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Janet Emerson Bashen
Janet Emerson Bashen
Nationality American
Other names Emerson
Alma mater University of Houston (BS), Harvard University (Women and Power), Tulane Law School (MJ-LEL), The University of Southern California, Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (pursuing Doctorate)
Occupation Software inventor, entrepreneur, business consultant, and social justice advocate
Employer Bashen Corporation
Known for First African American woman to patent a web-based EEO software (LinkLine), now known as Nalikah.
Spouse(s) Ruffus Williams (m. 1979 div. 1988)

George Steven Bashen (m. 1988)
Children Blair Alise Bashen, Drew Alec Bashen
Parent(s) James Lucker Emerson Sr. (Father), Ola Mae Emerson (Mother)
Relatives Danny Green (basketball) (engaged to Blair Bashen)
Awards Patent Software

Janet Rita Emerson Bashen (née Emerson; born February 12, 1957) is an American entrepreneur, business consultant, and software inventor who is best known for patenting a web-based EEO software application, LinkLine, to assist with equal employment opportunity investigations and claims tracking. Bashen is regarded as the first African American woman to obtain a web-based software patent. As a result of her work with equal employment opportunity and diversity and inclusion, Bashen is regarded as a social justice advocate.

Raised in Huntsville, Alabama, Bashen attended Alabama A&M a Historical Black College and University but did not graduate, instead, she married her classmate, Ruffus Williams, an aerospace engineer, and moved to Houston, Texas. Emerson enrolled in the University of Houston and graduated with a degree in Legal Studies and Government. Williams and Emerson were divorced in 1988.

She married George Steven Bashen in May 1988. Thereafter, Bashen attended Harvard University and completed the Women and Power Program. Bashen is currently on the Women's Leadership Board at Harvard University. Bashen is also a graduate of Tulane Law School and is currently attending the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, at the University of Southern, California pursuing a Doctorate.

Family and education

Early life and Ancestry

Janet Rita Emerson was born on February 12, 1957, in Mansfield, Ohio to James Lucker Emerson Sr. b. (June 7, 1935) a garbage collector with the city of Huntsville, Alabama, until his retirement. Her mother, Ola Mae Emerson (1937– 2014) a Licensed practice nurse with Huntsville Hospital and the first Black nurse to work in the emergency room of the hospital. Emerson's family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where Emerson went to a segregated elementary school until the fifth grade when she entered Fifth Avenue School, a previously segregated school in Huntsville, Alabama. Emerson comes from a Black mixed-race background.

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Family life

Emerson married George Steven Bashen in 1988. They have a daughter Blair Alise Bashen (born 1989) and a son Drew Alec Bashen. In 2020, Emerson's daughter Blair Bashen got engaged to her longtime boyfriend, three-time NBA basketball champion player Danny Green.


After graduating from the University of Houston, Bashen worked for an insurance company handling claims related to Equal Employment Opportunities. Bashen thought if you hire independent investigators to assess such claims, they would be more impartial. Bashen would later receive a $5,000 loan from her mother and in 1994, began her own company, Bashen Corporation, to investigate discrimination claims filed by employees.

As her company grew, Bashen became aware of the need for better ways of storing and accessing the data related to claims. With her cousin, Donnie Moore, a Tufts University computer science graduate, Bashen began developing a software. This was the genesis for the software LinkLine. In January 2006 Bashen was awarded a Patent No. 6,985,922, B1, making Janet Emerson Bashen the first African-American woman to earn a web-based software patent becoming a "part of an elite group of African-American inventors and scientists.

Congressional testimony

In May 2000, Bashen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that civil rights and employee misconduct investigations should be exempt from the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Awards and recognition

  • Black Inventors' Hall of Fame
  • Bloomberg – ‘Next Big Thing’ at Risk as Fewer Women, Minorities Get Patents
  • 1998 Janet Emerson Bashen featured on CNN Financial Network
  • 2000 Emerging (E-10) Award Winner
  • 2000 Houston 100 Winner
  • 2000 SJ Bashen testifies to the United States House of Representatives regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA")
  • 2003 Houston, TX Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award
  • 2004 National Association of Negro Women in Business Crystal Award
  • 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009.  The case was investigated by Bashen Corporation on behalf of their client Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
  • 2010 MIT Recognition at World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal
  • 2012 Named in Ebony magazine's Power 100 List of the most influential African-Americans in entertainment, politics, sports, and business
  • 2014 Elected to Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School
  • 2016 Speaker at The Black Enterprise’s “Women of Power Summit”, in Hollywood, FL
  • 2019 Bashen was a panelist at the 4th Annual Black History Month Community Empowerment Mixer in Austin, Texas.
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