Walt Disney Imagineers: Monday, June 24, 12:45 PM – 2:00 PM
Walt Disney Imagineering is the creative engine behind experiences found in Disney theme parks, resort hotels, cruise ships, and consumer products—including books, games, and merchandise. Imagineering’s unique strength comes from the teamwork and syntheses of creative and technical professionals representing more than 100 diverse disciplines.
Portfolio Executive Producer, Walt Disney Imagineering
Robin Reardon is an executive producer at Walt Disney Imagineering currently working on the Global Star Wars portfolio. Robin joined the company in 1985 as a Project Scheduler for the Disney MGM Studio Tour, where she coordinated the design and build teams. She worked her way up through Imagineering to become a Show Producer, leading the creative development, production, and construction of projects in Florida, Tokyo, and California.
Robin has more than 30 years of experience in the design, management, and implementation of multi-faceted projects. She has also worked as the VP of Creative Development for Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure, where she directed all aspects of the project including corporate sponsorship, financing, creative development, and team building. In addition, Robin worked as Warner Bros’ owner’s representative for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida.
In 1997, Robin founded a New York City-based concept design firm, specializing in providing design solutions to a broad range of clients, including Jim Henson Productions, Sesame Workshop, RadioShack, the World Science festival, and Warner Bros.
Construction Manager, Walt Disney Imagineering
Kristina Dewberry is a construction manager at Walt Disney Imagineering. In this role she is responsible for handling the logistics for all WDI Construction Projects at Disneyland Resort. This includes the coordination of all of the services the project teams require to complete their projects. She currently oversees the team that authorizes everything coming and going on the construction site for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In addition to this, she has been asked to look at all major construction projects at Disneyland Resort from a jobsite logistics perspective, to help project teams be as efficient and safe as possible.
Kristina started with WDI in 2009 as a construction coordinator on the Disneyland Hotel Renovation project. From there she was promoted to several roles including business system analyst, associate construction manager, and assistant construction manager. She has worked on several projects, including Trader Sam’s at Disneyland Hotel, new magic added to Peter Pan for the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland, Pixar Pier, and more.
Asya Cara Peña
Ride Mechanical Engineer, Walt Disney Imagineering
Asya Cara Peña is a ride mechanical engineer at Walt Disney Imagineering. In this role she is responsible for the design and implementation of ride systems from concept to installation. She ensures all ride systems are safe and designed for their specific applications while also meeting creative, operational, and maintenance needs. She is currently the lead mechanical engineer for the Rise of the Resistance ride vehicle.
Asya started at WDI in 2014 as an intern working on Disney’s California Adventure Luigi’s Rollicking Roadsters. She worked on the design of the trackless vehicle, focusing on making the vehicle ergonomic and accessible to Guests with Disabilities. During this time, she also had the opportunity to contribute to Shanghai Disneyland by running structural analyses on Shanghai Disneyland’s Voyage to the Crystal Grotto. Since May of 2015, she has been working on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance on the Vehicle Team. During her four years on the project, she was promoted to the lead mechanical engineer of the ride vehicle.
Art Director, Walt Disney Imagineering
Kirstin Makela is an art director at Walt Disney Imagineering responsible for upholding the creative integrity of a project. She guides various teams and disciplines through the design, fabrication, and construction process to ensure that they are all working towards a cohesive final product. She is currently working as the art director for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on the village portion of the project in Disneyland. Kirstin has worked on several projects, including the Hong Kong Disneyland expansion, as lead designer for Disneyland Resort’s 60th Anniversary, and the Aulani Resort Expansion.
Finance/Philanthropy Panel: Monday, June 24, 4:45 PM – 5:25 PM
President and CEO, KDG Construction Consulting
Lydia Kennard currently serves as the President and CEO of KDG Construction Consulting. Founded in 1980 as an offshoot of her father’s renowned architectural firm, KDG provides program and construction management services to public and private clients throughout California and the Western United States. Since 2007, Ms. Kennard has also served as a founding principal of Airport Property Ventures, an operator and developer of general aviation facilities.
A Southern California native, Ms. Kennard’s professional career has spanned corporate law, real estate development and urban planning. She holds a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Management from Stanford University. Most notably, Ms. Kennard was appointed as the Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) from 1999 through 2003 and again from 2005 to early 2007. During her tenure with LAWA, Ms. Kennard oversaw and managed the country’s second largest airport system, which included four airports, a staff of more than 3,000 people, and an annual budget of nearly $1 billion.
Over her career, Ms. Kennard has served as a director and trustee for several publicly traded companies and nonprofit organizations. She currently serves as a director for Prologis, an industrial REIT, Freeport McMoRan, a natural resources company, and HCP, Inc., a healthcare REIT. She also serves as a trustee for the University of Southern California and a director of the UniHealth Foundation. Ms. Kennard is a former trustee of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit policy research institute (2007-2012), and a member of the California Air Resources Board (2004-2011).
SVP, Enhancing Community, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)
Estelle Reyes is the SVP, Enhancing Community at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), where she is focused on ensuring that underrepresented groups are engaged in the cleantech and sustainability sector. Through her work on LACI’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative, she is building programming to recruit promising diverse cleantech entrepreneurs, as well as workforce development training to build a diverse talent pipeline for the rapidly growing green job market. Passionate about equity, she is also working with her team to launch cleantech pilots in disadvantaged communities. Prior to LACI, Estelle was the Executive Director at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Greater LA, where she played a central role in launching and growing the NFTE program to reach over 12,000 students locally. She also has experience as a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs’ Private Wealth Management Division as well as a First Grade Teacher. Estelle graduated from Marymount High School, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Brown University and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Founder & CEO, inherQuests
Dina Shoman is a banking veteran who comes from a long family history in banking. Having built a successful career in the industry while still in her 20s, she became the youngest and first woman Executive Vice President at Arab Bank, holding board seats on the boards of multiple bank and nonprofit entities. By 2012, she was listed as the 3rd most powerful Arab business women in publicly owned companies in 2012 by Forbes Middle East and was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in the same year.
With a strong believe that financial literacy is a basic life skill should be taught from an early age, Dina founded inherQuests, a company that creates fun financial education products for kids. The company’s first products (Financial Fun Boxes) are focused on teaching girls as young as 5 years old financial literacy through a curriculum of games and activities, or “quests.” The curriculum is built based on educational standards aligned to Common Core and uses the experiential education and game-based learning model.
Dina served as Executive Vice President and Head of Branding at Arab Bank from 2006 to 2012 and served as a Member of its Board of Arab Bank plc in addition to other related entities such as Arab Bank Switzerland and Arab Bank Australia, as well as several reputable NGOs in Jordan like the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, the Jordan River Foundation and INJAZ. She currently holds advisory positions to startups, and volunteers with nonprofit organizations such Junior Achievement, Global Teacher Prize Aware, and the International Youth Foundation.
Dina was born and raised in Jordan and educated in the United States. She holds a BS in Finance, and an MBA from Bentley University, as well as a Professional Certificate from Georgetown University in Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership.
Finance/Philanthropy Keynote: Monday, June 24, 5:25 PM – 5:45 PM
President and Board Member, First Republic Bank
Hafize Gaye Erkan is the President of First Republic Bank and serves on the company’s Board of Directors. Ms. Erkan joined First Republic in 2014 as Senior Vice President, Chief Investment Officer and Co-Chief Risk Officer. Prior to First Republic, she held the position of Managing Director and Head of Financial Institutions Group Strategies at Goldman Sachs, where she worked for nearly a decade, advising boards and executive management of large U.S. banks and insurance companies. Ms. Erkan graduated as valedictorian of Bogazici University in Turkey, B.Sc. and earned a Ph.D. in Operations Research and Financial Engineering from Princeton University. She is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program in Leadership. Ms. Erkan currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Partnership for New York City and Gradifi, and on the Advisory Council for the Princeton University Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering. She was named to the 2019 Crain’s list of Notable Women in Banking and Finance.
Entrepreneurship Panel: Tuesday, June 25, 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Founder and CEO, littleBits
Ayah Bdeir is the founder and CEO of littleBits, the award-winning company that invented the electronic building block and empowers kids to be change-makers through invention and creativity. Bdeir is an alumna of the MIT Media Lab, her TED talk has over 1 million views and she has advised extensively on how to get more girls into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics), including at the White House and the World Bank. littleBits has sold millions of units and has led partnerships with Disney, Pearson, and the New York Department of Education. Bdeir has been named one of Popular Mechanics 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream, Inc. Magazine Top 100 Female Founders, and MIT Technology Review’s list of 35 Innovators Under 35.
Courtney Klein (Moderator)
Co-Founder & CEO, SEED SPOT
Courtney Klein is the Co-Founder and CEO of SEED SPOT, an organization designed to educate, accelerate, and invest in entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to social problems. SEED SPOT ranks as one of the “Top 20 Accelerators in the World” by Gust and “Top 3 social impact incubators in the United States” by UBI Global and Cisco. SEED SPOT also holds an Emmy for their partnership with Univision serving Latino entrepreneurs.
Forbes, USA Today, Inc., Conscious Company Magazine, Huffington Post and others have profiled Courtney for her work and over 400 media stories have been written about SEED SPOT to-date. SEED SPOT operates programs across the country for both youth and adult impact-driven entrepreneurs.
Previously, Courtney served as the Co-Founder & CEO of New Global Citizens, a journey that started with a $1,000 seed grant and a dream when she was a senior in college that grew into a national-class organization that served over 10,000 youth and partnered with organizations in 33 countries.
In 2016, Arizona State University honored Courtney as the “Young Alumni of the Year” and Arizona Economic News named her “One of Arizona’s most Influential Millennials.”
Courtney is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College, where she received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in nonprofit management. She also completed work through the DSIL United Nations Executive Education Program in Thailand & Cambodia focused on Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Courtney resides in Los Angeles when not on airplanes, is married to an entrepreneur and has two children. She is an avid yogi and Ironman finisher.
Founder & CEO, Future Design School
Sarah Prevette has developed transformational strategy for some of the country’s biggest business leaders and renowned brands. Globally recognized for her work in human-centered design and entrepreneurship, she is proud to work alongside an incredible team of educators to drive innovation inside schools. Prevette’s organization, Future Design School, provides world-class strategy development, professional training programs and resources that empower effective leadership and personalized learning. Schools across North America leverage Future Design School to build capacity with their existing teams and to drive critical skill development with their students.
Sarah has been named by Inc Magazine as one of the top entrepreneurs in North America and one of the “Top 20 Power Elite” by Canadian Business. She has been profiled by numerous publications including The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
Founder and Chief Squad Officer, The Startup Squad
Brian Weisfeld has been building businesses his entire life. As a kid, he bought gummy bears and hired his friends to sell them. As a teen, he sorted baseball cards, babysat, and sold mixtapes. As an adult, he helped build well-known, billion-dollar companies including IMAX Corporation and Coupons.com. Brian is the Founder and Chief Squad Officer of The Startup Squad, an initiative dedicated to empowering girls with an entrepreneurial mindset to help them reach their potential, whatever their passions. His first book, The Startup Squad, will be released by Macmillan on May 7, 2019. Brian lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and two daughters.
Innovation Panel: Tuesday, June 25, 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM
Gayle Allen (Moderator)
Founder and CEO, The Innovators’ Circle
Gayle Allen has a passion for connecting people to ideas that improve their lives.
A global leader in learning and development, Gayle is Founder and CEO of The Innovators’ Circle, a firm that works with leaders on organizational performance. She is also Host and Creator of Curious Minds, a podcast that features award-winning innovators rewriting the rules of work in a digital age.
Gayle was Chief Learning Officer at BrightBytes, an educational technology company that’s garnered dozens of awards for improving the way the world learns. She earned her MBA in Global Innovation and Leadership from MIT and her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. Gayle served as Executive Director of two adult learning institutes.
Gayle’s writing has been featured in Mindshift, Edsurge, Edutopia, and Educational Leadership, and she is the author of the book, The New Pillars of Modern Teaching.
Talent & Business Development Manager, Not Impossible
A California boy born and bred, Jordan Richardson is a talent and creative development specialist with 12+ years of experience managing vertical opportunities and projects with celebrity musicians, actors, thought leaders and corporate brands. Studying at the University of Southern California, Jordan graduated with a degree in Music & Business from the Thornton School of Music.
Having successfully directed initiatives and talent at all levels, Jordan has been deeply entrenched across the record label, talent agency, television, and corporate industries. Garnering a holistic understanding of the entertainment industry landscape, and the complex roles associated with even the most niche of disciplines, he thrives on imagination, meaningful research, and both external and inter-company collaborations.
With a strong passion for on-brand creative ideation, Jordan had previously booked multiple promotional and commercial campaigns on major television networks like ABC’s Soapnet and NBC, cast shows such as VH1’s “Behind The Music” and “I Love The 2000’s”, and co-facilitated recognizable brand activations like #LoveIsLove with Absolut Vodka. Jordan now leads the talent and brand management arm of Not Impossible Labs (TEG), an award winning technology incubator and content studio dedicated to changing the world through technology and story.
Jordan believes that any entrepreneur must surround themselves with experienced collaborators that are driven in spirit, while upholding a reputation of innovative development and performance.
Vice President, General Motors Cruise Automation
Julie Schoenfeld is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for identifying talent and assembling effective teams. Her most recent company, Strobe Inc., was acquired by General Motors, Cruise Automation and is building groundbreaking LiDAR sensor technology for the self-driving car.
Julie was formerly CEO of Perfect Market, Inc., a digital publishing software company backed by Trinity Ventures, Idealab and Comcast. Perfect Market was acquired by Taboola in July 2104.
Julie also served as CEO and founder for two other successful venture-backed start-ups. In 1999 she led the sale of Net Effect, Inc., for over $300M to Ask.
Julie is a recognized industry thought leader and has presented at conferences such as The Milken Global Conference, TechCrunch Disrupt, Business Insider Ignition and AdMonsters. She serves on the board of Protégé LLC. Has been named as Digital LA’s named list of Top 50 Digital Women. National Association of Women Business Owners in Los Angeles acknowledged Julie with the prestigious “Innovator of the Year” award.
Julie holds a B.S. in engineering from Tufts University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
STEM Panel: Wednesday, June 26, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
Leslie Aaronson (Moderator)
Strategic Director of K12 Initiatives, NCWIT
Leslie Aaronson is the Strategic Director of K12 Initiatives for NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) and the Teacher in Residence at LA Promise Fund where she manages Girls Build. Leslie was awarded Teacher of the Year by LAUSD for her work as the Lead Teacher and Coordinator of Foshay Learning Center’s Technology Academy where she taught for thirteen years. She was a researcher for CS Teaching Tips and writes articles and speaks about the importance of access and equity and how to prepare students for careers of the future. Leslie sits on the advisory board for CS Ed Week, SciGirls Code, the Computer Science Department of El Camino College, Family Code Night and the California Joint Special Populations Advisory Committee (JSPAC). Prior to teaching, Leslie was the Production Manager for Blue’s Clues International at Nickelodeon.
McGregor-Girand Associate Professor of Computer Science, Harvey Mudd College
Colleen Lewis is the McGregor-Girand Associate Professor of computer science at Harvey Mudd College. At UC Berkeley, Lewis completed a PhD in science and mathematics education, an MS in computer science, and a BS in electrical engineering and computer science. Her research seeks to identify effective teaching practices for creating equitable learning spaces where all students have the opportunity to learn. Lewis curates CSTeachingTips.org, a NSF-sponsored project for disseminating effective computer science teaching practices.
Carnegie-Princeton Fellow, The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science
Allison Strom is a Carnegie-Princeton postdoctoral fellow at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, California. She received a PhD in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology in 2017, a MPhil in astronomy from the University of Cambridge in 2011, and a BS in physics and astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2010. One of the primary goals of her research is to understand the origin of mature galaxies like our own Milky Way, which has been a longstanding open question in astronomy. Throughout her career, Allison has used some of the world’s largest telescopes to address this issue, leveraging their enormous technological power to observe “adolescent” galaxies in the very distant universe.
Instrument Operations Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Janelle Wellons graduated from the Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT) with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering in 2016. After graduating, she moved from her home in New Jersey to Southern California to work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. At JPL, Janelle works as an instrument operations engineer on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the earth-observing Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols, and previously on the Saturnian Cassini mission. Her job consists of creating the commands for and monitoring the health and safety of a variety of instruments ranging from visible and infrared cameras to radiometers. She also works in development, specifically for the ground data system and instrument operations concepts for the MAIA mission. Additionally, Janelle serves on an advisory board for Magnitude.io, a company that creates project-based learning experiences designed for STEM education. When she isn’t working you can find her playing video games, reading, enjoying the outdoors, and doing outreach work.
Makers Panel: Wednesday, June 26, 11:45 AM – 12:45PM
Nkechi Okoro Carroll
Executive Producer, Showrunner
Born in New York, raised in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and England, Nkechi Okoro Carroll is currently the showrunner on the new CW show “All American.” Her previous credits include “The Resident,” “Rosewood,” “Bones”, and “The Finder.” Prior to her TV writing career, Nkechi worked for the Federal Reserve. She has a B.A. in Economics and French from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with honors. She also holds an M.A. in Economics from New York University.
Vice President of Development and Operations, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Elizabeth Kilpatrick is the Vice President of Development and Operations for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Founded by the Academy Award winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, the organization works from within the entertainment industry to eliminate unconscious bias, highlight gender balance, and challenge stereotypes.
Elizabeth has more than 20 years of fundraising, marketing, research program management, and strategic planning experience with major universities to volunteer-driven grassroots organizations. She has previously served in executive roles with Cure Autism Now (now Autism Speaks), the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County, the University of Southern California, and Goodwill Industries of Southern California.
She is also a coach, speaker, vlogger, and author in the area of personal development and weight loss transformation, having successfully maintained a 200-pound weight loss.
Saladin K. Patterson
Showrunner, Producer, and Writer
Saladin K. Patterson is currently the showrunner on the TBS series “The Last O.G.,” starring Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish. Prior to that, he was the showrunner for the TBS animated series, “The Cops,” starring Louis C.K. and Albert Brooks. He completed three seasons as Co-Executive Producer of CBS’s long-running hit, “The Big Bang Theory”, which he joined after serving as a Consulting Producer on another CBS hit comedy, “Two and a Half Men.” He completed seven seasons as the Co-Executive Producer on the USA Network’s comedy, “Psych.” Prior to that, he was under a multi-year development deal with 20th Century Fox TV where he served as Co-Executive Producer on FOX’s “The Bernie Mac” show. Before joining the Bernie Mac staff, Saladin was a Producer for three seasons on NBC’s Emmy Award winning sitcom “Frasier,” after getting his start on ABC’s “Teen Angel” and Fox’s Eddie Murphy-starrer, “The PJs.” Patterson wrote “The Fighting Temptations” for Paramount Pictures and MTV Films starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce’ Knowles. Additionally, he has contributed to various produced features such as “Undercover Brother”, “Scary Movie 4”, “Scary Movie 5”, “The Honeymooners”, “Beauty Shop”, “Shrek Goes Fourth”, “Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked,” “Trolls” and has sold numerous television pilots to NBC, USA Network, Fox, The WB and TV Land.
Saladin K. Patterson began his writing career as one of four writers chosen for the prestigious Walt Disney Writer’s Fellowship Program in 1996. Upon completion of the program, he was selected to become a writer on Disney/ABC’s “Teen Angel”. In 1998 Patterson was selected as executive story editor on FOX’s “The PJ’s”. With eight produced scripts between the two shows, the writer turned director completed his first independent production, titled “Da Sixth Sense”. “Da Sixth Sense” appeared in the Acapulco Black Film Festival where it received runner- up for the grand prize and has aired on HBO and Cinemax. In May 2003 Saladin completed his second independent project titled “One Flight Stand” which he wrote, directed and produced. It has subsequently been screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, American Black Film Festival, Pan-African Film Festival and Aspen ShortFest.
Patterson is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, and he is an M.I.T. alumnus with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He has also received his M.A. in Psychology from Vanderbilt University. Saladin’s unique background recently contributed to him to be chosen to serve on a special subcommittee of President Obama’s Job Council, comprised of entertainment professionals with backgrounds in science and engineering. He now resides in Los Angeles, California with his wife, Chelsea, his daughter Micah and son, Joshua.
Featured Session (Tuesday, June 25, 11:20 AM – 12:20 PM)
CEO and Founder, GenHERation
Katlyn Grasso is the CEO and Founder of GenHERation. In her role as CEO, Katlyn has created GenHERation Discovery Days, hosted the GenHERation Summer Leadership Series, developed original GenHERation webisodes, and has grown the GenHERation community to reach more than 250,000 young women. GenHERation’s Discovery Days 2018 tour consisted of 12 trips across 10 cities with 500 female executives that provided young women with the opportunity to visit the most innovative companies in America. The Discovery Days tour was recognized as the largest career exploration trip for young women in the United States with an audience reach of more than 10 million people.
Katlyn is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she received a B.S. in Economics with concentrations in finance and strategic globalization. She is one of the inaugural recipients of the Penn President’s Engagement Prize, which provides graduating seniors with $150,000 to develop innovative projects that have the potential to change the world. Katlyn has started two nonprofit organizations and the dance exercise program Tap for Tots. Katlyn is a member of the Penn Fund Executive Board, the Penn Nursing Center for Global Women’s Health Advisory Board, and is the Tri-Chair of Momentum 2020: The Power of Penn Women. She is a frequent national television and radio contributor appearing on CNBC, Bloomberg, FOX Business, and SiriusXM Radio. Her work has been featured across national media outlets, including Fast Company, Forbes, Seventeen Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Wharton Magazine, and The Pennsylvania Gazette.
Featured Session (Wednesday, June 26, 9:40 AM – 10:30 AM)
Provost, ArtCenter College of Design
Karen Hofmann is the Provost at ArtCenter College of Design overseeing the College’s undergraduate and graduate educational departments, academic, faculty and student affairs and ArtCenter Extension. Prior to being named Provost in July 2018, she served as chair of ArtCenter’s Product Design department since 2009 and began teaching at the College in 2001. Last year, Karen was presented with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Education Award in recognition of her significant and distinguished contributions to the field of industrial design education. She was similarly recognized in 2010, when DesignIntelligence, published by the Design Futures Council, named Hofmann one of their Most Admired Educators.
During her tenure as faculty and chair at ArtCenter, Karen led numerous initiatives at the College including the development and launch of the Color, Materials and Trends Exploration Laboratory (CMTEL), the Wearables & Soft Goods concentration in the product design program, and co-led a unique study abroad program with INSEAD International Business School. She is the founder of the innovative project model DesignStorms® (3-day creative immersions with Art Center faculty and students) collaborating with corporate partners exploring future market opportunities and emerging technologies. Karen also is a co-creator of Art Center’s executive education programming focusing on design-driven workshops and creative leadership seminars. Outside of education, Karen’s expertise is in design research, strategy and insights. She spent several years at Johnson Controls Automotive Systems Group in Advanced Design and Research and for the last decade has been teaching and consulting.
Karen graduated from ArtCenter in 1997 with a bachelor of science degree in product design and earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge in 1990. She currently serves as a board member for the MADWORKSHOP Foundation, supporting artists and designers who will make radical, sustainable and lasting contributions to the design discourse and society at large. Karen also serves as a board member of Full Circle, supporting the creation of creators by providing scholarships and funding for programs to support ArtCenter students during their educational journey.