Women in Robotics Update: introducing our 2021 Board of Directors

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Women in Robotics is a grassroots community involving women from across the globe. Our mission is supporting women working in robotics and women who would like to work in robotics. We formed an official 501c3 non-profit organization in 2020 headquartered in Oakland California. We’d like to introduce our 2021 Board of Directors:

Andra Keay, Women in Robotics President
Managing Director at Silicon Valley Robotics | Visiting Scholar at CITRIS People and Robots Lab | Startup Advisor & Investor

Andra Keay founded Women in Robotics originally under the umbrella of Silicon Valley Robotics, the non-profit industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra’s background is in human-robot interaction and communication theory. She is a trained futurist, founder of the Robot Launch global startup competition, Robot Garden maker space, Women in Robotics and is a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, investors, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI. Andra speaks regularly at leading technology conferences, and is Secretary-General of the International Alliance of Robotics Associations. She is also a Visiting Scholar with the UC’s CITRIS People and Robots Research Group.

Allison Thackston
Roboticist, Software Engineer & Manager– Waymo

Allison Thackston is the Chair of Women in Robotics Website SubCommittee and CoChair of our New Chapter Formation SubCommittee. She is also a Founding Member of the ROS2 Technical Steering Committee. Prior to working at Waymo, she worked at Nuro and was the Manager of Shared Autonomy at Toyota Research Institute, and Principle Research Scientist Intelligent Manipulation. She has an MS in Robotics and MechEng from the University of Hawaii and a BS in EEng from Georgia Tech. With a passion for robots and robotic technologies, she brings energy, dedication, and smarts to all the challenges she faces. 

Ariel Anders
Roboticist – Robust.AI

Ariel Anders is a black feminist roboticist who enjoys spending time with her family and artistic self-expression. Anders is the first roboticist hired at Robust.AI, an early stage robotics startup building the world’s first industrial grade cognitive engine. Anders received a BS in Computer Engineering from UC Santa Cruz and her Doctorate in Computer Science from MIT, where she taught project-based collaborative robotics courses, developed an iOS app for people with vision impairment, and received a grant to install therapy lamps across campus. Her research focused on reliable robotic manipulation with the vision of enabling household helpers.

Cynthia Yeung
Robotics Executive & COO, Advisor, Speaker

Cynthia Yeung is the Chair of the Women in Robotics Mentoring Program SubCommittee, which will be piloting shortly. She is also a mentor and advisor to robotics companies, accelerators and venture capital firms, and speaks at leading technology conferences. Cynthia studied Entrepreneurship at Stanford, Systems Engineering at UPenn, and did a triple major at The Wharton School, UPenn, where she was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and a Joseph Wharton Scholar. She has led Strategic or International Partnerships at organizations like Google, Capital One and led Product Partnerships at SoftBank Robotics, Checkmate.io and was COO of CafeX. In her own words, “I practice radical candor. I build teams to make myself obsolete. I create value to better human society. I edit robotics research papers for love.”

Hallie Siegel
Associate Director, Strategy & Operations at University of Toronto

Hallie Siegel is the driving force behind the emerging robotics network in Canada, centered at the University of Toronto. She is a communications professional serving the technology, innovation and research sectors, specifically robotics, automation and AI. She has a Masters in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCADU, where she was Dean’s Scholar. Hallie was also the first Managing Editor at Robohub.org, the site for robotics news and views, after doing science communications for Raffaelo D’Andrea’s lab at ETH Zurich. In her spare time, she is a multidisciplinary artist, and Chair of the Women in Robotics Vision Workshops. 

Kerri Fetzer-Borelli
Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Community Engagement at Toyota Research Institute

Kerri Fetzer-Borelli is the CoChair for the Women in Robotics New Chapter Formation SubCommittee. They have worked as Scientific Data Collector for the military, as a Welder in nuclear power plants, and as the Manager of Autonomous Vehicle Testing, then Prototyping and Robotics Operations at Toyota Research Institute where they now lead DEI and Community Engagement. Kerri mobilizes cross functional teams to solve complex, abstract problems by distilling strategic, actionable items and workflows from big ideas.

Laura Stelzner
Robotics Software Engineer at RIOS

Laura Stelzner is the Chair of the Women in Robotics Community Management SubCommittee increasing activity and engagement in our online community. By day, she is in charge of software for emerging robotics startup RIOS which provides factory automation as a service, deploying AI powered and dexterous robots on factory assembly lines. Prior to RIOS, Laura worked at Toyota Research Institute, Space Systems Loral, Amazon Labs, Electric Movement and Raytheon. She has a BS in Computer Engineering from UC Santa Cruz and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford.

Laurie Linz, Women in Robotics Treasurer
Software Development Engineer in Test at Alteryx

Laurie Linz is the Women in Robotics Treasurer, as well as founder of the Boulder/Denver Colorado WiR Chapter. When not working as a software developer or QA tester, Laurie can be found with her hands on an Arduino, or a drone, or a camera. As she says, “I like to build things, break things and solve puzzles all day! Thankfully development and testing allows me to do that. Fred Brooks was right when he wrote that the programmer gains the “sheer joy of making things” and he talks of “castles in the air, from air” as we are only limited by the bounds of human imagination.”

Lisa Winter
Head of Hardware at Quartz

A roboticist since childhood, Lisa has over 20 years experience designing and building robots. She has competed in Robot Wars and BattleBots competitions since 1996, and is a current judge on BattleBots. She currently holds the position of Head of Hardware at Quartz, an early stage startup working on the future of construction. Her rugged hardware can be seen attached to tower cranes all around California. In her free time she likes to volunteer her prototyping skills to the Marine Mammal Center to aid in the rehab of hundreds of animals each year. She is a Founding Board Member of Women in Robotics and Chair of the Artwork/Swag SubCommittee.

Sue Keay, Women in Robotics Secretary
CEO at Queensland AI Hub and Chair of the Board of Directors of Robotics Australia Group

Currently CEO of Queensland AI Hub, after leading cyber-physical systems research for CSIRO’s Data61. Previously Sue set-up the world’s first robotic vision research centre. She led the development of Australia’s first robotics roadmap, the Robotics Australia Network and the Queensland Robotics Cluster. A Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, she founded and Chairs the Board of Robotics Australia Group. Sue also serves on the Boards of CRC ORE, Queensland AI Hub and represents Australia in the International Alliance of Robotics Associations.

With such a go-getting Board of Directors, you can be assured that Women in Robotics is preparing for an active 2021. As of 1/1/21, we had 1270 members in our online community, 900 additional newsletter subscribers, and six active chapters in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. All Women in Robotics events abide by our Code of Conduct and we offer it for use at any robotics event or conference.

Our focus for 2021 is on:

  • Project Inspire – our annual 30 women in robotics you need to know about list, plus regular updates, spotlights, and wikipedia pages for women in robotics.
  • Project Connect – forming new chapters, promoting our online community, and enjoying  regular member led activities and events, under a Code of Conduct.
  • Project Advance – piloting a mentoring program, providing educational resources for women in robotics, and improving accountability metrics in our workplaces.

We’d also like to thank our two Founding Board Members, Sabine Hauert and Sarah Osentoski who are leaving the WiR Board but who will be leading our new Women in Robotics Advisory Board, another new initiative for 2021. 

You can subscribe to our newsletter to keep updated on our activities, to sign up for our speaker database or volunteering opportunities, or to show your support as an ally. Please support our activities with a one off or recurring donation (tax deductible in the USA). 


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