An ex-Silicon Valley human-computer interaction pioneer who currently works as a mindfulness practitioner and accessibility/inclusion/diversity educator. Melissa´s diversity and mindfulness work has spanned over 20 years creating bridges that genuinely connect people. She has traveled to over 50 countries engaging with many people of various cultures. Prior to receiving an advanced degree in Psychology, Melissa was the first African-American to receive an advanced degree in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. Her pioneering research was human-computer interaction to make higher education accessible to physically challenged students, resulting in voice-activated interfaces featured in Scientific American. She became an engineer and IT project manager in Silicon Valley then transitioned to full-time service work making life better for individuals and the planet.
In 2017, Melissa co-created CodeSpa which is committed to supporting women and underrepresented groups to reach their full potential as leaders and change-makers in emerging technology fields.Melissa co-created CodeSpa which is committed to supporting women and underrepresented groups to reach their full potential as leaders and change-makers in emerging technology fields through offering educational retreats that balance an essential skill-packed curriculum with time for self-care and hands-on creative exploration.
CodeSpa held a VR programming retreat in March 2017 that was supported by VRScout, a leading immersive media company. Google, donated Cardboard headsets for participants and a few Google employees participated. The virtual reality team at James Madison University also participated and was so impressed with the CodeSpa event that they have included CodeSpa in its NSF grant application to launch an ongoing technology retreat series.
In 2016 Melissa was invited to collaborate at the inaugural Digital Raign Reality Summit held at Esalen Institute. Melissa lead mindfulness sessions as well as co-facilitated a campus-wide diversity and inclusion workshop during the summit.Digital Raign is a Virtual Accelerator and experiential ecosystem design & development firm focused on exponential tech and emerging media, acting as a bridge across AR, VR, AI, Blockchain and robotics by aiding individuals and organizations interested in understanding and implementing these powerful technologies toward the betterment of humanity. https://www.digitalraign.com/