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Public interest technology at the SIDGE Symposium, Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend 2024

Public Interest Tech on MLK Weekend 2024

Public Interest Technology-University Network (PIT-UN) co-hosted four events on MLK Weekend, 2024 in partnership with SIDGE (The Center for Social Impact, Development, and Global Engagement) at the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community FoundationBelow, watch panels & keynotes with leading public interest technologists Safiya Noble, Latanya Sweeney, Fallon Wilson, Afua Bruce & more. 

The event stands as a unique and forward-thinking initiative, where the worlds of data science and social impact converge to advance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of a more just and equitable world. It embodies the NorcalMLK Foundation’s commitment to progress and its dedication to harnessing technology for the betterment of society.



Technology & Climate Impacts

Featuring Afua Bruce, Amali Tower, Carlton Waterhouse, Dr. Theodora Dryer, Dr. Maria Joao Sousa.

Climate justice and technology are inextricably intertwined. To best provide urgent relief to frontline communities, public interest technologists are developing climate initiatives built on cross-sector partnerships that center those most impacted.

Afua Bruce (Moderator), Founder & Principal of AnB Advisors, is a leading public interest technologist who has spent her career working at the intersection of technology, policy, and society.

Amali Tower, Founder & Executive Director, Climate Refugees, has extensive global experience in refugee protection, resettlement, forced migration and displacement contexts, having worked for NGOs, the UN Refugee Agency and the US Refugee Admissions Program.

Carlton Waterhouse, Professor of Law at Howard University, is an international expert on environmental law and environmental justice, as well as reparations and redress for historic injustices.

Dr. Theodora Dryer is Director of the Water Justice and Technology Studio, cofounder of the Critical Carbon Computing Collective, and teaches on technology and environmental justice at New York University.

Maria João Sousa is Executive Director at Climate Change AI, a nonprofit startup that catalyzes impactful work at the intersection of climate change and machine learning, and is incubated at Cornell Tech’s Public Interest Tech Initiative.


Connecting Public Interest Technology to Civic Engagement

Dr. Fallon Wilson is Co-Founder of the #BlackTechFutures Research Institute and Vice President of Policy at the Multicultural Media Telecom Internet Council

Through her work with non-profits, academia, and government partnerships, Dr. Wilson strives to make visible the work of historic and modern-day Black crises solvers. She invests her time into strengthening the tech ecosystem nationwide, especially as it relates both to Black women technologists and also underrepresented persons of color who may not have access to the ever-changing arena of technology. 


Technology & Civic Engagement

Featuring Autumn McDonald, Lili Gangas, Dr. Kevin Harris and Dr. Fallon Wilson

Leading public interest technologists discuss how tech can empower communities, enhance access to civic resources, and promote active participation in democracy. 

Autumn McDonald (Moderator)  is a Senior Fellow and Head of New America CA. Her work focuses on issues of economic equity, community engagement, resident voice, policy influence, and narrative change.

Lili Gangas is Chief Technology Community Officer at the Kapor Foundation, working to create new and more inclusive tech innovation ecosystems regionally & nationally.

Dr. Kevin Harris, Program Chair of Computational and Informational Sciences at Stillman College, trains young technologists through experiential partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits.

Dr. Fallon Wilson,  Co-Founder of #BlackTechFutures Research Institute and Vice President of Policy at the Multicultural Media Telecom Internet Council, works with nonprofits, academia, and government partnerships to make visible the work of historic and modern-day Black crises solvers.


Rooting AI in Humanity

Featuring Dr. Safiya Noble, Dr. Latanya Sweeney and Katy Knight

The rapid development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies has far outpaced society’s ability to understand its implications, and the government’s ability to regulate these tools to prevent harm. But AI is not in the driver’s seat, people are. 

This panel with leading public interest technologists discussion centers communities in the conversation about AI, and going beyond AI hype and doomism to explore an alternative future: one rooted in wellbeing, ethics, and justice.

Brian Watt (Moderator), KQED Morning News Anchor.

Dr. Safiya Noble is an internet studies scholar and the David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair of Social Sciences and Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she serves as the Faculty Director of the Center on Race & Digital Justice. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. 

Dr. Latanya Sweeney is the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology at the Harvard Kennedy School and the director and founder of Harvard’s Public Interest Tech Lab. There, she’s overseen hundreds of student research projects that identify technological harms and raise them to designers and policymakers, leading to real-world change in development and oversight.

Katy Knight President and Executive Director of Siegel Family Endowment, a foundation focused on understanding and shaping the impact of technology on society.