Ronni Kimm is a designer and innovation strategist based in Los Angeles. Her work has spanned 20 years of diverse partnerships with organizations, creatives, and technologists. Her most recent work focuses on using human-centered design and storytelling to help clients imagine new possibilities for their future. Ronni has led future visioning initiatives with Autodesk, Clif Bar, Ford, Nike, among others.
As an educator, her background includes lectureships, and visiting artist/critic roles at the Art Center College of Design, California Institute of the Arts, Cal State Long Beach, General Assembly, Otis College of Art & Design, SCI-Arc, UCLA, and USC.
As part of her exploration of new meanings and forms, Ronni loves to incite conversations and collaborations with brilliant thinkers and doers whenever possible.
Eric Holdener is Founding Partner of Collective Future and currently serving as CEO of Kinestry, an AI innovation company. He started his career in consulting and spent over 12 years with Nestlé in numerous functions both in Switzerland and in the USA.
His experience includes driving business and technology transformation initiatives, launching products, conducting large scale LEAN initiatives and partnering with executive leadership teams on strategic projects to deliver organic growth.
He introduced Design Thinking and developed innovative tools to help organizations visualize value and improve their performance. His passion and expertise in organizational alignment, innovation design, and disruptive technologies make him a versatile and strategic thinker who likes to operate in challenging environments.
As a researcher and writer, Jennifer Axen has spent the past two decades interviewing strangers all over the world, observing and documenting their quirky habits and curious behaviors. From hard core gamers to convenience store shoppers and burlesque dancers, she makes her living lifting insights out of the most fascinating and peculiar pockets of culture.
Her expertise in design research and strategy has led to partnerships with dozens of Fortune 500 companies including Panasonic, Target, and Coca-Cola. Jennifer completed the D.School executive program at Stanford University and is a frequent speaker on the subject of consumer empathy, design research and brand strategy.
Jennifer is the Founder of Axen Institute, a collective dedicated to social research, insight development and training.
With over 20 years of combined experience as an automotive engineer, industrial designer and innovator, Safir has been able to leverage his strategic thinking and creative problem-solving skills to tackle a wide range of innovation challenges. Safir was an early adopter of 3D design and prototyping tools and carried his experience from the automotive world into the fashion and footwear industry.
As Head of Innovation for the industry’s leading Action Sports brand, Vans, he oversaw a number of initiatives that spanned across products and experiences. In his new role, driving innovation through digital technologies for VF’s 20+ Apparel, Footwear, and Accessories brands, he aims to explore the opportunities offered by digital tools and workflows and help imagine the future of Product Creation.
An Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow and advocate of purposeful and responsible design, Safir believes that our society has an incredible opportunity to harness its collective creativity and today’s technological affordances to tackle the world’s social and humanitarian challenges. Safir teaches at ArtCenter College of Design and at the USC Iovine and Young Academy and spends the rest of his free time discovering the world with his wife Patty and his twin daughters Mila and Sofia.
Amy Blackman was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. After receiving an MA in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University, she moved to LA and had a successful 18-year run in the music industry, managing the global businesses and careers of multi-Grammy Award winning music artists and producers. Her music management career culminated in being named a Cultural Ambassador for the US State Department across two different presidential administrations. She produced public diplomacy missions in 18 countries, and several regions that had never before seen live music from the West.
Dreams fulfilled, she sold her house, quit her job, and took a two-year sabbatical, attending Georgetown University for a Global Executive MBA. She was recruited to run the North America subsidiary of a global multimedia design agency, and was then appointed to VP at Contend Immersive, where she ran a global team of rogue, vanguard, and brilliant strategists, designers, artists, branders. Her latest venture, Fruition.co is the coalescing of her life, work, and academic adventures. For fun, Amy does international channel swimming expeditions.
Dimitri Chamblas’s work examines the body and its representation in various concrete or imaginary contexts. His choreographic work springs from his perception of his immediate environment. One of his underlying goals is to invent new dance forms and their transmissions.
His work has been performed in venues such as Tate Modern (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Opéra national de Paris , St Mark’s church (New York), among others.
Captivated by dance, Dimitri Chamblas joined The Paris Opera’s celebrated dance school at age ten. During his career, he notably collaborated with creators such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld, composer Heiner Goebbels, artists Christian Boltanski, Andy Goldsworthy, Dan Colen, Xavier Veilhan, choreographers William Forsythe, Boris Charmatz, Lil Buck, Mathilde Monnier, Benjamin Millepied.
In 2017 he launched Studio Dimitri Chamblas, a structure that hosts all of his projects and collaborations, including a duet with the star dancer Marie-Agnès Gillot, his participation in the new creation of Boris Charmatz premiered at the Volksbühne in Berlin, and a creation with architect François Perrin and François Dallegret for the Performa Biennial in New York.
He is also the dean of the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
Sharleen Chen is a creative/art director and graphic designer who grew up in Taipei, Taiwan and is now based in Los Angeles, California. Her work sits at the intersection of design, storytelling, and emergent technologies, and has been recognized by Type Director’s Club, Communication Arts, and GD USA, among others. She holds a Graphic Design MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a Communications BA from University of Pennsylvania.
Brain, founder of Verdant.AI, is a leading mathematician, data scientist, and cyberneticist that has built thousands of AI products for over 20 years. Brian is a serial entrepreneur having co-founded Deep 6 AI, Qurius, and Discovix. He has led enterprise projects for clients like EMC, Havas, T-Mobile, and the US government. Formerly Chief Scientist at Greenplum (EMC), Brian led data science at Yahoo! Inc. and Research Analytics at FOX/MySpace. An experienced author and speaker, he co-authored “MAD Skills: New Analysis Practices.”, delivered a TEDx talk, and wrote the chapter “Information Pathways” in “Transforming Healthcare with Big Data.”
Jessy is a society-centered transdisciplinary designer and strategist interested in near and far futures. She has worked with clients such as: Acumen, Sidewalk Labs, IDEO CoLab, Autodesk, and the City of LA on a variety of web, mobile, and speculative prototypes that imagine new ways of working and collaborating with emerging technologies. Jessy’s work aspires to anticipate near-future implications of emerging technologies through prototyping accessible immersive experiences, community platforms, and co-creation tools. She believes in the value of participatory practices and is an advocate of mixed futures methodologies as an approach to innovate within large organizations and communities. She holds an MFA in Media Design Practices from ArtCenter College of Design, a B.S. in Architectural Studies from the University of Southern California, and has shared her work in spaces such as Primer Conference, Refactor Camp, APF Futures Festival, PIVOT2020, and CultureHub Refest.
Born in Köln, Germany, Henry began his culinary journey as a young man, first carrying bags of flour and cutting dough at age 10 for a local baker. Henry has more than 20 years of world-class industry experience. Having trained, studied and worked in Europe, Asia, and the continental United States, Henry has honed his passion and skill in many of the globe's foremost institutions of the past and present.
For a number of years, Henry has been cultivating an array of high-concept, site-specific products that encompass a broad survey of both ancient and forward-thinking techniques, including methods of preservation and modification.
Nu Goteh is a multi-disciplinary creative & designer who works in audio, visual and written mediums. He is the co-founder of the strategy and design studio, Room for Magic, and co-founder and creative director of partner publication, Deem Journal. Nu’s practice is informed by his love for counter/subculture(s), his background as a Liberian-born refugee, and a lifelong dedication to building platforms that enable communities to engage in shared experiences. Holding a Masters in Strategic Design & Management from Parsons School of Design, Nu is focused on the capabilities of design-thinking and on investing in ideas that solve bigger problems as a means of elevating the well-being of others. Based in Los Angeles, he has helped brands such as Puma, RedBull, Sonos, Adidas, and Sesame Street, improve upon the way people experience culture, community, and social capital. With an inherent understanding of the elements needed to build community platforms, Nu brings over a decade of branding, research, strategic development, ideation and production to creating equitable change to the way communities are being represented.
With a talent for engaging deeply to develop strong social microcosms around design and social engagement, Alice Grandoit is a champion for enhancing the way people connect with their experiences. Grandoit’s practice is rooted in empowerment, cultural collaborations, and the creation of experiential platforms molded around emergent creatives. As a social engagement designer and cultural researcher who builds awareness through strategic community partnerships, programming, and experiences, she is focused on a multi-dimensional experience with the world. These ideas are united by her work as the co-founder and editorial director of Deem Journal. Alice’s desire to pioneer human-centered solutions, combined with her experience working with global organizations for more than a decade, have informed her projects Room for Magic, a collaborative design studio, and its partner publication Deem Journal.
Eli is an interaction designer, who designs and prototypes for emerging tech, user experience, and fun. With a background in urban design and planning, Eli recently got an MFA from Media Design Practices at ArtCenter College of Design. Eli’s work uses design to make communication and emerging technology more courteous and respectful. Originally from Amoy, Eli spent 3 years working in Los Angeles and currently resides in Shanghai.
Anna Rose began her culinary path cooking for private clients, start ups, corporate entities and art institutions in NYC and the Hamptons. In 2015, Anna relocated to Los Angeles where she began a tailored chef service focusing on Paleo, Keto, Cancer Combative and Postpartum Nutrition before partnering with Henry in 2017 on Hank and Bean.
With a background in narrative performance, Anna expands her passion for food creating site-specific, conceptual dining experiences in collaboration with various artists. Such events have been hosted and produced by Boston University (MA), RICE University (TX), the Barbara Seiler Gallery (Zurich), PST LA (a Getty Initiative) and UCLA LENS at the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden.
Mike is the founder and CEO of VENT, a collective of thinkers and doers who partner with hospitality clients to solve problems and discover opportunities to evolve their business.This works crosses multiple disciplines including business strategy, operations, finance and investments, brand strategy and voice, organizational structure and process, sales and marketing, communications, and creative concepting and design.
At the heart of the work is one tenet that drives everything: How do companies build relationships with their employees, customers, guests and clients in an emotionally connected, authentic way in order to differentiate themselves and stand out.
Mike’s work experience cuts a wide swath across theme parks and attractions, location-based entertainment, retail and agencies in roles from management and marketing and branding, to operations, blogging, media spokesperson and cross-departmental problem solver. This variety of personal career experiences and VENT’s 75+ client history continues to drive Mike’s curiosity, allowing him to bring a wealth of “outside the industry" thinking to each client.
Willem Henri Lucas is interested in addressing social issues and bringing design back ‘to the street,’ and humanity back into design, encouraging future designers to be a valuable part of their communities. His body of work deals with issues of war, love, and the human condition.
Lucas studied at the Academy of Visual Arts in Arnhem in the Netherlands and did his post academic studies at the Sandberg institute (Rietveld Academy) in Amsterdam. After his studies Lucas worked as an independent designer in Amsterdam. From 1990 to 2002 he served as a professor and chair of the Utrecht School of the Arts’ Graphic Design department. In 2004 Lucas moved to Los Angeles as a visiting lecturer at UCLA Design Media Arts, and is a tenured professor since 2007. From 2007 to 2014 Lucas was the department chair, and currently is a Senate faculty member and Professor Step 6.
Dr. Ross Mead is the Founder and CEO of Semio. Ross received his PhD and MS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California in 2015, and his BS in Computer Science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2007. Ross’s dissertation work focused on socially assistive robots, specifically, on the principled design and computational modeling of fundamental social behaviors (such as speech, gestures, eye gaze, social spacing, etc.) that serve as building blocks for automated recognition and control in face-to-face human-robot interactions. His research provides the foundations upon which Semio software is being built.
Beyond Semio, Ross serves on the Board of Directors for AI LA to promote artificial intelligence in the Los Angeles community; and the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics to promote robotics and STEM in K-12 education around the globe, with a focus on underrepresented populations. In 2018, he co-founded the Social Robot Community Slack team to spark an international community around robotics and natural language technologies. Previously, Ross also served as a technical and scientific advisor to Disney, Intel, and National Geographic, among others.
Joanna designs, incubates, and raises capital for ventures that promote global sustainable development. Her undergraduate studies, which explored the intersectionality of technology, ecology, and society, compelled her to pursue a 20+ year profession catalyzing novel commercial solutions that address critical social and environmental needs. She began her career as a strategy consultant and joined CEP, a pioneering corporate impact think-tank often commended as the first ESG, impact investment portfolio and consumer advisory. Thereafter, Joanna consulted large public manufacturing companies, banks, tech firms and fashion startups.
She also co-advised the United Nations on the selection of themes and related indicators to define and measure sustainable development, foundational work in establishing the SDGs.
Since her graduate studies, Joanna has been building and advising new ventures tackling climate-tech, mobility, sustenance, sustainable fashion-lifestyle, AI and blockchain. This includes leading the development of $50M worth of off-grid solar, water and transportation projects in East Africa for eleQtra, acclaimed for distinctive technology and award-winning financing tactics. She holds a BA from Cornell University, MIA from Columbia University, and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business as a recipient of the Joseph Wharton and Bessette Fellowships.
Somebody once said, "The shortest distance between two people is a story." I help clients harness the power of story to unite their teams away from fear and toward hope.
Under StoryNova, I provide the tools that clients need to identify and embody their most important stories. I facilitate honest conversations that build understanding and align people behind a common goal. Narrative intelligence allows clients to become more intentional and positive about the stories they enact in the world.
A New Yorker by birth, I have lived more than half my life in Europe. Each encounter with a new culture required me to adapt and to integrate new information into my personal narrative. With a background in screenwriting, I worked as a story consultant in independent film production before bringing my story skills to the nonprofit and business worlds. I’ve been accompanying clients since 1998. I am an ICF-accredited Whole Person Coach (WPCC).
Sample clients include: Euronext, Lab Pareto, Opera de Paris, Orchestre National de Lille. With the corporate training company LightHouse, I have worked with GRDF, Pôle Emploi, Servier, and Safran among others.
Philip Otto is an entrepreneur, creative leader, and designer. Creating systems, as well as spaces, that maximize value engineering for design and construction. Philip’s interest in retail, environments, and experience began with a position at Comme des Garcons after college. He continued on this path with positions at the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco, and at the Headlands Center for the Arts, where he worked on projects with world class artists and creatives.As a cultural anthropologist turned designer, Philip seeks to explore the intersection between architecture, design, art, and culture. In his career, he has maintained dialog between these interconnected worlds. Philip has worked across a variety of platforms to create environments that are both practical and poetic. He has had the privilege to work with some of the premier brands in the world including Free People, The North Face, Coca-Cola International, Levi’s, Nike, Undefeated, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and REI to name a few.
Todd Terrazas is a mission-driven entrepreneur, storyteller, and engineer of serendipity. With his startup, Brainitch, Todd has developed a wide range of creative technological solutions for disaster relief, fan engagement, and consumer research. Todd is the Founder and Executive Director of AI LA, a non-profit think tank in the Greater Los Angeles area that focuses on education and collaboration on subjects related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a wide range of stakeholders. Todd has built on-going partnerships for AI LA with esteemed organizations, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, X Prize, Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser-Permanente, Children’s Hospital Innovation Lab, and the University of Southern California (USC). Todd is a graduate of the USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he focused on entertainment business and short-form storytelling. When Todd is not in production mode, you can find him advocating for affordable housing and after school enrichment programs, performing improv, and walking his dog, Lady.
Rachel Joy Victor draws from a degree in computational neuroscience, a background in media research, and content strategy for companies like HBO and Disney to design, write, and produce transmedia content, interactive stories, and immersive experiences through the lenses of worldbuilding and engagement. Her projects explore education and speculative futures and are informed by research and practice on POV, identity, and culture.
Dr. Andrew Zhang is one of the leading experts in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Neural Networks, as well as IoT, and Blockchain integration. Serving as the CTO at Kinestry, Andrew leads a long-term technology vision, and is responsible for the applied AI programs, industry thought leadership, and advanced technology application. Through his commitment in this role, he has helped Kinestry scale and optimize product management, talent acquisition, and strategic partnerships.
Prior to his current role, Andrew worked as a research fellow at Stanford University, an AI expert at Sharp Corporation on leading AI-powered systems connected to IoT devices for preventive maintenance; and Head of AI at HB, a leading behavioral AI FinTech company. Andrew holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science.