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Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia is the Founder and CEO of PlayWerks, an interactive media company that creates high quality multi-platform immersive games and experiences that engage children and adults. She is also the Founder of WhizGirlsAcademy, where students engage in exciting projects that help them acquire coding skills while building confidence, healthy balanced lifestyles, and growing as members of their communities. She previously worked at MGA Entertainment on Bratz and at Mattel on Barbie, where she performed ongoing research and analysis of industry trends, consumer motivations and competitor activity. At MGA, she was responsible for designing the Play Lab, where children would gather for in-house research while she was the Brand Manager for the billion dollar Bratz brand.
Shirin is actively involved in the organization Women in Gaming, as well as serving as an advisor for multiple institutions including The White House Council of Women and Girls, Los Angeles Film School, The Girl Scouts of Greater LA, Woodbury University, the Bixel Exchange in collaboration with the LA Chamber of Commerce, and Girls in Tech. In 2013, she hosted the first Hackathon for Women and Girls with The White House Council of Women and Girls. In May 2014, she hosted the Kids Hack for LA in collaboration with Mayor Eric Garcetti, the White House, and will.i.am's i.am.angel Foundation.
She is currently teaching Tech for Social Impact at USC School of Engineering (ITP)/ Viterbi.
In 2014, Shirin gave her Ted Talk “Are You a Gamer or a Gardener?” at the TedxYouth conference in Los Angeles, CA.
In March 2015, she was honored by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin as 2015 LA City Pioneer Woman of the Year.
And she was recently honored as a Disruptor Foundation (Tribeca) Innovation Fellow.
ssalemni (at) usc.edu
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