Say “Hi” to Our Mentors and Technical Experts!
In our effort to support communities working to close the digital divide on both national and regional scales, the Digital Equity Accelerator relies on a diverse network of industry leaders, who help our cohort further unlock their potential for impact.
The “digital divide” refers to the gap between those who have access to affordable and reliable internet and technology and those who do not. Providing marginalized communities with equitable access is critical, as the digital divide is linked to poor social outcomes, low literacy and income levels, fewer job opportunities, and lower educational outcomes. Notably, it also exacerbates existing racial and social inequities.
Our aim might be lofty, but our approach is simple – advance digital equity by helping local nonprofits scale projects promoting education, healthcare, and economic opportunity through digital innovation. We provide a robust 4-month program where cohort members receive training in a diverse array of topics: leadership models, diversification of revenue streams, sales persona development, user experience, product development, metrics and evaluation, marketing and branding, and organizational management. They also learn from business leaders and receive 1-on-1 guidance – in addition to funding support and technology access.
Achieving our goals requires engaging leaders from around the world with specialties in everything from building social impact startups to reimagining the nonprofit sector. This network includes our Advisory Council, which provides strategic guidance on the Accelerator’s mission as well as opportunities for our cohort members to continue growing their projects, even beyond their time with us.
It also includes two additional groups of leaders, who offer advice, professional guidance, feedback, and collaborative learning: Mentors and Technical Experts. These brilliant individuals have been working behind the scenes to make this program a success, and we’re excited to introduce you to them. Mentors – matched 1-on-1 with cohort members – serve as the primary touchpoint for advice on a variety of topics covered by the Accelerator, and they support mentees in preparing, presenting, and fine-tuning their digital equity project solutions. Technical Experts act as consultants, offering the cohort advice based on their specific professional experience.
Check out the folks lending their knowledge to the Accelerator in these roles, and join us in offering everyone a warm “hello”!
Get to Know the Mentors
As CEO of the innovation lab happy smala, Eric Asmar advises companies, NGOs, IOs, and public institutions on issues of innovation, digitalization, economic empowerment, and impact measurement. Eric has launched numerous award-winning financial technology startups, including Morocco’s first crowdfunding platforms. He also collaborates with numerous startup support programs as a mentor, trainer, and jury member.
Jennifer Atala – Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Homeland Security
Jennifer Atala is the Founder of Inara Strategies, a Global Impact Strategy Consultancy with whom she led the design and launch of the Digital Equity Accelerator, for which she now proudly serves as a Mentor. Since 2014, Inara has designed and led initiatives and negotiations for government-funded projects and companies in North America and the Middle East. Jennifer currently serves as a Senior Policy Advisor with the US government.
Dr. Karima Ladhani – Founder & CEO, Barakat Bundle
Dr. Karima Ladhani is an innovation and strategy consultant, social entrepreneur, investor, and leadership coach. She is the founder and CEO of Barakat Bundle and Giving Cradle; Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown McDonough School of Business; Venture Partner at Republic; Visiting Scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and an entrepreneurship coach with TSAI Center for Innovation at Yale, Next Health Accelerator, Camelback Ventures, and Builders + Backers.
Adam Motiwala – Product Manager, Google
As Product Manager at Google, Adam Motiwala sits in the middle of creative storytelling, product and service innovation, and marketing. He currently leads a project to help AARP reach 10 million low-income seniors learn about and apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and property tax credits. He is also exploring creating a technology boot camp school for homeless and disadvantaged citizens.
Kasem Rodriguez Mohsen – Founder & CEO, Bustelo Group
Kasem Rodriguez Mohsen is a Founding Partner at Equilibrium Impact Ventures, a firm that designs and manages experimental funding vehicles to support sustainable social impact and that allocates 100% of its investments to underestimated entrepreneurs. Kasem is also the Founder and CEO of Bustelo Group, a conglomerate of entities focused on supporting Black, Brown, and women entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship, community-building, education, network amplification, and investment.
Laura Walker-McDonald – Senior Advisor for Digital Technology and Data Protection, International Committee of the Red Cross
As Senior Advisor for Digital Technology and Data Protection at the International Committee of the Red Cross, Laura Walker-McDonald works to understand evolving new technologies and implications for humanitarian aid and the conduct of hostilities. In particular, she focuses on the potential impact on the protection of affected populations and humanitarian organizations, as well as new types of digital risks, such as cyber-security, mis- and disinformation, and hate speech.
Khuram Zaman – CEO, Fifth Tribe
Khuram Zaman is the CEO of Fifth Tribe, a product and software development firm serving the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, where he co-teaches “Launching Entrepreneurial Ventures.” He has provided consulting services to clients as diverse as Silatech, Kaiser Permanente, Oxfam America, the Department of Defense, Ernst and Young, and The Hult Prize.
Get to Know the Technical Experts
Oussama Abdellah Benhmida – Product Manager, Lab4Net SARL
Oussama Abdellah Benhmida has spent the last 14 years helping people and organizations make a deeper impact by building human-centered digital products to serve their clients and communities. He is a software engineer, product builder, and certified Scrum Master with significant experience managing technical teams and products remotely.
Iskrena Bliznakova – Talent Acquisition Manager, HP Inc.
An experienced HR professional, Iskrena Bliznakova has built a career in recruiting leadership, workforce management, process management and optimization, HR consulting, and more. She has an extensive regional and global program management background, as well as demonstrated success in building recruitment strategies.
Jose Castejon – VP of Finance Controller, HP Inc.
Jose Castejon is the Vice President of Finance for Market Controller at HP Inc., where he manages a global team across more than 30 locations around the world. Jose has extensive finance and operations experience in the technology industry.
Deborani Duttagupta – UX Design Lead of Omen Gaming and Oasis Live, HP Inc.
As a User Experience Design Lead at HP, Deborani Duttagupta has built a specialty in building consumer technology products. She has been with HP since 2008.
Vishnu G Venkatesh – Head of Corporate Financial Reporting, HP Inc.
Vishnu G Venkatesh is responsible for consolidated accounting and financial reporting at HP. He leads a team of more than 80 accounting and finance professionals, whose responsibilities include revenue recognition and technical accounting, mergers and acquisitions accounting and policies, executive management reporting and consolidation, and legal entity accounting.
Joey Gardea – Director of XR Engineering, HP Inc.
Joey Gardea has been with HP for 26 years, where he currently builds and leads the extended reality engineering to bring to market both hardware and software platforms.
Jag Gill – Co-Founder & CEO, Vertru Technologies
Jag Gill is a Founder and Chief Executive Officer with over 15 years of global leadership, strategy, technology, and finance expertise across multinational corporations, start-ups, and nonprofits. She has a track-record of founding and leading early-stage software companies, from back-of-napkin concepts to enterprise-grade software products licensed by the world’s largest industry players. Jag is part of the 1% of elite founders that have raised venture capital as a woman of color.
Xing Liu is a research scientist with HP, where she studies image processing as well as computer vision and their applications in intelligent systems. Previously, she was a Visiting Researcher with Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea, focusing on pattern recognition.
Mara Lucini – Director of EMEA Talent Acquisition, HP Inc.
As Talent Acquisition Director in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Mara Lucini has been leading the HP’s Talent Acquisition Organization since 2015, steering the company’s recruitment strategy across more than 35 countries. With over 20 years of experience in the high-tech industry, Mara manages the entire recruitment lifecycle, from workforce planning to mobility/relocation, internal and external hiring, university programs, social media, and employer branding.
Judy March – Manager of DEI Strategy & Operations, HP Inc.
Judy March is the Strategy & Operations Manager for HP’s Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion team. She leads and collaborates with the People Organization and HP’s businesses and functions to create strategic initiatives that promote and amplify diversity, equity, and inclusion. Judy also serves as the Racial Equality and Social Justice Taskforce PMO lead.
Prerna Mukharya – Founder, Outline India
Prerna Mukharya is the Founder of Outline India, a for-profit social enterprise that works to create social impact through data across 28 states, covering 50,000+ villages with over 5.5 million stakeholders. She is currently setting up PeoplePulse.tech, a data on-demand-platform that seeks to Uber-ize data collection.
Anju Sharma – Manager of Virtual Agents for Customer Service, HP Inc.
Anju Sharma has been leading teams and high-impact global technology solutions from concept to delivery and operations for over 15 years. As Manager of Customer Service and Support, Anju manages HP’s Customer Support AI chatbot, which engages millions of customers each month.
Alexandra Talleur – Manager of Internal Communications for Sustainable Impact, HP Inc.
As the Internal Communications Manager for Sustainable Impact, Alexandra Talleur focuses on empowering employees to help drive HP’s strategy and communicating with key internal stakeholders. Over the course of her career, she has worked in nonprofit communications and public relations agencies, always with a focus on sustainability and social impact.
Zaid Zaid – Head of U.S. Public Policy, Cloudflare
Zaid A. Zaid is the Head of U.S. Public Policy at Cloudflare. He has 20 years of experience in tech, policy, law, foreign affairs, national security, and international development. Previously, Zaid was the Head of North America for Strategic Response Policy at Meta, and he served on the Biden/Harris Transition on the Agency Review Teams for the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.