Sessions and Speakers

We’re particularly excited about the speaker series we’re in the process of finalizing for this year’s event. Follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest details we’ll continue to announce in coming weeks—including ticket and venue information.

All of our 2017 speakers were recorded – watch their sessions on our YouTube channel.

Abby Covert

Abby Covert is the staff Information Architect at Etsy. She specializes in delivering a collaborative Information Architecture process and teaching those that she works with along the way. She speaks and writes under the pseudonym Abby the IA, focusing on sharing information architecture content with those working within the design and technology communities. She is the author of “How to Make Sense of Any Mess” a book about information architecture for everybody. She also holds credit for the invention of World IA Day.


How to Set IA Up to Fail

When it comes to practicing information architecture there are many missteps that can keep us from making lasting change or realizing our intention. Often the best way to succeed is to think through what could make us fail. In this keynote, Abby Covert will reflect on the mistakes that people make in integrating information architecture into their organization and projects.

Watch “How to Set IA Up to Fail” on YouTube

Brandon Luong

Chief Strategy Officer @ Wetogethr

Brandon is the Chief Strategy Officer for the creative experience firm, Wetogethr, and a community builder in the DC tech and startup ecosystem. He advocates for diversity in tech, primarily focusing on bringing more people of color and/or women to the front lines. When he is not making the tech community a better place, he can be found eating the latest food trend or dancing salsa.


Nurturing the Customer Experience from Day 1 to Lifetime Value

As the saying goes, the best customers are returning ones. Statistically, repeat customers help generate 25% in revenue, so how do you build an experience to ensure you hit that mark? Customer experience analysis. By combining analytics, design, UX, agile and empathy, your team shall knock the target revenue out of the park. After the session, you gain:

  • Understand how to use data to make strong decisions in all marketing efforts
  • Discover areas of improvement through human-centric frameworks and number crunching
  • Develop a unique experience for multiple target patrons

Watch Nurturing the Customer Experience from Day 1 to Lifetime Value on YouTube

Vera Rhoades

Senior Managing Consultant UX @ IBM Interactive Experience (IBMiX)

Vera Rhoads brings strong expertise in cognitive behavioral research to enhance the user experience. She has been working on improving the usability and optimizing web solutions for large-scale Fortune 500 companies, international finance organizations and non-profits (Fannie Mae, AARP, IMF) for 20 years. Her specialties include: User Research, full life cycle User Experience (UX), IBM Design Thinking, Customer Experience (CX), Content Strategy, Web Strategy and Operations, Social Media, Usability, Branding, Multi-lingual Globalization and Localization, Web Content Management and Search.

Vera is CUA and CXA certified and SCRUM master certified and works on enhancing process methodologies into the web development lifecycle. She has won many design awards in her career, including Nielsen Norman Top 10 Intranets.

Steve Mealy

Creative Director @ IBM Interactive Experience (IBMiX)

Steve Mealy is the Public Sector Creative Director for IBM’s Global Business Services consulting practice. He works on a team of strategists, user researchers, analysts, and UX designers focused on creating innovative solutions to business challenges using human-centered Design Thinking methodology. These solutions help transform the way organizations provide services, develop products, streamline processes, and launch go-to-market strategy.

In 2016 Steve earned the distinction of becoming an IBM Design Thinking Leader as he and the team facilitated dozens of “IMAGINE A WORLD” campaign sessions with organizations striving to course correct, evolve and grow. From the sessions Steve conceptualizes a solution by focusing on enhancing the user experience, analytical data, technological capabilities and economic viability. Steve’s unique solutions have positively impacted clients in the Federal government, intelligence community, healthcare and education industries.


Design Thinking Workshop: Ideas to Action

Ideas to Action will teach participants how to change organizational problems into innovative solutions through a human-centered design approach called Design Thinking.

Workshop Highlights:

  • Transitioning through the phases of inspiration, ideation, and implementation
  • Establish an agile approach to fail fast to succeed sooner
  • Create a Journey Map artifact through innovative solutions which take your client from where they are today to where they need to be in the future
  • Collaborate in a hands-on workshop with people from multiple industries

Benefits to Participants:

  • Learn compelling insights that will inspire innovation
  • Learn to produce high-quality products and services through human-centered approach
  • Understand how focusing on the user establishes an enviable competitive advantage

Watch the Design Thinking Workshop on YouTube

Carrie Hane

As principal strategist at Tanzen, Carrie Hane helps organizations increase income and decrease costs by rethinking how they create, manage, and connect their content. Through coaching and consulting, she helps them get the right information to the right people at the right time while improving processes. For more than 15 years, as both as a consultant and in-house employee, Carrie has been untangling information to make it ready for whatever the future holds.


Setting Interface Foundations with IA

The amount of content that exists today is staggering, and growing exponentially. The need to organize and structure it has never been greater. But with silos strong within organizations and stronger across them, how do we align people to set priorities? A website is too downstream and political to solve IA and content problems. But a subject domain model is one way to gain a clearer picture of the universe outside of any interface. A domain model is a representation of the concepts within a subject area, while a content model represents the content and their structure and relationships.

Let’s explore how modeling our universe and content can lead to interfaces that support curation for storytelling while also allowing the user to create their own journey. This talk will:

  •   Show how domain modeling helps set the tone for strategic IA work within an organization
  •   Demonstrate how a domain model can be used for setting content priorities
  •   Provide perspective on using domain models to align stakeholders

Watch Setting Interface Foundations with IA on YouTube

Wendy Stengel

Wendy Stengel is a seasoned content professional, with a background in electronic and print publishing, and a hefty portfolio of information architecture and user experience projects. She is passionate about delivering the right content at the right time, whether the reader is on a big government health site or a local volunteer opportunity site. Wendy lives and works in Washington, DC, and teaches UX to grad students online.


DISASTER! An IA’s Guide to Surviving When It All Goes Wrong

Structures fail. Support evaporates. Stakeholders revolt. In this session, you’ll learn how to deliver meaningful content even when your content strategy seems to be failing around you. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Assemble project disaster preparedness kit to get you through the worst.
  • Spot blockers and points of failure on the horizon in time to navigate around them.
  • Rebuild trust in your team and from your users after the storm.

*Note: Due to an unforeseen personal situation, Wendy was unable to join us at World IA Day DC 2017.

John Whalen

John Whalen has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and over 15 years of Human-Centered Design experience. Using his unique blend of psychology, design thinking, and lean startup techniques, he uncovers business opportunities and UX solutions for Fortune 100, nonprofit, and startup clients. John is CXO of 10Pearls where he leads their Innovation, Strategy, and Design team. Prior to joining 10Pearls, he founded the research firm Brilliant Experience and was a psychology professor. John is a frequent presenter at conferences and a past president of the User Experience Professionals Association in Washington, D.C. His current practice focus is cognitive design—the art and science of harnessing cognitive psychology to understand users, inform design, and create compelling products and services.


IA for AI: New methods for designing a new class of products

There have been a recent surge of artificial intelligence (AI) systems: Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant.  Using a process we call “cognitive design”, we describe how we measure how humans are structuring the their commands  to AI systems (syntax, word usage, prosody), and how measure the humans reactions to AI responses (using biometrics).  Together, these provide new insights into how to measure AI experiences, and optimally architect the information contained within them.

Watch IA for AI: New methods for designing a new class of products on YouTube

Amy Rubino

Amy Rubino began her career as a visual designer before transitioning into user experience design. With a Masters in Interaction Design and Information Architecture from the University of Baltimore, she has partnered with cross-functional teams at universities, non-profits, government agencies and commercial companies to build better web experiences. As a manager of UX insights at Under Armour, Amy leads the effort to uncover user needs, behaviors and expectations to help drive eCommerce digital strategy and innovation. She is also a professor for MICA’s UX Design program and co-hosts the Baltimore UX Meetup.


Finding Your UX Maturity Level

We all dream of working at an organization that has achieved usability nirvana through reliance on user research. The reality is, UX maturity levels vary greatly across organizations. Many of us still have to work hard to enlighten our organization on the value of UX. We’ll explore different maturity levels of UX, discuss the pros and cons of each, and touch on how to find the level that fosters your own personal zen.

Watch Finding your UX Maturity Level on YouTube