Founded in 2004, Games for Change empowers game creators and social innovators to drive real-world change using games and immersive media. We convene stakeholders through our annual G4C Festival and foster the exchange of ideas and resources through workshops, design challenges, and consulting projects. We inspire youth to explore civic issues, learn 21st Century and STEM skills, and train educators to run game design classes on impact games through our Student Challenge. We act as an amplifier by curating games for change to the public through our games arcades and awards.
Susanna Pollack is the President of Games for Change, the leading global advocate for the power of games as drivers of social impact. In her role there, she produces the annual Games for Change Festival, the largest gaming event in New York, dubbed by national media as “the Sundance of video games.”
Susanna Pollack is the President of Games for Change, the leading global advocate for the power of games and immersive media as drivers of social impact. In her role there, she produces the annual Games for Change Festival, the largest industry-facing gaming event in New York, dubbed by national media as “the Sundance of video games.” The event attracts industry leaders across game design, emerging technology, media, foundations, government agencies, academia and brands. In 2017, Susanna launched XR for Change to focus on building a community of practice around how immersive technologies are offering radical new ways to improve lives.
Susanna works also closely with organizations that are actively pursuing digital games and immersive media to further their public or CSR mission. For clients, including American Express, Verizon, Princeton University, AT&T, United Nations, Carnegie Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Ad Council, and Smithsonian Museum, she has initiated dozens of programs to advance the games and immersive media for good sector.
As an Executive Producer, Susanna spearheads impact media projects, bringing together award-winning creators with mission oriented organizations. Current projects include 38 Minutes a partnership with renowned studios Archer’s Mark and Atlas V and Princeton University’s Science and Global Security Department, Oculus and MacArthur Foundation. The VR experience highlights the issue of nuclear security risk though immersive storytelling.
With a commitment to learning and education, Susanna also developed a portfolio of programs that advance the use of games and immersive media in learning. She launched the G4C Student Challenge with the NYC Department of Education in 2015 which now a national program that reaches 10,000 students annually. The program has attracted world class partners including the New York Times, NYC Mayors Office, ACLU, General Motors, Truth Initiative, National Geographic to offer a games design challenge to underserved middle and high school students across the country. For Verizon, she led the development of an XR Hackathon program that is currently being rolled out to 20 Verizon Innovation Schools over the next 2 years.
Prior to Games for Change Susanna worked across both the commercial and public sector. Over a 14 year period, Susanna held various senior level positions at BBC Worldwide Americas, including SVP of the US television distribution division where she led a team of 20 to raise $50m annually from coproduction and sales of BBC’s award winning documentaries and scripted content. She was also SVP of BBC Worldwide’s Children’s where she led the strategy of all youth related initiatives in the US including channel and IP development.
Arana was formerly Executive Director at the Institute of Play where she led the Institute’s strategy, growth, development, and operations. She also oversaw the Institute’s major initiatives in relation to school design, leadership, and school-based partnerships. She has over twenty years of experience in education and non profit management.
Arana was formerly Executive Director at the Institute of Play where she led the Institute’s strategy, growth, development, and operations. She also oversaw the Institute’s major initiatives in relation to school design, leadership, and school-based partnerships. She has over twenty years of experience in education and non profit management. Prior to working at the Institute of Play, Arana collaborated on the development of new curriculum for The School at Columbia University, where she served as a founding faculty member. She served as Lead Educational Technologist at the Ross School and the Ross Global Academy Charter School, where she worked with teachers to integrate new and innovative technologies in K-12 classrooms. Arana is part of the founding team of school designers that opened the Institute of Play’s flagship project, Quest to Learn, and is co-author of Quest to Learn: Growing a School for Digital Kids. Arana received a M.A. in Education from Pepperdine University and a Masters of Education in School Leadership from Bank Street College of Education.
Diana J. Moreau
Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships
Diana J. Moreau (DJ) is the Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships at Games for Change. In this capacity, DJ leads business development efforts, manages strategic partnerships, and oversees esports initiatives. She is focused on building cross-sector partner networks both in the U.S. and internationally to drive participation in the Games for Change Festival and other programs.
Diana J. Moreau (DJ) is the Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships at Games for Change. In this capacity, DJ leads business development efforts, manages strategic partnerships, and oversees esports initiatives. She is focused on building cross-sector partner networks both in the U.S. and internationally to drive participation in the Games for Change Festival and other programs.
Previous, DJ has worked at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), GlassLab/LRNG — a games and learning initiative based at Electronic Arts — and, Events DC as Head of Esports. She has been instrumental in developing and managing numerous strategic initiatives including: (1) The Higher Education Video Game Alliance (a consortium of the top university video game design programs, as ranked by the Princeton Review); (2) the National STEM Video Game Challenge; (3) the District of Columbia’s official launch into esports; and (4) the first Youth Esports League Championship featuring local Boys & Girls Clubs.
DJ graduated from Wake Forest University and lives in Annapolis, MD with her husband and two daughters.
Senior Director of Programs
Working as the Director of Programs, Tania oversees a variety of youth, community and client-facing programs at Games for Change. Her primary focus is the G4C Student Challenge – a game design program and competition through which youth learn to design and code games about issues impacting their communities. Now in its sixth year, the program has engaged over 32,000 students, trained 383 educators and resulted in 3,000 original games being submitted to the annual competition.
Working as the Senior Director of Programs, Tania oversees a variety of youth, community and client-facing programs at Games for Change. Her primary focus is the G4C Student Challenge – a game design program and competition through which youth learn to design and code games about issues impacting their communities. Now in its sixth year, the program has engaged over 32,000 students, trained 383 educators and resulted in 3,000 original games being submitted to the annual competition. Recently adapted for hybrid and virtual learning models, the Challenge runs in cities across the US and nationally through virtual opportunities.
Recently, Tania developed and launched the G4C Student XR Hackathon (in partnership with Verizon) – an innovative hackathon initiative through which middle school students design and build AR/VR projects that demonstrate the power of 5G technology to drive real-world change. In addition to running G4C’s youth programs, Tania oversees G4C’s professional design challenges and runs the annual G4C Awards – a prestigious awards program honoring the year’s best games and XR for impact and learning.
Tania graduated from Cornell University with a BA in film, theater and dance and has a certificate in entertainment media management from NYU-SCPS. Her professional background spans a range of entertainment companies and productions including Vivendi Games, the Hamptons International Film Festival, Visit Films LLC, and the Charlie Rose Show. She is a social gamer, a lover of cinema, and a big advocate for the power of interactive media to make the world a better place. She also has a peekapoo named Etta.
Director of Development
Kevin Duggan specializes in planning, fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit cultural organizations, particularly those making innovative use of media and technology. In addition to Games for Change, clients have included Tribeca Film Institute, Independent Television Service, Anthology Film Archives and more.
Kevin Duggan specializes in planning, fundraising and organizational development for nonprofit cultural organizations, particularly those making innovative use of media and technology. In addition to Games for Change, clients have included Tribeca Film Institute, Independent Television Service, Anthology Film Archives, Harvestworks, Eyebeam, New York Foundation for the Arts, The Jewish Museum, School of Visual Arts, the Atlantic Foundation, and many others. Previously, Kevin served as Senior Advancement Officer at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) and Senior Program Officer for Services, Technology at the New York Foundation for the Arts, where he was responsible for NYFA’s arts and technology programs.
Director of Programs and Operations
Marissa Harts is the Director of Programs and Operations. Not only does she support day-to-day operations, ensuring that the Games for Change headquarters runs efficiently, but she also manages the New York City G4C Student Challenge program. She excels at using proven methods and cutting-edge technology to successfully streamline operations and increase productivity.
Marissa Harts is the Director of Programs and Operations. Not only does she support day-to-day operations, ensuring that the Games for Change headquarters runs efficiently, but she also manages the New York City G4C Student Challenge program. She excels at using proven methods and cutting-edge technology to successfully streamline operations and increase productivity. Previously, Marissa supported multiple educational organizations and assisted in facilitating programs which created an effective learning experience for students of all ages. Outside of her role at G4C, Marissa enjoys all things related to music and plays multiple instruments. She has a fondness of the theater and you can actively find her playing all sorts of MMORPG’s. Marissa is a firm believer that videos games challenge the values of people that play them. Contact: marissa (at) gamesforchange (dot) org
Director of Production & XR for Change / Festival Producer
After working closely with the Festival team to produce the 2018 Games for Change Festival, Raul now serves as the Production Manager at Games for Change. Raul fuses his background in film production and virtual reality development to bring together talented teams that create memorable experiences. Raul coordinates the G4C team’s production efforts across all initiatives and manages the development and strategy for the XR for Change program.
After working closely with the Festival team to produce the 2018 Games for Change Festival, Raul now serves as the Production Manager at Games for Change. Raul fuses his background in film production and virtual reality development to bring together talented teams that create memorable experiences. Raul coordinates the G4C team’s production efforts across all initiatives and manages the development and strategy for the XR for Change program. Raul received his BFA in Film & Television Production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, with a concentration in Directing and Producing. He is an avid gamer, enjoying tabletop RPGs just as much as indie platformers. Raul also formerly served as the National President of DKA, a national professional cinema society that prepares university students for a career in the film industry.
In the role of Communications Manager, Cassie cultivates the G4C community through social media, newsletters, content curation, and the G4C website. She works closely with all members of the team to ensure the growth and presence of the organization online, while fostering strong relationships with community partners. Prior to working at G4C, Cassie worked in video game music production and marketing where she oversaw 30+ video game and film soundtrack releases on vinyl with pressings ranging from 500 to 50,000.
In the role of Communications Manager, Cassie cultivates the G4C community through social media, newsletters, content curation, and the G4C website. She works closely with all members of the team to ensure the growth and presence of the organization online while fostering strong relationships with community partners. Prior to working at G4C, Cassie worked in video game music production and marketing where she oversaw 30+ video game and film soundtrack releases on vinyl with pressings ranging from 500 to 50,000.
She has worked with multiple AAA and Indie developers worldwide such as Konami, Taito, Sony, and Matt Makes Games. She holds a degree in Music Management and Enterprises from Baruch College. In her spare time, Cassie enjoys JRPGs (Final Fantasy & Persona, in particular), making analog art, and spending time with her pets, Asuka and Rei.
As the Program Manager, Stephanie supports the successful implementation of the national G4C Student Challenge, grants management, and other programs and initiatives at G4C. Her specialties include coherent writing, editing, qualitative and quantitative research, and the development and maintenance of outreach. She also supports the production of various events and additional projects.
As the Program Manager, Stephanie supports the successful implementation of the national G4C Student Challenge, grants management, and other programs and initiatives at G4C. With a strong background in History, her specialties include coherent writing, editing, qualitative and quantitative research, and the development and maintenance of outreach. She also supports the production of various events and additional projects. Stephanie is an alumna of Binghamton University, and holds an MA degree in Historical Studies from The New School. She joined the G4C team while she was working on her master’s thesis, which explored the seldom studied topic of how nuclear themed video games tell history. It was such games that inspired her to continue her education, and to join Games for Change. She is a lifelong gamer and is passionate about cooking. Contact: stephanie (at) gamesforchange (dot) org
As the Production Coordinator at Games for Change, Noelle manages the annual Games for Change Awards, and her work involves collaborating with emerging developers and game designers in the industry. She also supports the G4C Festival and coordinates global programming within G4C, including the XR for Change Initiative. She was also the first recipient of the XR for Change Fellowship in 2019.
As the Production Coordinator at Games for Change, Noelle manages the annual Games for Change Awards, and her work involves collaborating with emerging developers and game designers in the industry. She also supports the G4C Festival and coordinates global programming within G4C, including the XR for Change Initiative. She was also the first recipient of the XR for Change Fellowship in 2019. As an honors graduate, Noelle received her degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, focusing on both Game Design and Producing in her studies. She loves adding to her collection of 100% completed video games, but she also pursues many passions, such as composing music, creating costumes, and exploring the world.
Olga El is excited to join Games for Change which combines two of her lifelong passions: social change and gaming! She is also a performance activist, playwright, dancer, and director based in NYC who aims to educate and engage audiences in ways that inspire action—on the level of the personal, communal, or beyond—that will ultimately lead to a more just, compassionate, and healthy society.
Olga El is excited to join Games for Change which combines two of her lifelong passions: social change and gaming! She is also a performance activist, playwright, dancer, and director based in NYC who aims to educate and engage audiences in ways that inspire action—on the level of the personal, communal, or beyond—that will ultimately lead to a more just, compassionate, and healthy society. In 2011 she founded The Kandake—a dance-theatre that combines social activism and community engagement with folkloric and experimental artistry while producing performance art, full-length theatrical works, and shows that are immersive, transformative, socially-conscious, accessible, and unique.
Her work has been translated into Spanish, and two of her plays are currently being considered for Off-Broadway premieres (the decision delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.) In the year 2020 alone, she offered entirely free and virtual services such as dance classes, artist and community support groups, micro grants, anti-racist resources, fundraiser performances, community and movement-building donations. She is also penning an interview series, in Broadway World, featuring performing artists and their contributions/struggles in 2020 and beyond and she’s developing a script-to-comic series in collaboration with visual artist, Demetrius Felder.
Board of Directors
Vice-President and General Manager, Certain Affinity
Dan oversees the development and execution of products and strategy aimed at using this groundbreaking technology to improve learning outcomes for students of all ages around the world. Dan has over 20 years of development experience, and is passionate about the power and importance of education and ensuring that technology remains accessible to every human being on the planet. Based out of Seattle, Dan leads a team of passionate developers and educators working to shape the future of educational technology.
SVP, Tilting Point, and Board Chair
Asi is currently SVP Business Development at Tilting Point, a next-generation games partner that provides top development studios with capital, resources and support to scale the success of high-quality free-to-play games. Asi has also served as an Executive Advisor to organizations like EON Productions (producer of the James Bond films), The Tribeca Film Festival, Newsweek, and McCann Erickson, helping guide the strategic use of videogames to further brand engagement. Prior to serving as G4C’s President from 2010 to 2015, Asi co-founded and led Impact Games, the creators of PeaceMaker and Play the News (acquired by Hybrid Learning Systems in 2010). He is also a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts MFA in Design for Social Innovation and holds a Master of Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University.
Director at USC Game Innovation Lab, Director Emeritus at USC Games
Tracy Fullerton is an experimental game designer, professor, author and director emeritus of the USC Games program. Her research center, the Game Innovation Lab, has produced a number of influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Night Journey and Walden, a game, which was named “Game of the Year” at Games for Change 2017 and “Developer Choice” at IndieCade 2017. Tracy is the author of “Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games,” a design textbook used at game programs worldwide, and holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment.
Founder and CEO, BLH Venture LLC
Bruce Hack is the founder of BLH Venture LLC, a specialist in entertainment and new media. He was a principal in the creation of Activision Blizzard, the world’s largest videogame company, and served as its Vice Chairman. Prior, he was CEO of Vivendi Games, the developer and operator of numerous franchises including Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, the world’s largest subscription-based online game. Previously, he was Vice Chairman of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, and CFO of Universal Studios.
President, Platinum Advisors LLC
Erik Huey is President of Platinum Advisors, a government relations and lobbying firm. He was formerly the senior vice president for government affairs at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) where he oversaw federal and state government relations operations for the $21 billion U.S. video game industry. He also orchestrated the government affairs component of ESA’s historic U.S. Supreme Court free speech victory, and led the industry’s strategic and tactical campaign in response to legislative challenges to the industry’s creative expression and distribution model.
Vice President, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc
Alan Lewis is a communications professional with more than 25 years of expertise working within the interactive entertainment industry. Since 2008, Mr. Lewis has served as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO). In this role, he is responsible for overseeing the Company’s corporate communications initiatives and media relations, as well as serving as the organization’s key Public Affairs liaison. Mr. Lewis also serves as the Chairman of Take-Two’s Charitable Giving Committee, spearheading the Company’s philanthropy initiatives. Prior to Take-Two, Mr. Lewis was a Senior Vice President with Edelman in New York, where he led the agency’s Digital Media Practice, representing such clients as CA Technologies and Sony Ericsson. Earlier in his career, he worked with several leading interactive entertainment and digital media companies, including Acclaim Entertainment, GT Interactive Software and MusicNet; as well as top-tier PR firms such as Burson-Marsteller and MSL. Mr. Lewis is a Board Member of GamesforChange.org and the Entertainment Software Association Canada, and serves on the Advisory Board for the Animation Industry Council that is run by the New York Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. Mr. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Stony Brook University.
As a gaming industry executive for over 18 years, Amy Morhaime has held leadership positions that have helped shaped pop culture in countries around the world. During her ten years at Blizzard Entertainment, she was instrumental in helping the company become a globally recognized leader in games and esports. As the company’s Head of Esports, she led the team that pioneered domestic and global growth of esports (organized, competitive gaming) and managed five distinct global esports ecosystems from top-level leagues and tournament circuits to amateur competition. Her team’s events ranged from the first-ever collegiate esports competition broadcast on ESPN networks, to international competitions for tens of thousands of live viewers, and millions via broadcast. She led strategic partnerships with digital partners such as Twitch and Facebook and helped launch the Blizzard Arena, an esports stadium which expanded production capabilities and spectator opportunities for esports fans around the world. As a highly skilled operations executive, Amy grew Blizzard’s esports team from nine to more than 100 staff around the world, and helped pave the way for the modern era of esports.
Before heading up Blizzard Esports, Amy held numerous leadership positions at Blizzard, including Director of Business & Operations for World of Warcraft in China, Director of International Business Operations, and global head of business and operations for popular gaming franchises StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm. Before joining Blizzard, she held the role of VP of publishing and marketing for Sierra Online and Vivendi Games.
In 2018, Amy was named to the A100 list of Asian Americans with the most transformative impact on culture across all industries.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science, with minors in Computing and Business Administration from UCLA.
Managing Director, Play Partnerships, Games, Google
Leo leads the global Games business at Facebook. Leo has been in games more than 20 years, with experience ranging from launching AAA mobile, console and online games to advising developers and start-ups. His work includes major brands like Star Wars and Marvel at companies like BioWare, EA, Disney, Warner Bros., Sierra Online (now Activision Blizzard), Zynga, and Kabam.
President and CEO of the ESA
Stanley Pierre-Louis was named CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in May of 2019, and was chosen for his extensive entertainment, law, and policy expertise, having joined the ESA as General Counsel in May 2015. As CEO, Stanley leads ESA’s public policy efforts to showcase the dynamic impact the video game industry has on business, entertainment, and culture. Stanley has managed copyright litigation and IP strategy for Viacom Inc. and the Recording Industry Association of America.
Brooks Tanner has over 20 years experience as an investment banker at firms including BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank/Bankers Trust, Citibank and Drexel Burnham Lambert. He has worked in both corporate and private equity client coverage and has had assignments in New York, London and Hong Kong. He also has acted as chief financial officer for two early stage technology companies and a private equity-backed manufacturing business in San Francisco and Seattle. Brooks is a founding board member of the Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School, and is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Business School.
President, Seventh Reach Media
Ava Zydor is president of Seventh Reach Media, a media content and communications company, and provides strategic consulting advice to small businesses. Previously, as an attorney at Baker & McKenzie and Lord Day & Lord, Barrett Smith, she advised global clients on international trade and corporate finance. She also worked as a Trade Development Specialist at General Electric Trading Company. Ava has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, a JD from the University of Akron, and a BA from Drew University. She currently is a member of the Board of the Harvard Business School Club of New York Community Partners program and is Co-Chair of the Community Partners Arts & Culture Committee.
Co-founder and CEO of MaxPlay
Sinjin Bain is co-founder and CEO of MaxPlay, the developer of the MaxPlay Platform, a groundbreaking cloud-based enterprise software development platform that enables real-time distributed collaborative development with groundbreaking runtime performance for VR & AR based on the company’s MaxCore™ architecture. He is a frequent speaker at industry events such as Slush, Casual Connect, GDC, and Gamescom speaking on topics such as production and development paradigm shifts, and VR and AR.
Prior to co-founding MaxPlay in 2014, he was at EA for 15 years and held a wide variety of worldwide senior executive positions. Over his career at EA, he was VP & COO of EA’s Maxis studio, executive producer of several of EA’s most successful franchises including The Sims, Rock Band and The Simpsons, and was V.P. & Global General Manager of EA Partners where he helped build the most successful independent development publishing groups in the industry with average revenue of over $500 million a year and the highest average Metacritic scores of any EA business unit.
Prior to joining EA, he founded PyroTechnix, developer of True3D™, the industry-leading real-time 3D IDE platform responsible for the game engine technology used to build such hits as EverQuest, NFL GameDay and others. He sold the company in 1997 and continued as president until he joined EA in 1999.
Founder, Principal, and Lead Architect of TheSocialArchitects, LLC
Donnetta Campbell, Founder, Principal, and Lead Architect of TheSocialArchitects, LLC (www.thesocialarchitects.co), has created a unique social media architecture and methodology that delivers authentic social engagement for brands, institutions, and senior leaders. She developed and orchestrates a powerful “peer-to-peer” influencer leadership, specializing in “earned-influence” personal brand building and guiding corporate digital platforms through her #SocialPR™. She fuels her ecosystem with over 300 top influencers and offers clients an influential reach into social’s key networks. Brand partners, including SAP, NASDAQ, A+E Networks, Bloomberg Images, Innovation Enterprise, Power Shift Forum, Crowe Horwath and The Harry Walker Speakers Agency are embracing her unique models, SocialPR™, SocialDolby™, and SocialHR™ to optimize their impact. To date, Donnetta’s strategic initiatives have generated over 8.7 billion impressions for more than 350 personal brands and 100 events.
She is passionate about educating groups regarding Social Influencer Models and opens ‘Innovation Enterprises Brand Innovation Summits’ around the globe. She has spoken at SMW; Crowe Horwath; SAP’S Global Offices, HR and Executive Leadership Groups; Digital Summit for National Retail Federation; Advertising Club of NY; Georgetown University; Oxford University; Tribeca Disruption Innovation Awards; UCONN Business School; and CUNY Social Media Weekend. She was chosen as the Social Media Disruptor in Residence for Harvard’s and Tribeca’s Disruptor Foundation.
In 2016, Donnetta was named a “Knowledge Partner” of the Global Development Professionals Network for The Guardian News & Media and awarded The International Alliance of Women World of Difference 100 award.
Her background includes more than twenty years in global public relations agencies with experience in corporate communication campaigns, HR campaigns, and crisis management. Donnetta holds numerous board positions with Global Diversity Leadership Exchange; U.N. Women NY Metro Chapter; Global Partnership Forum; Power Shift Forum; The International Women’s Forum and Games For Change Foundation.
Follow her at @dctweetbounce.
Editorial Director, Glixel at Rolling Stone Magazine
Brian Crecente is the editorial director of Rolling Stone’s Glixel. Previously, he was a founding editor and executive editor for Vox Media’s Polygon and a syndicated columnist based in New York City. Crecente got his start in game journalism as the editor in chief of and writer for video gaming blog Kotaku, which he helped establish as one of the top gaming sites in the world.
Prior to becoming a full-time gaming journalist, Crecente was an award-winning police reporter for 12 years at major dailies around the country where he covered everything from wildfires and daily crime to the contested presidential election and serial killers.
Crecente has written about video games since 2000. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Paste, Variety, Stuff, Wired, NPR and MSNBC, as well as several U.S. newspapers and publications in the UK and Portugal. He has also appeared on national TV and radio and has been quoted in newspapers both in the U.S. and abroad.
Crecente was named one of the 20 most influential people in the video game industry over the past 20 years by GamePro in 2009 and one of gaming’s Top 50 journalists by Edge in 2006. He also sits as a judge on several national and international video game award panels and has moderated panels at UCLA, the Smithsonian and spoken at a number of conferences.
Crecente holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland – College Park. Crecente lives in upstate New York with his wife and son.
Director, Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center
Drew Davidson is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds and he is interested in stories across texts, comics, games, and other media. He is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center – Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University and the Editor of ETC Press.
Dr. James Paul Gee
Professor, Arizona State University
Dr. James Paul Gee is the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University. He is a member of the National Academy of Education. His book Sociolinguistics and Literacies (1990, Third Edition 2007) was one of the founding documents in the formation of the “New Literacy Studies”, an interdisciplinary field devoted to studying language, learning, and literacy in an integrated way in the full range of their cognitive, social, and cultural contexts. His book An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (1999, Second Edition 2005, Third Edition 2011) brings together his work on a methodology for studying communication in its cultural settings, an approach that has been widely influential over the last two decades. His most recent books both deal with video games, language, and learning. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2003, Second Edition 2007) argues that good video games are designed to enhance learning through effective learning principles supported by research in the Learning Sciences. Situated Language and Learning (2004) places video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy and shows how they can help us in thinking about the reform of schools. His most recent books are Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays (2007); Woman as Gamers: The Sims and 21st Century Learning (2010) and Language and Learning in the Digital World (to appear), both written with Elizabeth Hayes. Prof. Gee has published widely in journals in linguistics, psychology, the social sciences, and education.
President, E-Line Media
Alan Gershenfeld is founder and President of E-Line Media, a publisher of digital entertainment that engages, educates and empowers. Prior to E-Line, Alan was CEO of netomat, a leader in mobile-web community solutions. netomat originated as network-based art project and was selected as a Technology Pioneer at the 2007 World Economic Forum at Davos. Before netomat, Alan was member of the executive team that rebuilt game publisher Activision from bankruptcy into an industry leader. As Senior Vice President of Activision Studios Alan oversaw titles such as Civilization: Call to Power, Asteroids, Muppet Treasure Island, Spycraft, Pitfall, Zork and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Before Activision, Alan worked as a filmmaker and writer. Alan currently serves on the Board of FilmAid International and on the Advisory Boards of Creative Capital, Global Kids, We Are Family Foundation, Startl and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (Sesame Workshop). He is also former Chairman of Games for Change.
Meredith Hahn is an experienced executive helping companies and nonprofit organizations drive social impact and bolster their reputation through philanthropy, volunteering, community engagement, and cause marketing efforts.
She most recently held the position of Vice President within the American Express Office of Corporate Social Responsibility. In this role Meredith led the company’s global strategy for community service investments and programming. She built the company’s pro bono consulting platform – Serve2Gether Consulting – which provided over $6.5 million in marketing, technology and operational strategy consulting to 200 community partners in eight countries.
Prior to joining American Express, Meredith held the position of Associate Director of Marketing at the American Museum of Natural History where she developed campaigns to increase attendance to the museum and support for its education, conservation, scientific and public programming.
Dr. Idit Harel
CEO and Founder, Globaloria
Dr. Idit Harel is CEO and founder at Globaloria, a learning network that teaches fifth to 12th graders computer programming and educational game making. An Israeli-American entrepreneur known for her edu-tech innovations, she has pioneered the use of new-media technology for cultivating creative learning, innovation, and globalization through constructionist learning theory since the 1980s. She is a published author and speaker worldwide, and has been serving on advisory boards and committees at the MIT Media Lab, Harvard Graduate School of Education, CUNY Macaulay Honors College, Colorado University’s ATLAS Institute, PBSKids Next Generation Media, MEET in Israel, TIG in Canada, ECNU, and Saybot in Shanghai. Idit is a former competitive gymnast on Israel’s national modern gymnastic team, professional dancer, proud mother of three, and holds degrees from Tel Aviv University, Harvard University, and MIT Media Lab.
Associate Director for Digital Learning, Museum of Natural History
Barry Joseph is the Associate Director for Digital Learning at the Museum of Natural History, and holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MA in American Studies from New York University. Formerly, Barry was Director of the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids. Barry came to Global Kids in 2000 through the New Voices Fellowship of the Academy for Educational Development, funded by the Ford Foundation. He has developed innovative programs in the areas of youth-led online dialogues, video games as a form of youth media, the application of social networks for social good, the educational potential of virtual worlds like Second Life, the educational application of mobile phones and alternative assessments models, and more, always seeking to combine youth development practices with the development of high profile digital media projects that develop 21st Century Skills and New Media Literacies. Barry speaks frequently around the country at conferences and leads professional development trainings for a wide variety of educational, civic and cultural institutions and published articles in a wide variety of publications. He is one of the co-founders of Games For Change.
Founding Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
Michael Levine is the founding director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, an action research and innovation lab devoted to harnessing the potential of digital media to advance young children’s learning and healthy development. Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Levine served as Vice President of New Media and Executive Director of Education for Asia Society, managing the global nonprofit’s interactive media and educational initiatives to promote understanding of Asia and other world regions, languages and cultures. Previously, Dr. Levine oversaw Carnegie Corporation of New York’s groundbreaking work in early childhood development, educational media and primary grades reform, and was a senior advisor to the New York City Schools Chancellor, where he directed dropout prevention, afterschool, and early childhood initiatives. Dr. Levine serves as an informal adviser to the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and writes for policy-oriented groups such as the National Governors Association, Democracy Journal and Education Week. He was named by Working Mother magazine as one of America’s most influential leaders in shaping family and children’s policy and serves on numerous nonprofit boards and advisory councils, including the Forum for Youth Investment, Teach For America, the US Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Apps Challenge, and Talaris Institute. www.joanganzcooneycenter.org
Director, JustFilms, Ford Foundation
Cara Mertes is currently the director of the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms program, which has supported more than 80 documentary films in its first three years. She previously served as director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, overseeing the activities of the Documentary Film Program and Fund, including granting between $1 and $2 million per year to independent documentarians globally, directing three Creative Documentary Labs at Sundance Resort, supporting documentary programming and panels at the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Independent Producers Conference, curating work-in-progress screenings with partner organizations and other initiatives of the DFP. In 2008, she inaugurated STORIES OF CHANGE: Social Entrepreneurship in Focus Through Documentary, a $3 million, 3 year partnership between the DFP and the Skoll Foundation which will fund up to10 films on social entrepreneurs meeting today’s global challenges. The DFP also launched DocSource at www.sundance.org/docsource, a website connecting independent documentary filmmakers and human rights stakeholders worldwide. Mertes was previously Executive Director of American Documentary, Inc. and Executive Producer of P.O.V., PBS’s acclaimed independent documentary showcase from 1999-2006, where she was recognized with eight Emmy Awards, three George Foster Peabody awards, two duPont-Columbia Awards and three Academy Award nominations, most recently as Executive Producer for Nerakoon: Betrayal. Mertes is Executive Producer of over a dozen independent documentaries, including: Street Fight; My Country, My Country; Boys of Baraka; and Two Towns of Jasper. She was the creator and Executive Producer of P.O.V.’s original online showcase, P.O.V.’s Borders, winning a Webby Award, Batten Journalism Award, On-Line Journalism and Parent’s Choice Award.
Subhi Quraishi is Chief Executive Officer of ZMQ Software Systems, which was created in 1998. He is the founding partner of ZMQ with his twin brother, Hilmi. Subhi has done his doctorate in Educational Technology with specialization in Gaming, Simulations and Human performance solutions from Georgian Technical University (former USSR). Subhi is an innovator in the field of educational technology, and has created numerous innovative solutions to entertain and educate. He also heads House of Learning, a social initiative program of ZMQ Software Systems, which develops world-class learning and edutainment solutions for semi-literates, underprivileged, physically handicapped and out-of-school children on wide variety of technologies from Internet based community learning systems, Intranet based closed net learning to stand-alone learning. In January 2009, ZMQ, under his leadership, established an independent center for excellence–Mobile 4 Development at Manesar, Gurgaon in India. The lab will develop scalable and replicable projects in mobile and Information Technology for social development in the areas of Education, Skill Development, Poverty alleviation, Global Health and fighting diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria and Disaster Management using Educational Technology. Subhi was the prime architect of Freedom HIV/AIDS program. It is the largest social awareness program using technology for the developing world. The initiative started with four mobile phone games on HIV/AIDS awareness and presently has over forty mobile games on variety of health issues. The games on HIV/AIDS have reached to over 16.1 million users.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Dave Rejeski works at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, where he is the Director of the Foresight and Governance Project and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, a partnership between the Wilson Center and the Pew Charitable Trusts. In 2002, he helped launch the Serious Games Initiative and in 2003, Games for Change. He has been a Visiting Fellow at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and an adjunct affiliated staff member at RAND. From 1994 to 2000, he worked at White House Council on Environmental Quality and the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) on a variety of technology and R&D issues. Before moving to OSTP, he was head of the Future Studies Unit at the Environmental Protection Agency. He sits on the advisory boards of a number of organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board; the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Research and Education; the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); the National Council of Advisors of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; the Journal of Industrial Ecology, the Greening of Industry Network, and the University of Michigan’s Corporate Environmental Management Program. He has graduate degrees in public administration and environmental design from Harvard and Yale and a degree in Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Media Artist and Scholar
Susana Ruiz is a media artist and scholar working in the intersections between game design, documentary, computational art, and civics. In partnership with mtvU and a team of socially conscious collaborators, Susana developed the multiple-award winning game Darfur is Dying. She is a co-founder of the game design collective Take Action Games, which seeks to address critical social issues via innovative gameplay. Their game RePlay: Finding Zoe/ReJouer: Où est Zoé? produced in collaboration with the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children won several awards including the Ashoka Changemakers global competition “Why Games Matter: A Prescription for Improving Health and Health Care,” and the Adobe MAX Award for Social Responsibility. Susana presents at numerous media and academic venues and has been interviewed by major news outlets including The New York Times, NPR, TIME, and ABC World News. She received a BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and an MFA from the University of Southern California, where she is currently pursuing doctoral work.
Nicole Rustad founded Vortovia and is a champion for world change who uses equal parts strategy and passion to make things happen. Formerly the Corporate Citizenship Program Director at Disney Interactive, for almost 10 years she drove the corporate social responsibility vision, strategy, and programs across multiple lines of business including Disney’s Club Penguin where she created bold, immersive programs in the kids’ gaming space. Nicole also led the Disney Hour of Code program inspiring millions of children globally to try computer science and developed far-reaching campaigns with non-profit partners. Now, through Vortovia, Nicole consults to businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who want to make a lasting impact and reach the greatest audience possible. Nicole also does speaking engagements that inspire real change.
Suzanne Seggerman is an award-winning non-profit leader and public speaker, with a long career dedicated to helping people and causes across a variety of media and platforms. Currently based in Kenya, Africa, Suzanne is a Strategic Planner at the Hawker’s Market Girls Center, a school for girls from the slums of Nairobi. Before moving to Kenya, Suzanne was co-founder and former president of Games for Change, which she led for six years, becoming the catalyzer and primary voice for a new movement. She has been featured as an expert in national and international press and has given talks or keynotes at around the world, including at Sundance, Global Contents Forum Seoul, SXSW, PopTech, TEDx, and Harvard Human Rights. Suzanne has also served as an advisor, juror, and invited expert on a wide variety of social impact projects including the White House’s Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge, Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Knight Foundation’s News Game Awards, and many others. She is also the co-founder of PETLab, a design and research lab for public interest and educational media at the New School, launched with the support of mTV and the MacArthur Foundation. Before Games for Change, Suzanne worked in documentary film, including as Production Manager on the Ken Burns/Stephen Ives PBS series, “The West.” Suzanne is a proud volunteer for Visiting Neighbors and is also a nationally-rated Scrabble player.
Digital Promise Senior Innovation Fellow
Dr. Russell Shilling is a Digital Promise Senior Innovation Fellow funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. In this role, he is responsible for exploring innovative approaches to EdTech development that draw upon his experiences in education, research, and as a former Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Previously, Shilling was appointed by the Obama Administration to the U.S. Department of Education as the Executive Director of STEM Initiatives where he coordinated STEM activities across the Department and the Federal Government. He is a retired Navy Captain and served for 22 years as a Navy Aerospace Experimental Psychologist focusing on training, education and psychological health. He served as an Associate Professor at both the United States Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School.
Shilling was an early pioneer in the serious games movement as one of the original developers for the America’s Army Videogame project and was responsible for award-winning games for STEM education, medical training, and psychological health. Shilling developed successful and high impact programs to treat PTSD in service members using virtual reality and graphic novel art therapy and also developed programs with Sesame Workshop to help children cope with deployments, injury and grief. These programs have won numerous awards including an Emmy nomination, two CINE Golden Eagle Awards, and a Parents Choice Award. Shilling advocates strongly for improved technology and research for autistic students and adults.
Shilling holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology concentrating on neuroscience from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Assistant Professor, American University
Benjamin Stokes co-founded Games for Change, and served as a co-director until 2007. He is currently an Assistant Professor at American University, where he teaches and designs civic media with the AU Game Lab. Benjamin received his PhD at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC, where he investigated how digital media foster civic engagement, informal learning and activism. Previously, Benjamin served at the MacArthur Foundation as a program officer in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. He has taught at UC Berkeley in their School of Information. At the nonprofit NetAid, Benjamin led a design team that reached more than 150,000 youth in the fight on extreme poverty with games and e-training. At the ProQuest/Bigchalk educational publishers, Benjamin produced virtual field trips and research tools for their network of more than 43,000 high schools. His undergraduate research was in nanophysics, and he has also studied in Senegal at the University Gaston-Berger.
Managing Director, Chobani
Kwame Taylor-Hayford was born in New York City but raised in Africa & Europe. Kwame’s acute sensitivity to the creative potential of technology has fueled his career in emerging media.
Prior to joining Chobani in 2016, Kwame was a partner at Sid Lee, where he led clients on production, experiential and technology. Kwame fresh perspective impacted structure, process and resources at the agency to ensure designers, technologists, producers, and data experts were well integrated into the creative process to deliver ideas that elevate the consumer experience.
His favorite projects at Sid Lee include Intel Heartbot; an innovative data visualization robot, Tiffany T Trian; an immersive train installation, and Stella Artois Le Savoir; a global culinary experiential platform launched this year in New York, Buenos Aries and Montreal.
Prior to Sid Lee, Kwame led integrated production for Anomaly and Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. He also worked at Media Arts Lab on global campaigns for Apple. Notable projects include Apple’s Mac vs. PC; selected as Adweek Campaign of the Decade, and Uniqlo Recipe; selected as one of the Best Apps of 2013 by the Apple App Store.
Kwame’s work with clients including Apple, Nike, Uniqlo, Stella Artois, Budweiser, Captain Morgan, General Mills, and JCPenney has been recognized by leading industry organizations Cannes, D&AD, and the One Show, as well as the Webby, CLIO, Effie, RACie, Creativity, and Favourite Website Awards.
Founder and Chief Product Officer, Filament Games
Dan White is a founding partner and Chief Product Officer at Filament Games, an educational game design and development studio in Madison, WI. Founded in 2005, Filament’s 20 title portfolio includes a diversity of STEM, literacy, and civics education games developed for clients such as National Geographic’s JASON Science and Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics. Dan’s principal responsibilities include: process management, business development, strategic and financial planning, outreach, and client relations. Dan holds a BS in communication technologies from Cornell University and an MS in educational communications and technology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Prior to founding Filament, Dan designed instructional technologies at the UW Division of Information Technology and the Academic ADL Co-Lab. Prior to that he served as production/art lead on the Cornell Theory Center’s NSF-funded SciCentr project, a series of online virtual worlds created for informal science and technology outreach.
Dan serves on the advisory board for Games for Change and is a founding member of the GLS (Games Learning Society) organization at UW – Madison. Dan’s prime professional directive is to deliver game experiences that broaden perspectives, educate, and spark inspiration.
Kurt is the founder and CEO of Mokuni LLC. Mokuni is a New York based gaming company producing video games and also utilizing VR/AR. Kurt is an active member of the NYC gaming community, he has spoke at various industry events hosted by Google, Microsoft, Unity, Boston Fig, and IGDA.
Since 2013, Kurt has been leading Mokuni team to develop and publish mobile game projects. Their game “Kitty in the Box” has been featured on major platforms including the App Store, Google Play, Amazon and Microsoft Store, and has tens of millions of downloads.
Kurt is a strong believer in using games for social change. With over 10 years of experience in game development and animation production, he has been constantly exploring on using gamification for neuro-rehabilitation. His award winning project “Jukai-Ocean of Trees” is a well-received commentary and reflection on the struggle to save a loved one from taking their own life.
Kurt holds a MFA in Computer Art degree from the School of Visual Arts, and he is a certified member of Mental Health First Aid. Prior to founding Mokuni, he has worked professionally as a game developer and visual development artist in Shanghai.
Follow him at: @Kurt_Young
Professor and Game Designer, NYU Game Center
Eric Zimmerman is an independent game designer and scholar; he is currently an arts professor at the NYU Game Center. Zimmerman has been working in the game industry for more than 16 years, creating award-winning games both on and off the computer. He is the co-author of Rules of Play (MIT Press, 2004) with Katie Salen, the definitive textbook in the field of game design and has been teaching game design since 1995. Zimmerman’s career highlights include Gamelab, a NYC-based game development studio he ran for nine years. Co-founded with Peter Lee, Gamelab created innovative games including the blockbuster hit Diner Dash. Gamelab spun off two successful companies: Gamestar Mechanic, an online site funded by the MacArthur Foundation that lets kids create games; and the Institute of Play, a nonprofit initiative that looks at the intersection of games and learning and which recently launched Quest to Learn, a New York City school using play as the model for learning. Prior to Gamelab, his game design work included the critically acclaimed SiSSYFiGHT 2000 and the PC title Gearheads.
Keath has been a technologist for over 15 years in marketing, advertising, consulting, and product innovation. Graduating with a Computer Science degree from Cornell University, Keath started his professional career as a programmer proficient in languages like C#.NET and Java. He soon found out that his interests was in the creative application of technology and that the ad industry, always trying to push the envelope with each new project, was the best place to build on these skills. Throughout his years, Keath has worked on many projects and fostered high profile client relationships for companies including Verizon, Nike, Georgia Pacific, Coca-Cola, and American Express. Additionally, he has spent many years in technical leadership roles at agencies such as R/GA, Young and Rubicam/Wunderman, and Droga5 building, managing, and mentoring technology teams. His years of experience has allowed him to see the importance of modern technologies, innovative designs, and strong production values to promote a strong end result.
After his time at Droga5, he continued to apply his knowledge as a technology consultant to many agencies and tech start ups around the country while also spending time building out his some of his own side projects.
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