In celebration of this year’s International Women’s Day theme—“DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”—Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship is celebrating some of Duke’s many student and alumnae innovators working to make an impact through technology. In fields ranging from ethical AI, to STEM education, to health tech, and beyond, they’re making the world safer, more inclusive, more equitable, more sustainable, and more fun.
Amir Williams ’18
Amir is a UX Researcher for Google Photos, where she lives out her passion for responsible innovation and inclusive product design. She is also a startup mentor through Google for Startups and a member of the Black Angel Group, focused on investing in high-growth early stage companies. She currently lives in San Francisco and serves on the Associate Board of the education nonprofit 826 Valencia.
Arsheen Allam MBA ’18
Arsheen has a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from NC State University. She founded CNanoz and GOLeafe where she is developing nanotechnology and graphene-based clean energy and water treatment technologies, for which she holds multiple patents and is featured in Forbes.
Arya Diwase MBA ’24
Arya is a social entrepreneur from India. Her venture Himayat is a female-founded fintech start-up that provides a digital human resource management and employment benefits platform to female domestic workers and their employers. She is committed to protecting and improving the working conditions of female informal workers worldwide.
Bria Barker Lee ’11
Bria is the Head of Networks at EVERFI, a Blackbaud company. Her team builds strategic partnerships to increase the impact of Blackbaud’s corporate partnerships. Together, Blackbaud and corporate partners are using technology to scale community initiatives on topics like financial wellbeing, mental health, and sustainability education, to drive employee volunteerism, and to foster positive workplace cultures.
Brianna Butler BS ’21
Brianna is a Computer Science Master of Engineering student at Princeton, where she works in the realms of artificial intelligence, human computer interaction, and where the two intertwine. She has worked with the Philadelphia Phillies and Walt Disney Imagineering R&D with a patent potentially being the product of the latter.
Chinemerem Nwosu ’19, MD ’23
Chinemerem is the co-founder of Black Maternal Health Equity Initiative, sponsored by NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, that utilizes an anti-racist framework to address racial disparities and barriers to care for Black women. She has also led multiple mentorship programs for underrepresented minority students interested in medicine and surgery. She previously worked with the Duke Global Neurosurgery group on improving health literacy and patient outcomes in Uganda.
Cyan DeVeaux ’20
Cyan is a PhD student at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab and Human-Computer Interaction Group. Her research examines the psychological, behavioral, and sociocultural implications of augmented and virtual reality, with a focus on AR/VR in education and identity in virtual environments.
Denali Dahl MS ’17
As an engineer and entrepreneur, Denali is passionate about increasing access to care for female sexual and reproductive health in the U.S. and globally. In addition to being an Associate Scientist at FHI 360 developing long-acting contraceptive technology for low-resource settings, she is also the CEO and co-founder of Kalia Health, a health-justice startup developing a home-based diagnostic test for preeclampsia.
Emma Sánchez Andrade Smith ’16
Emma is the founder of Jefa, a fintech backed by the investors behind Netflix, Twitter, and LinkedIn serving the world’s 1.4B unbanked women. Emma was recognized as a 2023 Bloomberg New Economy Catalyst and Forbes 2019 30 under 30.
Hope Pratt BSE ’24
Hope is studying electrical/computer engineering and computer science. She is the co-founder of Energy Terminal, an energy media company that is building the next generation of energy leaders through a podcast, newsletter, leadership program, and more. She is interested in combining leadership and technical skills to drive accessibility and innovation within the cleantech and energy industries.
Jada McLean BSE ’15
Jada is the CEO & founder of Ethically, a personalized shopping companion app on a mission to make sustainable consumption more accessible by marrying rewards and convenience and in doing so helping brands efficiently attract conscious consumers. She was recognized on Forbes 2023 list of 30 under 30 in Social Impact.
Jenny Galluzzo ’99
As co-founder of The Second Shift, Jenny lives her life committed to the empowerment of women through work. She is fiercely dedicated to shifting the path forward for women, encouraging them to forge their own career paths with confidence, intention and optimism. Prior to starting The Second Shift, Jenny spent many years in journalism, researching, writing, hosting and producing for Good Morning America, News 12, and Plum TV. Jenny lives in New York City with her two sons.
Kandasi Griffiths MBA ’24
Kandasi is the Founder and Chief Curator of SR Collaborative, a social enterprise enabling women of color change agents to scale financially sustainable and impact-driven ventures. With years of experience in international development and global health, she came to Duke to shift the focus from survive to thrive.
Katherine (Gilbert) Manuel MBA ’04
Katherine is Chief Operating Officer of House of Blueberry, a digital fashion house selling wearables to avatars. She pivoted to this emerging space after leading innovation for a public company. Part of her career-change rationale was to positively influence gaming spaces where children and women build community and spend increasing amounts of time.
Kristi S. Boyd MA ’22
Kristi got her master’s in Technology Ethics and Science Policy at Duke. With previous experience as a quality assurance engineer, a senior product manager, and an ethics intern, she currently works as a Trustworthy AI Specialist at SAS Institute. In this role she works to enable and educate customer facing teams on SAS’s responsible innovation approach.
Laura Haft Brody MBA ’20
Laura is president and co-founder of Nooshee, a startup on a mission to radically change the experience of new parenthood and motherhood. The proud mother of a 1-year-old, Laura has professional experience ranging from consulting, marketing at startup Framebridge, and product management at IBM, and with Nooshee is pursuing her true ‘why’ of helping women.
Lee J. Tiedrich BSE ’88, P ’25, P ’26
For decades, Lee has helped organizations unlock the benefits of emerging technologies while navigating risks and legal uncertainties. She recently became a Duke Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethical Technology and was a law partner at Covington & Burling. Her graduate students work with real-world organizations on ethical tech matters. She is an OECD and GPAI AI expert.
Lydia Smyers MBA ’97
Lydia is vice president, US Education for Microsoft. She leads sales teams supporting adoption and sales of Microsoft’s solutions across K-12 organizations and higher-education customers. Smyers manages teams responsible for supporting institutions’ and educators’ use of technology to empower students to develop collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills.
Megan Huchko ’97
Megan is the Hollier Family Associate Professor of Global Health and Ob/Gyn and Director at Duke’s Center for Global Reproductive Health. Her research explores the use of digital health technologies improve cervical cancer screening, including mobile applications and AI-assisted technology to expand access to screening and diagnosis.
Mercy Nyamewaa Asiedu MS ’16, PhD ’19
Mercy is a research scientist with the Responsible AI team in Google Research, CA. Her research focuses on fair and robust machine learning applications for global health equity. She invented the Callascope, a device and mobile app for self-cervical cancer screening, and algorithms for cervical cancer risk assessment. She co-founded Calla Health Technologies and is a co-founder of GAPhealth, which aims to create accessible digital health solutions in Ghana and the Gambia.
Natalie Schneider MBA ’06
Natalie is founding CEO of Fort Health, a VC backed start-up reinventing child and adolescent mental health. A digital health innovator focused on access and quality of care for kids, she is former co-founder of patient platform Carevisor, lead of digital health for Samsung, and GM for Sharecare, Anthem, and McKinsey & Company.
Norma A. Padrón MA ’08
Norma is a Latina and first-gen economist and entrepreneur with a doctorate in health economics who founded EmpiricaLab—a company specializing in peer–to–peer training within healthcare organizations to accelerate digital transformation. She has over a decade of experience in the healthcare industry and has focused her career on the use of data analytics and technology to improve access and a better care experience for patients.
Olivia Klupar MBA ’18
Olivia is the CEO and co-founder of Voyij.com, a local e-commerce marketplace for travelers to connect with small businesses from their favorite travel towns and shop online (like Etsy, but for travel). Born and raised in family hospitality businesses in Alaska, Olivia is on a mission to share the joy of travel with others and support local businesses, artists, and communities.
Rachael Classi MBA ’14
Rachael is the Founder & CEO of Tiny Earth Toys, a startup to make quality learning materials more accessible and sustainable. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Durham.
Rachael Lau BSE ’20, MS ’22, PhD ’24
Rachael is the founder of the Kathmandu Geo Lab, a cross-disciplinary partnership between Duke and Tribhuvan University focused on understanding and mitigating earthquake hazard in Kathmandu. She is a 2022 Fulbright Fellow in Nepal and works with the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal on deep-seated landslide mitigation and education to make disaster education accessible.
Saumya Sao ’20
Saumya (she/they) is a clinical researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in Gynecology and Obstetrics. They are passionate about accessible education and healthcare for all. They co-founded and direct The Violet Project (violetproject.org), a nonprofit organization that serves youth throughout Maryland. Saumya hopes to pursue an MD/PhD and advocate for equitable access to care as a physician.
Shree Bose MD/PhD ’23
Shree was the first winner of the Google Global Science Fair. Her journey in science includes cofounding Piper, a company that creates STEM learning opportunities for students, and her PhD on how cancer cells adapt their metabolism to grow in different environments.
Snehal Verma MEM ’23
Snehal is co-founder of NatureDots, a hardtech startup tackling the problem of deteriorating water resources and climate-change impacts by creating a ‘digital twin’ of critical ecosystems and upscaling nature-based solutions. A trained computer science engineer-turned forester with an MBA, she is currently a Fulbright Fellow.
Sonali Sanjay BS ’24
Sonali, studying statistics at Duke, is the founder of Mil — an app to help combat loneliness and rising isolation rates among students on college campuses. Through spontaneous hangouts and meaningful, genuine connections, she hopes that her startup can help students find community around their shared interests.
Sue Harnett ’90, MHA ’92
Sue founded Rewriting the Code to disrupt the gender and racial inequality in the tech industry. Exponentially increasing peer communities of college and early career women to a global scale transforms women’s confidence and sense of belonging in tech. This new generation of powerful women engineers and leaders is changing the face of technology.
Sydney Hunt BSE ’23
Sydney is a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar studying electrical/computer engineering and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. She passionately commits herself to STEM retention/diversity through S.P.I.R.E., DTech, and Bass Connections. Sydney co-established the non-profit CS Sidekicks and will pursue a Ph.D. in EE/BME post-graduation.
Valencia Hochberg ’25
Valencia, a computer science student, created Zoom Across Borders, a language exchange program for high school and college students. The website pairs language learners with fluent speakers for weekly one-on-one video conversations, alternating the language each week to help both students practice and achieve second-language fluency.
Victoria Matthews MA ’22
Victoria is an AI Policy Specialist at Sony AI, where she works on global regulatory issues to make AI systems fair, accountable, and transparent. She is also the founder of Moral IT, an organization that tackles legal, ethical, and policy solutions for more responsible and inclusive technologies.