Introducing Christopher Wood, a prominent entrepreneur and unwavering advocate for the LGBTQ+ community whose life’s path was forever altered by a pivotal event at 25. Embarking on a remarkable journey, he spearheaded three groundbreaking nonprofits. Beyond the ordinary, he also led B2B and B2C companies, infusing his ventures with an unwavering commitment to inclusivity.
Chris’s voice has resonated across more than 100 impactful events, positioning him as a prominent and inspiring figure. As the keynote speaker for the 2023 Nittany AI Alliance AI for Good Expo, Chris takes center stage and promises to convey a passion and drive for making change, offering a glimpse into his forward-thinking outlook — that opportunities are endless.
Holding dual roles as the executive director and co-founder of LGBT Tech, an institution dedicated to narrowing the technology gap for LGBTQ+ individuals nationwide, he drives change through initiatives encompassing research, education, volunteerism, and partnerships. Additionally, he holds the esteemed position of CEO at Redwood & Co.
His collaborations with influential tech giants and government agencies underscore his unwavering commitment to fostering positive change on a grand scale. At the core of his portfolio of accomplishments lies the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center — an embodiment of Chris’s mission to bridge service gaps in Virginia and provide a sanctuary of support and belonging. From receiving the prestigious FOSI Award in 2015 to standing shoulder to shoulder with Vice President Harris during the momentous launch of ACP at the White House in 2022, his contributions have earned him national recognition. A Certificate of Achievement from Georgetown University in 2023 further solidifies his standing as an exemplary leader in the ongoing quest for change.
Eager to delve into the roots of his commitment to the technological world, we posed the question: What ignited your passion for AI? From an early age, Chris’s curiosity about the intricate workings of the world led him to dissect and comprehend physical and conceptual systems. The pivotal moment of realization dawned on him during his tenure at Discovery Communications. Surrounded by vast data sets, his perspective shifted as he observed the profound influence of data on viewer behavior and preferences. This fascination evolved further when he bridged multi-million-dollar campaigns with grassroots initiatives, fusing data-driven insights into fan interactions. The connection between data and impactful, personalized engagement became vividly clear.
Addressing how students can benefit from exploring data sets, AI, and machine learning, even if their focus isn’t on technology, Chris’s response eloquently accentuates the undeniable importance of tech literacy in our interconnected world. The significance of engaging with technology resonates profoundly, and AI and machine learning, specifically, emerge as pivotal pillars of our digital era, extending beyond the tech realm to influence many sectors. He explains that these transformative technologies offer an extensive range of applications, capable of driving progress across diverse professional paths. For instance, delving into these domains can empower aspiring business leaders or nonprofit managers to grasp their communities’ unique needs. This comprehension, in turn, facilitates precise and efficient service delivery that directly caters to specific demographics.
Yet, this voyage into AI and data has its considerations, as it necessitates acknowledging both the potential and the risks associated with these technologies. While AI and data provide unparalleled insights, their application mandates a thoughtful and prudent approach that safeguards the interests of the communities they serve, especially true in ‘AI for Good,’ where the ethical application of these tools takes the spotlight.
In considering the profound impact of AI and technology on the job market, Chris emerges as an endless optimist. Recalling the initial unease sparked by the invention of cameras, where capturing images stirred discomfort, he highlights the recurring resistance to unexplored advancements. In the present day, the pervasiveness of high-resolution cameras in smartphones showcases how transformative technologies can evolve from causing anxiety to becoming seamlessly integrated into everyday life. A key aspect of his perspective lies in proactive preparation for this transformative era, emphasizing the significance of access and exposure.
The impending transformation fueled by AI and technology is inescapable, but he explains that this change is not inherently harmful. Chris envisions a landscape where adapting to technological shifts can lead to new horizons, affirming that AI’s impact will not culminate in job elimination; it will serve as the cornerstone of reshaping roles and breathing life into novel opportunities. In a world where automation and augmentation are not enemies but companions in progress, his perspective indicates a dawn of innovation that can invigorate industries and create a synergy where the new complements the old.
With the Expo drawing near, we look to Chris’s perspective on AI and technology as a guidepost for the transformative journey ahead. And in a world where technology often raises concerns about job displacement, he offers a refreshing perspective: AI’s role as an enabler. His words are a call to action, urging students, professionals, and enthusiasts to seize AI’s opportunities.