Poets, Musicians, Story-Tellers, Conversation Designers, AI Engineers unite to share the arc of the Women’s Movement in Iran
The name Zan Z is two fold. Zan means woman in Persian, and Z represents the generation Z.
Zan Z is a voice AI and storytelling platform, designed to share the stories of influential Iranian women, going back centuries. It also aims to preserve and improve voice AI for the Persian language.
This collaboration of women around the world is amplifying the arc of the women’s movement in Iran to honor the courage of Iranian women.
Explore this page and stay tuned for more from our collective of story-tellers, poets, Voice AI designers & engineers. Learn about the past and present experiences of Iranian women through immersive experiences, including media, story-telling, and voice AI.
What is Zan Z?
We are women working in the field of Voice AI, data and storytelling originally from Iran, or living in Nigeria, New Zealand, the Netherlands and all over the US.
Zan Z is a Voice AI and storytelling platform designed to share the stories of influential Iranian women going back centuries. And to ultimately preserve and improve voice AI for the Persian language.
Zan Z is poised to become a powerful tool for freedom of expression. This AI media project is especially important in light of recent events in Iran that have silenced many voices.
Zan Z live demo will launch on December 20, just ahead of the winter solstice or Yalda – a time when Persian poems and stories are traditionally read long into the night.
The Voice AI platform is being designed to share the stories of Iranian women’s movement going back centuries for the preservation and dissemination of knowledge and to share about Iranian women and the history of the women’s movement in Iran. Zan Z is inspired by Sina, an award-winning retired Voice AI Storyteller.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact ZanZ.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Making of Zan Z with Davar Ardalan & Nikki McLay
Join us on December 1 at the WiV Innovation Lab!
Global Women in Voice gathering featuring interactive networking & Tech Talks. Come connect, celebrate innovation, and share strategies to thrive in your career.
Attend the Zan Z Launch Event on December 20
Zan Z Live Demo on December 20
Meet the Team
Iran Davar Ardalan
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.
In March 2022, Ardalan’s team at National Geographic’s Overheard were honored at the Ambies for Best Knowledge, Science and Tech Podcast. The team has also won the Jackson Wild Special Jury Award for Engaging Platforms for Into the Depths, three Anthem Awards in February 2022 and in May 2022, Overheard received a Webby, in the category of Diversity and Inclusion in Podcast.
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.
Tali is a conversation designer and member of Women in Voice, based in Chicago, IL. As a former clinical speech pathologist, she is passionate about infusing accessibility into tech and design.
Bhuva Shakti is the Chief Ethics and Culture Officer and the Director of Americas at Women in AI, with a mission to expand privacy and trust. With an MBA from Columbia university and as Senior Director at Capgemini, Bhuva has managed diverse multinational teams and launched several digital products in investment banking and regulatory compliance. As FinTech transformation entrepreneur at Wallet Max and dual-graduate in computer science and software engineering, she is passionate about financial inclusion and sustainable innovation. Bhuva is an early-stage investor in social impact startups with a vision to accelerate economic freedom and growth, while reducing inequalities.
Carrie Jaquith (she/her) is a digital product manager, advisory board member, and educator. She is currently a Global Head of Product at Abaxx Technologies. Previously, she was Global Head of Digital Enablement for AXA XL’s Data, Intelligence & Analytics group and founded the first IT Emerging Tech group at Lazard Frères. She has taught at Columbia University’s Master of Science in Applied Analytics program, and collaborated with groups at Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch. She’s a member of Think Tanks focused on AI and genomics and is an Advisory Board Member of AIR Summit and Lyricist Lounge DAO. A classically trained musician, she is inspired by experiences in voice, video games, and machine shops for things that go fast.
Ezinwa is a Conversation Designer passionate about creating innovative AI solutions. Her mission is to facilitate the adoption of Conversational AI technology in Africa. She seeks to introduce African talents especially women into the industry. She is also an ambassador of Women in Voice Africa.
A passionate student of history, geopolitics and philosophy, Paris works on projects at the intersection of technology and communication to help reshape human behaviour. She is fascinated with how language and information technology can work together to drive impact and channel collective effort towards rebuilding sustainable economies that underpin a healthier planet and equality for all people that live on it. She works as a Digital Product Manager focused on building better internet infrastructure and information flows.
With a background in Financial Economics and Entrepreneurship, she has spent the last 10 years helping startups build brand identity and market strategy with unique and powerful campaigns, one of which included the production and launch of the SmarterMarkets™ podcast.
Simin (Tina) Soleimanifar
Tina is a Ph.D. student in Speech and Hearing Science. She supports the development of consumer electronic devices, from conducting feasibility studies to integrity testing and human studies, with an emphasis on high-quality audio systems, hearing assistive technologies, and voice-assistant technologies that help connect people to the beautiful world of sound.