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A Preview of the Heroes and Changemakers Who Will Be at Solve at MIT 2019

Solve at MIT 2019 (May 7-9) is nearly upon us. This annual flagship meeting of MIT Solve will convene over 500 prominent global leaders, 33 incredible tech entrepreneurs selected last Fall as Solver teams, and the MIT community around Solve’s mission to CrowdSolve the world’s most pressing problems. From tech for equality to investing in refugees and immigrant entrepreneurs, the five plenaries at Solve at MIT will dive into timely, pressing issues and solutions to make technology work for everyone.

We’ll livestream the plenary sessions on our website, Facebook and Twitter, and share live updates on our social channels over the course of those three days, so anyone around the world can tune in and join the conversation.

Here are just a few of the many inspiring speakers we’re excited to host at this year’s Solve at MIT:

  • Wendy Schmidt, President of the Schmidt Family Foundation, who has done incredible work catalyzing breakthrough solutions for climate change, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and marine technology. I am particularly inspired by her role in launching the research vessel Falkor in 2012, which has mapped a quarter of a million miles of ocean floor in high resolution detail and hosted more than 500 scientists from 92 countries in the pursuit of discovering new ocean ecosystems and species. Although oceans are the life support for our planet, we know more about the moon than we do about our oceans. Schmidt’s efforts to advance the frontiers of marine research can help to reverse human impact on ocean communities, mitigate the effects of climate change, and protect our planet for generations to come.
  • Neela Montgomery, CEO, Crate & Barrel, who shows us a rare example of a future that all businesses can aspire to: under Montgomery, 75 percent of senior leadership and 70 percent of retail associates at Crate & Barrel are women, and the company has thrived as one of the largest online retailers, an industry leader at the cutting edge of consumer analytics and marketing. I’m excited to hear from Montgomery on how she overcame barriers to become the CEO of a large corporation and how more companies can follow Crate & Barrel’s lead to ensure that women are heard, empowered, and represented in the workforce.
  • Tristan Harris, Founder, Center for Humane Technology. Called “the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by The Atlantic, this former Google design ethicist is known for sparking a viral international conversation to reform technology for the good of society. In a time where news of harm and damage brought by big tech companies is a daily occurrence, this issue is more important now than ever before. All of us at Solve are keen to hear Harris’ insights on how we can change the system and realign technology to be in service of humanity.
  • Ayah Bdeir, Founder and CEO of littleBits, who invented the electronic building block. As an immigrant and a female engineer and tech entrepreneur, she has been a vocal champion of human rights and social inclusion, and is undoubtedly a refreshing inspiration to the next generation of tech leaders. Bdeir's newly launched project Snap the Gap, funded by Disney, will tackle the gender gap in STEM by providing 1 million girls with the tools and opportunities they need to become scientists, engineers, and changemakers. I look forward to hearing from Bdeir on how we can ensure that the future of society is more equal and prosperous for all.
  • Lyla June, a musician, activist, and internationally recognized performance poet of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages. Her prayers and spoken word performances have given a voice for Indigenous rights and the critical need to protect and preserve the natural world. Her music video "All Nations Rise," which shared a message of hope and healing for the Water Protectors of Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline, has received over 2.8 million views on Facebook. We are thrilled that June will join us and perform at Solve at MIT.
  • Jade Hameister, a polar explorer who, at the age of 16, made history as the youngest person to complete the Polar Hat Trick—traversing the North Pole, South Pole, and Greenland ice sheet—shattering world records and the bounds of what girls can do. By sharing her first-hand experiences and accounts, Hameister aims to bring attention to the very real effects of climate change, urging leaders and people around the world to take action to preserve our planet. I am eager to hear more about Hameister’s journey, her advice for other girls, and what the future holds.
  • Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company, who has solidified Fast Company's place as the leading progressive business media brand. She has pushed a commitment to thoughtful coverage on what the future of business looks like, with cover stars such as Arlan Hamilton—the first black queer woman to start her own venture capital firm, which invests in startups led by women, minorities, and LGBTQIA founders—and progressive storytelling, like a photo essay on the first male cheerleaders in the NFL (the Los Angeles Rams) through the lens of social inclusion. We are thrilled that Mehta will moderate the opening plenary on Tech for Equality at Solve at MIT.

Click here to view all the speakers at Solve at MIT 2019.


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