Women in Data - A Special Event on Monday, September 23rd

Data Innovation DC is excited to bring you a very special event: Women in Data.  As many Meetup.com members may have noticed, tech-oriented events, including many offered by Data Community DC, tend to have male-dominated audiences. While much has been said about this imbalance in the traditional STEM fields and computer science, not much discussion has occurred in the burgeoning area of data science but there is clearly a need.gender This state of affairs is especially unfortunate as a number of the "feeder" fields--areas of traditional academic focus that provide a great foundation for data science--have near equal numbers of men and women (or even more women). Thus, unlike computer science, there are a ton of talented female practitioners already practicing what many would consider data science but they are not using the name.  Imagine how much stronger our growing data community could be if this group of women that are currently consultants, analysts, economists, epidemiologists, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists and many more, joined our ranks.

Keeping focused on the solution, Data Innovation DC felt that if we showcased the very impressive data-related accomplishments of three current data practitioners who just happen to be women, we could attract more women to our MeetUp and entreat them to join and improve our community.

The event will take place Monday, the 23rd of September at the fantastic office of Cooley LLP at 1299 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC (very metro accessible). The event will start at 6pm with some food and drink and networking with speakers starting close to 7pm. A list of speakers follows and more event details are here; if you have any thoughts or comments, please post them below.


Dr. Jane L. Snowdon is Director and Chief Innovation Officer for IBM U. S. Federal Government in Washington D.C.  She has responsibility for defining and driving strategy, and designing new solutions that address client mission requirements through innovation and technology adoption.

Prior to this role, Jane was a Senior Manager and Research Staff Member in the Department of Strategy and Worldwide Technical Operations at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY.  She was responsible for jointly leading the direction of IBM’s overall Research strategy across twelve global labs and the 2013 Global Technology Outlook.

Jane has been a leader in IBM for developing strategies and driving research efforts worldwide to create innovative solutions for smarter buildings as part of IBM’s Smarter City initiative for which she received an IBM Research Division Outstanding Technical Achievement Award.  Jane was instrumental in defining a partnership with Columbia, CUNY, and NYU for research collaboration, which was announced by Mayor Bloomberg, to help address New York City’s energy challenges.  She initiated and successfully completed two projects on energy analytics for large portfolios of buildings with 1,200 K-12 public schools in a major city and a university campus of 60 buildings covering a combined 150 million square feet.

Dr. Marie desJardins is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2001. Her research is in artificial intelligence, focusing on the areas of machine learning, multi-agent systems, planning, interactive AI techniques, information management, reasoning with uncertainty, and decision theory.

Dr. desJardins received her Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research focused on developing techniques to allow autonomous agents to learn useful models of their environments without being supervised by a human designer. From 1991-2001, she was a member of the research staff at SRI International in Menlo Park, California.

Dr. desJardins has published over 100 scientific papers in journals, conferences, and workshops. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research and the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, a member of the editorial board of AI Magazine, and the Program Cochair for AAAI-13. She is an ACM Distinguished Member and a AAAI Senior Member.

Dr. desJardins is active in teaching, mentoring, and advising students. She was named one of UMBC's ten "Professors Not to Miss" in 2011, and is regularly sought out to give invited talks to student groups. She has been involved with the AAAI/SIGART Doctoral Consortium as chair, co-chair, mentor, and/or reviewer from 2001-2012. She has advised 11 Ph.D. students (10 to completion), 25 M.S. students (22 to completion), over 50 undergraduate researchers, and four high school student interns.

Melinda Wittstock is a serial entrepreneur, media-tech executive, ‘recovering’ journalist and evangelist on all things data-driven, mobile and social. Her passion is cracking the code of 'what' and 'who' you can trust in the fast-flowing torrent of social data. Melinda is replicating with algorithms and processes what she did as an award-winning investigative journalist to be first and right: Verifeed is all about detecting patterns to put data in context, qualifying source reputation and filtering for relevance and impact.  She began her quest by founding NewsiT, which has grown from its original vision as a crowd-sourcing mobile app into the ever more sophisticated Verifeed social intelligence platform for filtering real-time insights, actionable information and credible influencers.

MW web photo smiling 2 compressedMelinda thrives on putting the seemingly impossible into practice, a trait first recognized by her grandmother who called her “disruptive” at age 5 when she knocked on doors to secure $100 in pre-payments for her first business. Over the years since she’s developed interactive websites and tools, driven ratings and traffic, created award-winning content, developed new models for news and content creation, managed teams large and small, sold content and advertising, and won awards for her print and broadcast journalism. At 22 she was busy breaking big stories as a business and media correspondent of the Times of London, and never looked back – whether anchoring, producing or creating programming for Financial Times/CNBC Europe, BBC World TV, and ABC World News Now. In 2002, she launched Capitol News Connection, an award-winning independent production company supplying public radio stations, TV outlets and newspapers with ‘localized’ news from Congress. Melinda is also a mom of two great young kids (and a golden retriever) and she’s become an acolyte of what can only be described as the agile methodology of ‘work-life’ integration.

You can also find her on LinkedIn Twitter @NewsiTnews | @veriate and Facebook