2021 Kessler Foundation Virtual Symposium

2021 Kessler Foundation Virtual Symposium

Our 2nd virtual symposium continued our discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world of work for people with disabilities. As recent advances in AI streamline the hiring and onboarding process for employers, these tools are becoming more popular in screening applications and evaluating job candidates. Data sets used to develop AI learning, such as facial recognition, employment history, trait testing, and gaming often do not include the experience of people with disabilities and other marginalized populations, leading to bias in hiring practices. Our expert panel will cover understanding and planning for the risks and opportunities that AI technology brings to the users, job types most affected by AI, and how to prepare and use this technology successfully for online interviews and accommodations. Whether you are a job-seeker or a professional working within the employment and disability field, this webinar will help you navigate the new AI employment landscape.

Check out our first symposium on artificial intelligence and employment "Implications of Artificial Intelligence on Employment for Individuals with Disabilities" at KesslerFoundation.org/2020-grantee-symposium

Recorded virtually on Tuesday, March 16, 2021

View transcript

  • Elaine Katz - Senior Vice President of Grants and Communications at Kessler FoundationElaine E. Katz, is Senior Vice President of Grants and Communications.Elaine Katz oversees Kessler Foundation’s comprehensive grant making program and its communications department. During her tenure, the Foundation has awarded more than $49 million in grant support for national and community-based employment programs. For more than 25 years, Katz has worked with non-profit organizations in the areas of board development, fundraising, marketing, and business development. Katz often speaks about innovative practices for employing people with disabilities, and is the author/co-author of articles and papers on related topics. She currently serves on the board of directors of JESPY House, New Jersey Association of People Supporting Employment First (NJAPSE), Essex/Newark Disabilities Issues Committee, and on the program committee of the Council of NJ Grantmakers. Elaine served as a member of the Human and Children Services Transition Advisory Committee for Governor-elect Phil Murphy. She is also an appointed member of Empower NYC Advisory Board, Workforce Matters National Steering Committee, ReelAbilities NY Advisory & Council, ReelAbilities 2019 Selection Committee and the NJ Veterans and Community Collaborative Network (VCCN).
  • Debra RuthDebra Ruh is a Global Disability Inclusion Strategist, Market Influencer, internationally recognized keynote speaker, published author, branding expert, successful entrepreneur, and an exceptional mother. Debra is host of a popular program: Human Potential at Work (Audience in 92 countries and 113 Regions). She is also an author of three books, Inclusion Branding (available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Voice via Audible), Tapping into Hidden Human Capital and Finding Your Voice Using Social Media. Debra is a recognized global influencer, frequently interviewed by various media outlets and she has gathered a significant presence on many social media platforms, with over 400,000+ followers across all mediums. Co-founder of the award winning #AXSChat one of the world’s largest tweet chats with over 8 billion+ tweets.
  • Heather DowdyHeather Dowdy,currently leads Partner Strategy for the Microsoft AI for Accessibility grant program. Heather is responsible for nurturing the growing number of global partnerships with startups, researchers, and NGOs and providing grantees with resources to scale the impact of technology for people with disabilities. With fifteen years of experience developing and demonstrating accessible technology in mobile, web and artificial intelligence, Heather Dowdy is passionate about connecting the dots across disability, race, and tech. As the oldest daughter of Deaf parents, Heather is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). She loves using the design thinking process to create solutions that empower marginalized communities and improve usability for everyone. A strong believer in empowering communities through education and benevolence, Heather is the co-founder of Microsoft Ninja Camp and a Board member of deaf kids CODE, providing STEM leadership training to high school students with disabilities.


  • Neil MillikenNeil Milliken is Global Head of Accessibility at Atos, an invited expert for the W3C Cognitive Accessibility Taskforce, member of the Atos Scientific Community & Atos Distinguished Expert . He is co-founder of AXSChat Europe’s largest twitter chat with a focus on Accessibility & Inclusion. Neil is a member of the Board of Directors for World Institute on Disability, Non Exec Chair of the Board at Genius Within & Chair of the Diversity Board for Institute of Coding. Neil was named in the top ten of the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list in 2018 and was named D&I practitioner of the year in the 2019 Disability Smart Awards. Neil is dyslexic and has ADHD, he advocates for people with neurodivergent conditions as well as other disabilities and additional needs.
  • Frances WestFrances West is an internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, strategy advisor, and women-in-technology executive known for her work in innovation, technology, and business transformation. Her human-first approach to leadership and focuses on digital inclusion come from her journey as a first-generation, non-English speaking immigrant and her career as a technology executive including IBM's first Chief Accessibility Officer. Frances is an appointed faculty instructor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in Boston in recognition of her work in accessibility, research, and digital inclusion. She is author of "Authentic Inclusion™ Drives Disruptive Innovation" and founder of FrancesWestCo, a global strategy advisory company focused on operationalizing inclusion as a business and technology imperative.

About Kessler Foundation Virtual Symposium Celebrating 15 years, our symposium series creates opportunities for Kessler Foundation grantees, thought leaders, and other professionals working in the disability employment field to learn, meet and exchange ideas on current disability employment innovations and issues.

For more information contact: [email protected]