Best New Women (and one man) Speakers of the 2013 Conference Circuit

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This year I spoke at many conferences where I saw and met many talented speakers. To list them all would be too much! But, many conference organizers ask me, “Where are all the non-white dude speakers? How can we build diversity in our lineup if we can’t find them?” So in an effort to make life easier for organizers everywhere, here is a list of the best non-white dude speakers I saw speaking. I would eagerly attend another session by any one of them.

##Disclaimer Keep in mind that I love animations and CSS, so this lists skews heavily toward those interests because those were the talks I was attending. Also, I’m more likely to remember people I formed a lasting bond with and talks I saw toward the end of the season than those from the beginning. Plus I was sick during Fluent, and even though there were many excellent speakers there (really, go check out that lineup), I don’t remember seeing many of their talks!

##The List

  • Ashe Dryden is actually more well known, but I’m including her here because she gave a spectacular keynote on the importance of diversity at Blend Conf. (Anyone questioning the need for a list like this, please check out her slides and mull on them a bit before solidifying your opinion with words.)
  • Jenn Schiffer gave a talk about art and code at jQuery Portland. It was both delightfully nerdy and also a welcome break from all the “hardcore JavaScript you can apply in your workplace” with more of an emphasis on discovery through experimentation and play. It was an excellent “JavaScript sorbet!”
  • Wren Lanier spoke about the upcoming trend of designing user interfaces on the z-index (3D-esque UIs seen in new Apple products and cutting edge phone apps) at Blend Conf. I think she’s ahead of the curve and this talk should be in demand in 2014.
  • Janina Woods spoke at Frontend Conference Zurich about user interfaces in virtual reality/3D, demoing her company’s game on the Occulus Rift. I loved how she mixed in elements of UIs shown in science fiction anime with actual UIs being developed and used today. Made me think about natural-feeling user interfaces in a different way. Once again, this should be a hot topic in 2014. Her expertise fits into a number of conference themes: gaming, user experience, web design, development.
  • Senongo spoke at WebVisions New York about storytelling across multiple platforms. He’s such a creative thinker and a good storyteller, showing us how he brought the folktales from his childhood to life in new and unusual ways through code. Definitely kept my mind engaged. (Sadly, the only man on this list. Men of Color are even rarer at conferences than women.)
  • Marta Armada spoke at both WebVisions Barcelona and From the Front in Bologna. She talks about process and is passionate about tailoring approaches to fit the needs of individual clients. She runs workshops, too!
  • Anna Tudor makes crazy insane 3D shapes using CSS and the math I remember from geometry lessons. I met a lot of really smart people from Romania at CSS Conf EU, and she was one of them. This was her first presentation at a conference ever and as such is a shining example of why it’s important to take chances on new speakers.
  • Pam Selle was my roomie for Fluent and a great person to do a conference with (even if I was sick the entire time!) She is great with JavaScript, and even though she’s new to speaking at conferences, she has so much confidence that you’d think she’d been doing it for years. Definitely good at getting on stage and talking about the things she’s built and best practices.
  • Tessa Harmon is a rockabilly frontend developer with strong JavaScript chops from Charlotte. She spoke at both jQuery Portland and Blend Conf about building single page apps. She has a lot of potential, getting her start like I did speaking locally at meetups and now regionally.
  • Mindy Wagner spoke at Blend Conf about convincing clients of good design decisions, something many soft spoken designers (and sometimes developers!) struggle with. Mindy’s a developer local to my North Carolina stomping grounds and has a great attitude that shines through her presentation style.
  • Val Head is also CSS animations freak! She spoke about animating infographics online at the CSS Summit and she’s created a Lynda series on CSS animations.
  • Angelina Fabbro Works w/ Mozilla on Firefox OS. Another one of the stellar CSS Conf EU lineup. She dove deep into CSS modules!
  • Chrissie Brodigan works on github’s UX and spoke at WebVisions Portland about using data to drive crafting stronger user experiences. She delivered a solid performance thanks much preparation and rehearsal.

##Why wasn’t so-and-so on this list? Could be a number of reasons! Maybe I think they’re well known enough that organizers already know of them. Maybe I missed their talk. Maybe I saw them talk, but I wasn’t blown away or the topic didn’t grab me. Or maybe I was too sick to pay attention (as happened at Fluent—and there were so many good speakers there). Or maybe I forgot! (I did see a lot of people this year!) Feel free to mention your picks in the comments.

##What about all your other favorite speakers? I did have trouble making this list. In Europe, it is hard to tell which ethnic groups are under represented, and all other countries are under represented in the United States. In the end, I made this list with my own country’s diversity issues in mind: women and people of color.

Like I said, I won’t have the time to list all the other wonderful speakers I saw and met, but if you really want to know who they are, you should follow me on Twitter, as I retweet and heckle them daily :)


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