A community of optimists hosted by Melinda French Gates

Rana el Kaliouby, PhD, is co-founder and CEO of Affectiva. Having defined the category of Emotion AI, Rana is now pioneering Human Perception AI: technology that can understand all things human. A passionate advocate for innovation, ethics in AI and diversity, Rana has been recognized on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 and Forbes America’s Top 50 Women in Tech. Rana is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and a Post Doctorate at MIT.


If you could go on a long walk with anyone, who would it be?

I would love to go on a long walk with my 16-year-old daughter, Jana, and Michelle Obama. Jana and I are huge Michelle Obama fans, as she encapsulates many of our family’s core values like integrity and compassion.

When Jana and I go on walks, we often have amazing conversations about equality and cross-cultural empathy. What I love about them is that we’ll dream up incredible ideas, many of which are actionable. So I imagine us walking with Michelle Obama and doing the same: discussing what can be done around giving more women voices, as well as financial literacy and inclusion, and youth empowerment, especially for young girls and women—not just in the U.S., but all over the world.


On Sunday afternoons, you can find me…

Hanging out with my two kids at home, or if the weather is nice, getting outside—either for a run or a walk with my kids.

What books are on your nightstand?

I’m really interested in biographies and memoirs, especially ones that are written by strong women—I draw inspiration from these women’s stories. A few I love include: Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Educated by Tara Westover, Not for the Faint of Heart by Wendy R. Sherma, and Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani. Melinda Gates’ book, The Moment of Lift, is also on my summer reading list!