Our Team

We envision a next generation of engaged citizens, who experience the world as a game-like system they can modify and transform. The work we do together aims to make this vision a reality.

Rebecca Rufo-Tepper  Co-Executive Director

Rebecca has worked in education as a teacher, professional developer, professor, and program director for over 15 years.  As the Co-Executive Director at the Institute, Rebecca is responsible for co-leading the Institute’s strategy, growth, development, and operations. She also provides strategic leadership and direction on all the Institute's major initiatives in relation to teacher education, professional development, and research. 

Rebecca was a founding design team member for Quest to Learn and supported game designers and educators as the Director of Mission Lab at Quest to Learn for five years.  Prior to working at the Institute she taught at Hunter College and worked in New York City public schools for 10 years as a middle school and high school teacher and literacy coach.  She holds a BA in English from Tufts University, a Master's degree in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and PhD in Urban Education from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Rebecca writes and speaks about design and research related topics and is a regular presenter at national and international conferences, including: American Educational Research Association, National Middle School Association Conference, FETC, Big Ideas Fest, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Teaching and Learning, Digital Media Literacy, US Department of Education’s Games for Learning Summit, South by Southwest Edu, and the National Conference of Teachers of English.

Arana Shapiro  Co-Executive Director

Arana oversees new school design projects and provides support to school leaders. She has over fifteen years of experience in education, as a teacher, technologist, curriculum developer and school leader. As the Director, School Design, Arana provides strategic leadership and direction on all IOP’s major initiatives in relation to school design, leadership, and school-based partnerships. In collaboration with the Director, Teacher Education and Research, Arana is responsible for leading the Institute’s strategy, growth, development, and operations.

Prior to working at the Institute, Arana collaborated on the development of new curriculum for The School at Columbia University, where she served as a founding faculty member. She served as Lead Educational Technologist at the Ross School and the Ross Global Academy Charter School, where she worked with teachers to integrate new and innovative technologies in K-12 classrooms.

Arana is part of the founding team of school designers that opened the Institute's flagship project, Quest to Learn. She also served as Co-Director of Quest to Learn for 4 years. She is a regular presenter at national and international conferences. Arana received a Masters of Arts in Education from Pepperdine University and a Masters of Education in School Leadership from Bank Street College of Education.

Fred Begley  Director, Finance & Administration

Fred is responsible for overseeing all financial, administrative and general operations for Institute of Play. He brings to the Institute 10 years of experience in non-profit management, with a focus on finance and operations. Fred was previously Director of Operations for Animal Haven, a New York City No Kill Animal Shelter. In addition, he held the title of Director of Finance & Administration for the CityKids Foundation and Artists Striving to End Poverty, two internationally-recognized, New York City-based organizations that serve at risk, impoverished and marginalized youth. He received his Masters in Public Affairs from Baruch College, with a specialization in Non-Profit Administration.

Sharang Biswas  Community Manager

Sharang handles the team's communications, outreach, and community building. As Community Manager, he is responsible for cultivating Institute of Play’s communities by creating, curating and sharing engaging content. Sharang has made games independently and at organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum and Tiltfactor Lab, and has taught game design at Museum of the Moving Image, The Montclair Art Museum, NYU and various high schools. His game criticism and analysis has appeared in publications such as ZAM and Kill Screen, and he was formerly a Senior Partner and Editor at Hardcore Droid. His interactive theater and storytelling performances have been shown at Tisch, the Come Out and Play Festival ,The Brick Theater in Brooklyn, the Museum of the Moving Image, and memorably, in the middle of Washington Square Park during a political rally. He has published board games with Cryptozoic Entertainment, and has worked on games published by Resonym. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering from Dartmouth, and a Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from the ITP program at NYU-Tisch.

Shula Ehrlich  Creative Design Lead

Shula is the creative driving force behind the conceptualization of Institute of Play’s products and programs. She is responsible for the evaluation of all projects’ over-all look, feel, and aesthetics, as well as the level of playfulness, creativity, and innovation. Previously, Shula worked in Mission Lab, Institute of Play’s research and design lab, as Lead Game Designer, where she collaborated with teachers on the design of games and game-like curriculum for the Institute's flagship project, Quest to Learn. During that time, Shula also played a large role in designing and facilitating IoP's TeacherQuest program for teachers across the country.

Shula took a year-long hiatus from IoP to work as an Instructional Designer at General Assembly, designing customized play and design-based workshops for a variety of corporate clients.

Shula holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Design and Technology from Parsons the New School for Design. She is a regular presenter at education and design conferences, including: FETC, US Department of Education’s Games for Learning Summit, Harvard Future of Learning Summit, South by Southwest Edu, Games and Learning Society, A Better World by Design, and the National Conference of Teachers of English.

Jeremy Engle  Curriculum Development Lead

Jeremy leads the development of curriculum (print and digital) and instructional materials utilized in IOP’s  K-12 programs, as well as teacher education and PD materials designed to support implementation the IOP model in classrooms. Previously, Jeremy worked in Mission Lab, Institute of Play’s research and design lab, as a Curriculum Designer with the faculty at Quest to Learn.  During that time, he supported the development the school’s innovative curriculum with a team of game designers, curriculum designers, and teachers.  Jeremy has been a classroom teacher, professional developer and educator for over 20 years. He was a humanities teacher at Central Park East Secondary School, a literacy coach for Teachers College Columbia University, and a documentary-making instructor at the Educational Video Center. Additionally, he has taught media-making workshops to youth and adults across the country.

C. Ross Flatt  Manager of Programs

Ross comes to the Institute with over ten years of experience in teaching and administration.  As Manager of Programs, he leads the development of highly engaging programs for youth and adults and manages the implementation and evaluation of all of our programs, including district-level TeacherQuest programs, TeacherQuest partnerships, and school-based PD programs. Prior to working at the Institute, Ross spent the first five years of his career teaching Social Studies in both public and parochial schools, including St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey and The Scholar’s Academy in Queens, New York.  In 2009, Ross joined Quest to Learn as a member of the founding faculty as the first 6th grade Being, Space, & Place teacher. He also supported teachers as a Curriculum Developer and Lead Teacher.  After receiving a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Fordham University, Ross served Quest to Learn as Assistant Principal, where he supported teachers in game-like learning pedagogy.  Ross is a regular presenter at educational conferences.

Dalton Gray  Game Designer

As a game designer at the Institute of Play, Dalton uses iterative design, user-centered design and the Institute’s model of game-like learning to make games and educational materials that foster learning through play. It is also Dalton’s responsibility to lure educators to the design side of the force. Through jedi mind training, and blindfolded lightsaber exercises, he empowers educators to incorporate design thinking in their curriculum development and in their classrooms. Dalton also founded the company State of Play, which has been using applied game design to create performances featured at festivals in New York, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Bangor, Maine. As the lead designer of State of Play, Dalton has been collaborating with the Met Media Lab, The Flea Theater, and Steve and Kate’s Summer Camp to pioneer a play-centric, collaborative process for innovation.

Jaehyun Kim  Design Assistant

As the Design Assistant at IoP, Jaehyun designs and produces digital and non-digital games and learning tools. She received her MFA in Art and Technology from School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she devoted many hours to game-making and physical computing. Prior to diving into the world of game design, she studied film-making in South Korea. Since graduating, she has worked as a teaching artist with a focus on film-making and video game design at the Children’s Museum of Arts and 92nd Street Y. Her artworks have been shown at festivals and exhibitions in New York, Chicago and South Korea.

Brendon Trombley  Senior Game Designer

As the Senior Game Designer, Brendon supports the creation of learning materials and blended learning spaces that bring games and game-like learning to educational contexts.  He works closely with all of Institute of Play’s program team, as well as with teachers and youth playtesters that are part of our community. Brendon brings to the Institute many years’ experience designing and developing games and playful learning experiences for the web, classroom, and out in the “real world”. He has showcased games in festivals and jams such as Come out And Play, Indiecade, the Ludum Dare, and City of Play. He holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from RIT in New Media Design & Imaging.