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Speakers at Congressional Staff Briefing on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Panel 1


Dr. Shikoh Gitau

CEO of Qhala

Dr. Shikoh Gitau is the visionary CEO of Qhala, a pioneering Digital Innovation company revolutionizing Africa’s technological landscape. Renowned as a trusted advisor in digital transformation, Dr. Gitau’s leadership propels Qhala to new heights. Her contributions have earned her prestigious accolades, including the ASEB Summit award for Ecosystem Builder of the Year and the distinguished title of Women in STEM Champion of the Year. 

With a wealth of experience spanning over a decade in Research, Design, Implementation, and Management of Digital Technologies, Dr. Gitau is a leading authority in driving digital transformation across Africa and Emerging Markets. Her expertise is instrumental in addressing intricate challenges within vital sectors such as Agriculture, Education, Health, Payments, Retail, and Renewable Energies. Notably, Dr. Gitau’s journey includes spearheading the establishment of Safaricom Alpha, Africa’s corporate innovation hub.


Esko Aho

Former Prime Minister of Finland & Member of Club de Madrid

Esko Aho had a distinguished political career spanning two decades as a Member of the Finnish Parliament, during which he chaired the Center Party and served as Finland’s Prime Minister from 1991 to 1995, guiding the nation into the European Union. Currently, he holds the esteemed position of Chairman of the Board at Cinia Oy.

Beyond politics, Aho serves as a visiting lecturer at Beijing University and contributing his expertise to the Industrial Advisory Board at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).


Sharad Sharma

Co-Founder & Governing Council Member of iSPIRT

iSPIRT stands as a pioneering force in the technology landscape, functioning as a non-profit industry think tank. At its helm is Sharad Sharma has three decades of experience in the Internet, Enterprise Software, and Digital Infrastructure markets and is a prominent voice in India’s technology ecosystem.

A fervent advocate for nurturing India’s software product ecosystem, he chaired NASSCOM Product Forum during its formative years and was a member of the NASSCOM Executive Council from 2009 to 2013.


Dr. Avik Sarkar

TEDX Speaker & Government Advisor

Dr. Avik Sarkar, a TEDx speaker and trusted advisor, lends his expertise to various government committees, including the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) committee for Artificial Intelligence standards and the Analytics Advisory committee for Government e-Marketplace (GeM). He also contributes to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of Census 2021 and advises on the establishment of the Data Analytics Center of Excellence by the Government of Assam.


Panel 2


LTC Paul Lushenko, PhD

Assistant Professor & Director of Special Operations at the U.S. Army War College

LTC Paul Lushenko holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in International Relations from Cornell University. Widely regarded for his expertise in emerging technologies and warfare, he is frequently sought after for insights by esteemed media outlets such as BBC, Bloomberg, CBS, Kyiv Post, NBC, Sky News, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Wired.

In addition to his academic achievements, LTC Lushenko holds an M.A. in Defense and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, an M.A. in International Relations, a Master of Diplomacy from The Australian National University, and a B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy. With a background in intelligence operations spanning various levels of command, he has deployed continuously, directing intelligence operations at the Battalion, Combined Task Force, and Joint Task Force levels.


Carol J. Smith

Trust Lab Lead & Principal Research Scientist at Human-Machine Interaction & AI Division, Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University

Carol J. Smith leads pioneering research aimed at cultivating trustworthy, human-centered, and responsible AI systems for the Department of Defense, government agencies, and private enterprises. With over two decades of experience, she has been at the forefront of refining development practices to enhance the human experience with intricate systems across diverse industries.


Dr. Darrell M. West

Senior Fellow in the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution

Dr. Darrell M. West holds the esteemed position of Douglas Dillon Chair in Governance Studies, where his research delves into artificial intelligence and technology policy, shaping the discourse on the future of governance in the digital age.


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