10 Inspiring Female Pioneers From PSFK’s PurpleList

10 Inspiring Female Pioneers From PSFK’s PurpleList

To celebrate International Women's Day 2018, we are highlighting some of the dynamic female pioneers PSFK has worked with over the years

  • 8 march 2018

Today is International Women’s Day, a day of celebration and protest that calls on communities around the world to advocate for a more gender-inclusive and equitable society. We’ve already taken a look at how brands are interacting with the day by creating special products, programs and campaigns to mark the occasion and give people opportunities to support related causes.

We also wanted to celebrate some of the dynamic female pioneers PSFK has worked with over the years, taken from our PurpleList of experts. Here is a selection of inspiring leaders across a range of industries, including retail, advertising and design:

Amber Case
Amber is a research affiliate for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act and understand their worlds. Amber will be on our stage at CXI 2018 on May 18 in NYC. Check out our recent interview with her on the future of chatbots.

Amber Case. Photo: Daniel Root

Juliana Rotich
Juliana is co-founder and executive director of Ushahidi, a technology non-profit established in Africa that develops free and open-source software for information collection, interactive mapping and data curation. Ushahidi builds tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories. Through, and accompanying mobile applications, Ushahidi is making crowdsourcing tools more available and useful.

Melissa Gonzalez
Melissa is the CEO and founder of The Lionesque Group, which has produced over 100 pop-up retail experiences in New York City, LA, Austin, Puerto Rico and the Hamptons. The Lionesque Group guides clients throughout the entire lifecycle of the pop-up experience. Melissa is a regular guest on ABC News Radio where she discusses retail and marketing trends. She is also the author of The Pop-Up Paradigm: Building Human Connections in a Digital Age. Melissa spoke on our Future of Retail 2018 panel.

Christina Agapakis
Christina is the creative director of Ginkgo Bioworks. She is a biologist, writer and artist interested in microbes and the future of biotechnology. She collaborates with engineers, designers, artists and social scientists to explore the many unexpected connections between microbiology, technology, art and popular culture. She also spoke at our PSFK 2017 conference—check out the full video!

Rana El Kaliouby
As a research scientist at MIT, Rana helped found the university’s Autism and Communication Initiative. Shifting from her focus on human-computer interaction to human-human communication, she worked with an MIT Media Lab team to pioneer the development of the “emotional hearing aid,” a set of emotion-detecting smart glasses. As a current contributor to facial expression recognition research and technology development—a subset of the facial recognition field targeting emotional cognizance—Rana leads the Emotional Science team as the chief science officer at Affectiva. Check out the full list of her accolades on the PurpleList page, and follow her on Twitter!

Nuala O’Connor
Nuala is the president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit working to advance democratic values in the digital world. She is an internationally recognized expert in internet and technology policy, particularly in the areas of privacy and information governance. Nuala is passionate about the ways technology and the Internet can be instruments of global free expression and individual freedom, and committed to finding policy solutions that affect real people. Check out her exclusive interview with PSFK and HP Matter here.

Robin Liss
Robin Liss is the CEO and co-founder of Suvie, a company that is building an IoT kitchen device that makes five-star meals with zero effort. Prior to creating Suvie, Robin was the president and CEO of, a consumer electronics, technology and home appliance product review media brand, which she sold to USA Today in 2011. Her experience with influences her approach to making smart home products. Robin will be on our stage at CXI 2018. Check out our recent interview with her here.

Clare Jones
Clare Jones is the Chief Commercial Officer for what3words, the world’s first addressing system designed for voice. By assigning every 3m x 3m square in the world with an address made of three words from the dictionary, people can give “3-word addresses” to route cars or to use as an address for online ordering. It is being used by governments globally as an official addressing system. She also spoke at our PSFK 2017 conference—be sure to watch the full video above.

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez is the technology development lead at CASIS (Center for Advancement of Science in Space), the organization that manages the International Space Station’s U.S. Laboratory to facilitate space-based research. Jennifer is also the founder and CEO of Wisenn & Company, a leading international consulting firm advising clients on social impact, open innovation and philanthropy. Jennifer is also an active philanthropist, raising capital and awareness around issues such as STEM education, economic empowerment, health and patient advocacy, and poverty alleviation.

Rachel Shechtman
Rachel is the founder of STORY, a retail space that “has the point of view of an editorial magazine, reinvents itself entirely every four to eight weeks like a gallery, and sells products like a store.” Rachel is using STORY to disrupt conventional retail by creating a multimedia experience for people visiting. Each “story” has a different theme and provides brands with an opportunity to interact with their consumers in a unique way. A longtime friend of PSFK, Rachel has taken to our stage many times and is a pioneer in progressive retail.

This is just a small selection of the amazing women featured on our PurpleList. For more inspiring stories, you can browse the full list here. Happy International Women’s Day!

Lead Image: Christina Agapakis

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