Mary Fernandez

Global Lead - Disability and Neuro-Inclusion

People, Policy and Purpose

What would happen if we shifted the narrative of disability from one of limitation, but rather as an opportunity for innovation? If we thought of disability not as a tragedy or something to be avoided, but rather as simply part of the human experience? Mary Fernandez, speaker, consultant and published author believes that if we were to shift our perceptions and messages around disability, we will be able to create inclusive and accessible environments which will benefit us all. Mary currently works at Cisco as the global lead for disability and neuro-inclusion, providing thought-leadership on creating an inclusive environment from both a technical and people-center perspective for disability and neuro-divergent communities. She works at the intersection of inclusion and business strategy with the philosophy that inclusion drives competitive advantage. Before Cisco, Mary worked in the disability rights arena, earning a breath of experience ranging from legal work to consulting with higher education institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Mary earned her bachelor's degree from Emory University, and a master's in business administration from Duke University. She has held leadership positions in the National Federation of the Blind and the World Blind Union youth committee and served as the youth delegate to the UN. She is passionate about understanding and driving disability inclusion globally by always centering the voices and lived experience of the disability community. Mary is based out of the DC Metro area where she enjoys time cooking, singing and most of all playing with her dog Sofy.


December 13, 2023


Building inclusive AI will accelerate innovation

6 min read

Artificial intelligence is the biggest development in tech in a generation. It has the power to make our world a more inclusive place. How we harness the power of AI to design a more equitable world for people with disabilities becomes a question of who is building AI and how they are building it.