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Aurora Voices with Tovah Cook

Meet our team | October 10, 2022 | 3 min. read

By the Aurora Team


​​Our Aurora Voices series celebrates the people and teams whose unique experiences, backgrounds, and voices bring Aurora’s mission to life.

Meet Tovah from Aurora’s Creative team

From long-haul trucking to aerospace, animation on the big screen, and firefighting, Aurora brings together people from a broad range of career paths who are eager to apply their expertise to making autonomous vehicles a reality. Thanks to the diverse experiences and expertise of our employees, we’re making tremendous strides toward revolutionizing the way we move goods and people.

Tovah, Senior Creative Manager and a lead of the Black@ Aurora Unified Group, brings her expertise in visual design to the world of autonomous vehicles. Her journey to the autonomous vehicle industry is personal. As someone who has lost a family member in a tragic road accident, Tovah sought out a mission-driven company where she could make an impact on road safety by drawing upon her talents and life experiences. Read on to learn more about her story and how she sees design as a vehicle for exploring her passions in architecture, social justice, and technology. 

Tell us about your role at Aurora.

As a part of the Creative Team at Aurora, it’s my job to translate the complexity of autonomous vehicles into an accessible visual language. Some days, I am managing a photo or video shoot of our sleek trucks and cars. Other days, I’m thinking through creative ways to illustrate our Safety Case Framework in an engaging visual format. Working in an emerging industry like self-driving brings interesting challenges every day, and it’s exciting to design new ways to communicate that this revolutionary technology will make a huge impact on the safety of our roads.


Why did you choose to pursue graphic design as a career?

I’ve always been passionate about communicating complex ideas through visual mediums, and I actually got my start in design through architecture. When I was young, I had a fascination for drawing floor plans — yes, like the ones you might see when renovating a kitchen or a bathroom. Growing up in Dallas, my mom and I watched the rural landscapes around us evolve into suburbia. On the weekends, she would drive me to open houses so I could dream up alternate floor plans for the new sprawling homes in the neighborhood.

Tovah’s mother collected an encyclopedia-sized book of Tovah’s floor plans from 1995-2004. This floor plan was dated November 22, 2001. Thanksgiving Day!

I received my undergraduate degree in both Architecture and Environmental Design, and went on to complete a Masters in Fine Arts in Graphic Design. Architecture taught me that form equals function. However I realized that form could only function with how people experience spaces. I wanted to take that a step further to explore how I could create experiences that brought meaning and purpose, bridging the gap between architecture and graphic design. My personal design manifesto formed around providing intentional and empathetic experiences in any medium—whether that was on a wall, on paper, or on a screen.

Why did you choose to work in the autonomous vehicle industry? Why Aurora?

Trucking has been a big part of my life since I was young. Several of my family members have pursued truck driving as a career, including my late father who lost his life in a fatal truck accident. Every year, the number of casualties on the road is staggering. I joined the self-driving industry to make a difference, so more mamas and papas will safely come home and see their children after work. 

What attracted me to Aurora is that it’s more than a self-driving company, it's a safety company. Yes, safety is a part of our mission, but it’s more than lip service here. Aurora puts safety into practice.

You are a leader of an Aurora Unified Group (Aurora’s employee resource groups). Why is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion important to you?

To be Black in tech is isolating. As a lead of the Black@ Aurora Unified Group, I prioritize building community and supporting an inclusive environment. We host regular conversations with the Black@ community to talk about world events, our careers, and sometimes we just like to have fun. It’s incredible how creating a safe and validating space can foster new ideas and build a stronger connection to the importance of the work we’re accomplishing here.

I believe Aurora’s mission statement to deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safety, quickly, and broadly means that one of our priorities is to create technology that is accessible to all. That starts with diverse employees building technology that supports diverse communities. I partner with recruiting to discuss ways we can expand our candidate pools while engaging with leaders at the company to develop opportunities for internal mobility at Aurora. 

How do you bring design into the work you do in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

When I think about inclusion, I think about design and accessibility. My graduate thesis was called Building Blocks, Educating Architects on Autism and Architecture. It focused on reframing the ADA handbook in a way that directly addresses autism. For example, how can color affect someone’s psychological experience in a space?

In 2020 I wrote and designed a book called Black Binder, a Notebook for Activists and Accomplices. The goal of the book is to challenge readers to engage with the Black cultural experience through over 400 prompts that prioritize action. I wrote this book as a response to the country’s awakening to racism and as my contribution to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s been a great resource for when my friends ask me what they should do to become better Accomplices.* 

*I use the word "accomplice,” because the word “ally,” has become performative. In my book, accomplice refers to a friend, partner, or individual who is willing to jump in and be a part of the movement.

the Aurora Team

Delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly.