The 2023 Games for Change Festival will include an exciting array of industry veterans and fresh faces exploring ways games and immersive media can help solve some of today’s most urgent issues around education, mental health, diplomacy, climate crisis, and more. Learn more about them below!
Games for Change Festival
July 18 - 19, 2023 | The Times Center & Microsoft Times Square in NYC
Technical Marketing Advocate | Education at Unity Technologies
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.
Lead Artist at Free Lives
Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Jonathan has worked in the game industry for 13 years. Primarily as a technical artist, his work has appeared in commercial hits like Broforce and Fortnite. He currently does art direction and art team management on a calming, eco-builder game called Terra Nil.
Technical Director at Epic Games
James is originally from Bristol, England. He studied Engineering and Computer Science at Oxford University, before working on physics engines for games. He has spent over 20 years at Epic Games as a programmer and team lead, developing numerous features including physics, animation, visual scripting, tools, gameplay and the MetaHuman Creator. He has worked on game series such as Unreal Tournament, Gears of War and Fortnite. He is currently focusing on user generated content in Fortnite, in particular uses of game technology for education and social impact.
Kristin (Kris) Remington
Kristin (Kris) Remington
Associate Curator of User Experience at Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design
Kristin (Kris) Remington, is the Associate Curator of UX at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. Their research interests include interactive media, digital as a medium, and games in museums. Their current work investigates emerging technology as an arts and humanities tools to generate fun, empathy, education, and epic wins – while also challenging topics of representation and inclusion in the rapidly evolving technology sector.
Dr. Marc Ruppel
Dr. Marc Ruppel
Senior Program Officer and Program Lead, Digital Projects for the Public at 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 work supports games, virtual reality, mobile apps, and web experiences rooted in the humanities. He hopes, in short, to reach and engage a new generation of learners, many of whom are already deeply immersed in the humanities-- they just might not know it yet.
Project Manager at Current Studios
My name is Austyn Hardie, and I am a project manager at Current Studios. At Current Studios, we have the privilege of working with Verizon on an exciting venture: crafting cutting-edge learning experiences through the power of Augmented Reality (AR). Over the past three years and counting, we have been dedicated to creating and maintaining over 12 innovative AR experiences. Our work spans across various age categories and STEM fields, ensuring a diverse range of educational opportunities.Collaborating with esteemed educational institutions like ASU and Liberty Science Center, we are proud to have the support and guidance of education experts. By leveraging their expertise and insights, we continually develop experiences that align with teachers’ curricula, resulting in engaging and immersive encounters for students.Our commitment to education drives us to push the boundaries of AR technology and explore new frontiers in the field. We strive to provide unique learning experiences that captivate students’ imaginations, spark their curiosity, and foster a deeper understanding of complex concepts. Through the seamless integration of AR into the classroom, we aim to empower both teachers and students alike.As we move forward, we remain steadfast in our dedication to innovation, collaboration, and enhancing the learning journey for students across the globe. Together with Verizon, ASU, Liberty Science Center, and our passionate team at Current Studios, we are excited to continue creating fun and innovative AR experiences that helps grow edtech and inspire the next generation of learners.
CEO at Endless Studios
CHONG AHN is a senior, multicultural executive at the cross-section of entertainment and technology, with management experience developing, producing and operating amazing experiences for mobile & online platforms while being responsible for the optimization of acquisition, engagement and monetization models.
President, Founder at New York Videogame Critics Circle
Award-winning author/journalist Harold Goldberg is the founder of the nonprofit New York Videogame Critics Circle and New York Game Awards. He's written for The NY Times, The Washington Post and Vanity Fair and is the author of the best-selling narrative history book All Your Base Are Belong to Us (How 50 Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture. With Reggie Fils-Aimé, he's executive producer of a documentary series about games.
Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at Verizon
Alex Servello is a director in corporate social responsibility for Verizon, leading education and community initiatives as part of Citizen Verizon, the company's responsible business plan for economic, environmental, and social advancement. Prior to this role, Alex managed the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program, Verizon's education initiative addressing barriers to digital inclusion. His focus on implementation of the program ensured innovative technology-infused programs were designed and delivered to middle and high school students in underserved communities.Prior to joining Verizon, Alex served as the Executive Director of Digital Learning and Innovation for Yonkers Public Schools, the fourth-largest district in New York, where he led technology integration for PK-12. He helped to make Yonkers the first Big 5 district in New York to implement computer-based state testing. He also developed initiatives to enhance STEM education and served on the New York State Education Department's Science Education Steering Committee. Alex holds a bachelor's degree in Biology from Boston University and Master's in Education from University of Massachusetts Boston.
Program Manager, YE Curriculum at Arizona State University
Maggie Mills is a zoologist-turned-instructional designer working for the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, a pan-university department at Arizona State University that serves to empower all people through entrepreneurship and innovation. As the Curriculum Program Manager for the Youth Entrepreneurship team, she curates accessible learning experiences to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in an innovative environment across underserved K12 schools nationwide.
Producer at FableVision Studios
Jonah Gaynor is a Producer at FableVision Studios with a background in game design and production. Serving in multiple roles while Plastics Pipeline was developed, Jonah led the FableVision team in creating an app that is full of character, educational, and of course, lots of fun. Jonah will provide insight into his passion for game-based learning, and how it is uniquely positioned to be an impactful force for good.
PhD Candidate at RNA Bioinformatics and Citizen Science Lab, School of Computer Science, McGill University
Roman is a PhD candidate in computer science at McGill University, where he works on citizen science and bioinformatics. He holds a masters degree in computational biology and is supported by an Alexander Graham Bell scholarship. Recently, he has dedicated most of his time to Borderlands Science, borrowing the brain power of millions of video game players in an attempt to complete his thesis.
Founder and CEO at PlanetPlay
Rhea Loucas is the founder and CEO of Sphaira Innovation, not-for-profit entity and parent company of PlanetPlay. PlanetPlay is the first climate conscious game platform and marketplace, which since launch has worked with multiple leading game companies on engaging players with green activations. Before founding Sphaira Innovation, she worked at Ernst & Young as a chartered accountant for large financial institutions and ESG investing funds.
Director of Gaming Pathways at The City College of New York
Nick Fortugno is Director of the Gaming Pathways Program at City College of New York directing its new game development degree and is an entrepreneur, interactive narrative designer and game designer based in New York City. He is a founder and principal of Playmatics (www.playmatics.com), a interactive development company. Playmatics has created a variety of digital and real-world experiences for organizations including Pro Publica, Red Bull, AMC (such as the CableFAX award winning Breaking Bad: The Interrogation), Disney, American Museum of Natural History, the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent. For the past twenty years, Fortugno has been a designer, writer and project manager on dozens of commercial and serious games, and served as lead designer on the downloadable blockbuster Diner Dash and the award-winning serious game Ayiti: The Cost of Life. Nick is a Lead Artist on the Frankenstein A.I. project (featured at the Sundance New Frontier Festival in 2018), and has worked extensively on interactive narrative projects in a variety of formats. Nick is also a co-founder of the Come Out and Play street games festival (www.comeoutandplay.org), winner of the Indiecade's 2019 Bernie DeKoven Big Fun Award and hosted in New York City and Amsterdam since 2006, and is co-creator of the Big Urban Game for Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2003. Nick has taught game design and interactive narrative design for 20 years at institutions such as Columbia University and the Parsons School of Design, and has participated in the construction of game design and immersive storytelling curriculum. Nick holds an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. Some of Nick's writing about interactive narrative can be found in the anthology Well-Played 1.0: Video Game, Value, and Meaning, published by ETC-Press.
Programs & Partnerships at GGP (Gay Gaming Pros)
Coming from a small town in Illinois, Mason knew being gay would come with some challenges. He eventually earned his degree in Chicago and made his way all the way to Los Angeles shortly after. For half of the time he's lived in LA, he has done inspiring work for the non-profit organization, Gay Gaming Pros. There he awards scholarships to underrepresented students pursuing video game creation and who also do community service for others. He loves playing dodgeball and giving belly rubs to his dog, Dobby.
Executive Director at Prudence Foundation
Marc has been the Executive Director of Prudence Foundation since 2013, where he has focused on children, education, and disaster preparedness and recovery. Before this role, Marc served as Head of Government Relations for Prudential Corporation Asia for seven years. Marc has been involved with the foundation since its inception and has played a key role in the development and implementation of various programs and partnerships in Asia and Africa. Prior to joining Prudential, Marc worked in the financial services sector in London and Europe for over eight years.
Madeline Di Nonno
President & CEO at Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Madeline Di Nonno is the President and CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only global research driven non-profit working within family entertainment media to create gender balance, foster inclusion and impede bias. The Institute was recently awarded the prestigious Governor’s Award form the TV Academy for its profound, transformational and long-lasting contribution to the arts and science of television. Di Nonno leads the Institute's strategic direction, research, fundraising, and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Di Nonno is an Executive Producer on the Emmy nominated, television series Mission Unstoppable on CBS and the award winning feature film This Changes Everything. Di Nonno has served in Executive leadership positions for Hallmark Channel, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and Nielsen Entertainment. Di Nonno is a U.S. State Department Specialist Speaker and a speaker at The White House, and the United Nations. Di Nonno has been featured in Ad Age, Fast Company, Good Morning America, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair and Variety. Di Nonno holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Di Nonno is an appointed Arts Commissioner the Los Angeles County Arts Department. serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation.
Knight Chair and Director of the MFA in Interactive Media at University of Miami, HEVGA
Lindsay is Knight Chair and director of the Master of Fine Arts at the University of Miami School of Communication. He is Vice President for the Higher Education Video Game Alliance and the 2019 recipient of the Games for Change Vanguard award. Lindsay's book, Doing Things with Games, Social Impact through Design, is a well-received guide to game design. In 2020, he edited and authored Love and Electronic Affection: a Design Primer on designing love and affection in games. In 2021 he published the Amazon best seller, Black Game Studies, an Introduction to the games, game makers and scholarship of the African diasporaHis work has received awards and recognition from the Games for Change Festival, the Digital Diversity Network, the Association of Computing Machinery's digital arts community , Black Enterprise and others. He authored or co-authored more than 50 papers, articles and book chapters on games since 2009. His creative work has been selected for showcase internationally including New York, Paris, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Chicago, Vancouver, Istanbul, and others. Lindsay curated or co-curated Blank Arcade, Smithsonian American Art Museum’s SAAM Arcade, the Games for Change Festival's Civic and Social Impact program and others.He has given talks at the Game Developers Conference, SXSW, Games for Change Festival, the Online News Association, the Society for News Design, and many other industry events.Between 2013 and 2018 he was the founding director of the American University Game Lab and Studio. He served as Vice President and on the board of directors for the Global Game Jam™ non-profit between 2014-2019. From 2009 to 2013 he was the Armstrong Professor at Miami University’s School of Art. Lindsay also served on the board for the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) between 2013-2015.
Lien B. Tran
Lien B. Tran
Assistant Professor of Games & Design at DePaul University, Jarvis College of Computing & Digital Media
Lien B. Tran is an award-winning social impact and interaction designer, who creates interactive solutions at the intersections of social justice, health, and environment at the local, national, and international levels. Previous project partnerships include Open Society Foundations, World Bank, and United Nations. Lien is an Assistant Professor at DePaul University (Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media) and director of Matters at Play lab, a transdisciplinary design lab.
CEO / CXO & CoFounder at Geogrify / SetJetters
Kate Edwards is an award-winning 30+ year veteran of the game industry, and the CEO and principal consultant of Geogrify, a consultancy which innovated game culturalization, as well as the CXO and Co-Founder of SetJetters, a film tourism app. She is also the former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and the Global Game Jam. In addition to serving in several board and advisory roles, she is a geographer, writer, and corporate strategist.
Associate Professor of Game Design at Hostos Community College, City University of New York
Juno Morrow is a multidisciplinary artist, independent game designer, photographer and educator. Morrow’s an Associate Professor of Game Design at CUNY-Hostos, where she’s been developing the game design program, the first public degree program in NYC, since 2015. Prior to that, she earned an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons. As an internationally exhibiting artist and designer, Morrow’s presented games and spoken at sites like SXSW, GDC and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
CEO at Playmob
Jude has been championing ‘games for good’ for over 20 years, starting off in the games for education space and moving into turning entertainment games into a force for good. She is the founder and CEO of Playmob, a market insights platform gathering public sentiment, through games. Playmob has enabled the UN to collect the world's largest data set on climate attitudes, data being used in 52 countries for climate policy decisions, and has also been used for the G20 and IPCC report in 2022. Jude also co-founded the Playing for the Planet Alliance, launching the Alliance at the UN General Assembly in September 2019. The Alliance is a group of 50+ forward thinking games studios and publishers, such as Supercell, Rovio, Ubisoft, Sybo, Niantic, Xbox and Playstation, with a collective reach of 1.4 billion monthly players. Her upcoming book "Gaming For Good' will be released summer 2023 which will demystify games and show the power they hold to change the world.
Head of Social Impact at Riot Games
Jeffrey Burrell is the Head of Social Impact & Executive Director of the Riot Games Social Impact Fund. Jeffrey leads all social impact efforts which include in-game fundraisers across Riot’s five titles, the disbursement of funds and grants given out globally by the Social Impact Fund, internal employee fundraising and volunteer efforts and our newly developed sustainability division. Under Jeff’s leadership, the Social Impact Fund has raised $47.9M and supported 400+ nonprofits across 25 regions around the world.
Executive Director at Take This
Eve Crevoshay joined Take This as Executive Director in 2018. Eve is a member of the advisory boards for GDC (in the advocacy track), the Fair Play Alliance, The Games and Online Harassment Hotline (gameshotline.org), and The International Game Summit on Mental Health (TIGS.ca); and is the recipient of the inaugural GamesBeat Up and Comer award (2020) and the 2022 Games for Change Festival Vanguard Award.
Edward C Metz
Program Manager at ED/IES SBIR
Ed Metz is a developmental psychologist, education researcher, and a program manager of the U.S. Department of Education / Institute of Education Sciences’ Small Business Innovation Research program, a $13M annual seed fund for the R&D, evaluation, commercialization of new education technology products. Millions of students and educators use learning games and edtech developed through ED/IES SBIR each year. See ies.ed.gov/sbir for more information.Since 2013, Ed has led the team that 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. The 9th Expo will occur September 20-21, 2023, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The Expo is free and open to the public. For more information, see https://ies.ed.gov/sbir/EdGamesExpo.aspPrior to IES, Ed performed research focusing on 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.
Program Director at National Cancer Institute
Dr. Dave Miller is a program director at the NIH's National Cancer Institute, the US government's largest funder of cancer research and technology development. Dave is a computational physicist who maintains a research grants portfolio encompassing mathematical modeling, data visualization, and interactive media development.
Executive Producer at Two Bulls/DEPT
A veteran in the Australian games industry, Damo has an extensive background delivering AAA game titles across multiple platforms including Zelda Skyward Sword HD, Age of Empires 3 DE, Megamind, Jumper, Space Chimps and Looney Tunes ACME Arsenal, and AAAyyy! grooves on jazz flute. Damo happily manages the most complex of projects with a steady hand and a firm sense of humour.
Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design
Colleen Macklin is a game designer and an Associate Professor in the school of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design. She’s interested in how games model and reveal ideologies through systems. At Parsons, she is the founder and co-director of PETLab, a design research lab that develops games for experimental learning and social engagement. PETLab projects include disaster preparedness games and sports with the Red Cross, the urban activist game Re:Activism and the physical/fiscal sport Budgetball. She is a member of the game design collective Local No. 12, known for the videogame Dear Reader and the social card game, The Metagame. She has co-authored (with John Sharp), Games, Design and Play: A detailed look at iterative game design (Addison Wesley Professional, 2016) and Iterate: Ten Lessons in Design and Failure (MIT Press, 2019). Colleen has a BFA in Media Arts from Pratt Institute, and an MA in International Affairs from The New School.
Co-CEO at Iron Galaxy Studios
As Co-CEO of Iron Galaxy studios, Chelsea's innovative leadership has produced a strong values-based culture that nurtures creative excellence and creators alike. She keeps her teammates on the evolving edge of continuous improvement by investing in the growth of their skills and careers. As a strong believer that diversity builds better teams, Chelsea has guided the formalization of new policies to take uncompromising care of every employee.
Clinical Program Coordinator at Take This
Cassandra (Cassie) Walker, LCSW, CCTP is a Black Queer Social Worker, Trauma Therapist, Writer, Gamer, and Activist. They are the owner of their practice, Intersections Center for Complex Healing, PLLC, a Clinical Program Manager for Take This, and a member of the Clinical Oversight Committee for Hope for The Day. Cassie presents on a diverse array of intersecting topics related to race, gender, sexuality, relationships, gaming, mental wellness, trauma, workplace culture, and social justice.
Associate Professor at University of California, Irvine
Bo Ruberg, PhD (they/them) is an associate professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine and the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. They are the author of three monographs: Video Games Have Always Been Queer (2019), The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games (2020), and Sex Dolls at Sea: Imagined Histories of Sexual Technologies (2022).
COO, Head of Product at LIGHTSHED, LLC
Barry Pousman is an award-winning creative producer focused on the future of media, art, education, and social change. Barry is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of Social Work and Founding Partner and COO at LIGHTSHED.IO, an immersive production company unparalleled in the social impact space with clients including Meta, Accenture, Johns Hopkins University, USC Shoah Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and more. While living in the Bay Area, Barry worked with the Institute for the Future (IFTF), the world's leading strategic foresight think tank to develop and implement digital strategies, content initiatives, and global events. And also was co-founder and CEO at Variable Labs, a VC-backed immersive technology lab focused on creating tools for corporate learning and development. Variable Labs' clients include Google, XPRIZE Foundation, Deloitte, Facebook, AAUW, and other top-tier organizations creating and consulting on Virtual Reality content, platforms, and activations.Barry is formerly a Digital Strategist at the U.N. where he helped implement effective new media initiatives around the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals. In his work with the U.N., Barry created seminal Virtual Reality experiences (Clouds Over Sidra, My Mother's Wing, etc) and viral video campaigns, organized UN General Assembly exhibitions, and facilitated international summits and workshops. His work has created measured real-world impact and has screened at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the White House, Sundance Film Festival, won the Interactive Award at Sheffield Doc Fest, and written about in The New York Times, Vice, the BBC, and beyond.
Vice President at FableVision Studios
Anne Richards is an award-winning children’s creative executive with over twenty years of experience leading projects for audio, interactive, and television. Anne is the creator of Pinna podcasts Yes No Audio Escapes, Roasting Vegetables (co-created with Postell Pringle), and Quentin & Alfie’s ABC Adventures. Anne has worked across children's media, collaborating with companies including iCivics, Netflix, WNET, Highlights for Children, Read to Lead, Amplify, Curriculum Associates, and Disney.
Professor & President at American University, Canterbury University, & Higher Education Video Game Alliance
Andrew "Andy" Phelps is an artist, designer, and professor in the School of Communication, holds a joint appointment in Computer Science, and is the director of the AU Game Center at American University in Washington DC, USA. He is also a professor at the Human Interface Technology Laboratory NZ, and was the first Programme Manager of the Digital Screen Campus, at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. He currently serves as president of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, representing over 500 colleges and universities with games curriculum and research. His latest games are The Witch’s Way (Itch.io, 2021) and Fragile Equilibrium (XBOX, Steam, Itch.io 2019), and he maintains a website of his academic publications, popular writing, artwork, curriculum development, and more at andyworld.io.
Expert Development Producer at Gearbox Studio Quebec
Amélie Brouillette is a producer working at Gearbox Studio Quebec. She was the main producer of Borderlands Science, managing a small team of developers and scientists to create Borderlands Science. With more than 11 years of experience as a project manager, she found that what she enjoys the most are offbeat projects where radically different expertises join forces to work together on something new. Luckily for her, that's what Borderlands Science is all about.
Game Director at Gearbox Studio Quebec
Gabriel Richard is a game developer currently working for Gearbox Studio Quebec. He was the game designer behind Borderlands Science and led a small team along with his partners in McGill University to make the project come to life. He has been a passionate video game developer for the past 16 years but before that he was pursuing a career in Biology. Borderlands Science became a great opportunity to bridge the gap between two of his greatest passions: gaming and science.
CEO & Co-Founder at MMOS
Attila through his Swiss start-up set up several citizen science collaborations with AAA game developers, like Borderlands Science or EVE Online's Project Discovery. These projects engaged over 5 million players, amassed over 700 million scientific puzzle solutions, were praised by a worldwide media coverage from the New Yorker to the frontpage of Nature Biotechnology, featured in several documentaries, and received prestigious awards. He is also an adjunct professor at McGill University.
Founder & Director of All Tech Is Human, Responsible Tech advocate at All Tech Is Human
David Ryan Polgar is the international speaker, recognized expert regarding the social impacts of technology, and the founder & director of the non-profit All Tech Is Human. David specializes in uniting a diverse range of stakeholders in order to tackle complex tech & society issues and cultivate conducive environments for forward progress. His commentary has appeared on CBS This Morning, TODAY show, BBC World News, MSNBC, Fast Company, The Guardian, SiriusXM, Associated Press, LA Times, USA Today, and more.
Associate Commissioner of Workforce Development and Educational Initiatives at NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment
Alia Jones-Harvey is the Associate Commissioner of Workforce Development and Educational Initiatives for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. She joined the office in 2015 as director of education & workforce development. By successfully building partnerships with employers, unions, non-profit organizations, schools, and City agencies, Jones-Harvey has launched educational and training programs that have served over 20,000 New Yorkers across film, tv, music, theater, publishing, and advertising. Jones-Harvey also leads the campaign in digital games to develop an equity-centered talent pipeline, engage employers, establish strategic partnerships, and grow the industry in New York City. Beyond her work with the City of New York, Jones-Harvey is an Olivier Award-winning and 4-time Tony Award-nominated Theatre Producer having successfully mounted 9 plays and 4 musicals for Broadway and London’s West End.
Assoc. Professor at Game Center / American University / Playful City Lab
Benjamin Stokes is a game designer and media scholar 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 now based in Washington, DC, where he directs the Playful City Lab at American University and teaches game design in the AU Game Center.
Business Development Director at PRELOADED
Matt has spent the past 15 years in the emerging technology space across XR Production Studios, Creative Agencies, and Startups.
A true advocate of the power of play, emerging technology, and simple user-experience, he is passionate about helping clients and partners find innovative ways to connect with audiences.
Matt is from the UK, and despite the prevailing whether spends his time enjoying a life on two wheels as a keen motorcyclist and cyclist.
Barry Daniel Joseph
Provocateur at Barry Joseph Consulting
Barry Joseph innovates solutions for learning in a digital age, supporting non-profit institutions that leverage digital engagement to better understand their audiences and use evidence-based decisions to drive strategy. Co-founder of the Games For Change Festival. Early developer of after school game design youth programming. A national leader in both games-based learning and games for social impact. Produced dozens of curriculum and games (mobile, web-based, tabletop, and XR). Clients include AMNH, Girl Scouts, CCNY, RAND, and the MacArthur Foundation. Recently published Making Dinosaurs Dance: A Toolkit for Digital Design in Museums. Excited by generative AI, teaching at NYU, and, wait, I’m running out of
Senior Program Associate at Headstream at Headstream Innovation and SecondMuse
Sabrina Abdalla is a visionary educator, community builder, multidisciplinary creative, and founder who is passionate about guiding communities towards an innovative and equitable future. With her platform, Cirri, and as a Senior Program Associate at Headstream, Sabrina has demonstrated her expertise in creating programs, workshops, and spaces that resonate with the cultural fabric of society.
Director of Modern Workplace for Microsoft Education at Microsoft
Josh Reynolds is the Director of Modern Workplace for Microsoft Education with nearly 20 years of experience within education, business development, & leadership. He spent the last 7 years with Microsoft—the first 5-years leading the relationship with major K12/higher education customers in New York State and the last 2 years leading the software business for East US Education, where his team empowers customers to achieve more with custom solutions. During his tenure at Microsoft, he has led growth across solution areas with a deep focus on compliance and data privacy. Additionally, he has led some of the largest game-based learning activations worldwide with Minecraft, led creation of emerging content for education, and helped deliver Excel Esports to the masses. Josh also regularly works on cross vertical projects aligning priorities and driving meaningful progress with partners across education, government, healthcare & industry. Before his time at Microsoft, Josh led the NYS & NYC business for McGraw-Hill Education (delivering custom NYS curricula for K12 Math, Science, & Social Studies) & spent time as a high school science teacher and varsity cross country/track coach. Josh lives just outside Rochester with his wife Marissa and daughters Ella (18, currently attending SUNY Oneonta), Faye (5), & Ruby (3).
CEO at Women in Games International (WIGI)
Joanie Kraut is the CEO of Women in Games International (WIGI), a nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate resources that advance economic equality and diversity in the global video game, tabletop, and esports industries.
For over fifteen years, Joanie has operated in the tech and gaming space within different verticals throughout her career. Her expertise resides in business development, financial strategy, and DEI initiatives.
Joanie was recognized as the Most Influential CEO of 2022 by CEO Monthly and was named one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of Los Angeles of 2023 by Women We Admire.
Community Director at Take This
Kelli Dunlap, PsyD is a clinical psychologist and game designer. In addition to working as a licensed therapist, she currently serves as the Community Director at Take This. As an adjunct professor at American University’s Game Center, she teaches courses on the psychological, cultural, and social components of designing games. She is an award-winning game designer and has collaborated on game design projects with organizations including the National Institute of Mental Health and VOX Media.
Elizabeth M. H. Newbury
Director, Serious Games Initiative at The Wilson Center
Dr. Elizabeth M H Newbury is the Director for the Serious Games Initiative for the Wilson Center, leading the use of games in engaging the public around policy research and research in the use of games for social good. She chairs the Federal Games Guild, an informal community of practice with over 100 agency participants united by the goal to use games. Her work has been featured on Marketplace, the Economist, and peer-reviewed journals.
Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts at University of Southern California
Gordon Bellamy is a Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts at USC, faculty advisor for USC Esports, and leads career development and DEI&B efforts at USC Games, helping to cultivate the next generation of leaders in our craft. He has played key business and product leadership roles at Tencent, Electronic Arts, as a designer on Madden NFL Football, and MTV Networks. In 2020, Bellamy was honored by Games for Change as their Vanguard Award winner for his contributions to the craft. In 2019, he was awarded the first ever Jerry Lawson Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2018 he was featured in Nickelodeon's Black History Month. Currently, he is featured in Netflix's Game Documentary High Score, and on The World According to Jeff Goldblum on Disney+. Gordon serves as the Executive Director/CEO of the Gay Gaming Professionals and on the Board of Directors of Wave and has served as Executive Director of both the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and the International Game Developers Association. He is a graduate of Harvard College with a BA in Engineering, and resides with his husband Joe Heally in Los Angeles, California.
CEO at Urban Arts
Philip Courtney has led Urban Arts since 2003. In the last five years Philip has transformed Urban Arts into an arts and technology organization teaching underrepresented students digital game design through computer science, coding, animation, music, and storytelling. With this new focus, Urban Arts has seen unprecedented growth in its student outcomes and has attracted powerful new partnerships with leading corporations and government agencies. Philip is an experienced and compelling public speaker and has presented on the topics of Arts Education, Game Design, Educational Equity, Innovation, Program Development, and Public/Private Partnerships. Philip has presented nationally at TedX, SXSW, Games for Change, EDGames Expo, and Beyond School Hours. Additionally Philip has been interviewed by the NY Times, Forbes and Education Week, and appeared on camera with NBC, CBS, NY1, Ronan Farrow, KTLA and AOL Live to name a few.
Chief Technology Officer at Dopavision GmbH
Andreas is the Chief Technology Officer of Dopavision. His passion is to use his experience from product management, software and technology management to create the best product, making it easy for our patients to receive their treatment - together with our great and growing team!
His previous positions include head of product development at Meierhofer AG and Senior Associate McKinsey&Company.
Senior Director, Government & Public Affairs, Americas at The LEGO Group
Carolina leads the government and public affairs team in the Americas for the LEGO Group. Her mission? To make sure kids around the world can keep on playing!
Carolina is a trusted expert in shaping policy and regulation related to responsible digital engagement, market access, environmental responsibility, and learning through play. With over 15 years of experience in government relations, public affairs, and communications across North and South America, she is a reliable source for everything from brand protection to data privacy.
When she's not busy building with LEGO® bricks, Carolina serves on the board of Michigan State University's Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP) and advises startup businesses in the region. She holds a Master's in International Trade and Investment Policy from the George Washington University.
Originally from Brazil, Carolina now calls the concrete jungle of New York home with her hubby and two energetic sons, who are always eager to play with their mom's creations.
Co-Founder at Fair Play Alliance
Dr. Kimberly Voll is a designer, developer, and researcher passionate about digital social dynamics, the future of interaction, and how we can thrive together in online spaces. In 2017, Kim co-founded the Fair Play Alliance, a global coalition of around 300 gaming companies united in improving development practises to foster healthy, inclusive gaming spaces. In addition to helping run the FPA, she is currently Studio Head at Brace Yourself Games and is a long-time game maker. She holds a PhD in computer science (AI) and a honours degree in cognitive science.
Executive Director at Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
Michael Preston brings more than 20 years of experience leading innovation in educational technology at both local and national levels. His work has focused on using technology to improve teaching and learning, drive student agency and interest, and create models for systemic change in both K-12 and university contexts. Most recently, he co-founded CSforALL, the hub for the national Computer Science for All movement. CSforALL began as an initiative of CSNYC, where Preston launched a 10-year partnership with New York City to provide high-quality computer science to every student in the nation’s largest public school system. CSforALL now helps other cities and regions across the country replicate the progress made in New York.
Prior to his work with CSNYC and CSforALL, Preston designed and led digital learning initiatives at the New York City Department of Education, including programs in middle and high school computer science, personalized learning, and digital literacy. At Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, he led software development projects and research studies on multimedia analysis tools. Preston has taught courses in psychology and research methods at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he earned a PhD in Cognitive Science in Education. He also holds a BA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University.
Global Head - Health and Social Tech at SecondMuse
David Ball is the Global Head of SecondMuse's Health and Social Tech portfolio, which includes the Headstream Accelerator, Rooted and Rising Collective, and Youth 2 Innovator programs. These programs focus on supporting the wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ teens and youth of color by catalyzing digital solutions in the ed-tech, social tech, and digital health systems. Over the last five years, David has driven this portfolio of initiatives focused on working with changemakers and power holders to reach more than 3 million young people through digital places and experiences where young people can thrive.
Qualitative Researcher at 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 for Take This, focused on developing resources to help the games industry combat extremism in gaming spaces. Additionally, Dr. Kilmer’s work includes development of and education on the therapeutic applications of popular games like D&D and Minecraft.
President & CEO at Entertainment Software Association
Stanley Pierre-Louis is the President & CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry. With more than two decades of entertainment and media experience, Stan leads ESA’s efforts to showcase the dynamic impact the video game industry has on business, entertainment, and culture. Stan has served on several corporate and nonprofit boards and is currently on the boards of Games for Change and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Head of Digital Products at Howard Delafield International LLP
Namita is a product management consultant with 13 years of experience designing and leading serious games, simulations, ed-tech apps, and civic open-data platforms for health and social impact. At HDI, she heads a portfolio of games for youth in India and Nepal, with USAID support to improve health outcomes. She specializes in product strategy, game-based learning, user-research, and creative direction. Namita recommends reading Hesse’s Glass Bead Game as an analogy of the art of serious games!
Dr. Kris Alexander
Professor of Video Game Design at Toronto Metropolitan University
Dr. Kris Alexander, the professor of video games, is a two-time globally ranked player turned scholar, and game developer. His work focuses on video game design, virtual production, and collegiate esports infrastructure.
Currently the Director of the Red Bull Gaming Hub, a research lab at Toronto Metropolitan University, Dr. Alexander has also completed academic video essays with Wisecrack, a YouTube channel with over 3 million subscribers, done educational work with Epic Games, the Canada Media Fund, working on esports in academia with Red Bull, and Team Liquid, and even transforming into an animated bear live on Breakfast Television while talking about the metaverse. He is Canada’s academic expert guide to the nuanced nature of video games that extend beyond the playing of games.
Senior Director, Call of Duty Endowment and Corporate Social Responsibility Marketing at Activision Blizzard
Helene Imperiale is the Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Call of Duty Endowment Marketing. Helene brings more than a decade of experience leading marketing and communications strategies across the nonprofit, government, and private sectors. Previously, Helene worked at Propper Daley, the social impact agency behind the world’s leading changemakers, where she oversaw the Digital & New Media Strategy department. Helene also worked at Global Philanthropy Group, a philanthropic consulting firm, where she led the agency’s digital practice to create and implement global cause marketing campaigns.
Executive Director & Chief Scientist at iThrive Games Foundation
Susan Rivers, PhD, is a social psychologist and expert in emotional intelligence. Dr. Rivers has over two decades of experience co-designing responsive and immersive environments and experiences for deep learning and connection, for children, teens, young adults, parents, and professionals. She works with clients to design innovative pathways for integrating social and emotional learning in primary and secondary schools, museum settings, and more. She is a skilled facilitator, and has designed highly engaging programs for strengthening emotional intelligence skills, sense of belongingness and purpose, and community building. As Executive Director and Chief Scientist of the nonprofit iThrive Games Foundation, Dr. Rivers designs games with and for youth, including two award-winning games, The Run Around, a tabletop game examining racial inequities in the juvenile justice system, and iThrive Sim, a digital role-playing game platform for civics learning and social and emotional skill building. She earned her doctorate at Yale University, was a lecturer in the Psychology Department at Skidmore College, and served on the research faculty in Yale's Department of Psychology where she was a co-founder of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Dr. Rivers is founding Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Games, Self, and Society, the author of numerous scholarly publications and multiple curricula, and a Large-Scale Social Change Leadership Fellow with Billions Institute. She loves being a mom of two teens and one tween.
President/Co-Founder at E-Line Media
Alan Gershenfeld is Co-Founder/President of E-Line Media, a developer of social impact video games. E-Line titles include BAFTA and Peabody award winning Never Alone, Beyond Blue, Gamestar Mechanic and MinecraftEdu. Prior to E-Line, Alan was Chairman of Games for Change and SVP Activision Studios where he oversaw titles such as Civilization: Call to Power, Muppet Treasure Island, Spycraft, Pitfall, Zork and Tony Hawk Skateboarding. Alan serves on the Board of FilmAid International and Impact Guild and is Co-Founder of Experimental Design, a leading world building design agency.
Mishka Palacios De Caro
President at Fundav
Mishka is a ludologist, game philosophy scholar, advocate, and educator with a passion to make game design and production accessible to all.
They strive to be of service to the community by providing guidance, support, and an invitation to find games in even the most mundane of situations.
They are currently working as Curriculum Design Lead for Endless Studios and Content Director of the Demeter Program of Video Game Development in Prisons.
CEO at Shimmy
Sarah Krasley is a social impact entrepreneur who designs equitable and future-focused manufacturing systems. As Founder and CEO of industrial edtech company Shimmy, she creatively applies technology to upskill and reskill the 75 million workers in the global fashion supply chain.
Community + PR Manager at Heart Machine
Yiyi is a community organizer, artist, and human rights lawyer based in Brooklyn, NY. As a queer immigrant woman of color in this industry, she feels a strong sense of duty to advocate for the development of diverse and supportive communities around games.
She is currently the PR + Community Manager at Heart Machine, an LA-based game studio best known for Hyper Light Drifter and Solar Ash. She is also on the Board of Directors of GUMBO Collective (NYC’s largest collective of indie game developers) and is the Vice President of Death By Audio Arcade (a non-profit building indie arcade cabinets). She is also an advisor on the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Digital Games Industry Council, and runs Women in Games NYC, a professional networking meetup group for women / femme people in the industry.
In her free time, she does graphic design for Qweerty Gamers (an LGBTQIA+ games non-profit), and moonlights as an attorney helping asylum seekers and refugees gain safety and status in the United States.
Ryan J. Douglas
Co-Founder at DeepWell DTx
A noted expert and innovator in the fields of mental health, artificial intelligence, and surgical robotics, Ryan has been on the frontline of major paradigm shifts in healthcare for 15 years. Ryan is currently the CEO of DeepWell Digital Therapeutics, a new game-changing company that creates medically therapeutic games that can be used to treat mental health conditions while maintaining best-in-class gameplay. Ryan has 27 patents issued across robotics, AI and medical applications and has commercialized 30+ medical devices, including treatments for depression, hypertension, women's health, chronic pain, and related neurological conditions. Ryan holds pivotal patents for medical AI, robotics, and systems and frequently has achieved FDA clearance for breakthrough therapies.
Co-Founder and CEO at DeepWell Digital Therapeutics
One of the most prolific executive producers in the history of the games industry, Mike has been a part of bringing more than 100 games to market with more than 20 original million-unit sellers — all from small independent teams around the world. He and his partners at Devolver Digital have forever changed the measure of success for an independent publisher and he is now fully focused on facilitating opportunities to bring medicinal media to the next generation of creators.
Hotline Director at Games and Online Harassment Hotline
Jae Lin is the Hotline Director of the Games and Online Harassment Hotline and a mental health advocate for video games spaces. They have a background in queer community health and suicide prevention, with roots in collegiate esports. Jae is also a community organizer around trans liberation, queer arts, and racial justice in Austin, TX.
Founder and CEO at Embodied Inc.
Paolo Pirjanian is the founder and CEO of Embodied, Inc., a company with a vision to build socially and emotionally intelligent companions that improve care and wellness. With 16+ years of experience developing and commercializing cutting-edge home robots, Paolo is an early leader in the field of consumer robotics. Previously, he has served as the CTO of iRobot, worked at NASA JPL, and helped create technologies for products from the Sony Aibo to the Roomba.
Embodied is the maker of Moxie the robot. Designed for kids ages 5-10, Moxie is the world’s first robot capable of believable social interactions enabled by generative AI, NLP, and computer vision and can perceive, process and respond to natural conversation, eye contact, facial expressions and other behavior as well as recognize and recall people, places, and things. Using Embodied's next generation platform SocialX, Moxie uses play-based learning to help promote social, emotional, and cognitive development, and constantly learns from kids as it takes them on ‘missions’ revolving around themes like kindness, friendship, empathy and respect.
Professor at University of California, Irvine
Constance Steinkuehler is a Professor of Informatics at University of California, Irvine where she researches culture, cognition and learning in multiplayer online games. She is an ADL Belfer Fellow, Chair of UCI’s Game Design & Interactive Media Program, Co-Director of the Games+Learning+Society (GLS) Center, and Chair of the Annual GLS Conference. She formerly served as Senior Policy Analyst in the Obama White House OSTP and is a Founding Fellow of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance.
Research Director at Take This
Rachel Kowert, Ph.D is a research psychologist and the Research Director of Take This. 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.
Founder and Creative Director at Heart Machine
Alx Preston, Founder and Creative Director at Heart Machine, is an artist who seeks to express himself through games, a medium so complex and challenging that only the truly determined/mad/angry at themselves would pursue a career in it long-term. And yet, here we are, some 10 odd years later after the launch of Hyper Light Drifter, a game with measured success and "bleak" written all over it. Heart Machine has grown a fair bit over the years, including releasing the game Solar Ash. He credits that to the kind people who decide they want to lend their time and talents to the wild whisperings of a starry-eyed cave dweller. Typically you'll find Alx talking, drawing or writing, all things he heard were "cool" at some point (and likely from a stranger that seemed trustworthy and bullish enough to be convincing) and never looked back.
Head of Production at Niantic Games Studios
Kellee Santiago is Head of Production at Niantic Games Studios, with a focus on original IP. As former president and co-founder of thatgamecompany, she developed one of the most prominent brands in independent and innovative game development. In 2013 she moved into Publishing and Developer Relations at OUYA, the Kickstarter Android console. She later joined Google to similarly build out the developer pipelines and content strategy for their VR and AR platforms. Last year she moved back into original game development, working on Ingress, which celebrated their 10th year as a live game, and the upcoming AR-first mobile game, Peridot.
Head of Policy for the Frontier Technology initiative at Minderoo Foundation
Dr. Burcu Kilic is the Head of Policy for the Frontier Technology initiative at Minderoo Foundation. Burcu is a global influencer, experienced thought leader, advocate, and strategist. She has researched and written extensively on digital rights, intellectual property, innovation, and trade and provided technical advice and assistance in numerous countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Before joining the Minderoo Foundation, Burcu directed the Digital Rights Program at Public Citizen and Public Citizen’s research on access to medicines. She was named as one of the 300 Women Leaders in Global Health in 2015 in recognition of her work on health and trade policy. She was also a practitioner fellow at Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab in 2021-22.
XR for Change Summit
July 20, 2023 | The Times Center & Microsoft Times Square in NYC
AI Expert and Founder at Deep Tech Experts
"Dr. Julien Weissenberg is an AI Expert and founder of Deep Tech Experts, an advisory gathering world-class experts in AI, Encryption, Quantum Computing and Biotechnology.
With 13+ years of experience in Computer Vision and Machine Learning, Julien works alongside investors to evaluate AI startups and is an expert for Innosuisse, the Swiss Federal Agency for Innovation.
Julien completed a PhD and Postdoc at ETH Zurich, an MSc at Imperial College London and was named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum."
Associate Professor at Bahcesehir University
Yavuz Samur – Bio EN
Dr. Samur, graduated from Instructional Design and Technology, Department of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Virginia Tech with the Fulbright Scholarship, works as an Associate Professor at Bahçeşehir University, Faculty of Educational Sciences in the department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology (CEIT) (@bauceit), and also leaded the CEIT department. He was the coordinator of Educational Technology (TR/EN, Thesis/Project) master’s and doctoral programme (@bauegitek). He is also the president of YEGAM (@yegam_egitim). Dr. Samur is also rewarded as the “Academician of the Year of 2022” (@hempacocuk).
His research interests are on using educational games for learning and instruction (@oyuntasarimi), gamification in education, educational game design, digital game design, multimedia design, technology/social media/game addiction and (digital) game based learning (@EgitimveOyun). He is also the founder of GameFriendlySchool, GameFriendlyTeacher, GameFriendlyParent, GameFriendlyMunicipal projects (@OyunDostuOkul).
His books, of which he has more than 20 authors in the mentioned fields, have been published more than 100 thousand, and more than 15 indexed publications in international refereed journals have received more than 500 citations. Dr. Samur has supervised more than 70 master and doctoral dissertations in the field of Educational Technologies.
He also designs physical, board and digital educational games for students and he is the co- owber of a company producing digital educational games titled as Ugur Games (www.ugurgames.com) and also serves as an advisor to many other educational game companies (@buckedgames ve @mentalup). Dr. Samur also leads in government and company funded educational game projects, educational digital content and software/game design and development projects. He has been giving consultancy to many government and private companies and institutions.
Kenneth Norwood PhD
Lead Researcher of Creative Technologies at Tales of Us
"Kenneth Wesley Norwood is a Postgraduate research student within Film at the University of Southampton.
2014-2017 – MA Media Studies, Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
2008-2013 – BA Mass Communications, Xavier University of New Orleans
Kenneth (Rico) Wesley Norwood PhD is an American researcher, who currently resides in Berlin. They are the Lead Researcher of Creative Technologies for Tales of Us gmbh a multimedia non profit storytelling intuitive. They have also acted as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Potsdam’s Institute for Arts and Media were they developed and delivered the Black and Quare Video Games Studies Seminar in 2022-2023. They have participated and been featured in TechRadar, Wired Magazine, The Metro, PinkNews, Amaze Arthouse Video Game fest, the British Film Institute, and various other outlets for their work regarding media and video games, race, and Quareness. They also aid in producing and hosting the Twitch program Tales Unlocked: Imagining green futures, marginalised narratives and mythologies in video games.
Associate & Director of Global Strategies at TALES
Tainá Moreno is a creative producer dedicated to participatory artistic practices that promote positive social change. She is currently leading the strategies for co-creation and research for WoU (World of Us), an upcoming immersive game experience focused on ecological education for kids through mythologies of regions in Brazil, Congo, India and Romania - which is set to launch in the second half of 2024. WoU is the main endeavour of TALES, a multi-media and non-profit publishing initiative.
Artistic Director at Monobanda
Niki Smit is co-founder and Director at Monobanda, where he explores and expands the boundaries of play and embodied interaction. Additionally, he co-founded ExploreDEEP, where he creates meditative breath controlled VR experiences His work focuses on researching and developing new forms of play. His passion lies in creating projects that connect the human body, physical, and virtual space in surprising ways, creating meaningful play that fills the space between art, science and education.
Exeutive at ScanLAB Projects, Professor, Photographer at ScanLAB Projects
Meriko Borogove is a technology & design executive, professor, and photographer who also created the iPhone cameras. meriko is an executive at ScanLAB Projects, a pioneering and award-winning creative practice where our primary medium is 3D scanning, a form of machine vision we believe is the future of photography & cinematography. Our work has exhibited at LACMA, La Biennale, The Louisianna, The New Museum NYC, PHI Centre, SXSW, CPH:DOX, STRP, The Barbican, & the Berliner Ensemble with the KOB.
Elisa Navarro Chinchilla
CEO at Gold Bug Interactive
CEO and co-founder of Gold Bug Interactive and a veteran educational video game developer. With more than 23 titles for organizations such as the United Nations UNODC, GIZ, InterAction, Mc Gill, FES, MUAC, St Georges Vancouver, Philharmonic Orchestra UNAM, etc. Convinced of the power of games to support unprivileged contexts through collaborative learning. Received several national grants in Mexico (Fonca, Procine, Prosoft). Currently, developing Sabz, a highly realistic reforestation simulator for Afghanistan, and a VR interactive short film to create awareness on health risks for Waste Pickers in Mexico. MA from the Institute of Education at UCL, UK.
Director Creative Partnerships at ONX & Onassis Fondation
Director, Creative Partnerships for the ONX Studio, an NYC hybrid production and exhibition space for immersive and XR artists. From 2019-2021, Artistic Executive Director of the Onassis Foundation USA, an innovative programming foundation based in Athens with satellites in New York and Los Angeles. Artistic Director of Performance Space 122 (now Performance Space New York) from 2005-2017 and a consulting curator for BAM (Brooklyn) and Theater de Welt (Dusseldorf), and the Dublin Fringe Festival (2002-2004). For 20 years, working across live performance in all disciplines, cinema, design and hospitality Gantner has sought innovative artists, work, and ideas building new experience and forms of communication for audiences.
Managing Partner at Goldenrod Ventures
Martina is the Founding Managing Partner at Goldenrod Ventures, an early stage fund investing in women-led emerging tech companies. She's also the Co-founder and Managing Partner at the WXR Fund. Before moving into venture capital, Martina founded two tech startups in mobile gaming and virtual reality. She serves on several startup boards and nonprofit advisory groups.
General Partner at Endemic Venture Capital
Mahrinah Shije is an Indigenous Futurist and Founding General Partner of Endemic Venture Capital, investing in Indigenous-led Climate Tech and the Future of Tribal Gaming. Ms Shije began her career as an Investment Analyst with UBS and has spent two decades in high tech startups with a specialization in Web3 technologies, cybersecurity and digital assets. She holds an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School and a BA/MS in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Ms. Shije is a Partner at Zia Impact, through which she works with clients on impact strategy and tribal infrastructure development and CEO and Board Chair of Pueblo Development Commission, an NGO in United Nations consultative status where she is a member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Major Working Group, the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (UNCTED) and several Blockchain Commissions. Additionally, she served as an appointed member of the US Greenbuilding Council, All Pueblo Council of Governors' Legislative Committee from 2019-2022, a Digital Assets Expert Speaker for the Indian Gaming Association 2021-Present and a Special Advisor to NCAI President Fawn Sharp at the World Economic Forum (2023). She is Tewa and Sefardi Jewish and married into the Pueblo of Zia. Ms. Shije is a 2023 Fellow at Leadership New Mexico, VC Lab in Palo Alto, Climate Vine Global Network and the Nahum Goldmann International Fellowship, Treasurer of Panim Hadashot and a steering committee member with Israel Policy Forum with many previous appointments and fellowships. She lives and works in New Mexico and New York.
Creative Tech Director at Light Clinic
David Lobser is an XR developer and 3D animation director with a background in visual effects. He co-founded New York's first digital spa, "Luxury Escapism," and develops XR projects for brands and startups while also teaching code for artists at various institutions. His recent focus is on therapeutic uses for VR.
Julia A. Scott, PhD
Director, Brain and Memory Care Lab at Santa Clara University
Julia A. Scott, PhD leads the Brain and Memory Care Lab at Santa Clara University and is cofounder of Gambit Labs. Her research integrates neurotechnology into virtual reality platforms in order to enhance biofeedback experiences that promote well-being and train cognitive skills. She also leads the medical council of XRSI which develops and advises on privacy and safety standards for extended reality usage in healthcare settings.
Co-Founder at XR Health Alliance
Sarah is a multidisciplinary entrepreneur working at the intersection of XR healthcare and the art. She produces XR experiences through her various roles as a founder and producer with Hatsumi, Explore Deep and Lemonade. She is also the co-founder XR Health Alliance who authored The Growing Value of XR in Healthcare Report, and continues to support the strategic adoption of XR in the UK. She has won numerous awards including the Unity for Humanity grant in 2023, and International VR Health Association's Hero Award in 2022. In her spare time is an End of Life Doula in training.
Geoscientist, Artist, Astronaut at Space2inspire / ASU XRts Fellow
Dr. Sian Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, artist, and astronaut. She was the mission pilot for Inspiration4: the first all civilian mission to orbit the Earth for 3 days. She is an Afrofuturism artist. She uses a collage art style to combine real-world concepts with future-driven themes and technology. She is the artist and explorer in residence at Arizona State University (ASU) and an XRts Fellow at the ASU Mix Center.
President and COO at The Jed Foundation
As President and COO, Rebecca ensures that JED is serving its mission to to preventing suicide and protecting the emotional health of our nation’s youth and young adults. Rebecca has also spearheaded the launch of several multimillion-dollar philanthropic organizations, including the Child Mind Institute, the Seleni Institute, and the New Space for Women’s Health. Rebecca is a graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and holds an AB in public policy from The University of Chicago.
Rachel Joy Victor
Strategist, Designer, Worldbuilder at Independent
Rachel Joy Victor is an independent designer, strategist and worldbuilder, working with emergent technologies and mediums (XR/AI/web3) to create cohesive narrative, brand, and product experiences. She designs for a range of applications: from multiplatform narratives and immersive experiences, to tools and platforms, to spaces and cities. Rachel draws from her education in computational neuroscience and spatial economics to facilitate the creation of data-informed emergent experience where world affordances and individual agency intersect.Her clients have included Disney, HBO, Vans, Ford, Nike, Havas, Meow Wolf, Niantic, and more. Rachel is passionate about offering a more complete picture of the considerations of design for our new reality, and has led executive education sessions at Activision, Unilever Prestige, WB/Sony/NBCU, Technicolor, UGGs, Crocs, and Red Bull, and been a speaker at Infinity Festival, NAB Show, Future of Film Fest, Atos + SAP DEI Summit, AI on the Lot, The Next Stage Summit, and more.
PhD Student at Game Innovation Lab - New York University
M Charity (they/them) is a PhD student at NYU Tandon in the Game Innovation Lab studying under Dr. Julian Togelius. Their main research focus is in online collaborative creative content generation; they make tools and web interfaces anyone can use to generate creative content (such as sprites or game levels) with the help of an AI assistant. Much of their work involves procedural content generation, quality-diversity search algorithms, and evolutionary algorithms.
Director PUSH Studio/Professional Lecturer at DePaul University
LeAnne Wagner is a professor and designer, based in Chicago, IL. She teaches in DePaul University’s School of Design, primarily in the Experience Design and Digital Communication and Media Arts graduate programs. She is also the director of DePaul’s PUSH Studio, an interdisciplinary human centered design studio focused on fostering equitable and ethical futures using emerging technology.
CEO at ROTU Entertainment & Media, Ltd.
Jason Parks, a visionary entrepreneur, serves as the CEO and founder of ROTU.com, a gaming and Virtual Art Department (VAD) studio focused on the next generation of interactive storytelling. Parks has spent over a decade creating entertainment experiences for immersive performances, philanthropic music videos, VAD services for film, and award-winning virtual reality games.
Dr. Joanneke Weerdmeester
Behavioural Scientist and Consultant at Explore DEEP
Dr. Joanneke Weerdmeester is a behavioural scientist with a passion for creating and validating digital experiences that help us understand and manage our wellbeing in a playful and meaningful way. Her doctoral research focused on the potential of game-based biofeedback interventions for anxiety regulation. Currently, she works as a university teacher and as a freelance consultant to bridge the fields of science, health care, and game design.
Founder at Friends With Holograms
An experienced founder and content creator, Cortney Harding is an in-demand expert as one of the few people who can not only translate the impact of the digital revolution from Web2 to Web3 and its impact on businesses, but also how the metaverse can become the new frontier to create better and more accepting communities. As the founder of the award-winning agency Friends With Holograms, she was a pioneer who created VR training pieces around topics like child abuse, workplace exclusion, mental health, Black maternal mortality, and racial bias for companies like Lowe’s, Walmart, PWC, Amazon, Target, and more.
PhD Candidate at DePaul University
Chryselle Rego is a PhD candidate at DePaul University's School of Computing & Digital Media. She is the project manager and User Experience Researcher at the Push Studios and Matters at Play Lab. She has a background in Digital Media and Advertising and specializes in the use of emerging technology to address modern challenges, with a focus on ethics, equity, and positive human impact.
VR Technical Lead at DePaul University - Matters at Play/PUSH Studio
Chase is an MFA Game Design student at DePaul University's School of Computing and Digital Media. They also serve as a VR Technical Lead at PUSH Studio and Matters at Play. Chase has a passion for creating games that utilize alternative modes of control and challenge players to reflect on their relationships with others. Their research focuses on the gamification of real-life scenarios and the potential of game mechanics to explore modern queer experiences.
Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council at Affiliate, Stanford Cyber Policy Center
Brittan Heller works at the intersection of technology, human rights and the law. She is currently a lecturer at Stanford University and a Senior Non-Residential Fellow at the Atlantic Council, with the Digital Forensics Research Lab, examining XR's connection to society, human rights, privacy, and security. Heller is on the steering committee for the World Economic Forum's Metaverse Governance initiative and studied content moderation in XR as an inaugural AI and Tech Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Carr Center for Human Rights. She is a visiting fellow at the Yale Information Society Project and an affiliate at the Stanford Program on Democracy and the Internet.
Founder at Gearbox Entertainment Company
Under the leadership of Randy Pitchford, Gearbox is an award-winner developer and publisher of interactive entertainment.
The company has become known for developing successful game franchises, including Borderlands, Brothers in Arms, and Tiny Tina's Wonderlands.
Randy’s commitment to bringing joy to the lives of others is manifest in more than video games. Randy recently founded Gearbox Gives with the mission to harness the power of entertainment to educate, inspire, and create.
Founder at Better World Museum
Top 25 Women in the Metaverse, Paige Dansinger is the founder of Better World Museum, Horizon Art Museum, and Women in Horizon. Our programs empower members through world building, summits, and community events. She prioritizes women, diversity, initiatives for good in the metaverse.
Strategic Alliances Director at Ubisoft
Amy is Strategic Alliances Director at Ubisoft, the leading producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment products worldwide. She is based in Paris.
Amy brings 20 years’ experience to imagine and implement pioneering partnerships “beyond video games” to bring Ubisoft’s brands to wider audiences. She works in particular through alliances with Culture and Education, but also Live & Location-Based Entertainment, Health and industry.
Director, CEO at Double Exposure Studios, Shakti Regeneration Institute, Princeton University
Mentored by David Bowie, awakening public consciousness, shifting cultural attitudes, and transforming behavior through impactful films, marketing, education, and advocacy, Indrani builds transformative influence, scales impact organizations and mobilizes social movements, for a more just, equitable, and regenerative world.
Known by a single name, Indrani is a Tribeca Film Festival Disruptive Innovation awarded multidisciplinary artist, a TEDx speaker, XPRIZE Rainforest Semifinalist, and advocate for ecological regeneration, equality, and neurodiverse gamified education. Recognized by the United Nations as a Women’s Entrepreneurship Distinguished Fellow, Co-Host of the Global People’s Summit, and a Max Mark-Cranbrook Global Peacemaker.
Instrumental in launching Beyonce and Lady Gaga, as founder and CEO of DXStudios impact marketing and productions, Indrani has shaped over 300 global brands, including Pepsi, Nike, and L’Oreal. Her work has won 40 awards including two Cannes Gold Lions, a CNN Expose award, is featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, VICE, at the Lincoln Center, Center Pompidou, and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
She is also Executive Director and co-founder of Shakti Regeneration Institute, providing regenerative empowerment education for at-risk women and children in India, co-founder and CMO of Open Origin indigenous-led green energy, Chief Vision and Chief Marketing Officer of Neuralign, empowering the neurodiverse community with advanced auditory and visual techniques to develop evidence-based neuroscience and neural plasticity video games. She is also a Princeton University anthropologist and Visiting Lecturer.
Chief Product Officer at Lamina1
Tony Parisi is a Metaverse and virtual reality pioneer, entrepreneur and investor. He has co-created several international 3D graphics standards, including VRML, X3D, and glTF. Tony is the author of O’Reilly Media’s foundational books on 3D graphics and Virtual Reality. Tony is currently Chief Product Officer at Lamina1, a layer 1 blockchain for the Metaverse. He is also an advisor and limited partner in early stage venture firms focused on the creator economy. Previously, Tony was Head of XR Ads and E-Commerce at Unity, where he oversaw strategy and product for the company’s real-time 3D brand advertising and commerce solutions. Tony is also a musician and composer and is currently finishing the cast recording for Judgment Day, a full- length original musical.
XR Creative Strategist & Impact Producer at Games for Change / Self
Michaela Ternasky-Holland is an Emmy and Webby award-winning XR/metaverse storyteller. Named as one of the 100 Original Voices of XR, she creates non-fiction and socially impactful stories by using immersive and interactive technology. She focuses on the impact of the projects to move beyond the project itself. When she isn't creating her own original projects, she consults for socially conscious companies and non-profit organizations on creative strategy and impact production.
Jan L. Plass
Jan L. Plass
Paulette Goddard Chair and Professor, Digital Media and Learning Sciences at New York University
Dr. Jan L. Plass is a Professor at New York University and Paulette Goddard Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences. He is the founding director of the CREATE Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technology in Education and co-director of the Games for Learning Institute. Dr. Plass’ draws from cognitive science, learning sciences, computer science, and design to envision, design, and study the future of learning with digital technologies, especially for underserved communities. He is the author of over 120 journal articles, chapters, and conference proceedings, has given more than 200 presentations, and is the lead editor of Cognitive Load Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and of the Handbook of Game-based Learning (MIT Press, 2020). Dr. Plass is a frequent national and international keynote speaker and advisor, helping governments and corporations increase the human capacity in an ecology of lifelong learning.
Arts & Culture Advisor at Protocol Labs
Jesse Damiani is a curator, writer, and advisor in new media art and emerging technologies. He is the founder of Postreality Labs, a strategic sensemaking studio based in Los Angeles, CA. He is Arts and Culture Advisor for Protocol Labs; Senior Curator and Director of Simulation Literacies at Nxt Museum; and the Host of Adobe’s Taking Shape, a hub for 3D art and design. An Affiliate of the metaLAB at Harvard and Institute for the Future, his writing appears in Adweek, Big Think, Billboard, Entrepreneur, HuffPost, IndieWire, NBC News, Quartz, The Verge, and WIRED. Recent curated exhibitions include PROOF OF ART at Francisco Carolinum Linz, the first museum retrospective on the history of NFTs; Synthetic Wilderness at Honor Fraser Gallery; and Simulation Sketchbook: Works in Process at Feral File/Vellum LA. He has served as a mentor in the YouTube VR Creator Lab and worked with both Google and Meta in their initiatives to develop educational content for the XR industry. He is Founder of Best American Experimental Writing, and formerly served as Editor-at-Large of VRScout; Curator of XR For Change, the extended reality summit at the Games for Change Festival; and Director of Emerging Technology and Insight at Southern New Hampshire University, where he led the Future of Work initiative.
Founder and CEO at ZenVR
Matt Golino is the founder and CEO of ZenVR. With two degrees from Georgia Tech, a Bachelor's in Computer Engineering and a Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction focused on Virtual Reality UX design, Matt has walked a path between many fields branching between technical, design, research, and leadership. ZenVR began as Matt’s master’s thesis project, but he has always been an avid meditator and an advocate for mental health and sharing the meditative practice with as many people as possible.
Senior Director, Call of Duty Endowment and Corporate Social Responsibility Marketing at Activision Blizzard
Helene Imperiale is the Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Call of Duty Endowment Marketing. Helene brings more than a decade of experience leading marketing and communications strategies across the nonprofit, government, and private sectors. Previously, Helene worked at Propper Daley, the social impact agency behind the world’s leading changemakers, where she oversaw the Digital & New Media Strategy department. Helene also worked at Global Philanthropy Group, a philanthropic consulting firm, where she led the agency’s digital practice to create and implement global cause marketing campaigns.
CEO at Blimey / HCXR
An award winning director and producer of feature length fiction and non-fiction films. A veteran executive producer at Blimey and HCXR of international co-productions and a pioneer of the first completely integrated virtual reality studio in Israel. Two Lumiere Awards laureate, XR for Change laureate and with a rich background in fiction and non-fiction productions, and more recently XR productions, Nimrod has stood at the forefront of international XR co-productions since 2015. Known recently for the Canadian Screen Awards nomination for “The Holy City” and for winning the best immersive experience award for “Once Upon a Sea” at VRE festival in Rome, Italy. Currently producing “WinterOver”, “DoX”, “The Cave”, “Labelled Black” and “Niall’s Apprentice”.
Samantha G. Wolfe
Founder & CEO at PitchFWD
Samantha G. Wolfe is the Founder and CEO of PitchFWD, an award-winning strategic consultancy focused on creating and expanding new market opportunities for emerging technology products and services. She is known as an innovation adoption accelerator and a bleeding edge tech translator. Sam is sought after for her in-depth knowledge of over 25 industry verticals and her extensive network of the most influential executives within the metaverse, virtual reality, and augmented reality ecosystem. As an Adjunct Professor at NYU's Steinhardt School, she has created four original classes in the past three years: 'The Business of the Metaverse,' 'Avatars and Virtual Humans,' 'Marketing Emerging Technologies,' and 'The Business of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.' In addition, Sam has co-authored 2 books, including Marketing New Realities and Metaversed: See Beyond The Hype (Wiley, 2023).
Dr. Brandy McNeil
Deputy Director, Programs and Services at The New York Public Library
Dr. Brandy McNeil is an innovative leader who has transformed adult education programs in NYC. As the Deputy Director of Branch Programs and Services at the New York Public Library, she has established successful partnerships with tech giants like Apple and Google to create the highly successful TechConnect program. Dr. McNeil's vision and dedication to community empowerment have earned her many accolades, including the 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker Award. She is also a contributing writer, consultant, and motivational speaker, with a Doctorate in Business and an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship. Dr. McNeil's innovative approach has changed lives and her legacy will inspire future generations of educators and entrepreneurs.
Founder & CEO + Co-Founder at The 5th Column & People of Crypto Lab
Akbar Hamid is a Forbes Next 1,000 honoree who has established a reputation as a visionary marketing and communications thought leader in a digital-first world. Hamid guides many of the world's largest brands as they enter into and navigate the web3 era and emerging metaverse worlds, while helping to shape and influence the new creator economy. He has served as an expert commentator for Vogue Business, Business of Fashion, CoinTelegraph, CoinDesk, Barron’s, Cheddar TV, Forbes and AdAge, as well as a featured speaker at the World Economic Forum, Web Summit, NFT NYC, Advertising Week, SXSW and more. As Founder & CEO of leading creative communications consultancy The 5th Column (5C) and 5Crypto, as well as Co-Founder of People of Crypto Innovation Lab (POC Lab), Hamid focuses on bringing diverse and inclusive cultural storytelling to the web3 and metaverse space, enabling brands to bridge the gap between consumer and web3. He operates at the intersection of business and culture to deliver transformational work to global clients such as Birkenstock, Dwayne Johnon’s ZOA Energy, Virgin Hotels, The Dalmore Whisky, Champagne Bollinger, Belvedere Vodka and Van Cleef & Arpels, and web3 & metaverse leaders including Doodles,
L’Oreal, The Sandbox, WAX & William Quigley, Arianee, and BlockBar. Hamid has also served as strategic advisor and thought leadership partner to global consultancies Publicis Sapient & R/GA.
Hamid’s work often includes educating brand leaders on how to tap into emerging technologies with creativity, relevance and impact. In 2022, he helped bring Pride Month into the metaverse for the first time via an award-winning program with POC Lab, backed by Animoca, L’Oreal Groups’ NYX Cosmetics and The Sandbox. The campaign enabled a universal audience to come together and celebrate diversity, equity & inclusivity and served as a case model showcasing how brands can build community, trust and loyalty by leveraging authentic storytelling and inclusive gaming experien
Award-winning Emerging Technology Pioneer, Professor, Entrepreneur, and former UN Diplomat
Gabo Arora is a world renowned multi-award winning immersive artist, professor, entrepreneur and former UN diplomat who works with the most cutting-edge emerging technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, to tell some of the most important stories of our time. Widely recognized as a pioneer of new documentary formats, his work, part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), has been described by the BBC and LA Times, amongst many others, as “game changing”, “powerful, moving and without precedent”, and “transcending all the typical barriers of rectangular cinema.”