Online Symposium

Keynote Speakers

Michele Elam

Michele Elam is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Humanities in the English Department at Stanford University, a Faculty Associate Director of the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, a Race & Technology Affiliate at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and a Faculty Affiliate at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. She is the former Director of African & African American Studies at Stanford. Elam’s research in interdisciplinary humanities connects literature, the social sciences, and STEM fields in order to examine changing cultural interpretations of gender and race. Her work is informed by the understanding that racial perception in particular impacts outcomes for health, wealth, and social justice. Her most recent scholarship focuses on humanities and arts as key crucibles through which to frame and address urgent social questions about equity in emergent technologies.


Lauren Ruffin

Lauren Ruffin is a thinker, designer, & leader interested in building strong, sustainable, anti-racist systems & organizations. She's into exploring how we can leverage new technologies to combat racial and economic injustice. Lauren is an Associate Professor of Worldbuilding and Visualizing Futures at Arizona State University and a co-founder of CRUX, an immersive storytelling cooperative that collaborates with Black artists as they create content in virtual reality and augmented reality (XR).  She also leads the Office of Movement Building at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), where she focuses on amplifying the stories and activism of the YBCA community. Prior to joining YBCA, Lauren was co-CEO of  Fractured Atlas, the largest association of independent artists in the United States. In 2017, she started Artist Campaign School, a new educational program that has trained 74 artists to run for political office to date. Lauren has served on the governing boards of Black Innovation Alliance, Black Girls Code, Open Collective, and Main Street Phoenix Cooperative, and on the advisory boards of ArtUp and Black Girl Ventures. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Political Science and obtained a J.D. from the Howard University School of Law.


Kamal Sinclair

Kamal Sinclair is the Senior Director of Digital Innovation at The Music Center. Additionally, she serves as an advisor or board member to Peabody Awards interactive Board, For Freedoms, NEW INC.’s ONX Studio, Civic Signals, MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality, and Eyebeam. Previously, she was the Director of Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program, External Advisor to Ford Foundation’s JustFilms and MacArthur Foundation's Journalism & Media ProgramAdjunct Professor at USC’s Media Arts + Practice program, and Executive Director of the Guild of Future Architects. She is the co-author of Making a New Reality. Sinclair got her start in emerging media as an artist and producer on Question Bridge: Black Males, where she and her collaborators launched a project with an interactive website and curriculum; published a book; exhibited in over sixty museums/festivals. 


Sydney Skybetter

Sydney Skybetter is a choreographer. Hailed by the Financial Times as “One of the world’s foremost thinkers on the intersection of dance and emerging technologies,” Sydney’s choreography has been performed at such venues as The Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow and The Joyce Theater. A sought-after speaker, he has lectured at SXSW, Yale, Mozilla, and Stanford, and consulted for The National Ballet of Canada, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Hasbro, New York University and The University of Southern California, among others. He is a Public Humanities Fellow, Senior Lecturer and the Associate Chair of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies at Brown University, and an affiliate of metaLAB at Harvard University and Dark Laboratory at Cornell University. He is a regular contributor to WIRED and Dance Magazine, has served as a Grant Panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, is a founding member of the Guild of Future Architects, and is the Founder of the Conference for Research on Choreographic Interfaces.


Omari Rush

Omari Rush engages the arts as a passion and profession, and in each mode enjoys discovery and deepening impacts. As executive director of CultureSource in Detroit, he advances efforts to have creative expression thrive in communities. His complementary civic service ranges from recently completing an appointment to the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (serving three governors, two as council chair) to currently being board chair of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and a board member of Arts Midwest in Minneapolis and the Lewis Prize for Music. Omari earned degrees in music from the University of Michigan and Florida State University and extended his love for learning by completing fellowships with the Salzburg Global Forum and Association of Performing Arts Professionals, by managing the K-12 education program of the University Musical Society (UMS), and by serving on research advisory committees for the National Endowment for the Arts and Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.