Fellow Feature: Maggie Engler

Published: August 12, 2020

The interview series will share more about our Notley Fellows, who are rising entrepreneurs and business leaders in the Austin community passionate about helping to solve pressing issues in the social impact sector.

This week we are featuring Maggie Engler, Lead Data Scientist at the Global Disinformation Index, and member of the Fellows 2019 class.

Tell us about your purpose or “why” behind choosing to get involved in the social impact space.

Social impact has always been an interest of mine, but Notley seemed like a particularly good alignment for two reasons: the focus on local initiatives, which in my experience can have outsized effect in a much shorter timeframe, and the entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy — making initiatives self-sustaining.

What Notley initiatives and/or programs have you participated in through this fellowship?

As my project, I am working with a team led by Lawton Cummings, a Partner at Notley, to develop a course on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Since intelligent systems are integrated into so much of the technology in our daily lives, we want to provide a deep dive into the issues of bias, transparency, and accountability documented with AI, and how as a society we might navigate them. The course will be delivered remotely to students at Penn State Law in the upcoming spring semester.

What has been the most beneficial part of the Fellowship experience for you?

The best part of the Fellowship experience has absolutely been the people I’ve met through it, in my class, other classes, and through the speaker series. I was especially moved by the discussion with Raj Patel, an activist, economist, and UT professor who studies poverty and food security.

What’s one thing that is giving you life right now?

My little quarantine family is sustaining me right now (as always!): my partner of four years, Joe, and my Chihuahua mix pup, Hank Jr.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Professionally, I’ll still be working on what I’m working on now—fighting against malicious online behavior and platform manipulation, whether that’s spam, malware, bots, or disinformation. I hope to use my technical background to help drive policy change in this area. And personally, I’d love to take on a nonprofit leadership role in my community.