Desmond U. Patton

Program Co-Director

Associate Professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, Dr. Desmond Patton is the founding Director of SAFElab, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Data Science Institute, a faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of Sociology. He is the recipient of the 2018 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR), and was named a 2017-2018 Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. In his work, Dr. Patton combines social work, sociology, and technology to examine the relationship between youth, gang violence, and social media.

In 2017, Dr. Patton started a program called the Digital Scholars Fellowship Program and upon learning more about AI4ALL summer programs, he wanted to shift to the AI4ALL model in an effort to scale beyond New York City, signalling a new collaboration. Dr. Patton hopes to offer comprehensive training in AI that is embedded in a social work/social justice context. He emphasizes, "it's all about exposure, network, and community. AI4ALL exposes young people of color to AI while demystifying the idea that AI is only for a certain demographic. They are then wrapped in a support network of peers and adults who can support them in getting the skills they need to excel in AI while also having the psychosocial support to push through challenging times."