Check back soon for 2024 speakers!

We are still nailing down the details for our 2024 speakers – check back soon to learn more about the trailblazers who will be taking the Avant South stage! In the meantime, check out our 2023 presenters who rocked the house!

Past Presenters

Jonnie Bradley

US Department of Energy
Responsible AI Official

Anant Madabhushi

Emory University
Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Nashlie Sephus

CEO, Founder and AI Scientist
Bean Path

Donald Beamer

City of Atlanta
Senior Technology Advisor

Debra Lam

Partnership for Inclusive Innovation- Georgia Tech
Founding Executive Director

Brandon Butler


Artificial and Natural Intelligence Institute – University of Toulouse | Professor

César Hidalgo

César A. Hidalgo is a Chilean-Spanish-American scholar known for his contributions to economic complexity, data visualization, and applied artificial intelligence. Hidalgo leads the Center for Collective Learning at the Artificial and Natural Intelligence Institute (ANITI) of the University of Toulouse and at the Corvinus Institute for Advanced Studies (CIAS) at Corvinus University of Budapest. Until 2019, Hidalgo was an Associate Professor at MIT and the head of the Collective Learning group. Prior to joining MIT, Hidalgo was a research fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Hidalgo is also a founder of Datawheel, an award winning company specialized in the creation of data distribution and visualization systems. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor in Physics from Universidad Católica de Chile. Hidalgo’s contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2018 Lagrange Prize and three Webby Awards. Hidalgo’s is also the author of dozens of peer-reviewed papers and of three books: Why Information Grows (Basic Books, 2015), The Atlas of Economic Complexity (MIT Press, 2014), and How Humans Judge Machines (MIT Press, 2021).

Principal Architect, Responsible AI & Tech | Salesforce

Kathy Baxter

As a Principal Architect of Responsible AI & Tech at Salesforce, Kathy develops research-informed best practices to educate Salesforce employees, customers, and the industry on the development of responsible AI. She collaborates and partners with external AI and ethics experts to continuously evolve Salesforce policies, practices, and products.

Kathy is a member of Singapore’s Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data and a Visiting AI Fellow at NIST contributing to the AI Risk Management Framework. She is on the Board of EqualAI and periodically co-hosts their podcast, “In AI We Trust?” Since 2018, she has been involved with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Prior to Salesforce, she worked at Google, eBay, and Oracle in User Experience Research. She is the co-author of “Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Research Methodologies.” She received her MS in Engineering Psychology and BS in Applied Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Co-Creator of Siri | Humanistic AI

Tom Gruber

Tom Gruber is an innovator in technologies that augment human intelligence, individually and collectively. Applying ideas from Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Design, his work has explored how connecting people and machines can foster collaboration, learning, knowledge sharing, and getting things done.

Tom was co-founder and head of design for the company that created Siri, the intelligent personal assistant. Siri was started in 2008, launched in early 2010, and was quickly bought by Apple. Now an integral part of the latest Apple products, Siri represents a new mode of interaction with devices and the information services they can reach. At Apple for 8 years, Tom led the Advanced Development Group, which developed new capabilities for Siri and future products.

Throughout his career, Tom has explored the intersection of AI and the UI between humans and computers.  In the 1980’s he built AI models for communication prosthesis systems that gave voices to the speechless, and interfaces for experts to build their own expert systems.  At Stanford University he developed the first interactive documents on the web that generated natural language answers in response to questions about how things work.  His AI research, particularly ontology engineering, helped lay the groundwork for semantic information sharing and the Semantic Web.

He has created several products and companies that support human collaboration and knowledge sharing.

WABE 90.1 | Journalist

Rose Scott

Rose Scott is an award-winning journalist, host and executive producer of the midday news program “Closer Look with Rose Scott” heard on Atlanta’s NPR, station 90.1 FM – WABE.

In her role as a co-host and now host, Rose has interviewed foreign heads of states, cabinet members, U.S. ambassadors, numerous consul generals, state and local elected officials as well as civic and social leaders. Closer Look has become a signature broadcast for the Atlanta region and brings together viewpoints from all sectors of society.

She leads the “Closer Look” team in presenting discussions that center around quality of life issues and especially related to affordable housing, education, health/wellness, technology, transit/mobility & workforce development.

Well respected in the Atlanta community for her thought-provoking reporting style, Scott has been honored with various journalism awards including a Southeast Regional Emmy Award, Edward R. Murrow Awards, Atlanta Association of Black Journalists Award and numerous Georgia Association of Broadcaster awards. She has also received awards from the Georgia Associated Press and is a Girls Inc. Strong, Smart & Bold Award Winner.

Principal Research Associate | Georgia Institute of Technology

David Joyner

David Joyner is Executive Director of Online Education & OMSCS in Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. His research focuses on online education and learning at scale, especially as they intersect with for-credit offerings at the graduate and undergraduate levels. His emphasis is on designing learning experiences that leverage the opportunities of online learning to compensate for the loss of synchronous collocated class time. This includes leveraging artificial intelligence for student support and assignment evaluation, facilitating student communities in large online classes, and investigating strategies for maintainable and interactive presentation of online instructional material. As part of his work, Joyner teaches online versions of CS6460: Educational Technology, CS6750: Human-Computer Interaction, CS7637: Knowledge-Based AI, and CS1301: Introduction to Computing. He is also Chair of the Steering Committee for the ACM Learning @ Scale conference, as well as the General Chair for the 2019, 2020, and 2024 conferences.

Joyner has received several awards for his work, including the 2023 Georgia Tech Outstanding Professional Education Award, 2022 Georgia Tech College of Computing Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award, 2019 USG Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching, 2018 Georgia Tech Center for Teaching & Learning Curriculum Innovation Award, and the 2016 Georgia Tech College of Computing Lockheed Excellence in Teaching Award. He was also named to the Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s 40 Under 40 in 2022. Joyner’s first book on online education, The Distributed Classroom, was published in 2021 and co-authored by Charles Isbell; his second book, Teaching at Scale, was published in 2022.

President | Miami-Dade Innovation Authority

Leigh-Ann Buchanan

Leigh-Ann Buchanan is a founder, investor and advisor whose body of work explores how equity intersects with technology, innovation and social investment to transform communities. She leverages over 15+ years of experience as a DEI and social impact practitioner and attorney. Her projects have helped unlock over $75 million in funding to bridge opportunity and access for underrepresented communities.

The New York Times, Inc. Magazine, NPR, PBS, Bloomberg, the American Psychological Association, ABA Journal have featured her insights. Leigh-Ann is also the founder of Nyah Project, which has helped underrepresented students unlock over $20 million in scholarships, where 100% of fellows attending college and 95% winning scholarships. Leigh-Ann holds executive certificates from Harvard Business School, INSEAD and Columbia Business School as well as a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law.

Director | Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology

Gil Weinberg

Gil Weinberg is a professor and the founding director of Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, where he leads the Robotic Musicianship group. His research focuses on developing artificial creativity and musical expression for robots and augmented humans. Among his projects are a marimba playing robotic musician called Shimon that uses machine learning for Jazz improvisation, and a prosthetic robotic arm for amputees that restores and enhances human drumming abilities.
Weinberg presented his work worldwide in venues such as The Kennedy Center, The World Economic Forum, Ars Electronica, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Museum, SIGGRAPH, TED-Ed, DLD and others. His music was performed with Orchestras such as Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the National Irish Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish BBC Symphony while his research has been disseminated through numerous journal articles and patents. Dr. Weinberg received his MS and PhD degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and his BA from the interdisciplinary program for fostering excellence in Tel Aviv University.

HipHop2020 Innovation Archive, LMC | Asst Professor

Joycelyn Wilson

Joycelyn Wilson earned a BS in Mathematics and PhD in Educational Anthropology (University of Georgia). Her MA is in Curriculum and Instruction (Pepperdine University). Following a visiting professorship, she joined Georgia Tech in 2017 as an assistant professor in Black Media Studies to teach and continue research in hip hop studies and digital media. Her current scholarship examines hip hop as a cultural phenomenon, its preservation in the American South, and the capabilities of applying hip hop-inspired design methodologies to connect music and remix with education involving computing, engineering, technology, and media arts. Her writings appear in scholarly and popular publications, including the Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities, Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Journal for Mathematics Education, and The Bitter Southerner. Her book project is under contract with the University of Georgia Press. Wilson’s commentary has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and others, including the Times.