Tech Entrepreneurs with Disabilities: Focusing on Differences not Deficits

10/13/2021 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm CST Virtual
  • Corporate
  • Early Stage
  • Growth Stage
Event Start Date:
April 13, 2024
Event End Date:
April 13, 2024
Event Venue:

The U.S. counts more than 60 million adults with disabilities, 60% of whom are financially vulnerable, according to our panelist from 2Gether. 

Who can possibly be a better innovator for the neurodiverse than a person who has a disability and understands the barriers in this world? Meet our savvy panelists who have launched and advocated for a new landscape of disability inclusion. Whether it is through a focused accelerator or a technology product, they are building a path towards greater participation by the disabled in the tech ecosystem.  

Join our panel as we explore:

  • The tech entrepreneurship ecosystem for people with disabilities

  • Barriers and challenges to being a founder with disabilities

  • How you can be an ally

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Moderator: Shireen Hafeez, Founder & President Deaf Kids CODE

Shireen Hafeez launched Deaf Kids CODE into the diversity and inclusion arena because of her own personal story of being a mother of a child who is deaf. Her passion to help children led to more than 12 years of experience creating, accelerating a national outreach nonprofit organization. She has been delivering diversity, learning, and inclusion projects, programs, and relationships with public and private institutions.

Panelist: Maureen Dunne, Ph.D. Co-Founder/Managing Partner of the Autism Angels Group

Dr. Maureen Dunne has lectured on neurodiversity, entrepreneurship, and innovation at the local, national, and international level. A former National Science Foundation Fellow, Kauffman Entrepreneurship Fellow and Women 2.0 “Founder to Watch,” Maureen has deep industry and clinical expertise with a particular passion for healthcare and education technology companies that embrace inclusive and neurodiverse teams. Dr. Dunne is the co-founder and managing partner of the Autism Angels Group, the first social impact investment association and accelerator program specifically focused on neurodiversity. 

Panelist: Diego Mariscal, CEO & Chief Disabled Person at 2Gether-International

Diego Mariscal believe’s people with disabilities have to figure out how to solve problems all the time. We have to figure out how to get dressed, how to drive, how to communicate. We figure out how to live in a world that is not built to fit our needs. 2Gether-International harnesses the innate entrepreneurship skills of people with disabilities to help them succeed in the workforce.

Panelist: Yamillet Payano, Co-Founder of Sign-Speak Inc.

Yamillet (Yami) Payano, a first-generation Afro-Latina, is currently Sign-Speak’s Chief Operating Officer. Sign-Speak is a real-time AI Sign Language recognition software that allows for sign language to be translated into English, and vice versa. She obtained her BS in Economics and Mathematics with a Minor in Mandarin through her Gates Millennium Scholarship at American University. At American University she launched and managed the Cross-Campus Organizing Network, a non-profit movement that managed more than 100 volunteers that advocated for immigration policy reform. 

Panelist: John Samuel, Co-Founder & CEO Ablr

At Ablr, John focuses on helping organizations be more inclusive by removing the barriers that have hindered people with disabilities from accessing education, retail, entertainment, and employment. John’s passion for his work is very personal as he is blind and wants to make sure the obstacles he has faced are removed for others. Over the past 15 years, John has held leadership roles domestically and internationally. While launching and serving as the CEO for Aster Cameroon, a global telecom infrastructure Joint Venture, he built a $45 million business bringing internet access across Africa. Afterward, he became an early member of Homestrings, a USAID backed crowdfunding platform, where he helped raise capital for startups in emerging markets.