Panel, 2016


Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits, an award-winning platform of easy-to use electronic building blocks that is empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small. Bdeir is an engineer, interactive artist and one of the leaders of the open source hardware movement. Bdeir’s career and education have centered on advancing open source hardware to make education and innovation more accessible to people around the world.

She is a co-founder of the Open Hardware Summit, a TED Senior Fellow and an alumna of the MIT Media Lab. Bdeir was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 35 Under 35, one of NY Business Journal’s Women of Influence, one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, one of Popular Mechanics’ 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream, one of Entrepreneur’s 10 Leaders to Watch, one of the CNBC Next List, and one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35. Originally from Lebanon and Canada, Ayah now lives in New York City.


Christina Bechhold is an investor at Samsung’s Global Innovation Center, based in New York, focused on early stage investments in software and services. She is also Co-Founder and Managing Director of Empire Angels, a member-led angel group of young professionals investing in technology startups with a focus on supporting young entrepreneurs. Bechold is a Regular Contributor for The Wall Street Journal on startups and small business, a columnist for, a mentor at The Brandery and Venture for America and a member of VFA’s Rise Committee focused on increasing diversity in entrepreneurship. She is a frequent speaker and panelist at events in the U.S., Europe and Asia and was recognized by the New York Business Journal as a 2016 Woman of Influence.

Bechhold was previously a Vice President at Citigroup with a background in capital markets, emerging markets and structured finance. She serves as Chairman of Hope on a String, non-profit, grassroots organization that seeks to foster an environment of social transformation and economic development in Haiti through participation in music as well as Vice President of the Board of Governors of the Hotchkiss School Alumni Association.


Philippe Buhannic is the Co-Founder and CEO of TradingScreen. An industry pioneer, he stays at the forefront of global markets and financial technology for over 30 years. His career encompasses executive management, technical, and marketing experience in international markets. Buhannic founded TradingScreen with Joseph Ahearn in 1999, working to connect global sell-side participants and leading regional brokers to a common environment.


Leigh Ann DeLyser, Ph.D. is Director of Education and Research at CSNYC, the NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education. She is a lifelong advocate of computer science education. In 2012, Leigh Ann helped open the Academy for Software Engineering in NYC and since then has been working to bring equal access to computer science to NYC’s 1.1 million public school students. In her role at CSNYC, Leigh Ann works with programs implementing computer science education to help them adopt and adapt best practices. Additionally, Leigh Ann is crafting the research agenda at CSNYC and leads efforts to collaborate with computer science education researchers to study, discover, and document the many facets of computer science education at the K12 level. In her career Leigh Ann has been a high school classroom teacher for 10 years, a textbook author, a college professor, a curriculum writer, a researcher, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Computer Science Teachers Association. She was also the initial curriculum director for Girls Who Code. Leigh Ann earned her Ph.D. in computer science education from Carnegie Mellon University.


Cristina Dolan is the Dream it. Code it. Win it. Founder, MIT Media Lab alumna, MIT-EF NYC Chair, and Head of Content, Communications and Marketing at TradingScreen. She also leads marketing for products and BlockChain initiatives. Formerly, she was co-founder of, which grew to be the 10th largest ISP after a successful IPO (acquired by ELNK{, and CEO of venture-backed WordStream. She held senior executive technology roles on the founding teams of the first Hearst Internet Magazines and several ABC/Disney Internet properties, as well as lead sales roles at IBM and Oracle. She is the former President of the MIT Club of New York and director of the MIT-EF Global Board. She holds a Master of Media Arts and Science, Master of Computer Science Engineering and Bachelor of Electrical Engineering. Cristina is a former member of the US Bobsled and Skeleton team and she is fluent in Castillian Spanish.


Kevin Mayer is the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of The Walt Disney Company and oversees Corporate Strategy, Business Development, Acquisitions, Enterprise Information Technology, Innovation, Brand and Franchise Management, and Global Corporate Alliances. He was named to the position in June 2015.

Mayer most recently served as Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, where since 2005 he led a team focused on profitable growth opportunities by targeting emerging businesses new to Disney’s existing portfolio and evaluating new technology and business models. The group also executes all mergers and acquisitions.

During his tenure, Mayer has overseen Disney’s strategic acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Club Penguin and Maker Studios. He also managed Disney’s investment in Hungama and UTV in India, enhancing Disney’s growth outside of the United States.


Minerva Tantoco is New York City’s first ever Chief Technology Officer. Raised in Flushing, Queens, Tantoco is a product of New York City public schools. She attended Bronx Science High School and while still in college, moved to Silicon Valley where she co-founded technology startup, Manageware Inc, which was successfully sold five years later.

Since then, Tantoco has led emerging technology initiatives including artificial intelligence, e-commerce, virtualization, online marketing and mobile applications. Tantoco holds four US patents on intelligent workflow and is a speaker and author on mobile, security, big data, and innovation. As Senior Product Manager at Palm, Tantoco pioneered mobile enterprise solutions in the early 2000s which helped pave the path in mobile technology, developing and deploying some of the world’s earliest mobile applications. As Chief Architect at Bank of America Merrill Lynch,

Tantoco led there-design and implementation of the company’s Investment Banking data warehouse, a project that mirrors many of the City’s big data and analytics initiatives.

Tantoco most recently served as UBS APAC CTO for client-facing technology and innovation, with regional responsibility for the Asia Pacific region. She currently holds four US patents in artificial intelligence and work flow systems.


John Underkoffler is the CEO and Co-founder of Oblong Industries and leads its UI-centered design, technology, and commercial vision. Oblong’s products bring a radically more capable human-machine interface to creative, analytic, communications, and decision making workflows.

His previous work over the course of fifteen years at the MIT Media Laboratory included innovations in optical and electronic holography, large-scale interactive visualization techniques, and the I/O Bulb and Luminous Room systems.

Underkoffler serves on the boards of the Sequoyah School and the E14 Fund, as well as on the National Advisory Council of Cranbrook Academy. He holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the recipient of the 2015 National Design Award in interaction design.


Vanessa Yurkevich is a digital correspondent for CNNMoney who covers luxury, travel, and real estate. Yurkevich established this new beat and creates original video content for all of CNN’s platforms with a focus on the business of luxury.

She’s exclusively interviewed Richard Branson about his new Virgin Hotel chain. She interviewed Triple-Crown winner American Pharoah’s owners Ahemed and Justin Zayat right after his Grand Slam win at the Breeder’s Cup. And she sat down with Compton’s Mayor Aja Brown about gang prevention initiatives, which develops relationships with gang members in order to revitalize one of the most dangerous cities in America.