Tech for Humanity Summit
June 9, 2023
This inaugural summit, offered virtually to the public and hosted by Virginia Tech’s Tech for Humanity initiative, will convene a diverse group of national and global leaders to envision a human-centered and equitable technological future and articulate the responsibilities we can each assume, as individuals and organizations, to create that future.
Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and co-branded with New America, the summit will bring together people and organizations from disparate sectors to grapple with questions of ethics, justice, and human dignity in a technological world. These discussions will inspire them to stake a claim in shaping the future of technology.
Join the livestream to access the keynotes and panel discussions throughout the day.
Shannon Raj Singh
Davis Genocide Prevention Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Simon-Skjodt Center, Former Human Rights Council at Twitter
Strengthening Human Rights and Human Security amid Rising Techno-Nationalism
Moderator: Rishi Jaitly, VT Fellow and formerly of Twitter and Google
- Michael Zelenko, Rest of World executive editor
- Christopher R. Harris , project lead for Crowdsourcing Evidence of War Crimes, MITRE
- Amali Tower, founder and executive director, Climate Refugees
- Sarnata Reynolds, senior director for human security and international policy, Center for American Progress
Jen Pahlka will receive the Tech for Humanity Prize and will offer remarks.
Equity and Dignity for a Global Workforce in the Age of Automation
- Jen Pahlka, founder of Code for America & author of Recoding America
- Lili Gangas, chief technology community officer, Kapor Foundation
- Robert Smith, Boeing Research and Technology
Meet the Moderators and Panelists!
Shannon Raj Singh
Shannon Raj Singh is former Human Rights Counsel for Twitter, where she advised on urgent risks related to the platform’s use in crisis settings such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Today, Shannon is a Special Advisor on Social Media & Conflict to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based organization supporting global peace negotiations. She is also Co-Chair of the War Crimes Committee of the International Bar Association, and the Davis Genocide Prevention Fellow at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.
Rishi Jaitly is a Distinguished Humanities Fellow in the Center for Humanities at Virginia Tech, where he leads the new Institute for Leadership in Technology. He has led teams at Google and Twitter, and co-founded Times Bridge, an investments and partnerships firm helping the world’s best ideas expand internationally and in India in particular; and non-profit organizations such as Michigan Corps, an online service platform for Michiganders to give back to their home state no matter where they live.
Sylvester Johnson is the founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, and a nationally recognized humanities scholar specializing in the study of technology, race, religion, and national security. He is also associate vice provost for public interest technology at Virginia Tech, executive director of the university’s Tech for Humanity initiative, and faculty fellow for the Public Interest Technology University Network at New America.
Michael Zelenko is Executive Editor of Rest of World, an award-winning nonprofit publication that captures the impact of Silicon Valley around the world, and people’s experiences with technology outside the West. He co-founded and was the Executive Editor of OneZero, Medium’s tech and science publication, and led the features and enterprise programs at The Verge The Verge. He specializes in building and leading ambitious editorial programs marked by rigorous investigations, scoops, and immersive, narrative-driven features.
Jennifer Pahlka is the author of Recoding America: Why Government is Failing in the Digital Age and How We Can Do Better. She founded Code for America and served as the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer from 2013–2014, where she founded the United States Digital Service. She received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and was named by Wired as one of the 25 people who has most shaped the past 25 years.
Lili Gangas is the Chief Technology Community Officer at the Kapor Foundation, working to create new and more inclusive tech innovation ecosystems regionally & nationally. She co-leads Kapor Center’s Equitable Tech Policy Initiative. A former Accenture and Booz Allen consultant with tech startups and Fortune 500 companies, she has been recognized as one of San Francisco Business Times “Most Influential Women in Business,” inaugural Omidyar Network’s Tech Luminary, and former New America CA Tech for Good Fellow.
Laura Maristany is a strategic advisor in tech & innovation, government affairs and philanthropy, with extensive Capitol Hill and policymaking experience. Most recently as Vice President of External Affairs for Bitwise, she led outreach and partnerships with government and community leaders to build tech economies in underestimated cities across the country. As a thought partner, funder and leader, she has helped launch startups such as Representative Democracy and the Women’s Public Leadership Network that strengthen capacity and infrastructure to promote inclusive systems across sectors.
Robert A. Smith
Robert A. Smith is a Boeing Executive Fellow with over 25 years of experience with the Boeing Company in programs such as missile defense, international space station, commercial satellite systems, Space Launch System and advanced technology research. He leads development of the Boeing sponsored Discovery Thinking curriculum being implemented in project based learning classes at Virginia Tech. Discovery Thinking is a collaborative problem solving technique to enable the discovery of enduring solutions at the intersection of technology, environment and humanity.
Andreen Soley is Director of the Public Interest Technology (PIT) program at New America, where she leads the PIT University Network (PIT-UN) and fosters multi-sector collaboration to grow the ecosystem for PIT products and entrepreneurs. She joined New America after 20 years of working in higher education and the nonprofit sector, where she developed and ran workforce development and career advancement programs with a focus on accessibility for low-income and public sector workers.
Amali Tower is the Founder and Executive Director of Climate Refugees. She has extensive global experience in refugee protection, refugee resettlement and forced migration and displacement contexts, having worked globally for numerous NGOs, the UN Refugee Agency and the US Refugee Admissions Program. Years of interviewing refugees fleeing conflict afforded her the chance to hear their stories of also fleeing climate change. Through this, Climate Refugees was born.
Sarnata Reynolds is an expert on human rights and human mobility law and policy. They currently serve as the Senior Director for Human Security and International Policy at the Center American Progress (CAP), and have advised Congress on U.S. immigration law, policy and legislation. Sarnata has led coalitions and developed policy with Oxfam International, Refugees International and Amnesty International, and began their career representing asylum seekers and immigrants in the federal circuit and immigration courts.
Chris Harris leads efforts on issues at the intersection of technology, human rights, conflict, and accountability to the rule of law at The MITRE Corporation — a not-for-profit operator of federally funded research and development centers dedicated to working across government and in partnership with industry and academia to tackle hard problems that challenge global safety and stability. Chris previously worked as an engineer at the Pentagon and served 10 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy where he focused on topics ranging from cybersecurity to counterproliferation.