Meet the Women Behind the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ Summit — 2020

100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ Summit organizing committee

When I published the first 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ list in 2018, I had no idea that it would turn into a global movement and safe space for brilliant women to meet and learn from each other. Meet the amazing women who helped organize our 2020 summit.
And here are some ways you can get involved.
Nominate yourself or a peer for the Women in AI Ethics™ (WAIE) directory.
Volunteer your time and talents to help others.
In solidarity,
Mia Shah-Dand

Many thanks to Susanna Raj @susannaraj53 for pulling these together. Susanna Raj is a Cognitive Science / AI Ethics Researcher /Artist & Writer/ Founder of AI4Nomads, a Mobile Data Annotation Platform with a Trio Philanthropic focus of Eliminating Digital Illiteracy around the Globe, Empowering women with Financial Independence and ensuring Diversity in AI Training Data Labeling, aligned with United Nations SDGs #1, 2, 5 & 8. Susanna is interested in the ethical applications of AI technology for the greater good of humanity. She has worked on human emotion model training for AI in AV at Intel labs and co-authored a research publication on Emotion UI models at MobileHCI 2018.Susanna is also a member of the DataEthics4All Leadership Council and Advisor for the Women in History Cultural AI Challenge at An established Studio Artist whose work borrows from Surrealism, Expressionism, and Impressionism, in exploring different methods in presenting Abstract Concepts.

Hessie Jones

Meet Hessie Jones, one of the Jedis fighting against the Dark Side of AI along with Mia Dand, and a committee member of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ event by Women in AI Ethics™!

Hessie is a Privacy Technologist, Strategist, Co-Founder, Journalist and Author and a fierce advocate with more than 20 years’ experience fighting for data rights, and sovereignty, human-centered AI through ethical distribution strategies. Hessie is also a writer at Forbes, and Towards Data Science, a member of MyData Global — currently developing a technology and governance framework for future pandemics, Women in AI Ethics Council member, The Institute for Ethical AI & Machine Learning, technology mentor and start-up advisor.

Hessie heard about the WAIE initiative through Mia whom she had known for a few years and has been a part of it ever since. As a seasoned digital and privacy strategist, Hessie has always challenged the notion of complacency. That is what drove her to embed herself in the WAIE community of brilliant women, to drive the discussion forward and work side by side to drive awareness, and spearhead significant change.

Hessie’s unique way of challenging the status quo in her own words:

AI Ethics was and continues to be a nascent topic. What is starting to surface are the harms that have been embedded in our systems for decades. Once AI/ML enable more automation, the more these biases will perpetuate to continue to polarize populations and especially the disenfranchised. I’ve studied the work of some of these amazing women and I’ve connected and spoke with many of them directly. What I continue to learn through debates, discussions and collaborations are things that are not borne out of articles or books. The topic is evolving as new technologies and capabilities surface. What we cannot do is remain complacent

The desire to learn through organic communication of content vs academic consumption of content can be seen in how she sees the WAIE community compared to others like Women in AI, Women in Tech, etc. She states that this is not a community but a friendship among women who care deeply about the state of ethics and how it will impact our future and the future of humanity.

What’s so special about WAIE?

The human connection says Hessie!

We enjoy each other’s company and we make time to do the things that matter, whether that includes editing Wikipedia, or just reaching out to touch base with one another just because we’ve developed that bond. I haven’t been part of Women in Tech groups that continue to foster this level of belonging and caring. No matter how busy, how overwhelmed we all are, there is a consistency in how we connect and help each other. That’s what makes this, not only different, but special.

Given the high volume of virtual content being thrown at us in the past 9 months, why should anyone consider catching this event live?

As a member of the organizing committee, Hessie thinks the outstanding feature of this event that makes this upcoming Summit special is the highest quality of programming that includes BIPOC speakers making significant contributions in their respective fields including Activism in AI; the movement towards increasing investment and support for underestimated tech founders; successful women who share their career journeys and their view into what the future holds in AI Ethics; plus a look into how AI enables self-determination through accessibility.

What cannot be caught on demand later according to Hessie, are the interactive connections made during the event and most importantly at the amazing workshops on ML and the Arts and Computer Generated Poetry. And you will also miss out on the opportunity to meet other people who have the same interests and can help answer the questions you may have!

And if you are interested in more involvement, Hessie says WAIE is always looking for volunteers and women who have a passion to explore the intersection of AI and Ethics, through policy, technology, human rights, law, privacy etc. You can nominate other women or even yourself to be part of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™. This will help build visibility for other women and for this topic.

Merve Hickok

If Mia Dand is on a mission to highlight and create a directory of all the world’s brilliant women working on AI Ethics, Merve Hickok wants to build a global repository of all things related to AI Ethics!

Is it any wonder that Merve is part of the WAIE Collective?

Meet Merve, an AI Ethicist, Founder of, Founding Editorial Board Member of Springer AI & Ethics journal, IEEE SA Contributor, and an independent consultant, lecturer and speaker on AI ethics, biases and its implications on individual & society. She aims to create awareness, build capacity, advocate for ethical and responsible AI. She collaborates with several national and international organizations building governance methods.

Merve heard about the WAIE initiative through a LinkedIn post when the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ list was announced in 2019. The purpose of the mission and the way the initiative works towards it, resonated deeply with her!

From then on, Merve started closely following the initiative and some of the amazing women involved in the organizing and advocacy work. As someone who has been professionally and personally involved in diversity and inclusion work for more than a decade, she found the WAIE Collective had the right heart and mind.

Merve story of finding her path to the inner fold of the WAIE Collective seems like serendipitous alignment of ethically minded souls and is best heard in her own words:

When they announced the mentorship program, I immediately put my name down to be a mentor for two mentees. Around that time, Mia was in a conversation on social media making a point about recognizing and supporting advocacy work. She was so graceful and thoughtful in how she made her point. I made a comment and we almost cross messaged each other saying we have to work together. Rest is history 😊 I am honored and proud to be working with the amazing women making up the WAIE community and collective. The support for each other is amazing!

What makes WAIE stand out from all the others like Women in AI, Women in Tech, etc.?

Merve believes it is both the singular and multi-dimensional focus of WAIE; both of which seems to align with her purpose and mission in life.

Merve’s mission is to focus particularly on AI Ethics and how to empower and highlight the women working towards AI ethics in their work. And in the same spirit, WAIE is also a community of women from very diverse technical and nontechnical backgrounds but who are all committed to applying AI Ethics towards their work and/or advocate for adoption of AI ethics across multiple disciplines.

She is impressed that WAIE also has a commitment to increase diversity across multiple dimensions and holds itself responsible to achieve that. That appeals to her as an immigrant, a woman of color who has shifted from a 20-year career in multinationals to a non-profit focused on developing learning systems for people with disabilities.

As Merve says:

WAIE checks so many important areas for me. It is also a very supporting community because we have similar lived experiences that make our work so precious.

Yadira Sanchez

The reach of Women in AI Ethics™ and their premier event 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ is not just local, it is global. A prime testament to this, is how Yadira Sanchez, a computational social science researcher & software developer from Mexico — based in the UK — found her way into the WAIE Collective.

Yadira came across a post by Mia Dand on Twitter calling for nominations of Black Women in AI Ethics, and Yadira immediately thought of her thesis supervisor, Dr. Pamela Ugwudike’s research in the field of AI and Criminal Justice system in the UK.

Once she submitted the nomination form for Dr.Ugwudike, she was contacted by Mia to see if she was interested in being a part of the WAIE Collective. And what inspired Yadira to say yes to that? In her own words:

After reading a bit more about the Collective, their mission and its intersectional vision really resonated with me, my background and how I see myself personally and professionally.

I think one of the most important reasons that inspired me to join the WAIE Collective was that its makeup was truly what it said it was about; intersectional.

Also, I wanted to bring forward more women from the Latin America region (where I am from) to the Collective’s knowledge and those who follow our work.

Yadira believes the nature and vision of the Collective is like no other out there, and when compared to Women in AI, Women in Tech, Yadira thinks there is one area of focus that is unique to WAIE:

The focus on centering Black, Indigenous and Women of Color in the AI ethics stage is not being done anywhere else and this is extremely essential and important. I am not surprised that it hasn’t been done really but I am really happy to see this work is being done, by the WAIE Collective.

As a member of the organizing committee, Yadira is sure you will find the upcoming event exciting and that it is not just about celebrating amazing women in AI ethics from around the world, but she hints that the Collective may have thrown in a few surprises and exciting updates for the audience! And that is not the only thing that excites her:

I am particularly excited to bring forward more Women from Latin America. While Diversity and Representation are only a part of the bigger scheme of things towards social justice, I believe it is crucial that we bring ourselves to the table.

There is this amazing post I saw on social media recently:

“We are not minorities, we have been minoritized. We are not underrepresented; we have been historically excluded. Language matters.” by @JanelCubbage

….and this just resonates so much.

And if any of you are interested in bringing yourself to the table, Yadira says everyone in the WAIE Collective are super approachable and always looking forward to hearing new ideas, suggestions!

Buse Çetin

Buse is an AI Policy Researcher & Consultant who was on the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™ list last year authored by Mia Dand, CEO of Lighthouse3. Now she is part of the WAIE Collective. Buse started following the WAIE Initiative and Mia on Twitter after her ex-colleague was selected to be featured on the prestigious list in 2019.

Not long after that, Buse also found herself featured on the list! Something that totally took her by surprise! Link to the YouTube video

Buse in her own words on how she remembers that moment:

I wasn’t expecting it at all because in my head I didn’t have a PhD, a title, long years of experience or the Twitter following to be recognized. I knew from the bottom of my heart that looking at the social impacts of AI was not only a profession for me and that I had a mission, but I wasn’t expecting to be on a list with other women that I would cite in my research!

After going through the typical imposter syndrome that plagues most of us, she shifted her perspective to see this recognition as push to do more and to look for new ways to support others. Buse believes that lists, titles, recognitions are short-lived but still useful tools to leverage the privilege it gives us to fulfill our respective missions in life.

As of now, Buse’s mission in life is aligned with the WAIE Initiative which according to her is not just the only one of its kind but almost like a family to her. From an emotional perspective, she is proud to be part of this supportive community and sees an opportunity to shape its course.

The best part of being on the WAIE Collective for Buse are the priceless insights generated by the community; how everyone gets to express their views and how as the content manager, she gets to make sure each voice is heard along with her WAIE colleagues Alex Hanna, Alex Ahmed, Anna Lauren, Kandrea Wade and Heather Dowdy.

Covid-19 has bombarded us with many virtual events and virtual conferences, and if you are like me wondering which ones to attend and which ones to skip because of Zoom fatigue, Buse strongly suggests this event is not to be missed; given how the organizers have meaningfully curated the event around the four themes of 1) Activism/Advocacy in AI, 2) Building Inclusive & Diverse AI 3) WAIE around the World 4) Careers in AI

Buse has a convincing argument for why anyone leading advocacy for AI in these trying times should attend this event:

In her own words:

Leading successful advocacy in AI is more important than ever when lots of states are employing all sorts of surveillance of technology for the pandemic (including mask and social distance checks with drones for example) and platforms are consolidating power. As structural inequalities are more visible than ever because of the pandemic and racial justice movements are getting stronger in many parts of the world; naming and changing the power imbalances reflected in AI through inclusion is urgent. This also involves decentering Western narratives and hearing experiences from other regions of the world. As someone from Turkey, my first question after my first AI policy class was “what about the Global South??” so it’s important to discuss this outside development-oriented context. There are real stakes and experiences here. Finally, we are all about empowering and supporting each other, career paths sessions are designed to help other women find their voice and place in this field. Stronger together!

Dr. Chhavi Chauhan

Dr. Chhavi Chauhan is a researcher and a scholar who sits at the intersection of AI Ethics in Healthcare. Her vision is to provide equitable personalized healthcare to all, beyond geographies, and despite socioeconomic disparities.

– How did you hear about the Women in AI Ethics™(WAIE) initiative?

Answer: I heard about WAIE initiative when a LinkedIn connection posted about Lighthouse3’s Mentorship program.

Though I have been serving as a mentor through various structured programs for the past several years, I have myself not been fortunate enough to have dedicated mentors in my professional career. I was very excited about the prospects of having a mentor, especially through a structured program, and I immediately signed up for the program to be a mentee. It was a great experience and I am now collaborating with my mentor on some very exciting projects to bring forth the voices of those who remain unheard in our healthcare system as well as exploring avenues myself to provide equitable personalized healthcare for all, beyond geographies and despite rampant socioeconomic disparities.

Also, I have had the pleasure of mentoring three excellent and driven mentees through this program in various cohorts. It is extremely gratifying to follow their progress, continue to stay connected with them to support them in their journeys. It has been a humbling experience and I continue to gain from the insights of my mentor and three terrific mentees.

– What inspired you to join the WAIE Collective?

Answer: My initial interaction with the WAIE initiative, as a mentee, opened the floodgates of me connecting with several talented and motivated women in AI Ethics space, especially Mia Shah-Dand, the founder and CEO of Lighthouse3. Mia is an amazing individual, an empathetic visionary, a powerhouse of energy, and for me personally, a constant source of inspiration. I offered to volunteer at the first ever WAIE Annual event and it was an honor to be invited as a speaker at this exciting event with numerous thought leaders. Mia and I had an instant connection as we both respected each other’s work ethic and I felt gratified to be offered the opportunity to lead the amazing volunteers at this event I had volunteered to help out with. I was beyond ecstatic when soon after the event, I was invited by Mia and other members of the WAIE Collective™to join the WAIE Collective™ (summer cohort). I continue to serve on the collective. I am also proud to be a part of the Program Committee for the upcoming 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics™Summit and I look forward to connecting with many more amazing accomplished women in the AI Ethics space through WAIE Collective™.

– What makes WAIE different or unique compared to other initiatives like Women in AI, Women in Tech, others?

WAIE has constantly strived to and continues to voice the opinions of marginalized women as well as other minorities, as displayed in each and every activity and initiative launched or organized by them. One distinguishing feature of WAIE is its focus on engaging non-technical folks in discussions surrounding the ethical use of AI as it intersects various facets of our lives. I am a strong proponent of an organic community-led movement for the ethical development and deployment of AI, which requires the expertise and oversight of ALL to fill any and all gaps and WAIE is leading this movement when it comes to unheard and under-represented voices. WAIE has also been a strong proponent of equity and they constantly have and continue to make ALL their events accessible to students and economically challenged. WAIE constantly strives to highlight the achievements of women as well as non-binary folks to bring forth diverse viewpoints that are much needed for an ethical and transparent deployment of AI. WAIE is truly an initiative that believes in leading by example and I am proud to be a part of it.

Women in AI Ethics™ is a fiscally sponsored project of Social Good Fund, a California nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)(3) organization. We are funded by Lighthouse3, donations, and ticket sales. We can offer tax-deductible (donation receipts) for gifts & contributions, receive matching donations from corporate employers, and apply for grants awarded to recognized 501(c)(3) organizations.