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Michael Antonio Hardy, Marla Hunter, Adrienne Lai, & Elena Yugai

Designing for Diversity Panel

Saturday, March 25 3:30 pm – 4:15 pm

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Session Summary

Ensuring diverse audiences feel included in our organizations, professional communities—even through use of our product—is both good design and good business. But for many practitioners, launching initiatives that authentically serve diverse audiences are often met with many roadblocks and have few rules to guide their efforts.

In this moderated discussion, we want to empower participants to begin—or continue—to create products and programs that place spirit of inclusion at its core. We’ve asked leaders with diverse perspectives from start-up, consulting, public sector, and non-profit spaces to share their stories on what Designing for Diversity means to them and how they’ve gone about creating cultures of inclusion in their organizations.

About the Speakers

Michael Hardy, a Supply Chain guru turned UX Designer at SapientNitro, believes that good experiences occur where lifestyle meets logistics.

As a graduate student at Indiana University studying Human-Computer Interaction and Design, Michael was sponsored by the American Bar Association created an experience strategy and a micro-volunteering mobile prototype connecting disaster survivors with Pro-bono legal representation. Through and extensive ethnography of survivors of Super-storm Sandy, lawyers, FEMA staff, and policy experts, Michael learned how design inspires innovation and meaningful experiences.

Michael believes in the power of blue, Zebra .07 ink pens, prefers secondhand blazers to t-shirts as travel keepsakes, and has cut his own hair since 2004. As a southerner living in Boston, he has yet to find a place that serves a proper glass of “sweet tea”.


Marla Hunter is the Head of People Operations at Tradesy, Inc., a growing startup in Santa Monica, California. She has over 20 years of experience in management, leadership and organizational development across a wide variety of industries. Previously, Marla held the position of SVP, People of Truecar, Inc., where she took the Company from a private technology startup of fewer than 50 people in 2010, through a Corporate merger, several key acquisitions and an IPO, to become a thriving public Company of over 500 employees with multiple locations by 2014. Marla specializes in the creation and development of programs, strategies, and methodologies customized to respond to the needs of the many different types of environments she serves, with a strong emphasis on fostering culture that reflects a Company’s values. Prior to her life in Silicon Beach, Marla directed all phases of operations for multi-million dollar development projects at Brown Development in Maui, Hawaii. She also served as General Manager of HR Operations for the Yucaipa Companies where she oversaw day-to-day operations as well as managed large budget projects, including the conversion of a historical landmark building into luxury office spaces. She began her career with a successful start-up, Doctors On Call, building a tourist-oriented medical services business from the ground up. Marla attended University of California at Santa Barbara where she studied English and Sociology.


Adrienne Lai is a librarian, UX designer, project wrangler, and die-hard San Antonio Spurs basketball fan. She is currently the Assistant Manager for Websites and Online Engagement at Vancouver Public Library, where she leads UX and web projects, including a website redesign that will be launching imminently. She has worked on library user experience, service design and digital projects in Canada and the US for over seven years.


Elena Yugai is a Co-Founder of Women in Tech (WinTech), a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire and empower women in the tech industry. For the last 8 years Elena worked with a variety of tech companies as a business and people operations consultant and most recently as Chief of Staff at a digital media company in rapid growth. She builds empowered and collaborative teams backed by lasting, resilient and inclusive cultures.

WinTech organizes events and workshops in major cities in North America, distributes $50,000 in tech scholarships to women and leads community conversations on diversity and inclusivity in tech.