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 Ei remains committed to breaking down outdated barriers between education and experiences that change lives and shape values.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

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
Programs & Sr. Facilitator

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
Operations & Sr. Facilitator

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.

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.

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.

Kate Garmey
Facilitator

Kate is a people-centered designer, innovator, and creative collaborator. In addition to her work with Ei, Kate works with leaders and companies to develop programs, experiences, and technology solutions that build and strengthen community connections, and deliver measurable business value. Kate is on the teaching team at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she guides executives and is a Faculty Advisor at Northwestern University where she teaches strategic innovation to undergraduates and graduates pursuing their MBA.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mike Newton
Tax Advisor

Mike has worked with numbers for over 40 years. And he's worked with Ei since day one. He's provided annual and ongoing tax advisement for our team. He's a kind and caring jokester who loves to travel the world and will never turn down a good burger.

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!"

Phoebe Sajor
Content Manager & Executive Assistant

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.

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.

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.

Brian Bar
ExpLab 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
ExpLab 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
ExpLab 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
ExpLab 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.

Chan Un
Partnerships, Stanford DS

Chan is a 3rd year Product Design student at Stanford University with diverse experiences in mechanical design and talents in project management. She specializes in working with cross-functional teams and physical product ideation and development. She currently helps the Design Summer Program at Stanford University, a workshop style course hosting a cohort of 30 design students each quarter, with connecting students with work opportunities and experiences.

Ellie Chen
Coach, Stanford DS

Ellie has served as the TA for Design Summer at Stanford for over two years. Design Summer taught her to follow her dreams by starting them as approachable projects and by diving in wholeheartedly. Ellie recently graduated and co-founded Oddli, a sustainable clothing brand she started while a Senior at Stanford.

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.

Bre Przestrzelski
Co-Instructor, Stanford DS

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 also serves as a co-instructor for Design Summer and is 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.

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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