Women in Voice
Community Gathering & Tech Talks
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Founder & CEO, Moment AI
Megan Gray is the CEO of Moment AI. She is an engineer specializing in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Gray was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 23. Her experiences inspired her to launch Moment AI, an autonomous vehicle (AV) company, which uses physiological and traffic data to prevent accidents and better the driving experience. Epilepsy impacts over three million people in the US – and self-driving cars are the only way many of them might be able to drive.
Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology – HNS Director, USF Health Voice Center
Dr. Yael Bensoussan is an attending laryngologist and an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of South Florida. She is a fellowship trained laryngologist with advanced expertise in voice, swallowing and upper airway evaluation and treatment. Dr. Bensoussan’s background also includes a degree in Speech Pathology and a prior career in music, which has led her to her passion for the voice and for laryngeal disorders. Dr. Bensoussan has served on the Voice Committee of the American Laryngological Association (ALA), and was awarded the Young Faculty/ Practitioner Award of the ALA in 2021 for her research work on AI and gender-affirming voice care.
Senior Conversation Designer, Amazon
Lisa Falkson is currently Senior Conversation Designer at Amazon, leading a team of designers covering Alexa Communication, Social, Kitchen, Home Productivity, and Alexa for Everyone. She is the editor and author of “Ubiquitous Voice: Essays from the Field” and has over 20 years of industry and research experience, specializing in the design, development and deployment of natural speech and multimodal interfaces. Her most recent work includes next-generation voice user interfaces at NIO and CloudCar, as well as Amazon’s first speech-enabled products: Fire TV, Fire Phone and Echo/Alexa. Prior to that, she focused on early iPad/iPhone interfaces at Volio, and speech-enabled IVR applications at Nuance. Lisa holds a BSEE from Stanford, and an MSEE from UCLA.
Show Your Worth: 8 Intentional Strategies for Women to Emerge as Leaders at Work
Shelmina is a TEDx speaker, board member, former vice president at IBM, and an angel investor. She started her career as a software engineer and then moved into sales and sales leadership, leading global teams to deliver over $1B in annual revenues and serving as a key decision-maker in hiring and promoting hundreds of professionals. She received extensive leadership training at IBM, Harvard University, and UCLA. As a global empowerment speaker, Abji has addressed attendees at companies, conferences, and colleges that include Google, Edward Jones, National Center for Women in Technology, Black women in STEM, and Harvard.
Creative Director, Ambassador WiV ANZ
Nikki is a creative director and product designer based in Auckland, New Zealand and is an Ambassador for the ANZ chapter of Women in Voice. With a background in fine arts and a 20-year career in the design industry she is a storyteller at heart and has worked on all sorts of projects spanning a wide range of industries. She believes that design should be used to solve problems and make people’s lives better and tries to do this by implementing meaningful uses of technology to create memorable user experiences. Most recently she has been working on conversational AI, generative AI and Web3 projects for brands, communities and causes.
She regularly mentors at hackathons and events that help women and girls thrive in tech, and is part of Positive Sum DAO – building a blockchain value exchange for startup communities.
Executive Producer, Project Lead, Zan Z
Iran Davar Ardalan is a member of Women in Voice where she leads the Zan Z voice AI project with a team of WiV technologists and storytellers. Ardalan is also National Geographic’s executive producer of audio, where she oversees the award-winning podcast series, “Overheard”, the narrative limited series “Into the Depths” as well as new forays into spatial audio via Nat Geo’s Soundbank. In September 2022, Ardalan presented “Sounds Like National Geographic” at Voice2022 summit in Arlington, VA, talking about the future of spatial audio and voice AI as a potential keeper of wisdom and knowledge in relation to history, culture and nature.
Prior to this, Ardalan was deputy director of the Presidential Innovation Fellowship Program in Washington D.C. and before that a veteran journalist at NPR News for two decades. In May 2014, Davar was the recipient of an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, for individual achievement and for promoting cultural unity. In Fall 2021, through her work at IVOW, (Intelligent Voices of Wisdom) Ardalan launched a conversational AI scholar on Google Assistant to preserve the wisdom and work of her late mother, Islamic scholar, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar into 21-century voice technology.
Speech-Language Pathologist, Early Start Therapy
Deborah Akinyele has a passion for exploring ways to use technology to make life better. She combines a clinical background in speech-language pathology and human development with an ever-increasing understanding of how technology is transforming healthcare as we know it.
Speaker, Voice Coach, Founder, Vocal Culture Garden
From serving as the Lead Performance Coach for SXSW Pitch to training emerging sustainable energy scientists in vocal communication skills for the United States Department of Energy, Mellini Monique prepares innovators, thought-leaders, creatives–and companies who hire them– to share their voice and vision with the world.
Mellini Monique is a professional speaker, voice coach & strategist, pitch performance coach, and emerging voice-tech savant anchored in wellness and well-being. She is the founder of Vocal Culture Garden, a boutique voice design & strategy firm giving voice to humans and AI.
PhD student at Trinity College Dublin
Ayushi Pandey is a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin. Under the supervision of Naomi Harte, Julie Carson-Berndsen and Sebastien Le Maguer, she explores the segmental properties of synthetic speech, and their relationship to perceived naturalness. Previously, she has worked on phonemic contrast, resource creation and forced-alignment and speech recognition for Indian languages.
Conversation Designer, Linguist, & Coach, Convocat.nl
Maaike Groenewege is an independent conversation designer and coach at Convocat.nl in Hilversum, the Netherlands. As a conversation designer, Maaike combines her background in theoretical linguistics, extensive experience in user centered & task-based content, and her passion for the human mind and how we communicate. Maaike has designed conversational interfaces for Dutch chamber of commerce, ABN AMRO bank, Cashew.ai, and did linguistic research for Readspeaker. She currently works as lead conversation designer for Independer.nl. Maaike recently started Convoclub, a platform for knowledge sharing and mentoring specifically aimed at conversation designers. Next to her freelance work, Maaike is very active in the conversational community: she founded Women in Conversational, a Dutch community for people who work in conversational AI, speaks at conferences and is a regular guest lecturer at Dutch universities.
Shout out to our 2022 Innovation Lab Sponsors!
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