DDI Ambassadors

Launched in May 2022, the invitation-only network brings together a diverse mix of thought leaders who share the DDI’s values and its vision of ‘data for good’.

Ori Carmel

Founder and CEO, Sowen.co

Ori Carmel is the Founder and CEO of Sowen.co, a social impact data strategy group that works with private, public, academic and philanthropic organizations and companies. In addition, Ori serves as the Chief Innovation Officer for King's College London's Institute for Population Health, and works on data and technology consulting with Bloomberg Associates, a part of Mike Bloomberg's philanthropic arm. Ori's background is a combination of decision science, economics, and marketing. He has spent over 20 years in the public and private sectors, working for government organizations, start ups, and Fortune500 companies.

Before establishing Sowen.co and joining Bloomberg and KCL, Ori headed data products at American Express Advance Division and was a founding member of Twitter's Business Marketing team. Today, Ori spends most of his time helping organizations increase revenues and improve efficiencies while delivering social impact, advancing ESG best practices, and integrating inclusion and equity into their operations. Ori lives outside of New York with his wife, two children, and Moose the dog".

Michael Cross

Director and co-founder, Blue Mirror Insights

Co-founder, Rezatec – the global satellite data science company; Director and Co-founder, Blue Mirror Insights Ltd – the global occupational data intelligence company and authors of The Green Edge; Regent, University of Edinburgh; Chair, Twyford Church of England Academies Trust and Teach West London; formerly, Chair and Co-founder, Navigate Group – the school improvement business; formerly Board Member, Bloomsbury Bio-seed Fund. Held Fellowships at the following universities: City University, Durham, Imperial College, Manchester Business School, and University College London. He has also built businesses in clothing and textiles, packaging and pharmaceuticals sectors which operated across Europe and Asia – businesses were all sold through trade sales. Michael is also the author of several books and over 100 papers on regional economics, skills and organisational change.

Andrew Dai

Machine Learning Team Lead, Google Brain

Andrew Dai finished his PhD in machine learning at the University of Edinburgh in 2012 and since then has been researching natural language understanding at Google Brain. He has worked on approaches that combine unlabelled and labelled data to improve the performance of NLP systems through pretraining language models. He has also worked on using unlabelled data to help build approaches that automatically reply to emails or help compose emails. More recently, his researched ways of combining machine learning approaches with health data and medical records. Currently, he is investigating techniques and exploring the hidden capabilities of large language models and improving the data used to train them.

Pooja Jain

CEO and co-founder, CogniHealth

Pooja Jain is interested in the role and use of digital technology in health and social care. She integrates a background in neuroscience and care with technology in order to create evidence-based digital solutions to support families affected by long-term conditions. Pooja gained a degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Masters in Integrative Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh. She then worked as a carer, having experience as both a personal and professional carer. In tandem she spent time at Alzheimer Scotland as a digital health consultant.

Pooja is now the founder and CEO at CogniHealth where she has led the development of an award winning solution, CogniCare, a digital companion for family carers looking after someone with dementia at home. She went on to create several digital solutions for other conditions in collaboration with healthcare professionals, academics and families, where the co-production approach was noticed by the likes of Carnegie Trust.  Her work at CogniHealth led her to be named the Top 20 women to watch out for in Scotland by Business Insider. She has also been a keynote speaker on the topic of digital health and social care at several international conferences, standing out with the viewpoint of "it's not about the technology but people and their mindset".

Anne Johnson

CEO Cunning Systems

Competence in knowledge engineering and large scale systems design. Investing, advising, and operating in early stage startups in the US and Europe. Delivering value by identifying significant computing and communications technology trends and consequent business opportunities. Operating experience in successful large and small companies in Silicon Valley and the UK.

Technology adviser for global investment funds manager.  Investor. Portfolio includes CardIsle and VidGrid (acquired by Paylocity). Board observer for cPacket Networks.  Global Scot, and adviser for Scottish Business Network.

Find our more : https://wp.cunningsystems.com/

Briana Pegado

Creative Director of Fringe of Colour and Founder, Edinburgh Student Arts Festival

Briana Pegado FRSA is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts with experience of nearly a decade as an award-winning social entrepreneur and senior manager in the creative industries in Scotland. She has a Master of Arts with Honours in Sustainable Development from the University of Edinburgh and has sat on a number of charity boards as a trustee from universities, to arts organisations, and currently is the Interim CEO of YWCA Scotland - the Young Women's Movement an intersectional, feminist charity that supports young women's leadership, sexual education, and women from marginalised communities with work opportunities. She is a consultant at The Collective, formed in 2020 as a research consultancy centering intersectional and feminist analysis, co-production and participation while challenging systemic inequality. Most recently she was the Co-Director of We Are Here Scotland CIC, a community interest company that supports Black and POC creatives to develop their careers in the creative industries.

Briana has nearly a decade of experience as a senior manager in the third sector and creative industries. In 2018, she designed and co-lead an Executive Education Programme with Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh Chris Speed for Tesco Bank focusing on Data-Driven Design Education. She was chair of the board of Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) from 2014 - 2015, a charity with a £10 million turnover and sat on the board of the University of Edinburgh (University Court) in the same year. She has acted as a board member on several boards including a Lay Member of the Governing Body of the University of York (University Council), the University of Edinburgh’s General Council. She was a Member of Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop’s National Partnership for Culture from 2020-2021 and Culture Counts.

As founder of the award-winning Edinburgh Student Arts Festival (ESAF) and co-founder of Povo, a ‘conductancy’ that supported collaborators, she uses play to work with clients to better understand their creative process, problem solve, strategise, and come up with values-driven solutions to all sorts of innovation challenges. From anti-racism consulting, to governance, and organisational design. Her background in sustainable development and training as a trauma-informed facilitator enables her to bring a health, wellness, and wellbeing focus to all of her work to support the dynamic development of company culture.'

Allison Schrager

Allison Schrager is an economist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal,and a columnist at Bloomberg Opinion,. Allison diversified her career by working in finance, policy, and media. She led retirement product innovation at Dimensional Fund Advisors. and consulted to the OECD. She has been a regular contributor to the Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg Businessweek. Her writing has also appeared in Playboy, Wired, National Reviewand Foreign Affairs. She has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in economics from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.

Stefaan Verhulst

Stefaan G. Verhulst is Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of the Governance Laboratory (The GovLab) at New York University (NYU), an action research center focused on improving governance using advances in science and technology - including data and collective intelligence.

He is also, among other positions and affiliations, the Editor-in-Chief of Data & Policy, an open access journal by Cambridge University Press; the research director of the MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance; Chair of the Data for Children Collaborative with Unicef; and a member of the High-Level Expert Group to the European Commission on Business-to-Government Data Sharing.

In 2018 he was recognized as one of the 10 Most Influential Academics in Digital Government globally (as part of the Top 100 in Digital Government) by the global policy platform Apolitical.

Before joining NYU full time, Verhulst spent more than a decade as Chief of Research for the Markle Foundation, where he continues to serve as Senior Advisor. At Markle, an operational foundation based in New York City focused on leveraging and investing in new technologies to address critical public needs, he was responsible for overseeing strategic research on all the priority areas of the Foundation including, for instance: transforming health care using information and technology, re-engineering government to respond to new national security threats, improving people’s lives in developing countries by connecting them to information networks, changing education through information technology among other domains.

Previously at Oxford University he was the UNESCO Chairholder in Communications Law and Policy for the UK where he co-founded and was the Head of the Program in Comparative Media Law and Policy, He was a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Socio Legal Studies and the Socio Legal Fellow of Wolfson College, and is still an emeritus fellow at Oxford. He also taught several years at the London School of Economics; and was Founder and Co-Director of the International Media and Info-Comms Policy and Law Studies (IMPS) at the University of Glasgow School of Law.

He has published widely - including seven books- and is asked regularly to present at international conferences including TED. Numerous organizations have sought his counsel - including the WorldBank; IDB, USAID, DFID, IDRC, AFP, the European Commission, Council of Europe, the World Economic Forum, UNICEF, OECD, Un-OCHA, UNDP and several other international bodies.