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.
Robert Gehorsam Executive Director
Robert is responsible for overseeing all that the Institute is and does. For over 30 years, he has led organizations that are breaking new ground in games, educational technology and digital media. He was previously CEO of Image Metrics, a technology company focused on creating compelling interactive experiences through innovations in computer vision and facial analysis. As a founder and President at Forterra Systems, Inc., he oversaw the creation and growth of a pioneering “serious games” platform that is used by a wide range of learning organizations. Before founding Forterra Systems, he served in senior executive positions at the Viacom/CBS Internet Group and Sony Online Entertainment, and led Scholastic’s New Media Group. He has been a pioneer in the development of game-based learning products since 1985, when he founded and led the games and education groups at Prodigy Services Company. Robert advises companies and government agencies on games and educational technology, and is a contributing author to The PSI Handbook of Virtual Environments for Training and Education (ed. Schmorrow, Cohn and Nicholson). A graduate of Grinnell College (where he studied literature and comparative religion), he lives in New York with his wife, and has two grown children. His son only once let him win a game of Madden NFL on the PS3, and his daughter has higher level Skyrim characters than he does, but he appreciates the advances each generation makes over the previous one.
Katie Salen Tekinbas Fellow
Katie is the former founding Executive Director and is currently responsible for developing new projects, programs, products, and services in her role as Fellow. Part of her responsibilities include establishing a consulting practice within the Institute to work with a wide range of organizations seeking to leverage in new contexts the Institute’s cutting edge work in game-based learning. She is an active game designer and, as one of the Institute’s founders, a pioneer in applying game design principles to challenges outside the field of commercial game development.Katie is a Professor in the School of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University. She lectures widely and writes extensively on game design, design education and gamer culture. She has co-authored or edited several books, including Rules of Play, a textbook on game design, The Game Design Reader and The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Also, Katie was co-lead designer on Gamestar Mechanic, an award-winning online game with built-in game design curriculum. She has been involved in the design of slow games, online games, mobile games and big games in the commercial and independent games sectors around the world.
Jen Clarke Development Director
Jen is responsible for diversifying and developing new sources of funding for the Institute from various communities including foundations, corporations and individuals. She brings to the Institute over 15 years of experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in Canada and the United States. Jen has experienced both sides of the funding equation as part of a corporate sponsorship team, a program management team in a public funding agency, and as the lead of a corporate and foundation relations team in higher education. Jen is skilled in development, strategic planning, program management and board development. She has spent more than 20 years volunteering for non-profits including serving on several boards. Jen is passionate about food policy, community, and cycling.
Shula Ehrlich Lead Game Designer
Shula is responsible for designing and supporting the successful implementation of game-like learning materials and activities. In addition to her experience as a game designer, Shula has many years of experience in education and psychology and has worked on numerous projects at the intersection of design, technology, education and play. She recently finished a year-long project in which she researched and designed effective communication design techniques around middle school anti-bullying efforts.
Jeremy Engle Learning Designer
Jeremy assists with the development of Quest to Learn's innovative curriculum with a team of game designers, curriculum designers, and teachers. He has been a classroom teacher, professional developer and educator for over 15 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.
Alice Chin Kaminski HR and Operations Manager
Alice is responsible the human resources and operations functions of the Institute, specifically designing creative, innovative ways to support employees, partners and programs across all Institute labs. She brings to the Institute experience in project management, operations and human resources with various organizations, including Newsweek, IDEO and Miami Ad School. A graduate of Barnard College, Alice is a passionate proponent of women's education and educational equity. Her academic work focused on language-based educational access in New York City public schools.
Claudio Midolo Senior Game Designer
Claudio is responsible for leading the design and successful implementation of game-based learning materials and experiences. Born in Italy, Claudio has led or participated in many projects at the intersection of digital technology, creativity and communication around the world. In 2008 he presented the soundFishing project at the Mobile Music Workshop in Vienna, and in 2009 he implemented the StopStockouts mobile advocacy campaign in Zambia as an Open Society Institute Fellow. Claudio teaches in the Design and Technology program at Parsons The New School for Design.
Ameer Mourad Learning Designer
Ameer is responsible for supporting teachers in developing game-like learning experiences. He was a founding faculty member at Quest to Learn, where he taught middle school science for three years before returning to pursue his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He brings his classroom experience, research training, and passion for innovative education to every meeting in order to support professional development for the next generation of Quest educators.
Alice Namer Fiscal Manager
Alice is responsible for implementing and monitoring the Institute's fiscal policies and procedures, as well as the grants management function. She brings to the Institute over 18 years of experience in accounting and human resources, including extensive experience working with non-profit organizations in supervisory positions. She was the Chief Financial Officer of the Bronx House, and specialized in working with non-profits while at Robert Half. Alice devotes her free time to her local little league, where she volunteers as a baseball coach and umpire.
Daniel O'Keefe Lead Learning Designer
Daniel is responsible for the implementation and ongoing refinement of the Institute’s unique game-based integrated learning model, with a focus on developing multi-dimensional teachers and learning designers, meaningfully integrating technology, and developing blended collaborative spaces. He brings to the Institute 8 years experience as a middle school mathematics teacher. Daniel studied instructional technology at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Ilena Parker Senior Communications Manager
Ilena is responsible for strategic communications to grow support for the Institute's mission, vision and projects. A writer, content strategist and project manager, she brings to the Institute experience in collaborative communications planning and a healthy respect for the power and possibility of words. At innovation consultancy Fahrenheit 212, Ilena managed content development and distribution channels, partnering with thought leaders across the company to articulate and disseminate new ideas. At The Partners, a branding agency, she helped clients develop frameworks for articulating their ideas, working on positioning, messaging and design programs with a broad range of global companies.
Rebecca Rufo-Tepper Director of Integrated Learning
Rebecca is responsible for overseeing the implementation and ongoing refinement of the Institute’s unique game-based integrated learning model, with a focus on developing multi-dimensional teachers who make important contributions to the learning community. Rebecca brings to the Institute over ten years’ experience in New York City public schools, as a teacher and staff developer. She has also served as literacy coach at East Side Middle School and as a professional development facilitator for the Holocaust Educators Network and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Rebecca is a regular presenter at national conferences and has taught at Hunter College. Her research interests center on professional development and school reform. She holds a PhD in Urban Education from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
Arana Shapiro Co-Director of School, Quest to Learn
Arana is responsible for the continued evolution and refinement of the first instance of the Quest learning model and, in collaboration with the Principal, overseeing and guiding the school's activities and aspirations day-to-day. Arana brings to the Institute over ten years’ experience in education, as a teacher, technologist, curriculum developer and school leader. She collaborated on the development of new curriculum for The School at Columbia University, where she served as a founding faculty member. And she served as Lead Educational Technologist at the Ross School and the Ross Global Academy Charter School. Arana is a regular presenter at national conferences. Currently she is pursuing her masters in school leadership from Bank Street.
JR Sheetz Documentarian
JR is responsible for leading visual documentation of the Institute’s work for a variety of uses – including internal and external communications, recruitment, fundraising and research – with the goal of generating compelling high-quality results-driven stories. JR brings with him several years' experience in documentary filmmaking and photography, both independently and for organizations like the Pearson Foundation and the National Writing Project.
Eliza Spang Learning Director
Eliza is responsible for overseeing the design, development, testing and packaging of engaging programs, services and products that align with and expand the Institute’s innovative game-like integrated learning model. Eliza comes to the Institute with over 15 years of experience in education. Eliza began her career in education as a high school science teacher in Massachusetts and northern California. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teacher Education from Stanford University Graduate School of Education. While at Stanford, she taught in the Stanford Teacher Education Program and researched beginning science teachers’ use of scientific inquiry in the classroom. Prior to joining the Institute of Play, Eliza worked at WestEd and Relay Graduate School of Education.
Liza Stark Game Designer
Liza is responsible for designing and supporting the successful implementation of game-like learning materials and activities. With a deep interest in the intersection of learning, making, and games, she has taught game design in Abu Dhabi and New York City, as well as led numerous soft circuit and computational craft workshops for a range of ages and skill levels. Currently, she teaches in the MFADT program at Parsons The New School for Design and facilitates creative collaboration between teachers and technologists with EDesign Labs.
Liz Tedesco Development Associate
Liz is responsible for providing administrative support for the Institute in human resources, operations and fiscal management. She is currently studying for her Masters at The New School in Nonprofit Management with a specialization in finance for the nonprofit sector. Prior to attending graduate school, she received her Bachelor's degree in Art History & Criticism from Stony Brook University and has worked and volunteered at various nonprofit organizations throughout New York City.
Greg Trefry Lead Game Designer
Greg is responsible for acting as game design lead on key Institute projects. He has served as lead game designer in a wide array of studio settings and on many different kinds of projects, including web-based MMOs, hit casual games and alternate reality games. Greg was Senior Game Designer at Gamelab, an independent game design studio that produced casual games and web-based games like Gamestar Mechanic. And he co-founded the game design studio Gigantic Mechanic to explore the interaction of mobile games and the real world. Currently Greg serves as Director of the Come Out & Play Festival, an annual gathering around street games in New York City. He teaches game design and development at New York University and is the author of Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in All of Us.
Brendon Trombley Game Designer
Brendon is responsible for designing and supporting the successful implementation of game-based learning materials and activities. Brendon brings to the Institute several years’ experience designing and developing online learning tools and experiences, independently and at the e-learning firm, Kognito. He is currently engaged in the movement to popularize Chamball, a new sport described as “dodgeball meets martial arts,” and in the design of Brothers in Farms, a strategy game to teach kids sustainable farming techniques.