Blogger Bios

  • Beth
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    Beth Cohen

    Beth Cohen is PopTech’s VP of Operations and Director of Media Production.

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    Becky Sennett

    Becky Sennett is the Director of Communications at PopTech.

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    Kiley Lambert

    Kiley is Senior Research Associate in PopTech’s Brooklyn office

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    Leetha Filderman

    Leetha Filderman serves as PopTech’s President and is a principal architect of PopTech’s initiatives, which support cross-sector collaborative projects and train promising innovators and scientists through the Social Innovation and Science Fellows programs. In the 1980s and 90s she developed a number of initiatives that opened access to state-of-the art care for the urban poor suffering from HIV/AIDS, serving as the Administrative Director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital AIDS Program and Research Liaison for the Boston City Hospital AIDS Research Program. Leetha has a deep and diverse background in innovative program design, and she has advised and served on the boards of numerous organizations and agencies.

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    Ollie Wilder

    Ollie Wilder oversees PopTech’s Fellows programs as Program Manager for the PopTech Accelerator.

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    Sarah Graalman

    Sarah Graalman is a freelancer for PopTech in its Brooklyn office. She is a writer/storyteller who performs her original works all around New York City, and is a member of Mamma Rice ‘n Friends Cabaret. She is also a make-up artist, whose work covers everything from NYC’s fashion week to strange B-grade horror films she will not tell you the name of. Her work most recently appears in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

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    Colleen Kaman

    Colleen Kaman is a media producer and researcher focused on cross-platform storytelling, technology, and social change. She is currently a media consultant for PopTech.

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    Marcia Stepanek

    Marcia Stepanek is Founding Editor-in-Chief of Contribute Media, a New York-based magazine, website, and conference series about the new people and ideas of giving. She also is publisher of Cause Global, an
    acclaimed new blog about the new media trends and the use of social media in social advocacy. She also blogs for the Stanford Social Innovation Review and Ms. Stepanek has received a variety of awards for her work, including a George Polk award for consumer journalism, a National Press Club award for Washington correspondence, a New York Newswomens’ Club Front Page award for internet commentary, and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Ms. Stepanek, who has covered the evolution of the internet and its impacton society, commerce, and the workplace since 1994, is a frequent speaker on the subject of social media and new trends in philanthropy, and she moderates and produces New Conversations for Change, a Manhattan forum series highlighting social entrepreneurs and innovation in social change advocacy.

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    Raquel Brown

    Raquel Brown is an intern at Pop Tech’s Camden office. She just returned from a semester in Cape Town, South Africa and will graduate in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a double major in International Studies and Political Science.

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    Andrew Zolli

    Andrew Zolli is a well-known expert in global foresight and innovation, studying the complex trends at the intersection of technology, sustainability and global society that are shaping our future. He is widely recognized as a writer, thinker, commentator and speaker on futures-related topics. Andrew also serves as a Fellow of the National Geographic Society. His work and ideas have appeared in a wide array of media outlets, including PBS, the New York Times, National Public Radio, Fast Company, American Demographics, Popular Science, and many others.

  • Annie
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    Annie Leahy

    Annie Leahy was PopTech’s Executive Producer/Director of Programming.

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    Kristen Taylor

    Kristen Taylor was the Director of Community for PopTech, and she lives in Brooklyn. Besides connecting the intelligent readers of this blog, she planned to build on her previous experience at PBS working on Engage and the Knight Foundation launching Knight Pulse. Frequently found at farmers’ markets, she writes about food and culture on her personal blog,, and her research focuses on niche networks of participation with food, currency, and shelter

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    Ashni Mohnot

    Ashni grew up in Bombay and studied at Stanford University. She is director of education for Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, which hosts the world’s largest collection of King documents. She also works for Mobile Metrix and directs Gumball University, an online portal to learn about social entrepreneurship and microfinance.

    She is developing her own award-winning venture to eliminate the financial barrier to education through future income loans. Besides international development, social entrepreneurship, and fiction, she is interested in innovation, design, Silicon Valley startups, and emerging web technologies, specifically their application to advance the citizen sector.

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    Cordelia Newlin de Rojas

    Cordelia Newlin de Rojas was PopTech’s Senior Eco-Initiatives Advisor. Cordelia brought to PopTech an eclectic background ranging from Japanese Art and Postal History auctions to pondering all manners of working life at The Work Foundation. It was during a brief stint rigging dinghies and windsurfers in Turkey, picking up yet another syringe and prophylactic washed up from a southern swell, that she heard her calling to become an advocate for issues of environmental degradation and inequality. Her background is in environmental sciences and she is passionate about water and climate change.

    When not at her own desk, she was generally found crawling under her coworkers’ desks, shutting off their power strips and pilfering their rubbish for recyclables.

  • Filbiophotolg
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    Fil Vocasek

    Fil Vocasek was the Production Designer for PopTech, living and working in Brooklyn. In addition to spending his day times at PopTech, Fil produces and performs with various theaters around New York, and is also involved with a number of LGBT organizations in the New York City area.

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    Rachel Barenblat

    Rachel Barenblat has been blogging since 2003 as the Velveteen Rabbi. She’s a student in the ALEPH rabbinic program and a contributing editor at Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture. Author of three poetry chapbooks, she lives in western Massachusetts with her husband Ethan Zuckerman; they’re expecting their first child in December.

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    Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert

    Taylor and Mark co-founded Energize Clinton County in 2008 as a grassroots movement and community center for sustainable economic development. The sudden departure of a major employer forced the area surrounding Wilmington, Ohio to confront either collapse, or reinvention. Leading the effort that established the city as the country’s first Green Enterprise Zone, Energize Clinton County has transformed the crisis into an opportunity to become a model and testing ground for technologies and development strategies that will lead America’s economy through the 21st century.

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    Ethan Zuckerman

    Ethan Zuckerman is a senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. His research focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media, the use of technology for international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists.

    With Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Global Voices showcases news and opinions from citizen media in over 150 nations and thirty languages, publishing editions in twenty languages.

    In 2000, Ethan founded Geekcorps, a technology volunteer corps that sends IT specialists to work on projects in developing nations, with a focus on West Africa. Previously Ethan helped found, one of the web’s first “personal publishing” sites. He blogs at and lives in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, USA with his wife and a small, fluffy cat.

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    Tim Leberecht

    Tim Leberecht is the VP of Marketing and Communications at frog design, the global innovation firm that has helped Apple, GE, HP, Sony, and many other leading brands create and bring to market groundbreaking products and services.

    Previously, Tim was the head of corporate communications with Mindjet Corporation, a provider of enterprise productivity software. Prior to Mindjet, he served as press chief for the Athens 2004 International Olympic Torch Relay, in marketing communications for Deutsche Telekom, and in an interactive marketing agency in Berlin. He started his professional career as a musician.

    Tim writes the iPlot blog and is a member of the CNET blog network. He has been published and quoted in a number of publications and has spoken about marketing, innovation, and design at conferences in the US, Europe, and Asia.

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    Frank Gruber

    Frank Gruber is co-founder of Shiny Heart Ventures which just launched, an online gratitude journal community. Frank is a product strategist and evangelist for AOL’s AIM product. He is known for his analysis on Web 2.0, social media and emerging technologies as he has offered his “somewhat frank” opinion for a number of publications including TechCrunch, Somewhat Frank, Read Write Web Network and TECH cocktail. Frank co-founded TECH cocktail, helping to build entrepreneurial communities and is also Frank has been featured in a number of publications as an industry expert and speaks at conferences nationwide. He consults businesses in social networking/media and entrepreneurship. Frank has been featured in articles in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, CNet, Wired, Chicago Sun-Times, TechCrunch, GigaOm and Read/Write Web, among others. You can find Frank on Twitter @frankgruber (

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    Nathan Shafer

    Nathan Shafer is an artist, writer and futurist from Anchorage, Alaska. He currently lives and works in the United States with his wife and collaborator Joelle Howald.

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    Heather Fleming

    Heather Fleming is a co-founder and Director of Catapult Design, a product and technology firm that serves developing world markets. Catapult Design’s clients are organizations working in impoverished communities with technology needs – including rural electrification, water purification and transport, food security, and health.

    Before starting Catapult, she worked more than five years as a product design consultant in Silicon Valley, designing for a diverse range of clients. She also co-founded and led a volunteer group focused on developing world design, connecting to her a variety of NGOs in developing nations.

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    Erik Hersman

    Erik is the co-founder of Ushahidi (which means “testimony” in Swahili), a website created to map the reported incidents of violence happening during the post-election crisis in Kenya. Currently, he is working with a team of mostly-African programmers to use what they have learned from building Ushahidi to create a free and open source engine that makes it easier to crowdsource crisis information and visualize data.

    Erik Hersman is also the founder of AfriGadget, a multi-author website that showcases stories of Africans solving everyday problems with little more than their creativity and ingenuity. Fascinated by micro-entrepreneurs, gadgets and improvisation, he is proving that technology is changing Africa – daily.

    Raised in Sudan and Kenya, Erik brings unique energy and insight to the world of technology and innovation – bridging the gap between Africa and Silicon Valley. An avid blogger Erik writes two different technology blogs including: AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican. One dedicated to low-tech African ingenuity, and the other to high-tech mobile and web changes happening throughout Africa.

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    Bruce Sullivan

    Bruce Sullivan, Green Building Consultant with the Earth Advantage, Inc., has been involved in energy efficient construction since 1983. He has worked for the Oregon State University Extension Service, Eugene Water & Electric Board and Iris Communications, Inc. In 1996, he established, one of the world’s first web sites dedicated to green building. In 2006, Bruce’s personal high-performance residence, built by SunTerra Homes, was honored with the NAHB Research Center’s EnergyValue Housing Award and the NAHB Green Building Award. Bruce is based in Earth Advantage’s Bend office. He can be reached at

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    Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Plemmons Pratt is the Managing Editor for, an online magazine designed to improve public understanding of science and technology and to showcase progressive ideas about the ways in which government and citizens can leverage research and innovation for the common good. His work on Science Progress bridges the gap between policy development and communication, packaging policy ideas with traditional and new media tools and communicating them to diverse audiences. His original work with web technologies included building digital humanities projects and designing websites for arts and advocacy organizations at the University of Virginia. He holds an MA in English from U.Va. and a BA from U.Va. in English and American Studies. He is a member of the 2010 Teach for America corps in the D.C. region.

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    Emily Troutman

    Emily Troutman is a writer and photographer whose work focuses on global humanitarian issues. She was recently named United Nations Citizen Ambassador. Follow her on Twitter: @emilytroutman.

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    Deb Levine

    Deb founded ISIS – Internet Sexuality Information Services – in 2001 to build better tools to promote sexual health and prevent disease. Using the web, mobile phones and mash-ups, ISIS gives people private, convenient and accurate access to information on today’s major health issues, from HIV prevention to unplanned pregnancies to access to healthcare. ISIS is creating the latest and best ways to help youth and adults lead safe, healthy and fulfilled lives.

    Watch her PopTech presentation

  • Katforblog
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    Kat Johnson

    Kat Johnson is Program Coordinator for the national team at Common Ground, whose mission is to end homelessness.

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    Joshua J. Friedman

    Joshua J. Friedman is a writer in New York City. He is a former editor of The Atlantic and Boston Review.

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    Wil Keenan

    Wil Keenan heads up communications and technology at Global Citizen Year. He is based in San Francisco, California. Interests include entrepreneurship, cooking, kite flying, photography, music and travel.

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    Sloane Berrent

    Sloane Berrent is the founder of Answer With Action, an integrated marketing, public relations and fundraising consultancy specializing in cause-based campaigns. A former Kiva Fellow, she is the co-creator of Cause It’s My Birthday, a nationwide malaria prevention campaign. In January 2010, Sloane attended the World Economic Forum as the citizen journalist for MySpace and The Wall Street Journal. She is a nationally recognized speaker on community building and “cause-filled living” and writes on her blog, The Causemopolitan. Currently residing in New Orleans, she co-founded NOLAlicious, a weekly e-newsletter about New Orleans and organized the first CrisisCampNOLA. You can also find her on Twitter (@sloane).

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    Laura Hertzfeld

    Laura Hertzfeld is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor and producer who’s an expert in helping organizations like PBS and NPR develop their web strategies and organize content for a wide range of audiences. She is currently managing editor of, a public media project about how communities are coping with the economic crisis. Laura spent 2008 covering the presidential election for PBS and producing their election project, Prior to going into public media, Laura was a senior editor at Yahoo! News, managing a team of editors and planning coverage of major news events. As a reporter, Laura has covered business and lifestyle topics for various outlets, including NPR, Platts, Los Angeles Magazine, and Premiere. Laura holds a degree in history from Barnard College, Columbia University.

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    Derek Lomas

    The Playpower Foundation was created in 2008 to foster development of affordable, effective and fun learning games for under-privileged children around the world. Motivated by the availability of ultra-low-cost computers, Playpower has cultivated a global network of developers, designers, academics, NGOs and businesses to participate in the research, development and distribution of learning games that will help bring education to children in Bottom-of-the-Pyramid settings.

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    Andre Blackman

    Andre Blackman is an agent of change and innovation within the public health community. He is very passionate about the role of new media, mobile technology and other useful innovations as it relates to health communications and public health in general – resulting in Public Health 2.0. Andre feels that public health and new media are focused on the people, so there should be parallels to how they both interact.

    Andre’s background has involved work with science and technology organizations, health nonprofits and traditional public relations. Through his consulting/advising vehicle, Pulse + Signal, Andre aims to educate and provide strategy for public health focused organizations and projects who want to make use of the new social interactive landscape and innovative opportunities.

    You can find his thoughts on public health and innovation through his blog, Pulse + Signal and via Twitter

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    Marcel Botha

    Marcel Botha is a partner at Colaboratorie Mutopo, a social product development firm based in New York City.

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    TMS Ruge

    TMS (Teddy) Ruge is the co-founder and senior project manager of Project Diaspora — an organization with a mission to motivate, engage, and mobilize the African Diaspora to take an active role in Africa’s economic, social, and cultural revitalization—by leveraging our $40 billion in annual remittances, collective intelligence, and global connections.

    A mobile phone technology enthusiast, Teddy also frequently blogs about the African ICT sectors and its effects on development. In his previous life, Teddy broke and currently holds Uganda’s national record in the decathlon and pole vault and, formerly, the high jump. He was also a one-time Ugandan Olympic hopeful in the decathlon. Teddy was born in Masindi, Uganda to a Sudanese father and a Ugandan mother. He grew up in Uganda, Kenya and Dallas, TX.

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    Kristina Loring

    Kristina Loring manages Content and Community at frog design. She is a writer and activist living in San Francisco.

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    Andy Dayton

    Andy Dayton was PopTech’s Web Designer in PopTech’s Brooklyn office.

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    Alana Conner

    Alana Conner, Ph.D. is the senior editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and co-host of the podcast channel Social Innovation Conversations. She received her doctorate in social and cultural psychology from Stanford University and her postdoctoral certificate in psychology and medicine from the University of California, San Francisco. Her popular writings on culture, psychology, and health have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Static, and other venues.

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    Dan Austin

    Dan Austin is the Executive Director of the 88bikes Foundation, which he founded in 2006 with his brother, Dr. Jared Austin, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic, and his friend Nick Arauz, a social media entrepreneur. Dan is the award-winning director of seven documentaries and author of three books (including the recent “The Road Trip Pilgrim’s Guide”); conversant in four languages, Dan has explored old paths and new throughout the world. 88bikes was named one of “Ten Icons Changing the World” in the December 2009 Outside Magazine. He splits his time between Seattle and Brooklyn.

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    Sarah Rich

    Sarah Rich is a writer and editor. Most recently she was senior editor at Dwell Magazine. In addition to 48 Hour Magazine, Sarah is the co-founder of The Foodprint Project, a new international event series about food and cities. She is a co-author of the book Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century and a member of the advisory board for Project H Design.

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    Lindsay Borthwick

    Lindsay Borthwick is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and the environment. Before venturing to tell her own stories, she worked as an editor at Seed, Best Health and Green Living magazines. She currently calls New Haven, Connecticut home.

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    Jonathan Sauer

    Jonathan Sauer is the President of BookTune Records; dreamer-doer serial entrepreneur; founder/creator of the Internet’s first live, on-demand, 24/7, homework help, tutoring service more than a decade ago, made possible by $3M in venture capital funding; and former Cornell English major, who took a leave of absence, and hasn’t been seen on campus since.

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    Shoham Arad
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    Sarah Brooks

    Sarah Brooks is the Director of Social Innovation at Hot Studio in San Francisco. She is a user experience designer, writer and convener exploring the intersection of people, culture and technology, looking for guideposts toward a resilient future. She lives at Ocean beach in San Francisco, with her husband.

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    Patrick Meier

    Patrick Meier, Ph.D., is director of social innovation at the Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute (QCRI), where he develops next-generation humanitarian technologies by leveraging big data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and social computing. Internationally, Meier plays a generative and highly collaborative role in the realms of resilience, crowdsourcing and big data. He has pushed forward the dialogue around open data, use of information and technology in humanitarian crisis prevention and response, and assessing the reliability of crowdsourced information on a wide variety of projects, notably Crisis Mappers, Digital Humanitarians, and the PeaceTXT project with PopTech and partners. Patrick blogs at

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    Chris Kelly

    Chris has been a factual TV producer and charity organizer in London, a writer in Paris, and a brand consultant in New York. As associate producer, he brings his wealth of experience to the team, serving as a utility player across our programs, handling Brooklyn logistics, and providing assistance to the executive director.

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    Emily Spivack

    Emily’s work spans social innovation, culture, and fashion. Emily founded Shop Well with You and served as the organization’s Executive Director for six years, enabling thousands of women with cancer to improve their body-image and quality of life. Recently, Emily was the Director of Dowser, a media organization dedicated to uncovering news and stories about social innovation. Since 2007, Emily has curated a collection of stories about clothing from eBay posts for her blog, Sentimental Value. She also edits stories about clothing and memory for Worn Stories. In addition to her ongoing role as President of Shop Well with You’s Board of Directors, Emily serves on the Board of Brown University’s Entrepreneurship Program and is an award recipient of Eileen Fisher’s Women Change the World Everyday campaign.

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    Michelle Riggen-Ransom

    Michelle Riggen-Ransom writes about social media, technology, nature, parenting and increasingly, the intersection of those topics. She is a co-founder of BatchBlue Software, which makes online tools for small businesses, as well as the Small Business Web. Michelle now runs Social Glu, a communications consulting company, and lives in Seattle with her family.

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    Emily Qualey

    Emily Qualey was based at PopTech’s Camden office and can often be spotted cruising around town on her custom painted blue and yellow stripped bike. Also on staff at the Camden International Film Festival , she delights in picnics in the park, sailing on the bay, digging for treasures at obscure antique markets and making vague notations about her life on her personal blog.

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    Mark Benjamin

    Mark Benjamin was PopTech’s content director, responsible for producing and overseeing all of the reports and dispatches from PopTech’s various initiatives. For 15 years Mark worked as an award-winning investigative reporter and writer in Washington. He’s written for TIME, Newsweek, CNN,, Huffington Post and many others.

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    John Maeda

    Guest host for PopTech 2014, John Maeda is Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, where he works
    with KPCB’s entrepreneurs and portfolio companies to build design into their company cultures. He served as the 16th president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 2008 through 2013, during which time RISD saw increased applications, fundraising, and career placements.

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    Cheryl Heller

    Cheryl Heller is the Founding Chair of the new Masters Program in Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts in New York and founder of Heller Communication Design. She is a pioneering communication designer and business strategist who has twice been nominated for the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Communication Design. Heller has led transformational initiatives for major corporations such as Ford, American Express, Reebok, Mariott International, Cemex, Gap, Bayer Corporation, Seventh Generation, L.Oreal, Hearst and Sappi, non-profits such as WWF, Audubon, IDE, Concern Worldwide and the Girl Scouts of America. She created the Ideas that Matter program for Sappi in 1999, which has since given over $10 million to designers working for the public good. She also advised Paul Polak and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum on the exhibit, “Design for the Other 90%.” Heller has been a core faculty member for the PopTech Social Innovation and Science Fellows, mentoring the most exciting social entrepreneurs in the world as they create and scale new models for solving issues around poverty, water, health care, energy and conservation, often through the use of technology. She is the National Director of Leadership Education for AIGA, the professional association for design, and a writer for NextBillion.