Speakers

Alexis Kelley

High School Student, Arizona State University

Alexis Kelley

High School Student, Arizona State University

Alexis is a high school student graduating in the class of 2025. She has been working on developing the video game 2175 since October 2022 and has since taken the leadership role of Co-Director. Alexis played a key role in aligning the narrative with the game logic and programming to promote critical connections to our climate. She plans to study environmental engineering and values finding unique avenues to impact her community.

Amy Patterson

Chief Program Officer, Urban Arts

Amy Patterson

Chief Program Officer, Urban Arts

Dr. Amy Patterson serves as Chief Program Officer at Urban Arts (@UrbanArtsOrg), where more than 260,000 students have learned the art and science of game development through computer science, coding, animation, music and storytelling. Amy’s work focuses on educational arts and technology programs, and she oversees three U.S. DOE grants that bring Urban Arts’ computer science and game design programs to schools in NYC and beyond.

Andreea Medvedovici Per

Executive Director at the Romanian Game Developers Association and VP of the European Game Developers Federation

Andreea Medvedovici Per

Executive Director at the Romanian Game Developers Association and VP of the European Game Developers Federation

Andreea developed ‘Games in Schools Romania  with the help of Video Games Europe, the European School Network and Unicredit Bank, a free course for teachers organized in partnership with the Romanian Teachers Training Center. The course is a part of About Video Games, a portal she developed for Romanian parents, guardians and tutors on the benefits of games and parental control education. She is also co-founder of Women in Games Ro and received an excellence award from the Romanian Copyright Office for promoting intellectual property inside the game dev community.

Andrew Navaro

Founder & Creative Director, Earthborne Games

Andrew Navaro

Founder & Creative Director, Earthborne Games

Andrew Navaro is the Founder of Earthborne Games and Creative Director of its flagship title, Earthborne Rangers. Prior to founding Earthborne, he was a key member of the creative team at Fantasy Flight Games where he served in a multitude of roles ranging from Graphic Designer to Head of Studio. His work appears in 8 titles currently found in BoardGameGeek’s Top 100, including Twilight Imperium 4th Edition, Arkham Horror The Card Game, and Marvel Champions.

Arana Shapiro

Chief Operating and Programs Officer, Games for Change

Arana Shapiro

Chief Operating and Programs Officer, Games for Change

Arana Shapiro is an educator and social entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience developing innovative approaches to learning using games and game design. With deep expertise in education and change management as a parent, teacher, school leader, educational technologist, curriculum designer, and nonprofit leader, Arana is a leading voice on education transformation. As Chief Operations and Programs Officer at Games for Change, she oversees programs and partnerships for schools, organizations and families, and supports a growing global community of educators using games in the classroom.

Ava Volandes

Director, Social Impact, Minecraft Franchises, Mojang Studios

Ava Volandes

Director, Social Impact, Minecraft Franchises, Mojang Studios

Ava Volandes is a social impact marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors, focusing on cause-related partnerships. She is currently the Director of Social Impact at Minecraft, where she leads the team to build a better world through the power of play. Prior to joining Minecraft, Ava held senior marketing positions at various organizations, including UNICEF USA, Incite Impact, Loyalty Exchange Partners, and BMG Entertainment. She also founded her own consulting firm, developing partnership strategies and campaigns for organizations in the health, education, and environmental fields.

Benjamin Stokes

Founder of the Playful City Lab, American University Game Center

Benjamin Stokes

Founder of the Playful City Lab, American University Game Center

Benjamin Stokes is a game designer and researcher with a focus on cities. His 2020 book is "LOCALLY PLAYED: Real-World Games for Stronger Places" from MIT Press. He is a co-founder of Games for Change. His designs for cities have been featured in the Smithsonian and the Guggenheim, from repurposed payphones to crowd-mapping by bicycle. Benjamin is based in Washington, DC, where he directs the Playful City Lab at American University and teaches game design in the AU Game Center.

Brian Carl Quinones

Clinical Director, Gaming Approaches Towards Education

Brian Carl Quinones

Clinical Director, Gaming Approaches Towards Education

Dr. Quinones is a professional with a desire to provide education and proper mental health services to help diverse populations of our community. He strives to continue his own education, training, and supervision while aiding in training future professionals in assisting the Autism population in their homes, schools, and communities. He is currently a fully Licensed Professional Counselor in NJ and working towards full licensure as a psychologist. Dr. Quinones continues to consult with other professionals to aid their companies and programs in giving back to their communities. Gaming Approaches Towards Education allows him to partner up with family support organizations, libraries, schools, and other providers to offer children, adolescents, and adults free community events where they can try games and play together.

Caitlin Shell

Chief Business Officer, Brandible Games and Tilting Point

Caitlin Shell

Chief Business Officer, Brandible Games and Tilting Point

Caitlin is the Chief Business Officer of Brandible Games and also a BD Director at Tilting Point games. Prior to this she was part of the executive board at the mobile fashion game Drest where she led Product Content and Business Development. Prior to living in London, Caitlin was in SiliconValley where she was the Head of Business Development for Glu Mobile, overseeing all studios. Before the acquisition by Glu, she ran partnerships for Covet Fashion and Design Home at Crowdstar. Preceding this career in lifestyle gaming Caitlin lived in New York City where she worked in fashion for nearly a decade. She worked in partnerships and sales across a variety of both small and large designers such as Vince Camuto and Ben Sherman. Her unique experience in both the fashion and lifestyle gaming industries makes Caitlin a clear leader of the next generation of entertainment products that blend together brands, games and commerce, redefining the player experience.

Cameron Kostopoulos

Founder of Kost Inc. and Creator of Body of Mine

Cameron Kostopoulos

Founder of Kost Inc. and Creator of Body of Mine

Cameron Kostopoulos is an award-winning immersive creator. Their debut experience “Body of Mine” was the recipient of the PGA Innovation Award, and won prizes at SXSW, BAFTA, Games for Change and more. They are the Founder & CEO of Kost, a storytelling collective aimed at helping us better understand ourselves, the world around us, and our fellow human beings. They hold a BFA from the prestigious USC School of Cinematic Arts and an MA from ASU’s Narrative & Emerging Media Program.

Chandana Ekanayake

Creative Director, Outerloop Games

Chandana Ekanayake

Creative Director, Outerloop Games

Chandana Ekanayake is co-founder and Creative Director at Outerloop Games, a minority led, fully distributed indie game studio that creates accessible games with depth about underrepresented culture and themes. Chandana is currently game directing Thirsty Suitors, an immigrant story-based RPG action game about fighting exes and disappointing parents along with cooking and skating. Prior to starting Outerloop, Chandana was an art director, game designer, and producer for over twenty years at various game studios.

Charles Gasper

Senior Consultant, TCC Group

Charles Gasper

Senior Consultant, TCC Group

Charles is a thought leader on the use of media to support efforts to affect positive social change. A sought-after speaker on evaluation of the impact of media as well other sectors, he has presented creative and innovative methods for collection, analysis, and reporting of critical information to inform strategic and tactical decision making. With close to 30 years of experience, he has served in leadership roles in foundations, nonprofits, and currently collaborates with many different organizations to answer sticky and challenging questions.

Charlie Hall

Senior Editor, Tabletop, Vox Media, Polygon

Charlie Hall

Senior Editor, Tabletop, Vox Media, Polygon

Charlie Hall is a journalist, editor, and photographer with more than 11 years’ experience at Polygon. After spending time as a freelance writer (Ars Technica, Paste Magazine, Gamers With Jobs) covering PC games, board games, and Dungeons & Dragons, he became Polygon’s first dedicated features writer in 2013. Over his career, Charlie has hosted and produced several podcasts on games and gaming, and has created multiple million-plus-view videos on YouTube. His areas of expertise include simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games as well as gaming and public policy. Charlie became Polygon’s tabletop editor in 2021 — the first tabletop editor named to a major entertainment media website in the United States. Charlie has been attending Gen Con, the nation’s largest tabletop gaming convention, since 2007, and has served as a judge for both E3 and the Origins Awards. He’s been invited to speak at GDC, PAX, and Gen Con. His work has been featured on NPR, the BBC, online with Smithsonian Magazine, and in the collection of The Peabody Essex Museum. He makes his home in far northern Illinois.

Corinne Dey

Director of Technology, Games Squad, PBS KIDS

Corinne Dey

Director of Technology, Games Squad, PBS KIDS

Corinne Dey is Director of Technology for the Games Squad at PBS KIDS. Corinne currently leads all engineering efforts around PBS KIDS’ gaming ecosystem, including SpringRoll and the PBS KIDS Games App. Overseeing a team of both internal and external engineers, Corinne has advanced innovations to improve how games are built, QA’d, and served to their audience. She is also a Posse Scholar and graduate of Sewanee: University of the South with a BS in Computer Science and minors in Mathematics and Physics/Astronomy.

Daniel Kelley

Director, Strategy and Operations, Center for Technology and Society, ADL

Daniel Kelley

Director, Strategy and Operations, Center for Technology and Society, ADL

Daniel Kelley (he/him/his) is the Director of Strategy and Operations and Acting Head of the ADL Center for Technology and Society (CTS). CTS is a research-driven advocacy center that works to end the proliferation of antisemitism and all forms of hate and harassment online. Daniel was the second employee of the center after its founding in 2017 and has lead tech company engagement for ADL since that time. Since 2019, Daniel has been the lead author of ADL’s annual nationally representative survey of hate, harassment and extremism in online games. He also leads CTS’ tech accountability research efforts, such as its Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial Report Card, which look at ways to create research grounded advocacy products to inform the public about the nature of hate and harassment online and to hold tech companies accountable.  He has spoken publicly on these issues at the Game Developers Conference, RightsCon, Games for Change and has been consulted on issues related to hate and extremism in gaming by numerous federal US agencies, US legislative offices as well as government agencies in the UK, France and Germany.

Deborah Mensah-Bonsu

Founder & CEO, Games for Good

Deborah Mensah-Bonsu

Founder & CEO, Games for Good

Deborah is the Founder of Games for Good, which focuses on harnessing the power of video games for social impact. She consults for studios, NGOs and the United Nations Environment Programme. She thrives on collaborating to create healthier cultures, products and communities and has worked with some of the most influential names in games and entertainment. She is a Special Effect Ambassador, TEDx Speaker, BTA Gaming Award 2024 Finalist and named one of the Top 100 Women in Games.

Dr. Matthew Harrison

Senior Lecturer (Learning Intervention), The University of Melbourne/Next Level Collaboration

Dr. Matthew Harrison

Senior Lecturer (Learning Intervention), The University of Melbourne/Next Level Collaboration

Dr. Matthew Harrison is an experienced teacher, researcher and digital creator with a passion for utilising technology to enhance social capacity building, belonging and inclusion in education. He has taught in Australia, South Korea and the United Kingdom at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Matthew is currently a member of the Learning Intervention team and is the Director of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Education. He was awarded the Dyason Fellowship in 2020, and the GEM Scott Teaching Fellowship and the International Society for Technology in Education 'Making IT Happen' award in 2023.

Edward Metz

ED SBIR Program Manager, US Dept of ED

Edward Metz

ED SBIR Program Manager, US Dept of ED

Edward Metz is a developmental psychologist, education researcher, and a program manager of the U.S. Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research program, a $14M annual ‘seed fund’ for the R&D, evaluation, commercialization of new education technology products. Millions of students and educators use products developed though ED/IES SBIR each year. Many products have been acquired and raised investments to enable scale up. Since 2013, Ed has produced the ED Games Expo, an annual showcase of game-changing education technology innovations developed across more than 50 programs in the U.S. government. Prior to IES, Ed performed research examining the impact of school-based service learning on student’s civic engagement. Ed is a former American Association for the Advancement of Science and Society for Research in Child Development (AAAS/SRCD) Executive Branch Fellow.

Elizabeth D. Kilmer, PhD

Qualitative Researcher in Game Studies, Take This

Elizabeth D. Kilmer, PhD

Qualitative Researcher in Game Studies, Take This

Dr. Kilmer is a licensed clinical psychologist dedicated to education and research in the use of applied games and resilient gaming communities. She currently serves as a qualitative researcher in game studies for Take This, focused on developing resources to help the games industry cultivate resilient online communities. Additionally, Dr. Kilmer’s work includes development of and education on the therapeutic applications of popular games like D&D and Minecraft.

Elizabeth M H Newbury

Director, Serious Games Initiative, The Wilson Center

Elizabeth M H Newbury

Director, Serious Games Initiative, The Wilson Center

Dr. Elizabeth M H Newbury is the Director for the Serious Games Initiative for the Wilson Center, leading the Wilson Center's use of games in engaging the public around policy research. As lead of the Serious Games Initiative, she leverages games as a tool for the public communication of science and policy research.  Under her leadership, SGI is pursuing how public policy and science can come together in an interactive platform to increase public dialogue and engagement around timely and critical issues of today. Outside of the Wilson Center, she helps coordinate across federal agencies to help support the ecosystem of games used for social good, through chairing the Federal Games Guild, an informal community of practice with over 100 agency participants united by the purpose to see how they can leverage gaming technologies to meet mission goals.

Fran Blumberg

Professor, Fordham University

Fran Blumberg

Professor, Fordham University

Fran Blumberg is a developmental psychologist and a Professor in the Division of Psychological and Educational Services within Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education. Her research concerns the study of children’s problem-solving skills in the context of formal and informal learning settings such as digital game play. Her work has been recognized via funding from the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and the Center for Curriculum Redesign. She is an editorial board member for journals such as Computers in Human Behavior, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, and Technology, Mind, and Behavior. She was recently part of the organizing team for the January, 2024 Ethical Games Conference (with Celia Hodent and Sebastian Detterding) and is a Senior Associate Editor for a special ACM Games issue that will reflect select papers from the conference. She is co-editor with Patricia Brooks of Cognitive Development in Digital Contexts (Academic Press, 2017) and lead author of the Society for Research in Child Development Social Policy Report, Digital games a context for children’s cognitive development: Research recommendations and policy considerations (2019).

Gerard Williams

Gaming Media Personality, HipHopGamer / Grandma's Boy Ent LLC / HOT97

Gerard Williams

Gaming Media Personality, HipHopGamer / Grandma's Boy Ent LLC / HOT97

Gerard "HipHopGamer" Williams born and raised in east new york brooklyn started playing video games at the age of 4. His Grandmother Margaret Williams was a hardcore gamer and passed along the passion to her grandson. Growing up in the hood it was very very easy to get in to trouble within the environment so gaming wasn't only a hobby but it was a life saver for Gerard. Margaret Williams AKA HipHopGranny taught Gerard about life through video games making him understand that in life you will be faced with challenges, objectives, and many harsh battles in order to achieve your goal of winning just like in the video games that Gerard loved to play. As Gerard "HipHopGamer" Williams grew up he was discovered in 2008 by Torrence Davis who owned a website called thebitbag.com which allowed Gerard to put his weekly HipHopGamerShow on the site and also taught him the game of journalism to become a professional in the gaming industry. After attending E3 in 2008 Gerard never looked back, he learned the business, built relationships, and changed the game forever with his unique energy and style and skillset to deliver news , interviews , and information like no one else and broke barriers within the industry to open up the door for many black content creators to have a voice and platform. Today HipHopGamer is labeled as THE GOAT OF THE GAME with a unmatched resume from interviewing the biggest stars in all of entertainment, from being a character and making music in different AAA titled videogames, and for impacting the school system with his Playmakers program and signature quote "Character Is Your Currency". Gerard HipHopGamer Williams is truly a one of one and the rise will continue. In the words of Gerard "HipHopGamer" Williams 1 LOVE & GOD BLESS In Jesus Name We Pray AMEN.

Glenn Gillis

CEO and Co-Founder, Sea Monster

Glenn Gillis

CEO and Co-Founder, Sea Monster

Glenn is the co-founder and CEO of Sea Monster, and the chairperson of Games for Change Africa. Glenn is a seasoned entrepreneur with 25 years of experience as a senior executive and consultant in the creative industries. He is an expert on the role that technology plays in storytelling and a thought-leader on how impact games and immersive technologies (AR & VR) can be used to build brands and drive effective learning outcomes in Africa and beyond. Prior to Sea Monster, Glenn served as the General Manager at two of South Africa’s leading film and animation companies: Moonlighting Film Services and Clockwork Zoo - Africa’s largest animation studio at the time.

Heather Jackson

Managing Director, Astra Logical

Heather Jackson

Managing Director, Astra Logical

Heather Jackson is the Managing Director of Astra Logical, a mission-driven indie game publisher focused on trailblazing thinky games that empower all types of players to engage in creative problem-solving. Prior to joining Astra, Heather was a graduate of Harvard Business School, and joined Amazon Games to build unique publishing strategies focused on household gaming. When she’s not sinking hours into indie games, she’s probably hiking in Seattle or curating a really good Spotify playlist.

Jason Gonzalez

Tech & Gaming Officer, Global Corporate Partnerships, International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Jason Gonzalez

Tech & Gaming Officer, Global Corporate Partnerships, International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Jason Gonzalez is the first-ever Tech & Gaming Officer at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian nonprofit that assists people facing the aftermath of conflict and disaster in 50+ countries. Jason partners with gaming and technology companies, influencers, and communities to enhance the experience of players, employees, and broader audiences by fostering welcoming and inclusive communities for people whose lives have been disrupted by humanitarian crises.

Jason Rausch

Senior Vice President of Programs, Project Lead The Way, Pathogen Patrol

Jason Rausch

Senior Vice President of Programs, Project Lead The Way, Pathogen Patrol

Jason Rausch serves as the Senior Vice President of Programs at Project Lead The Way (PLTW) with the goal empowering students through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. He has a passion for teaching, learning, design thinking, educational technology, and gamified learning. In his role, Jason is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of PLTW's high school curriculum and program offerings.

Jenny Xu

CEO, Talofa Games

Jenny Xu

CEO, Talofa Games

Jenny Xu is a long-distance runner, fitness instructor, Forbes 30 Under 30: Games recipient, and CEO of Talofa Games. She started making games and running at age 12, and in her 14 years in the gaming industry, she’s shipped 10 titles on the mobile app stores with over 10 million downloads. She was the grand prize winner of the Niantic Beyond Reality Contest in 2019, right after she graduated from MIT studying Computer Science. She's also previously worked at Google, N3TWORK, and EA.

Jess Rowlings

Researcher/CEO & Co-Founder, University of Melbourne/Next Level Collaboration

Jess Rowlings

Researcher/CEO & Co-Founder, University of Melbourne/Next Level Collaboration

Jess Rowlings is a qualified speech pathologist and co-founder/CEO of Next Level Collaboration, a social enterprise that runs strength-based programs to support collaborative skill development and social connection through cooperative video games. Jess is also a researcher at the University of Melbourne, specialising in the design and analysis of video game-based intervention to build social capacity. Jess’ work is informed by her lived experience of receiving autism and ADHD diagnoses as an adult as well as her lifelong love of games, and she is passionate about the use of digital games-based learning to promote inclusion and belonging.

Joost Raessens

Full Professor and Chair of Media Theory, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Joost Raessens

Full Professor and Chair of Media Theory, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Prof. Joost Raessens holds the chair of Media Theory at Utrecht University and is the scientific director of the Utrecht Center for Game Research, The Netherlands. Inspired by UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, his research focuses on the understanding of how green media such as Games and XR drive systemic social change. Raessens is the project coordinator of the Horizon Europe project STRATEGIES (Sustainable Transition for Europe’s Game Industries, 2024-2028) and co-editor of Ecogames: Playful Perspectives on the Climate Crisis (AUP 2024).

Justin Berry

Creative Producer / Project Director, Yale Center for Immersive Technology in Pediatrics

Justin Berry

Creative Producer / Project Director, Yale Center for Immersive Technology in Pediatrics

Justin Berry is an artist, educator, researcher, and game designer whose work has been presented internationally in magazines, conferences, and museums. While faculty at the Yale School of Art, he led teams from multiple departments as Principal Investigator for the Blended Reality program. His current role is Creative Producer and Project Director for the Yale Center For Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics exploring ways immersive technologies can improve quality of life and health outcomes.

Karen (Kat) Schrier

Full Professor/Director of Games & Emerging Media, Marist

Karen (Kat) Schrier

Full Professor/Director of Games & Emerging Media, Marist

Karen (Kat) Schrier is Full Professor and Director of Games & Emerging Media at Marist. She is also a game design consultant for World Health Organization and CEO of PlatyPlay, LLC, which designs games for care, health, and inclusion. Dr. Schrier is the author/editor of over 100 published works, including We the Gamers (Oxford University Press) and Knowledge Games (JHU Press). She has over 20 years of experience in game development, and worked for Nickelodeon, Scholastic, and BrainPOP. See more at: https://www.karenschrier.com/, and https://www.linkedin.com/in/katschrier/.

Katja Iversen

CEO, Museum for the United Nations - UN Live

Katja Iversen

CEO, Museum for the United Nations - UN Live

Katja is an award winning, executive adviser, author and global advocate on leadership, sustainability, global health and gender equality. She became the CEO at UN Live in September 2023. She has a background as a leader in civil society, the United Nations and as a cross-cultural leadership trainer of Fortune 500 executives. Prior to that, she was the President/CEO of the global advocacy organization Women Deliver. As high-level adviser to private sector executives and institutions such as the G7, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations Katja has helped drive worldwide change.

Kelly McNeil

Learning Experience Designer, Digital Promise

Kelly McNeil

Learning Experience Designer, Digital Promise

Learning Experience Designer with Digital Promise supporting Peer to Peer Professional learning communities and Global Youth Voice and Innovation. Leadership and Innovation EdD student at ASU studying playful professional learning with digital games. Former STEAM Curriculum and Technology program manager at ASU for Verizon Innovative Learning Lab schools and K12 Computer Science and Makerspace teacher.

Kieran Donovan

Co-Founder and CEO, k-ID

Kieran Donovan

Co-Founder and CEO, k-ID

Kieran Donovan is the CEO and founding member of k-ID, a first-of-its-kind global compliance engine that makes it easy for game developers and parents to ensure the safety and privacy of kids and teens online. In his role, Kieran uses his decade of experience working at the frontier of data protection and online safety regulation to manage the company and technology overall.  The only person to have ever been named Privacy Lawyer of the Year multiple times, Kieran has advised some of the world’s most well-known online platforms on how to architect solutions to efficiently navigate emerging regulatory challenges across the world. Some of the most popular games in the world today feature family portals and youth onboarding flows designed by Kieran. He has been recognized by Chambers, Legal 500, Asian Legal Business (ALB), and more as one of the world’s leading technology and data protection lawyers.

Kimberly Hieftje

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, XRPediatrics at the Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics

Kimberly Hieftje

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, XRPediatrics at the Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics

Kimberly Hieftje, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Yale University and co-director/co-founder of XRPediatrics at Yale and the Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics. For the past 15 years, her research has focused on the development, evaluation, and implementation of health and clinical interventions for youth that utilize XR and game technology. Dr. Hieftje is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Games for Health Journal, the premier journal in the field of serious games for health and clinical applications.

Kimberly Voll

Co-Founder, Thriving in Games Group (formerly Fair Play Alliance)

Kimberly Voll

Co-Founder, Thriving in Games Group (formerly Fair Play Alliance)

Dr. Kimberly Voll is a veteran game designer and developer with a passion for creating inclusive online gaming experiences. Her background in cognitive science and computer science (AI) informs her work, blending technical expertise with a player-centric design approach. Formerly a principal designer at Riot Games, Kimberly is now CEO of Brace Yourself Games, and is the co-founder of the Fair Play Alliance, a global coalition dedicated to healthier game communities.

Kirk Musngi

Senior Community Manager, Unity Technologies

Kirk Musngi

Senior Community Manager, Unity Technologies

Kirk Musngi (say ha’ng’ing - then say Mus’ñg’i!) is the Senior Community Manager for Unity Learn, Education, and Social Impact. He’s formerly a game designer and community organizer based in Cary, North Carolina, USA. Kirk is a co-founder and acting board member of the Triangle Interactive Arts Collective. He's also collaborated with awesome organizations such as Games for Change, RVAGameJams, and Game Devs of Color. If he’s not making games or helping with a cause, you can find him playing with his dog Winston or taking kids to school at a basketball court near you!

Lien Tran

Assistant Professor, DePaul University

Lien Tran

Assistant Professor, DePaul University

Lien B. Tran is an Assistant Professor of games and design at DePaul University's Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media. She is director of Matters at Play, a transdisciplinary design lab partnering in the creation of interactive advocacy solutions for positive social transformations (particularly in the areas of social justice, public health, and the environment). Her portfolio includes game-based tools for organizations such as Open Society Foundations, World Bank, and United Nations.

Lynn Fiellin

Founder, Playbl

Lynn Fiellin

Founder, Playbl

I am the founder of Playbl, a digital behavioral health company I spun out from my academic research program, the play2PREVENT Lab. I am also a physician-researcher who has been on faculty at Yale for over 30 years and just joined the faculty at Dartmouth College. At Playbl, we harness the power of play to help adolescents live happier and healthier lives by marketing and distributing our 5 evidence-based highly engaging and accessible digital health games that target critical health outcomes in adolescents around mental health, substance misuse, and sexual health.

Marc Almanzor

Owner/Founder, Make Gaming About Fundraising

Marc Almanzor

Owner/Founder, Make Gaming About Fundraising

Marc is the founder of Make Gaming About Fundraising, where he blends 15+ years in nonprofit fundraising with his charity stream success on Twitch. An influential member of the NJ Extra Life Guild Advisory Committee, he has earned four Extra Life medals for his efforts with Children's Specialized Hospital NJ. As co-chair of the Esports Trade Association’s Fundraising Committee, Marc fosters partnerships between nonprofits and the esports industry. He is currently collaborating with Easterseals to raise awareness for accessibility in gaming.

Marc Ruppel, Ph.D.

Senior Program Officer/Program Lead, Digital Projects for the Public, National Endowment for the Humanities

Marc Ruppel, Ph.D.

Senior Program Officer/Program Lead, Digital Projects for the Public, National Endowment for the Humanities

Dr. Marc Ruppel is a Senior Program Officer and program lead for the Digital Projects for the Public grant line at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Public Programs. His portfolio supports games, virtual reality, mobile apps, and web experiences rooted in the humanities, and he also leads the Endowment’s civics education initiatives.

Maria Tamellini

Co-founder and COO, GamerSafer

Maria Tamellini

Co-founder and COO, GamerSafer

Maria is an award-winning entrepreneur and the co-founder of GamerSafer, a SaaS company that works with multiplayer games, esports platforms, and online communities to deliver safer, fair, and welcoming experiences for players. Before GamerSafer, she led a successful social impact and B Corp-certified business for many years. She is a UC Berkeley Skydeck and a Stanford LBAN alumna, an AWS Impact Fellow, and was awarded by Headstream Innovation for building better digital spaces for youth. Maria has also collaborated with research and other impact initiatives from the Anti-Defamation League, Take This, Stanford Reach Lab, WeProtect Global Alliance, and Fair Play Alliance. She was born and raised in Brazil, currently lives in California, and advocates for women, Latinas, and other underrepresented groups in tech and games.

Melanie Harke

Interactive Producer, Fred Rogers Productions

Melanie Harke

Interactive Producer, Fred Rogers Productions

During her 19 years in the game industry, Melanie has served as designer and director for projects ranging from interactive connected toys, massively multiplayer online games, VR experiences, theme park rides, and dozens of early childhood educational games. As an Interactive Producer at Fred Rogers Productions, she focuses on creating early childhood educational games and interactives for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Donkey Hodie.  She is especially interested in social emotional learning and how games can be used to encourage a kinder and more thoughtful world.

Michael Preston

Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

Michael Preston

Executive Director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

Michael Preston is the Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a research and innovation lab that works to advance children’s learning and well-being in the digital age. His work has focused on using technology to improve teaching and learning, supporting student agency and interest, and creating models for systemic change. Previously, he co-founded CSforALL, the hub for the national Computer Science for All movement, and led digital learning initiatives at the New York City Department of Education and at Columbia University. He earned a PhD in Cognitive Science in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from Harvard University.

Mike Washburn

Director of Learning Experiences, Logics Academy

Mike Washburn

Director of Learning Experiences, Logics Academy

Mike Washburn is an educator, community builder, and is the Director of Learning Experiences for Logics Academy. Mike has worked with leading EdTech organizations to connect educators through community building and professional learning, enabling them to share their passions and knowledge. Mike was the co-host of the hit education podcasts OnEducation and the Minecraft: Education Edition podcast. With almost 500,000 career podcast downloads, Mike is a standout voice for technology in education.

Nicholas Pilarski

Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Nicholas Pilarski

Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Nicholas Pilarski creates interactive stories deeply rooted in community experiences and the complex challenges we encounter. Through emerging technologies, he aims to cultivate dialogue and solidarity rather than a culture of monologue. Pilarski’s work and approach have been recognized by entities such as Filmmaker Magazine, The New York Times, and The Smithsonian. As an Associate Professor of XR at ASU, Pilarski finds balance in the migratory bird songs of the Sonoran Desert, where he resides.

Nick Winter

CEO, CodeCombat

Nick Winter

CEO, CodeCombat

As CEO and cofounder of CodeCombat, Nick combines his expertise in technology, optimization, and language learning to teach coding to over 20 million learners. He previously cofounded Skritter, a top app for learning Chinese characters, and authored "The Motivation Hacker," a guide to extreme productivity.

Nicolas Meade

Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine

Nicolas Meade

Assistant Professor, Yale School of Medicine

Nicolas Meade, PsyD is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. He is an attending psychologist at the Yale Pediatric Gender Program, where he serves on an interdisciplinary team of professionals to support youth and their families in navigating their gender journeys. His research focuses on applications for novel technologies to support trans and gender expansive youth in finding affirmation, community, and gender joy.

Nikita Khalid

Research Manager, Scratch Foundation

Nikita Khalid

Research Manager, Scratch Foundation

Nikita Khalid is the Research Manager at Scratch, and is conducting research funded by the LEGO Foundation on the relationships between the use of digital technology and child well-being. She is also conducting research at the CUNY Graduate Center, on student emotional regulation during academic feedback, and on the relationship between praise and academic achievement. Nikita holds a Master of Science in Quantitative Methods and a Master of Philosophy in Educational Psychology.

Onur Dizdar

Public Diplomacy Specialist & Instructional Designer

Onur Dizdar

Public Diplomacy Specialist & Instructional Designer

Onur Dizdar, a Public Diplomacy Specialist and Instructional Designer, has over a decade of experience in government and international relations, spearheading numerous educational and cultural exchange initiatives. During his tenure at the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, spanning more than 5 years, he pioneered the integration of gaming into public diplomacy efforts to address critical global issues and strengthen people-to-people ties between the U.S. and Turkiye. His innovative approach led to the establishment of various impactful programs, including talks, seminars and workshops with American experts, serious games boot camps/hackathons, and an eSports club. For his contributions, Onur received the 2023 Excellence in Public Diplomacy Award granted by the Public Diplomacy Council of America. Prior to this, he played key roles in managing Istanbul's foreign relations for over 5 years and facilitated exchange programs at the Fulbright Commission in Turkiye for 2 years. Onur holds a degree in American Studies from Hacettepe University, a master's in History from Bilkent University, and a graduate certificate in Instructional Design and Technology from Purdue University Global.

Rachel Kowert

Research Director, Take This

Rachel Kowert

Research Director, Take This

Rachel Kowert, Ph.D is a research psychologist, the Research Director of Take This, and visiting professor at the University of York (UK). She is a world-renowned researcher on the uses and effects of digital games, including their impact on physical, social, and psychological well-being. In her current work, she serves as one of the primary investigators on the first grant-funded project from the Department of Homeland Security about games and extremism. She has spoken about her work to thousands of people across the globe, including the United States Congress, United Nations, and Department of Homeland Security. An award-winning author, she has published a variety of books and scientific articles relating to the psychology of games and, more recently, the relationship between games and mental health specifically. She also serves as the editor of the Routledge Debates in Media Studies series and the series from ETC Press, The Psychgeist of Pop Culture. In 2020, she founded Psychgeist, a multimedia content production studio for the science of games and pop culture. In 2021, Dr. Kowert was chosen as a member of The Game Awards Future Class, representing the best and brightest of the future of video games. Dr. Kowert has been featured in various media outlets, including NPR, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, New York Times, and Wired Magazine. To learn more about Rachel and her work, visit www.rkowert.com.

Rae Ostman

Research Professor, Arizona State University

Rae Ostman

Research Professor, Arizona State University

Rae Ostman, PhD, is research professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, co-director of the Center for Innovation in Informal STEM Learning, and Director of the National Informal STEM Education Network. She plans, develops, and studies media, exhibits, programs, and other learning experiences designed for social impact, especially related to equitable futures.

Sam Liberty

Consultant, Applied Game Design, Northeastern University

Sam Liberty

Consultant, Applied Game Design, Northeastern University

Samuel Liberty is a serious game designer and gamification consultant for tech startups, the U.S. Department of Defense, and NGOs like the World Bank, Red Cross Climate Centre, and the World Wildlife Fund. He was lead game designer for digital therapies at Sidekick Health, and teaches game design at Northeastern University.

Sarah Jacobstein

Project Manager (RITEC), Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

Sarah Jacobstein

Project Manager (RITEC), Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

Sarah Jacobstein is the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s project manager for Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children, a multistakeholder initiative that aims to create evidence-based, child-centered, practical tools for businesses and governments to put the well-being of children at the forefront of digital design.  Sarah is a child rights advocate who is dedicated to exploring how business policy and practice can be better for children, with a focus on children’s rights in the digital environment. She has spent most of her career nurturing partnerships in support of UNICEF’s work around the globe. This included building a child rights & business initiative for the U.S. market and advocating to improve the private sector’s impact on children in the marketplace, workplace, and environment.  Most recently Sarah served on the LEGO Group’s Government & Public Affairs Americas team, where she drove political engagement, public affairs advocacy, and thought leadership on issues including children’s online safety and wellbeing. She holds an MBA with a concentration in Sustainability & Innovation from the NYU Stern School of Business and a BA in Latin American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.

Shuli Gilutz

Programme Officer of Child Rights & Digital Business, UNICEF

Shuli Gilutz

Programme Officer of Child Rights & Digital Business, UNICEF

Shuli Gilutz, PhD., Programme Officer Child Rights & Digital Business, UNICEF, is a global expert in child-centered design with over 20 years of experience working in industry and academia, leading UX research, design, and strategy of digital experiences for children and families. In the past decade, Shuli served as a Google Launchpad UX mentor, a teaching fellow at Tel-Aviv University, and a founding board member of the Designing for Children's Rights Association. Shuli holds an MA from Stanford's Learning, Design, and Technology program and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University

Simay Dinc

CEO \ Founder, Reaction

Simay Dinc

CEO \ Founder, Reaction

Simay Dinc *Co-founder of Recontact Games *Founder of Women in Games TR *Co-founder of KıraARThane *Founder of REACTION   RECONTACT GAMES   Simay Dinc is an award-winning game producer of Recontact Game series, the co-founder of Recontact Games with the motto of making playable arts.   Simay is the founder of Women in Games TR with the motto of We Are in Games  Simay is the founder of REACTION Venture Studio, where she invest in impact focused games    She is the creator of C.A.T.S. of Small Village   C.A.T.S. of Small Village social impact project aims to raise awareness sustainable development goals through Gaming Industry. While providing Culture, Art, Technology, Science lessons from experienced lecturers, Women in Games mentors use gamification techniques to transform children’ ideas into a real game design. Project aims to reach village children in rural areas who dont have opportunity to meet new professions of the future of gaming   Simay is the co-founder of KıraARThane with the motto of Games are an Artform KıraARThane, unusual art gallery and co-working hub for gaming industry in a old town. Kıraarthane is providing free game design, coding, photography lessons to village children and organising international conferences, hackathons, events about the future of gaming. (Hacking the Future, Art Hackathon)

Sonja R. O'Brien

Program Coordinator, Serious Games Initiative

Sonja R. O'Brien

Program Coordinator, Serious Games Initiative

Sonja is the Program Coordinator of the Serious Games Initiative at the Wilson Center, supporting a portfolio focused on science communication, education, and game-based approaches to critical policy topics such as disinformation, artificial intelligence, and plastic pollution. She is passionate about games and their ability to make information sticky while players have fun.

Thomas Winkley

Technical Marketing Advocate, Unity

Thomas Winkley

Technical Marketing Advocate, Unity

Thomas is a Unity Certified Programmer and Instructor, fighting game commentator, community organizer, and an amateur pizza enthusiast. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, he supports Unity’s work in the academic and non-profit space, from presentations to curricular implementation. If Thomas isn't prototyping a far-fetched game idea or playing the latest iteration of Street Fighter, you can find him figuring out the best way to cook a new pizza style, or diving in with students to help shape the future of real-time 3D.

Tiffany Leones

Early STEM Education Researcher, Digital Promise

Tiffany Leones

Early STEM Education Researcher, Digital Promise

As an early STEM education researcher at Digital Promise, Tiffany collaborates with educators, families, and media/game designers to co-design developmentally appropriate and culturally rich early STEM innovations across school and home. Her research interests include early STEM teaching and learning and exploring how educational media and games can be inclusively designed to spark young learners’ STEM interest and engagement.

Timothy Grant

Program Director, Gaming Approaches Towards Education, LLC (GATE)

Timothy Grant

Program Director, Gaming Approaches Towards Education, LLC (GATE)

Timothy Grant is a co-designer of Venture Village, a game to be published by 9th Level Games. It is a game to be used in therapy, school, and at home, and it will be coming out later this year. He helps run groups in a two-facilitator model with a licensed professional, using games as a tool for therapeutic change. In addition, Timothy became a Mental Health Technician to help him understand how to create better therapeutic games and train others to use them as, tools for therapeutic and personal growth.

Tory Brown

Designer, Votes for Women

Tory Brown

Designer, Votes for Women

Tory Brown is the designer of Votes for Women, an award-winning board game about the American Suffrage Movement and the 19th Amendment. Published by Fort Circle Games, Votes for Women is her first foray into game design but not her first experience with social movements. Tory is a senior message &brand strategist with two decades of communications and organizing experience across the progressive movement for the rights and dignity of all people, no matter their ZIP code or skin color.

Tristan Marra

Vice President of Research & Reports, GLAAD

Tristan Marra

Vice President of Research & Reports, GLAAD

Walter Greenleaf, PhD

Neuroscientist, Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab

Walter Greenleaf, PhD

Neuroscientist, Stanford University Virtual Human Interaction Lab

Walter Greenleaf, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist and a medical technology developer working at Stanford University. With over three decades of research and product development experience, Walter is considered a leading authority in digital medicine, wearable sensors, and medical virtual reality technology. He serves on the Science Advisory Board for healthcare companies such as Abbott, Biogen, United Health Group, Penumbra, and Interaxon.  He is the neuroscience and technology advisor to several early-stage medical product companies and venture investment groups.

William Nix

CEO, Creative Projects Group/Founding Member-Co-Executive Director SIE Society

William Nix

CEO, Creative Projects Group/Founding Member-Co-Executive Director SIE Society

CEO of Creative Projects Group, Producer, Co-Executive Director of SIE Society & LOHAS Partner.  William Nix is the CEO of Creative Projects Group® and a Producer with extensive experience in the entertainment, media, sports, and intellectual property fields. He is a founding member and Co-Executive Director of the SIE Society, and a Partner in the social and environmental impact investment firm of LOHAS. Will is a member of the Producer’s Council of the PGA. He is also a lifetime voting-member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, as well as a member of the Television and Recording Academies.  His production work involves both traditional media and multiple content delivery platforms, technologies and genres. With Producer Salma Hayek, he served as Executive Producer of an animated feature film, distributed by Universal and Netflix, based on Kahlil Gibran’s iconic work, The Prophet.  Among its ten award nominations were three Annie Nominations and inclusion in the Oscars Animated Feature Film Nomination ShortList. Drawing upon his substantial international background, his film Firedancer was the first Afghanistan submission for Academy Awards consideration.  William’s recent projects include two documentary features: Power, about a billion peoples’ lack of access to the global and local energy systems, and a historical overview of an important era of American musical and cultural history entitled This is Ragtime: The Birth of American Music. He is also producing a dramatic biographical limited series entitled Gibran: Beyond Borders, a theatrical stage musical entitled Broken Wings, based on Kahlil Gibran’s first novel, one entitled Trailblazers and the other, An Accidental Cuban. He and his partners are also developing projects to expand a family of racing brands, into an animated/live-action film, television video game, and multimedia entertainment franchise. He is currently developing a multicultural, multi-platform television series and immersive media experience entitled TRIBE-X WORLD, with Nikon Ambassador and acclaimed photographer, author and artist, Matthew Jordan Smith.  He is currently an Advisory Board member of Journeys in Film, a non-profit organization that develops and produces innovative curriculum, discussion guide and other educational materials for teachers/students to use in order to support the reach, understanding and legacy of films and television programs. In addition, he is an Advisory Board member of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Hollywood Health & Society, the Global Arts Corps, Producers Without Borders.

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