2017 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Magaly Spector 


Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives / Professor
University of Texas at Dallas

A noted technology innovator and leader and a passionate champion of diversity, Dr. Magaly Spector, one of the most visible Hispanic females in the fields of science and engineering in the United States, served from January 2008 to February 2014 in a newly created position of vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Dallas. Presently, she is the Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Professor in Practice at UT Dallas.

From humble beginnings in Cuba, where her family was very poor, Dr. Spector pursued academics with extraordinary dedication. She graduated with the highest honors from high school and won the Cuban Scholar Chess Championship at the age of 15.

As a young mother with an infant daughter, she enrolled full-time as a student at Havana University, where she earned a License in Physics degree in 1977. She continued to hone her chess skills during that period, winning the university's chess championship every year during her undergraduate studies, eventually taking the national Cuban chess crown in 1979.

Dr. Spector came to the U.S. with her 8 years old daughter by boat in 1980 as a political refugee and worked at a factory while studying English at a local college in New Jersey. A year later, she was hired by Bell Labs as a senior technical associate. While at Bell Labs working full time with a 4 months old baby and a teenage daughter, she enrolled in the graduate program at Lehigh University, where she earned a master's of science in electrical engineering in 1985 and a PhD in physics in 1993.

In 2000, she enrolled in business studies at Harvard University Business School. Dr. Spector held increasingly responsible research and development positions at Bell Labs, AT&T / Lucent Technologies, including global manager for product quality and reliability. She was responsible for pioneering many new technologies that enabled high-speed internet, and optical and wireless networking communications, and she holds several patents on her work. She was selected to become a Bell Labs Fellow in 2004, one of the highest distinctions worldwide for a scientist.

For years, she was active in numerous diversity efforts at the Fortune 500 companies, including a mentoring program for Hispanic employees, educational outreach programs for women and minorities, and the corporate diversity committee, among others.

Dr. Spector has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements. In 2009 she was selected as a member of the Hispanic 100, a Dallas based organization of Hispanic women leaders. She was named to Hispanic Business magazine's list of Elite Women for 2005, Latina Style magazine’s 2004 list of greatest Hispanic achievers and Glamour magazine’s list of the most distinguished women of the new millennium in 2001. ; She was Reader's Digest's national Orgullo Hispano Award recipient in 2004, and she received the professional achievement award from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation in 2000. She also was one of nine women selected by the National Science Foundation to represent the U.S. on a mission to Mexico as a role model for extraordinary accomplishments by women in technology and business.