s Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) as a leader in the field of cryogenics. 

While Haile S. reached notable levels of success, he eventually found his ascent obstructed by an unspoken racial code that permitted Haile from taking leadership positions, even in departments that he had been instrumental in developing and founding. Aware of the bias in his current industry, Haile began to pursue an MBA from Santa Clara University, while continuing to work full-time. (A young Haile even fondly remembers attending night classes with his father, Haile S.) Upon finishing his MBA, Haile S. then pivoted into banking and business finance, with an internal mandate to support and ease the path to achievement for Black and minority business owners. 

During his tenure in the world of business and finance, Haile S. held leadership roles at Bank of America, Bank of California and Western Farm Credit Banks.  In addition, he became a leader in his community and industry, and was proudly known as a business consultant for minority-owned small businesses. One of Haile’s most meaningful leadership experiences was supporting and consulting a variety of minority business owners with their business financing and long-term financial management.  Haile also enjoyed stepping into leadership positions in the business community and served as the chief executive at Clay-Leffler Environmental Systems and Western Farm Credit Bank and founded the Set Point Indoor Tennis Club.

Along with being a pioneer and leader in the tech and business world, Haile S. never gave up his love of innovating with the goal of improving people’s lives. Haile S. holds multiple individual patents for a variety of innovations including a Blowout Fail Safe used by the US Navy to prevent loss of life and catastrophic failures; a Secondary X-Ray Imaging Technique used in diagnosing health conditions such as cancer; and several simple devices, such as an augmented reality virtual “Swing Pro” for golfers to develop and improve their game. 

Roy Sr.’s Silicon Valley Journey 

Like his brother, Roy Clay Sr. was a Silicon Valley pioneer, who had a full and varied career in computer engineering, electrical safety equipment, and politics. Roy Clay Sr.’s career began at Hewlett-Packard, where, in 1965, Roy helped launch and lead Hewlett-Packard’s Computer Science division and was the director of the team that developed the HP 2116A, one of Hewlett-Packard's first mini-computers.  

While at HP, Roy developed several initiatives to recruit and support Black engineers in Silicon Valley and then went on to found Rod-L Electronics, an industry giant in electrical test equipment. Along with being first-to-market, Rod-L Electronics broke down racial barriers, and offered revolutionary life-saving technology that, like Navitent, prioritized the safety and well-being of its on-the-ground workers. 

Along with his successful tenure in technology, Roy Sr. was the first African-American elected to the Palo Alto City Council and was then elected to Vice Mayor in 1976. In 2003, Roy was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council's Hall of Fame.   

From One Generation to The Next

Haile S. and Roy Sr. have made an indelible mark on Silicon Valley and serve as a testament to perseverance in the face of racism and the structural challenges of a primarily white industry. They continue to serve as an inspiration to their industry, community, and family. 

Navitent is the next generation’s endeavor to break down systemic barriers, harness technology for good, and offer a path to progress for all those who want to find their unique place in the world. 

We’ve channeled the Clay family drive for success and equity with the Navitent Platform, which supports the creation and delivery of transformative content and achievement-focused programs to disenfranchised and minority communities nationally and worldwide.

A Legacy of Innovation: We are Navitent
Founded by Haile E. Clay (“Haile”),
with advice from Chris Clay, Roy’s son, and early investment by Andrea Clay, Haile’s sister, Navitent is this generation’s project to create positive impact in the world of technology while advancing the agenda of greater equality, change, and transformation for all. 

Inspired by the entrepreneurial and technological success of his father, Haile developed a love of computer programming from an early age. His fascination with computers, artificial intelligence, and transformative systems charted Haile’s path through college and beyond. Realizing the need for preventative health measures for the Black community and culture-wide systematic change, Haile decided to develop Navitent, a platform to combine his expertise in AI and cognitive language to improve the human condition. 

Along with serving as an Advisor to Navitent, Chris Clay, is a UC Berkeley-trained electrical engineer, who holds an MBA from UCLA and is an expert in business analytics and intelligence product design. He is also a founding Board Member and advisor to the Silicon Valley social justice non-profit Unity Care. Chris was proud to provide key sweat equity and technology strategy in the early formation of Navitent, and has carried on the spirit of collaboration that brought his father and uncle much joy, pride, and success.  

Similarly, Andrea Clay, Haile’s sister, was a vital player by providing key seed investment to Navitent during its early development. Andrea holds a JD from the USC Gould School of Law and an MBA from University of Southern California. Andrea currently practices law in the San Francisco area and is a Managing Partner of Polsinelli PC, an AM Law 100 Firm with over 900 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Andrea’s knowledge of the law, professional work ethic, and advocacy on behalf of her clients has allowed her to stand out as one of the top 5% of attorneys in her field, and she has likewise brought this spirit of excellence to Navitent since year one. 

This communal support and collaboration across generations is the type of multi-generational advantage that built Navitent and that Navitent is dedicated to perpetuating and spreading beyond family ties. This crucial transfer of knowledge, tactics, and strategies for success so often lies at the foundation of extraordinary achievement among the privileged.  Paying homage to our Black predecessors, Navitent makes that essential experience available to anyone with a dream, regardless of race, circumstances or socio-economic status.

Our underlying mission is to facilitate the collaborative transfer of knowledge and wisdom from innovators, mentors and leaders in their fields to disenfranchised individuals in the effort to make collective and individual change possible. 
Navitent’s work is sustained by a triple bottom-line revenue, the public trust, and a social impact business model that supplies powerful native technology via a Platform as a Service for heavy industry, governmental, and non-governmental organizations. Our platform as a service offers influence, education, data analytics, and program management to leaders focused on changing the game of business intelligence. 

Continuing the family legacy of fighting for dreams that refuse to be deferred, Haile is now using his Navitent GPS for Change® technology not only to level the playing field, but also to elevate the quality of the game such that the achievement of Social Justice can be won. 

“Justice will only be achieved step-by-step, with transparency, collaboration, repeatability and a sustainable model for massive scale.  Navitent executes this brand of social justice change by a bold transfer of generational knowledge accompanied by socio-political reform. From the wisdom of our fathers into actionable steps for achievement in a wiser, more accessible American Dream - we offer you Navitent.” - Haile E. Clay

That said, the journey has not always been easy. Part 2: A Dream Almost Deferred shares Haile’s journey to arrive at his vision for Navitent. 

Part Two: A Dream Almost Deferred- Haile’s Story 

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” - Steve Jobs

Part 2 tells the story of the psychological toll of having larger-than-life dreams of innovation and disruptive technology, while paying the high cost of being a Black pioneer in the White affluent world of technology. 

While living in Silicon Valley allowed Haile S. Clay and Roy Clay Sr.’s dreams to manifest, the brothers were no strangers to the sting of racism. From struggling to find housing that would accept black families to the daily abuses inherent in living in a predominantly white neighborhood, The Clay Family has long been aware of the cost of having ambitious dreams. 

Born at Stanford Hospital in Silicon Valley, Haile E. Clay grew up as a child familiar with both innovation and isolation. While Roy Clay Sr.’s family settled in Palo Alto, Haile’s family landed in the elite enclave of Los Altos Hills, California. As only one of two Black families in the area, Haile felt from a very early age that he didn’t belong but never knew why. 

As the youngest of three children and all of his cousins, Haile spent his childhood playing baseball, caring for and riding his family horse Pete, swimming, diving, and playing on the Fremont Hills Country Club Tennis Team. Haile’s entrepreneurial streak started early with a small business selling candy at sports events; and he likewise channeled his passion for technology into starting a bulletin board computer network, where he spent weekends writing and debugging Apple II DOS code with a neighbor. 

Despite a richness of activities and interests, Haile’s childhood was also rife with the hallmarks of racial discrimination and isolation. Female friends and romantic interests too often said they couldn’t let anyone know about their friendship or connection with Haile. Likewise, Haile often found himself excluded from social gatherings, and instead only heard out about events afterwards at school. Similarly, when extracurriculars ended, most classmates went to someone’s house, but Haile rarely found himself invited and instead was often reminded to watch his back or that some of his friends or their families “really hated black people.” 

From unjustified police harassment for “driving while black” to being pulled over in his own neighborhood and interrogated by officers with their hands on their firearms, Haile also experienced rampant racism in his own residential community and neighborhood. Even on Stanford University’s Campus, where his father held an apartment in an exclusive building, Haile suffered the indignity of being barred from the building’s recreation center during “Whites Only Hours.” All through his childhood, Haile knew all too well the injustice of being Black in an area that was both racist and affluent. 

A watershed moment in Haile’s awareness of the systematic racism that so deeply impacted his development was experiencing the dismantling of one his father’s projects due to prejudice and hatred. With funds for his 13-Acre Project in escrow, Haile S. was excited to show his son the Woodside-area property he had bought for their future dream home. On the day of their visit, however, Haile and his father were blocked from entry by a white neighbor, and in the following days, the deal was then cancelled by the seller due to the real estate broker being verbally assaulted by several White property owners on the street. 

It was then that the young Haile began to realize the deep impact of racism, both subtle and blatant in his own life, and his sense of isolation deepened, as he continued to notice the lack of any sort of peers or friends in his life who shared a similar lived experience. 

Despite feeling an ever-present hole in his sense of a soul, one with which many Black men can identify, Haile tried to focus on the goalposts of achievement that his parents had instilled in him. He channeled all his energy to trying to succeed in education, athletics, business, and economic success: to wit, achieve the American Dream. That said, trying to live by those dreams while simultaneously being confronted with the stark realities of being a Black teenager in the 19780s, left Haile broken and empty, searching for meaning and belonging.

Having run track as a youth with Dick Gregory, Haile’s father knew that success in athletics was often a critical path for Black Americans to gain access to White spaces and institutions. With that in mind, he prompted his son to enroll in athletics. While Haile originally wanted to play baseball, The Clays realized quickly that the high school baseball coach did not harbor positive feelings towards The Clay Family, and as a result Haile S. nudged his son towards running track. 

Track & Field was the one place where Haile felt like he belonged. As an excellent sprinter, Haile qualified for the California State Meet in the 400 Meters as a Senior, and was approached by several colleges including UCLA, Texas A&M, UC Irvine and the Naval Academy to run. Hopeful that the college experience might bring a welcome change, Haile selected to attend UC Irvine. 

Despite his involvement on the UC Irvine Track Team, Haile’s isolation and despair continued during his time at college. As one of 40 black men in a class of 15,000 students, Haile struggled to find where he fit in. The Black students he did encounter often had vastly different upbringings and shared a sense of community and culture that often eluded Haile. One bright light of his time at UC Irvine was meeting his future wife Suzette who also ran on UC Irvine’s Track & Field team. 

During his time at UC Irvine, Haile struggled with manic bouts that would keep him awake for days working on cognitive behavior models and philosophical methods of formal logic. These periods of productivity were then followed by long nights searching for meaning and purpose while drowning in the pain of loneliness.

Haile’s passion for Human Cognition led him to create his own program of study. With the help of his mentor, Dr. Joseph White, one of the few Black professors in the university, Haile learned how to challenge conformity and conventional wisdom, and instead devote himself to the pursuit of groundbreaking best practices, progress-inducing insights, and the tools to create predictable, lasting and effective change in human cognition.  

After graduating UC Irvine with a degree in Social Science, Haile decided to put his academic passions and interests to use by starting his own management consulting and communications design business. Haile consulted and designed communications for a variety of ethnically diverse organizations, including the City of East Palo Alto, Village Enterprise Fund (a micro investment non-profit serving African nations), a Mexican American-owned premier salon, a Peruvian-owned restaurant, and an Indian-American founded and led smart card manufacturer that eventually went public. While his business did well, Haile only felt his sense of isolation deepening, and his thirst for meaning only became more pronounced. 

In 2004, a decade into Haile’s consulting business, Haile experienced a profound wake-up call. His mother, father, and uncle had all been diagnosed and were suffering from illnesses that disproportionately affect Black-Americans, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. With the health of several loved ones in decline, Haile’s life’s passion for transformative change was reawakened, and his focus returned to solving the cognitive barriers and issues of access that plague marginalized communities.  

Wanting to fulfill a lifelong dream of enlisting in The Army and knowing that the armed forces have the most advanced resources to manage human development, discipline, and creation of purpose, Haile joined the US Army and moved quickly up rank from Specialist to Staff Sergeant in 4 years. During his time in The Army, Haile served in mission training and medical support battalions; trained soldiers for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom; and always made sure to spend time learning all that he could in the areas of behavior change and skill development in an effort to stay focused on his long-term purpose and goal. 

After the Army, Haile’s mental health struggles began again and culminated with his admission to the emergency room at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. In this moment of crisis, Haile began his long journey towards a true awakening and his sense of meaningful belonging. 

Through self-awareness and recovery programs designed for Veterans, Haile began to realize that that persistent lifelong ache was not from being inferior, but from the deep cognitive dissonance of both growing up in the privilege and wealth of Silicon Valley and the unique reality of being Black in such a setting and in our society-at-large. 

Drawing from his own experience of healing and growth; his exposure to homelessness, cognitive despair, and emotional trauma; his academic pursuits; and his learnings from the Army, Haile has created a platform and a service that allow him to pay homage to all those who went before him and to join in the intergenerational project of supporting all those to come. 

Navitent is the manifestation of Haile’s tireless work and lifelong dreams to create unparalleled access to knowledge, wisdom, achievement and success for the disenfranchised and vulnerable, in a way that allows all players to end up enriched.  Having survived an adversity-filled journey, with countless situations all too familiar to Black Americans, Haile is now fulfilling his birthright and his personal calling: to innovate technology solutions to life’s biggest challenges.  Navitent’s focus on Social Justice, Social Impact, Healthcare, Public Safety and Faith and Church allows Haile to carry on the mantle and honor the legacies of his father and uncle, and the generations prior that have shaped his own life and those that he loves.

Part Three: A Dream Redeemed - A LeadingResiliency™ Legacy

A plan to transfer Haile’s experience as a black tech innovator and the benefits of the Navitent Platform for a DeeperInvestments™ MicroFund

Coming soon.