About Ei


The Ei Story


Hi, we’re Ei.

Our founder spent his post-college years trying to connect his formal education to the real-world problems that needed solutions.

He thought about getting an MBA to deepen his expertise in design and business. But the format and price tag of traditional degree programs didn’t fit, and those real-world problems wouldn’t find real-world solutions inside a classroom.

So in 2012 he set out to design his own learning journey, tackling 12 projects around the world in 12 months, each one a mini masterclass. Ei was born that year, through countless conversations and journal entries on airplanes and commuter trains. The mission: establish experience as a credible form of learning.

A decade later, Experience Institute facilitates experiential learning programs for individuals, teams, companies, and universities. We focus on relevant skills and real projects while building vibrant community. Our programs have equipped thousands of students, managers, and teams with new mindsets and skills they put to work right away.

The need for radically accessible ways of learning has never been more urgent than it is today. Ei remains committed to breaking down outdated barriers between education and experiences that change lives and shape values.


The
Team

Victor Saad
Founder & CEO

In 2012, Victor founded Experience Institute after designing his own Master’s through 12 work experiences in 12 months. Over the past 8 years, he’s worked with thousands of students and professionals grow their careers through engaging curriculum and meaningful experiences. He’s also a Lecturer in Design at Stanford and a Forbes30Under30 recipient in the field of education. When he’s not leading Ei, he’s on his bike or working on his next writing project.

Aaron Wilson Ahlstrom
Dir. of Programs

The son of an architect and a public school teacher, Aaron found his calling designing and facilitating learning programs. As Ei’s Director of Programs, he provides leadership and coordination for Ei’s corporate and higher ed programming. Previously, Aaron supported the development of the Henry Ford Learning Institute's core Design Thinking curriculum and related professional development programs for teachers, partners, and educational communities. Aaron also has a long history of working alongside Allies for Change and Justice Leaders Collaborative, providing anti-oppression education, training, and resources for individuals and organizations committed to social change.

Sara Loncka
Dir. of Strategic Initiatives

Sara is an educator at heart. From teaching 8th-grade history with Teach for America to designing learning experiences for leading companies like Facebook, Visa, and Chevron, Sara has facilitated groups of all sizes and worked at nearly every level of professional development. Sara served as the director of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, the nation’s premier Fellowship for aspiring public leaders, and is a recipient of the Missouri Community Suicide Prevention Award for her efforts in youth suicide prevention. An actor at heart and by training, she uses her stage background to facilitate and design dynamic learning experiences.

Megan Christensen
Strategist & Sr. Facilitator

Megan is a Strategist and Sr. Facilitator at Experience Institute. Over the past 10 years, she has designed and led courses in leadership, innovation, and business development for hundreds of founders, teams, and nonprofit leaders around the world. Megan holds an MBA and MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and is a Faculty Instructor at Baumhart MBA, Loyola University Quinlan School of Business.

Lisa Pertoso
Sr. Facilitator

The driving force throughout Lisa's 20+ year career in education has been to empower people to be more self-aware, empathetic and adaptable leaders, regardless of their role.

From helping students master their communication skills in China to partnering with executives to build healthier cultures, Lisa has been passionate about creating experiences that help people foster the leadership skills that make us human.

Kaz Brecher
Sr. Facilitator

As a professional curious catalyst, Kaz drives breakthrough change for businesses and organizations through innovation and social impact, in emerging platforms and larger cross-disciplinary problem areas. Her practice applies agile methods from digital innovation to complex challenges. As a master facilitator, she’s held innovation faculty positions with THNK School of Creative Leadership in Amsterdam and Vancouver. Based in Los Angeles, Kaz is a Stanford graduate, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Certified Scrum Master.

Tyler Fowler
Facilitator

With a background in marketing and advertising, Tyler has made a career of helping people better communicate and work together. Tyler has worked with dozens of corporate clients to facilitate workplace learning and hundreds of students and young professionals through Ei's higher ed programs. Specializing in using the skills of improv to unlock creativity in the workplace, Tyler has a knack for listening intently and helping workshop participants burst out of this shell.

Olamide Alli-Odai
Facilitator

Olamide, pronounced 'oh-lah-me-day', is a change, equity, and talent consultant with more than a decade of experience in strategy, employee success, and leadership. An experienced human capital professional and former educator, Olamide is committed to mission-driven organizations that work to empower people of color through advocacy, intentional corporate responsibility, and highlighting BIPOC who lead movements of change. Olamide holds her M.B.A. from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. She is an entrepreneur, natural connector, and synergist who strives to network people to one another.

Nic Dimond
Facilitator

Nic is a creative-minded designer, builder, project manager, simulation expert & not-for-profit arts leader, whose strengths include finding signal in noise, writing, building and leading teams, simulation design, coaching, and mentoring. He's worked alongside some of the most well-known companies in the world, often as a thoughtful guide and a clear voice.

Juan Carlos Rivas
Facilitator

JC is passionate facilitator of growth & learning for individuals and organizations, a connector to insight, learning, tools & resources and a designer of solutions to social problems in the immediate community. JC is the Associate Director of the Changemaker Hub at the University of San Diego and adjunct faculty at the Kroc School for Peace Studies.

Dustin Liu
Learning Experience Designer

Dustin's research interests center on what makes transformative learning possible. Previously, he's worked to support the professional learning and network activation of educators in both K-12 and post-secondary settings. In addition to his collaboration with Ei, Dustin is currently a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University and working to power organizations through human-centered gatherings.

Zak Tracy
Finance & Operations

Zak is the resident CFO for Experience Institute. Prior to joining the team he spent a decade inside large corporations building financial systems and designing new business models. Now he helps creative-first companies stay financially healthy and poised for growth. He is an alum of Ei's year-long program, a student coach, and business operations facilitator.

Stephanie Merello
Accounts

Stephanie has spent the past 10 years working with creative companies and studios as a CPA and small business consultant. Her work focuses on helping business owners manage their accounting and financial systems. She's worked with Experience Institute since 2015 to keep the financial pieces together between our team and clients so great learning can happen.

Brandie Watson
Coordinator

Based in Wilmington, DE Brandie leads Experience Institute's coordination and scheduling efforts across workshops, coaching sessions, and client meetings. Her work beyond Ei centers around Women of Color experiencing and connecting to nature. Brandie's joyful philosophy is "Helping Hands are Happy Hands!"

Drake Kirby
Social Media Producer

Drake is a designer, mountain biker, and car enthusiast based out of Asheville, NC. Currently taking a year off from studying design at Stanford, he’s co-writing and producing social media content across multiple channels every week. Outside of Ei, Drake works as a bike mechanic and recently started his first-ever car blog.

Stella Cai
Content Strategist

Stella graduated from Georgetown University in 2019, and recently completed her Masters in Journalism from Columbia University. She creates content for Experience Institute and Experience Lab’s social platforms and curates resources for readers ranging from recent college grads to business leaders.

Our Philosophy


Why Experience?


The most transformational learning is experiential. Ei programs are rooted in community and focused on direct application.

Experiential learning asserts the deepest learning comes from having the opportunity to not just understand something intellectually and abstractly, but to have opportunities to tinker with it until it bends or breaks. Then to reflect, so we can take what we learn and make it transferable.

We’ve designed a methodology for teaching through experience. We root each workshop in addressing specific personal or organizational challenges, and then cycle through core elements of experiential learning:

These 5 beliefs reflect the way we build our learning products, our team, and our company.

1. Experience is circuitous, not linear.

Education shouldn’t just be crammed into the beginning of our lives. Like playing an instrument, when learning and work happen in repetitive, circuitous cycles we sharpen dull edges, continually discover new capabilities, and inspire a state of curiosity.

2. Experience requires risk.

Many of life’s transformative lessons derive from being in a new situation where a “right” answer isn’t readily available. Those experiences require you to take a leap over the unknown and aim for a better place. Ei programs encourage participants to learn by doing; work on real projects and solve real problems.

3. Experience can be designed.

Transformative education isn’t pulled off a shelf — it’s designed, built, and curated. When you’re granted the space to go after new information and right-size it to your learning style and needs, clarity and confidence emerge.

4. Experience is better together.

Community multiplies the lessons we learn. With every new set of eyes, our experiences become exponentially more meaningful, both personally and to those around us.

5. Experience is for everyone.

Participants join our programs with diverse work and lived experiences — with vast knowledge sets, skills, and preferred learning styles. The way in which many traditional learning frameworks are designed can unintentionally reinforce systemic inequities. We are committed to learning and design principles that generate equity and inclusion across race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other lines.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We believe diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments are the heartbeat of a healthy and joy-filled society. We strive to examine and improve our own practices regularly to create spaces where everyone can flourish.


Hiring

We intentionally expand our network and community so we can build a more diverse team as we grow.


Joy

We love our work, and hold it loosely enough to create space for health, wellness, and play.


Media & Materials

We design our content and materials to reflect the wide array of amazing people who learn with us.


Pricing

We price our programs to be accessible to all learners while also enabling us to care for our incredible team well.


Pacing

We aim to move more slowly so we can do thoughtful work that considers the impact of what and how we teach.


Giving

We look for ways to support organizations who are actively building new pathways in workforce development and access to education.

Questions about our programs?

Let us know how we can help.

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