Elevating Impact 2017 Speakers

Elevating Impact Summit speakers are leading social entrepreneurs, storytellers, and industry experts. From ancient mythology to future technology, they will explore how we shape emergent industries and inventions with a lens on positive impact, and how lessons from the past help us navigate our rapidly changing world. 

Ross Baird
Founder and CEO of Village Capital, Ross has been developing and leading its programs worldwide since 2009. He previously worked with with First Light Ventures, a seed fund focused on impact investments. Prior to First Light, and on four education-related start-up ventures: the Indian School Finance Company in Hyderabad, India, the National College Advising Corps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and two ventures using technology to promote civic participation. He has a MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.
Jocelyn Brown 
As an undergraduate bioengineering student at Rice University, Jocelyn Brown invented the Pumani bCPAP, a low-cost respiratory device designed to help newborns in low-resource hospitals survive respiratory distress. In Malawi, Jocelyn evaluated the Pumani bCPAP and scaled it to all government hospitals in the country. As the Product Manager for Medical Devices at 3rd Stone Design, Jocelyn now works with partners in over 20 countries to provide a Pumani bCPAP that meets the needs of newborns around the world. She has been featured at the White House and in the New York Times, CNN, NPR, and Forbes’ “30 under 30.”

Cindy Cooper
As a social entrepreneur and intrapreneur, Cindy has been working to unleash the promise of business for social impact across business, academic and nonprofit sectors for nearly 20 years. In 2016 Cindy joined Koopman Ostbo as the company’s first Marketing and Impact Officer, after co-founding Portland State University’s (PSU) Impact Entrepreneurs program and its Social Innovation Incubator, co-founding Speak Shop, and consulting with Net Impact, The Three Guineas Fund, Ashoka Changemakers, Meyer Memorial Trust, Nike and hundreds of change agents. 


Carol Dahl
As Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation, Dr. Carol Dahl inspires and enables the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises. The Foundation promotes economic growth and addresses critical challenges in the U.S. and in developing countries by focusing on Impact Inventing, and creation of products and businesses that are financially self-sustaining. Previously, Dahl worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin.
Jay Harman
A naturalist, inventor, and entrepreneur, Jay takes a hands-on approach to his lifelong fascination with natural fluid systems. His series of successful biomimicry companies include PAX Scientific and its subsidiaries. With its high-efficiency fans, mixers, pumps, refrigeration, and distillation systems, all based on nature’s methods for streamlining fluid flow, PAX shows manufacturing industries that nature-inspired equipment is profitable for both shareholders and the environment. Jay is an adjunct professor at Curtin University in Australia, and an Invention Ambassador for the AAAS and Lemelson Foundation.

Kazi Huque
Kazi is the CEO of Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd. With 14+ years of experience with Intel Corporation as a Finance Controller, he was tasked in 2009 to form the Grameen Intel company. He established the company in partnership with Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus with the goal of using venture capital to focus on software solutions to address poverty related issues. The software developed by the company focuses on information technology needs in the areas of agriculture, healthcare and education. Kazi Huque has a B.A. in applied mathematics, computer science and an MBA from the University of Rochester.

Anis Mojgani
Anis is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and multiple-time TEDx Speaker. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of such journals as Rattle, Forklift Ohio, Paper Darts, and Thrush. Anis is the author of four Write Bloody books: Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, Over the Anvil We Stretch, and his latest, The Pocketknife Bible, a fully illustrated poetry-novella. Originally from New Orleans, he currently lives in Portland OR. 

Sergio Palleroni
Sergio is an architect, professor, and Founder of the BaSiC initiative and of the Portland State University Center for Public Interest Design. His projects demonstrate how architecture and design build community and contribute to the cause of solving urgent social problems. Palleroni has worked and been a consultant on sustainable architecture and development in the developing world since the 1970s both for not-for-profit agencies and for governmental and international agencies such as UNESCO, the World Bank, and the governments of China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Taiwan.

Vidya Spandana
Vidya is a founder of New Knowledge, a machine intelligence company with predictive technology, a former the Presidential Innovation Fellow at the White House, a renowned speaker at forums such as The American Council for Technology & Industry Advisory Council, TEDxPDX, and Tech Fest North West, a mentor and advisor at various early-stage venture firms and startup accelerators such as Jaguar Land Rover Tech Incubator, Nike+AcceleratorTechStars, and Astia, and a founder of The Flow Collective, and a co-founder of DMV.org. She is also a co-host of Partially Derivative, the surprisingly popular podcast for data nerds.
Vishnu Swaminathan 
Vishnu leads Ashoka’s South Asia’s efforts to create an "Everyone a Changemaker" world—one where each person has the skills, drive, and resources to push forward solutions to pressing social and environmental problems, and each organization works to maximize the changemaking potential of its members. He is also Director of Ashoka’s housing for All program. Vishnu has been working with Ashoka for more than 14 years, He started career as a 3D and Film Special effects artist, holds a couple of patents from his ventures, and has worked on a wide range of hybrid business models, technologies, innovations, communities and geographies.
Riva-Melissa Tez
Riva is Managing Partner at Permutation Ventures, a research-led investment team focused on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Riva founded Berlin Singularity -- a discussion group focused on emerging technology in mainland Europe, and Kardashev Communications, which supports early stage biotech companies. When Riva was 18, she established a retail business in London, which still stands today. She has held teaching positions at the DAB and HTW Business Schools and has guest-lectured at Oxford, Birkbeck and Stanford. Riva writes about artificial intelligence, finance and philosophy and represented machine learning in a 2016 Microsoft campaign for The Economist.
Evan Thomas 
Evan is an Associate Professor and Director of the Sweet (Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies) Laboratory, and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University. Evan’s research and teaching interests include developing sustainable life support systems for spacecraft and the developing world. Evan is also a social enterprise executive as the founding Executive Vice President of Manna Energy Limited. Prior to joining PSU, Evan worked as a civil servant at the NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for six years. At NASA, Evan was a principal investigator and project manager in the Life Support and Habitability Systems Branch working on concepts for sustainable Moon and Mars spacecraft.