Announcing! Ei Sandbox: A new community research project about the future of learning and work for individuals, leaders, and teams.

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 Ei remains committed to breaking down outdated barriers between education and experiences that change lives and shape values.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 and CEO

In 2012, Victor founded Experience Institute after designing his own Master’s through 12 work experiences in 12 months. Over the past 9 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 Forbes 30Under30 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
Head 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
Head of Culture and Strategy

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.

Erin Murphy
Program Strategist & Sr. Facilitator

Erin is Ei's Program Strategist and Senior Facilitator. Her career has centered around the nexus of travel and education, and she spent the last decade designing curriculum and running operations in the study abroad space, first at Rustic Pathways and then at Verto Education. Erin is passionate about illuminating connections between global issues and local stories. Erin holds a masters in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and lives in Virginia with her partner, Ann, and their pitbull, Sugar.

Phoebe Sajor
Content Coordinator

Phoebe is a Southern California-based creative with a love for telling stories. A people-person and marketer, she is passionate about bringing a human touch to the content and writing she produces. She helps create and curate content for Ei and Experience Lab’s social platforms, and helps write and run Experience Lab’s blog. Phoebe recently finished her B.A. in Sociology from UCLA. In her free time, she loves to write, meet new people, eat Vietnamese food, and hang out with her dogs.

Katie Crain
Studio Manager

Katie brings years of experience in high-performance, demanding environments. Her background in Music Management and Event Coordination has fostered her interpersonal skills, administrative prowess, and technical abilities. Katie now manages Ei's systems and logistics for Ei learning experiences and coordination. She’s also the ring leader for her two high-energy kids and the Crain family’s grand adventures.

Zak Tracy
Head of Finance

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.

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
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 is passionate about creating experiences that help people foster the leadership skills that make us more human.

Kaz Brecher
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.

Juan Carlos Rivas
Facilitator

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

Melissa Wong
Facilitator

Melissa is a facilitator, coach and program designer who delights in thinking about how people feel connected to themselves and groups. As a certified Co-Active coach, she offers 1:1 support to people in career transitions and applies her facilitation background to helping companies and teams work together better. Melissa ran the community for Seth Godin’s altMBA, helped creators at Kickstarter and Soundcloud launch, and has literally produced a circus.

Olamide Alli-Odai
Facilitator

Olamide 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.

Alexis Schilf
Facilitator

Alexis is a service designer and facilitator at the intersection of human-centered design, technology, and social impact. She has experience facilitating design thinking globally and has mentored teams through the design process in universities, federal and local governments, and Fortune 1000 companies. Alexis is passionate about building innovative workplaces and developing entrepreneurial and experiential education.

Dustin Liu
Facilitator

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.

Odell Mitchell III
Facilitator

Odel Mitchell, III, Esq., is a thought-provoking keynote speaker, gifted entertainment attorney, and recognized expert in leadership, change management, and values-based performance. He excels in helping audiences understand their values, adapt to change, and create a culture committed to achieving results through relationships. Odell’s participants appreciate his engaging storytelling, effusive enthusiasm, and deep understanding of their styles and needs.

Angela Cox
Facilitator

Angela Cox, PhD, is an organizational effectiveness consultant focused on employee engagement, inclusivity, and the impact of personal styles, values, and neurodiversity on team culture. Angela has served as a consultant for more than 15 years in both academic and corporate environments, including creating and implementing values-based leadership and cultural-change initiatives within Fortune 100 companies.

Tyler Fowler
Facilitator

With a background in marketing and advertising, Tyler has made a career of helping people communicate and collaborate. 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 engage fully.

Janna Sobel
Facilitator

Janna is a performance coach, teacher & facilitator. She coaches public speakers and teaches Improvisation, Improv for Anxiety, and Improv for Wellness at the world famous comedy school, The Second City, where she co-founded the Live Storytelling program. In her work with business leaders at The University of Notre Dame's Innovation Academy, and in The Leadership Studio at University of Chicago’s Both School, Janna uses Applied Improvisation and Applied Storytelling tools that let people make valuable discoveries about communication and collaboration, through laughter and play.

Mike Schnall
Facilitator

Mike's academic background in conflict transformation (PON-HLS) and passion for learning design has led him to spend the past seven years living in the Middle East working to integrate negotiation skills into formal school systems in the region. From founding an experiential education department in a K-12 school in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, to designing and facilitating immersive teacher education journeys across North America, Africa and sub-continental Asia, Mike's experience to date leaves him radically optimistic about the future of work (and humanity!). Michael is most activated when engaging with like-hearted partners to re-imagine learning spaces and systems to harness what he believes is at the core of learning: play, creativity, connection, and genuine curiosity.

Jessica Palmert
Facilitator

Jessica Palmert has worked at the intersections of gender equity, racial justice and disability inclusion for over two decades in Chicago. She began her career as a youth worker, organizer and community-based researcher. These roles allowed her to hone her facilitation skills and cultivate participatory learning environments for youth and adults. In addition to facilitating for Ei, Jessica works as a racial equity coach and senior strategist for a DEI company. Jessica lives with her teens and a tiny dog in a houseplant jungle.

Bre Przestrzelski
Facilitator

A child-like dreamer, Bre enjoys designing, coaching, and facilitating inclusive learning experiences that build compassionate individuals, organizations, and communities to create meaningful impact. Bre previously served as a co-instructor for Design Summer and is now a facilitator for Ei's college to career program, Experience Lab at Penn. They are grateful for the opportunity to participate in students' growth at key inflection points. In their spare time, Bre chases sunsets, hikes in the rain, and fails miserably at cooking.

Josh Nadzam
Facilitator

Josh’s passions focus primarily on social change, and he believes experiential learning is impactful because there is no better teacher than experience. Josh is the co-founder of On The Move Art Studio, a nonprofit mobile art room that provides free arts classes to at-risk youth. With a strong background in social work and empathic communication, his facilitation superpowers are his ability to communicate with empathy and strive to make people feel heard. His facilitation experience is plentiful, including as a longtime college instructor, keynote speaker, workshop leader, and leader at retreats such as the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreat. An alumni of the University of Kentucky’s Track & Field team, he is an avid runner, hiker, and nature enthusiast.

Melissa Quinn
Advisor

Melissa helps to advise and design all innovation and executive curriculum at Ei. Previously, she led the operations of Doblin, acquired by Deloitte through the Monitor Group acquisition. After integrating Doblin into Deloitte, she continued to be responsible for supporting the global growth of the business, with emphasis on building the practice's capabilities, talent, and global footprint.

Jon Axtell
Learning Systems

As a learning systems and visual designer, Jon is passionate about helping organizations and companies build fun and engaging learning experiences that move the world forward. He supports Ei in the strategy and creation of digital learning tools, technology, and creative assets.

Nic Dimond
Instructional Designer

Nic is a creative-minded designer, builder, project manager, simulation expert & not-for-profit arts leader. He excels in 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.

Heather Lawrence
Facilitator, K-12

Heather has spent 20 years cultivating School District Leadership. She’s been a school leader and trained others to succeed as leaders in classrooms and districts. She works in public and private settings to build policies and programs that promote inclusiveness, innovation, and impact in classrooms and for communities. At Ei, she supports districts, facilitates collaborative experiences, and builds systems of support and learning.

Nicodemus Ford
Facilitator, K-12

Nicodemus aspires to cultivate joy, healing, and transformation for youth and communities and lives a life reflective of those ideals. In his role with Ei, he brings over twenty years as an educator and coach to facilitate professional learning for K-12 schools in human-centered design and self-directed learning and teaching.

Bill Fetter
Marketing Strategy

Bill manages Ei's marketing tech and brings over 25 years experience in corporate marketing and sales, most recently focusing on the deployment of technology to customer journeys. A committed lifelong learner and avid global traveler, Bill is a huge advocate for the ability of experiences (especially ones that stretch and challenge) to grow our understanding of ourselves and others.

Stephanie Merello
Accounting

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. Since 2015, she's supported Experience Institute's financial health maintenance and served as the link between the team and our clients so great learning can continue to happen.

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.

Brian Bar
Experience Lab Instructor

Brian is the founder and CEO of Victory Lap, a Chicago-based company that provides industry-leading sales training to individuals and companies, and helps companies connect with SDR/BDR talent. Brian honed his skills in sales training at Groupon, where he created and ran the Sales Onboarding Department. In addition to running Victory Lap and serving as an instructor in Business Development and Sales for Experience Lab, Brian is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with VentureSCALE.

Aana Leech
Experience Lab Instructor

Aana serves as a digital marketing instructor at Experience Lab. Aana brings her experience in content development, account management, and business strategy to help build Fellows' knowledge. She is also the VP of Marketing & Customer Experience at Popular Pays, an all-in-one influencer marketing and creator management software for brands and agencies.

Juan Martín Maglione
Experience Lab Instructor

Juan Martín is a Strategic Data & AI instructor at Experience Lab. With a degree in Business Administration and a Master's degree in Strategic and Technological Management, he is also a Global Programme Manager for Santander Europe Region as well as Head of Artificial Intelligence and Technology for SAI (Amsterdam, Holland). In addition, he is one of the co-Founders of Fictionary (a mobile game), and of Fon.ai, an organization that provides Artificial Intelligence and Analytics solutions for national and international public and private organizations.

Faith Anderson
Experience Lab Instructor

Faith is a Chicago-based digital marketing specialist, entrepreneur, and startup strategist. She serves as a digital marketing instructor at Experience Lab. Faith also founded DBC Brand and began managing the online presences of emerging performers through content development and web design. She has also worked on projects with startup accelerator Workbox Company, the National Hellenic Museum, and Chicago’s leading real estate development firm, Farpoint Development LLC.

Diane Dwyer
Advisor, Stanford DS

Diane is an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist, but her true professional love is teaching. Diane supports the Design Summer program at Stanford and teaches at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She credits the Irish gift of storytelling for her success in journalism as well as teaching. Diane serves as an emcee/auctioneer for more than a dozen SF Bay Area nonprofits. She lives near Berkeley with the loves-of-her-life: her husband, 2 college-aged children, and two rescue pets.

Sophia Dew
TA, Stanford DS

Sophia is a student at Stanford University studying computer science and product design. She's spent the last few years building everything from websites, apps, physical products, to a startup. Currently, Sophia is a teaching assistant for Design Summer. She organizes logistics with companies, students, the Design Summer portal, and ensures that the class runs smoothly.

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.

Your Name