Meet Our Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Darren Hood

Senior Staff UX Designer, BD | Adjunct Professor

Hood holds over 27 years of experience in UX. His professional footprint spans:  Ford Motor Company, General Motors, DigitasLBi, MRM/McCann, Wunderman Digital, Bosch, Ryder, Cengage Learning, USA Networks, etc. He currently serves as a Senior Staff UX Designer, BD, as an adjunct professor for Kent State University, Brandeis University, and UCLA, and leads UX workshops in Detroit and Grand Rapids. His The World of UX podcast is available through a host of popular sources.

Dr. Ron Eglash

Professor, School of Information and Stamps School of Art & Design, UM

Dr. Eglash is a Professor at the School of Information and the Stamps School of Art and Design. His research includes heritage algorithms from Indigenous design, technology for generative justice, and decolonial approaches to AI and automation. His book African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design became a TED talk with over 1.5 million views; a simulation used in math and computing education; and a broad influence in Black studies.

Dr. Serena Rosenhan

VP User Experience, ProQuest

Dr. Rosenhan developed a passion for understanding users while studying technical communication and earning her PhD in rhetoric.  This interest translated to a 23-year career of advocating for users and building UX practices in both manufacturing and information industries.  At ProQuest she focuses on increasing the capabilities of the UX practitioners on her team, advocating design thinking and user centered practices, and positioning UX as an indispensable strategic advantage.  And even after two decades doing the work, her favorite thing to do is spend time observing and listening to users.

Keith Instone

 Research Analyst, Stratascale & OhioX UX Roundtable Leader

Instone has divided his 30-year career over academia (HCI researcher), industry (IBM), and consulting. He has been active in various UX communities, including Michigan UXPA, UXnet, and SIGCHI, where one theme has been connecting UX industry and academia. He is currently an analyst who helps enterprises understand the role emerging technology can play in their digital experiences.

Guest Speakers

Dr. Elliot Soloway

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UM

Dr. Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. 40 years ago as an AI researcher, he was drawn to the challenge of how to make computers learn. But, after the birth of his first child, he had an epiphany: Making children smarter would be a much better use of his time than making computers smarter. This inspired him to stop doing AI research altogether and start working on educational technology. 

Megan Torrance

CEO and Founder, TorranceLearning

Torrance is the CEO and founder of TorranceLearning and has over 25 years of experience in learning design, deployment, and consulting. She and the TorranceLearning team are passionate about sharing what works, so they devote much time to transmitting professional development in her field. Torrance is the author of Agile for Instructional Designers, Data & Analytics for Instructional Designers, and Making Sense of xAPI. She is also a Facilitator with eCornell's Women's Executive Leadership certificate, and courses in virtual teaming, team leadership, and communication.

Dr. Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

Professor, The Stephen M. Ross School of Business, UM

Dr. Sanchez-Burks is a Behavioral Scientist and the William Russell Kelly Professor of Business Administration at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. His research broadly focuses on social dynamics that shape strategic change and the design of human-centric innovations. Through this work, he has generated novel insights about how culture shapes work behavior, how context moderates social intelligence and emotional aperture, and approaches to facilitating mental bricolage that enable individuals to generate novel innovations using disparate knowledge they already possess.

Andy Vitale

Executive Vice President, Design, Rocket Companies

Vitale is the Executive Vice President of Design at Rocket Companies, where he leads a team focused on transforming the lending experience for millions of people who want to buy or refinance a home, as well as professional partners across the lending and real estate spectrum. Throughout his career, Andy has built, scaled, and led world-class design teams that elevate the role of design as an organizational competence and a competitive advantage. His experience ranges from startups to Fortune 500 companies spanning the fintech, health, technology, and eCommerce industries. 

Matthew Martin

Product Designer, ITHAKA

Matthew is a Product Designer ITHAKA Ann Arbor. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, I have had the privilege of working with a diverse range of clients, including small startups, large corporations, and libraries from all over the world. What excites him the most about design is creating solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of people for the right reasons.  When he is not designing, you can find him at one of the skateparks in Michigan.

Jodi Bollaert

Senior UX Researcher Lead, Amazon

Bollaert is a native Michigander who has worked for the last 25+ years in areas that include coupon editing, e-learning, information architecture, UX design and most recently, UX research at Amazon. She is the leader of Detroit UX, a community-centered Meetup (since 2013) focused on supporting others in their UX careers through networking, mentoring and leadership opportunities.  Her experience includes work in the automotive, advertising and e-commerce industries. 

Julie Akin

Senior UX/Web Designer, The Stephen M. Ross School of Business, UM

Julie is the lead UX & Web Designer in the Marketing and Communications department at Michigan Ross. Working in the design field for 20+ years, she has naturally evolved from designer to UX specialist. She combines design thinking, user research, and experience strategy to create end-user experiences. Complex UX problems with multiple stakeholders are her specialty. She enjoys the collaboration process of combining user research to create wireframes and prototypes before delivering a final working product. Julie has experience in a variety of industries including marketing, start-ups, education, non-profits, and government.

Dinkar Jain

Visting Professor, Anderson School of Management, UCLA

Dinkar most recently worked at Meta, where he was Head of Artificial Intelligence for Ads and Director of Product Management. In this capacity he led a group of ~60 product managers and ~600 AI engineers that managed Meta’s global machine learning systems and algorithms, the ads targeting and delivery engine, and Meta’s efforts in Responsible AI. Under Dinkar’s leadership, Meta revenues saw a 5x increase from 2016 to 2021 and Meta made several strides forward in the areas of social responsibility and privacy. Dinkar has previously worked at Google (Alphabet), Twitter, and Amazon. In these companies, as a product manager, Dinkar was a key member of Google’s war with Apple Maps over the local search market, Amazon’s first foray into recurrent revenue products with Amazon Prime and Subscriptions, and two major overhauls of Twitter’s advertising platform.  

Dr. Ying Xu

Assistant Professor, School of Education, UM

Dr. Xu currently focuses on AI-powered conversational agents, exploring whether and how these speech-based technologies play the role of a language partner or learning companion for children, thereby impacting children’s social interactions and developmental processes. Her research partners include PBS KIDS, Sesame Workshop, and IBM. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Dr. Nikola Banovic

Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UM

Dr. Banovic is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research focuses on methods, applications, and ethics of Computational Modeling in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). He works in the domains of Computational Interaction, Behavior-aware User Interfaces, and Behavior Data Analytics to enable a future in which technology will automatically infer user goals, predict future user actions, describe common user behaviors, and even coach users. 

Aalap Doshi

Head of User Experience, ICPSR

Dosh is an alum of the Master of Science in Information, User Experience Design and Reaserch at the School of Information. Over the past decade, he has employed empathetic, people-focused, participatory, and inter-disciplinary design to solve complex problems. His current domain of expertise is healthcare. He leads the design of the award-winning UMHealthResearch, a recruitment platform used by thousands of people across various institutions. He also co-founded Findcare, a nonprofit that connects low-income communities to low-cost or free healthcare.

Stacie Sheldon

Senior Consultant, Experience, Slalom Detroit

Sheldon is a Senior User Experience strategist, researcher and designer, published author, mentor, and American Indian language advocate with experience working with Fortune 500 companies as well as national non-profits. In her work as a consultant, Stacie makes products perform better for businesses through inclusive and equitable research and design and also serves as a People Leader. She has written on UX topics such as Scientific Racism, Inclusive Design, and Survey Design.

Jessica Vu

User Experience Design and Research Consultant, Slalom Detroit

Vu takes a human-centered and inclusive approach to understanding and solving complex problems businesses and people face. Jess is passionate about supporting and improving the lives of users through digital products that are intentionally designed to create meaningful and sustainable solutions.

Emily Strobl

Director of Design Systems and Digital Brand, Rocket Central

Strobl is the Director of Design Systems and Digital Brand at Rocket Central, where she supports all things design, design systems and brand. With almost 10 years of experience leading the visual design of multiple digital products across the Advertising, Automotive and FinTech industries, she naturally evolved from designer to creative leader. As she leads this space, she combines a strong visual design skillet, a focus on systematic and accessible solutions, and an endless desire to push experiences to the next level.

Jackie Conti

Senior Product Designer, Rocket Central

Conti is a Senior UX Designer at Rocket Central who also has experience as a Graphic, Instructional and Presentation Designer. She loves digging deep into problems to find better solutions for users, and make complex things simple to understand. Originally going into the Broadcasting field, she instead found herself drawn to design. This has lead to her mentoring others looking to get into the space.

Chloe Preble

User Experience Researcher, Axon

Preble is an alum of the Master of Science in Information, User Experience Design and Research at the School of Information. She is a User Experience Researcher with a focus on partnering with users and product teams to create high-quality experiences. She utilizes her background in end-to-end mixed methods research to gather insights and storytelling talents to garner excitement and buy-in from stakeholders. Collaboration in an agile environment paired with design thinking and research is key to her process.