Director at the CUNY Central Office of Research
Arber Ruci is a Director at the CUNY Central Office of Research, overseeing the CUNY iHub and the NYC Innovation Hot Spot in addition to serving as EiR at New York I-Corps Hub, one of the nations premier high-tech innovation pipeline and economic development engine. As a researcher and collaborator based at the City College of New York Visual Computing Lab with a special focus on AI, Mixed Reality and Quantum Computing, Arber has received over $1M in research commercialization funding from the National Science Foundation since 2018. He is a national faculty of the NSF Innovation Corps — having taught hundreds of faculty, post docs, Ph.D. and graduate students throughout CUNY, New York State and nationwide, in spinning out companies from their academic research labs. As an innovation ecosystem builder, Arber works closely with NYSTAR, Empire State Development Division of Science, Technology & Innovation. Prior to relocating back to New York in 2017 Arber spent 5 years at Stanford University as a student, vendor and consultant, additionally he served as a CEO of a tech startup for 8 years.
Danielle James manages Diversity Talent Acquisition Partnerships and Events at Asana. In this role, she focuses on connecting top talent to career opportunities. Prior to joining Asana, she spent eight years at MongoDB, where she launched and managed the company's early diversity initiatives. She received the 2017 Diversity in Tech Award for her work to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities in technology. Danielle is a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate (Baruch, CUNY). She is passionate about Muay Thai, writing creative nonfiction, and traveling to places where she can find family, sun, and warmth.
City College of New York
Erik K. Grimmelmann is currently a full-time faculty member in the Computer Science Department at The City College of New York where he specializes in scientific programming and machine learning. He has over 40 years of experience in tech, including twelve years at Bell Labs. Erik has held executive positions at AT&T, where he served as Internet Strategist starting in 1991, and Dun & Bradstreet, where he was responsible for its global technology infrastructure. Erik was also Chief Technology Officer of three startups, the third of which (SendWordNow) had a very successful exit in 2017. He served as the President and CEO of the New York Technology Council and the NY Tech Alliance, the latter of which produces the New York Tech Meetup, the largest meetup in the world. He has served as a White House technology advisor and on a panel of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. Over the past twenty-five years he has served on the boards of numerous national and local technology-related nonprofit organizations.
NYC Economic Development Corporation
Fernando Montejo is Assistant Vice President for Emerging Technology Initiatives at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). In this role, Fernando manages programs that support emerging technology sectors, as well as building a more inclusive tech ecosystem for the city. Fernando was previously at MIT SOLVE, a tech incubator for social impact innovation, where he supported entrepreneurs from around the world committed to solving economic opportunity challenges. Before SOLVE, Fernando was at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where he helped implement initiatives to improve the quality of life for more than 400,000 public housing residents. He has also served as a researcher at the MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, and was a Global Policy Fellow at the Institute of Technology & Society in Brazil, where he investigated the challenges and innovation opportunities of staging the Rio Olympic Games. Fernando holds a Master in City Planning from MIT and a Bachelor of Science in Urban & Regional Studies from Cornell University.
Jessica Hills Seliger served as Senior Policy Advisor to the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline at the Department of Small Business Services, where she led the City's strategy for creating a pathway from the City University of New York (CUNY) to local jobs in tech. She spearheaded CUNY 2x Tech, a $20M, five-year public-private initiative to double the number of tech graduates from CUNY who are job-ready and serve over 14,325 students. Jessica also launched and scaled four tech training programs that prepared over 500 students per year for jobs in tech, including starting the first cohort of CUNY Tech Prep in 2015. Jessica is completing her Master's of Public Administration at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and earned her Bachelor's degree from Barnard College, Columbia University.
John Blaho has been the Director for Academic-Industrial Research at the CUNY Central Office of Research since 2010 where he provides experiential education to CUNY research students and faculty to evaluate how their discoveries can benefit their local communities and society as a whole. For the past several years, he has leveraged his $15M+ initial seed funding from federal and state resources to expand innovation and applied science activities throughout CUNY. These activities include, but are not limited to, the NYC Regional Innovation Node, the PowerBridge NY Clean Tech Proof of Concept Center, the CUNY Innovation Corps (I-Corps) that developed the Community College Innovation Challenge, the NYC Innovation Hot Spot, the NSF I-Corps Inclusion Summit for Broadening Participation, and the Culturally Relevant Enterprise Development program. John Blaho is NYC-based academic-industrialist trained as a chemical engineer who received his Ph.D. in biochemistry.
Julie Samuels is Executive Director of Tech:NYC, an organization representing New York's fast growing, entrepreneurial tech industry. Before that she was Executive Director at Engine, a nation-wide nonprofit focused on technology entrepreneurship and advocacy, where she remains a member of the Board. Julie is a frequent commentator on technology and policy issues for national media—particularly in the intellectual property space—and she has filed briefs with the Supreme Court and testified before Congressional Committees. She previously worked at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she was a senior staff attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. Before joining EFF, Julie litigated IP and entertainment cases. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Julie spent time as a legislative assistant at the Media Coalition in New York, as an assistant editor at the National Journal in D.C., and she worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Champaign, IL. Julie earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University and her B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She serves on the Boards of Engine, TechCongress, and the Internet Education Foundation, on ABNY's Steering Committee, on the Innovation Council of the Partnership for New York City, and on Comptroller Scott Stringer's Red Tape Commission, as well as on various Advisory Boards, such as of the Defensive Patent License and the License on Transfer Network. She lives in New York City with her family.
As Company's Director of Impact, Lindsay partners with startup founders and community leaders in working to shift the culture of tech for a more equitable and sustainable future. In this role, she oversees Company's commitment to supporting startups that serve all stakeholders and to developing a diverse workforce in New York City and beyond. Before Company, Lindsay worked as a coach and mentor to startups and social enterprises — as an independent consultant and as the Executive Director of the Zahn Innovation Center at The City College of New York. She has also served as the Associate Director for the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute, Columbia University and has worked in communications and business development for corporate marketing, corporate philanthropy, and impact investing. She spent two years in Ecuador managing a remote ecolodge and B&B, where she experienced first-hand the power of business to drive positive local impact. She holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BS from Northwestern University.
Raymond Blum leads an Engineering team in Google's Developer Infrastructure that is charged with keeping thousands of Google engineers productive and happy. He was previously a Site Reliability Engineer at Google for which he was somewhat prepared by running a hosting services company. Raymond spent previous lives developing software for media and financial companies. In what spare time exists, he makes friends with robots and walks over the bridges of NYC.
NYC Media Lab
Steven Rosenbaum is the Managing Director of NYC Media Lab. Rosenbaum was New York City's first Entrepreneur at Large, for NYCEDC. He has started five companies, all in the video platform and digital storytelling space. In 2016 he purchased Waywire from US Senator Cory Booker and merged the consumer video platform with his Magnify Networks video curation platform. He has two patents in video technology and has written two books - Curation Nation (McGraw-Hill) and Curate This (Amazon). He has given two TED talks and was based at the TED headquartered as a TED resident. Rosenbaum created and executive produced MTV UnFiltered, widely regarded as the first commercial implementation of User Generated Content - UGC. He holds two EMMY awards and was honored with the Science Journalism Laureates at Purdue University. Rosenbaum is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. His film “7 Days In September” chronicled the attacks on the World Trade Center and extraordinary resilience of New York City. He is a Senior Advisor to Oaklins, Desilva+Phillips. He holds a BA in English from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Taye Johnson is a technologist with years of experience working within the global data industry. Throughout the years she has worked for startups, nonprofits, and global enterprises. She has worked in Data Governance and as an After-School Coding Instructor. Taye is also an advocate for diversifying tech and facilitates technical workshops outside of her professional role at emerging nonprofits.
Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA)
Zachary Feder is the Open Data Program Manager at the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA), where he co-leads NYC's Open Data program. NYC Open Data is one of the world's leading municipal data sharing efforts, with billions of rows of data in thousands of datasets that are used by more than a million people each year. Beyond working with staff from every City agency to publish high-quality data, the Open Data program also promotes the usage of this free data repository through resources like the Open Data project gallery and events like the annual Open Data Week festival. Prior to joining MODA, Zachary spent more than a decade at NYC Parks, where he held roles in operations, analytics, communications, and project management. During his time at Parks, Zachary helped to build Parks' innovation team and establish its open data team, led media relations for the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx, and shepherded projects to improve the tracking and analysis of park cleaning and maintenance.