The pipeline between school and work is broken for a majority of students.

Can we help students find passions, lighten future debt burdens and build regenerative skills to prepare them to thrive in a chaotic knowledge economy?


The Education Design Lab helps universities / entrepreneurs / employers / government / foundations / non-profits design, test and implement new education models.

Our First Round Design Challenges include:

How might we assess, measure and guide a student’s 21st century skills development within or beyond a university degree?

How might we build a meaningful apprenticeship that supports curricular and workforce readiness goals into a 4-year degree?

How might we create ways for veterans to get credit for job experience and a rapid pathway to careers in the high-demand field of cyber security?

About the Lab

The Education Design Lab’s initial funding and development is provided by The deLaski Family Foundation.

Our first design partner is George Mason University, in the greater Washington, DC area, ranked 2013’s #1 Up and Coming University by US News and World Report.

Become a Design Partner

The Education Design Lab

Contact the Lab
Kathleen deLaski


Founder, Education Design Lab

Kathleen created the Education Design Lab after 8 years on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University, where she saw the need for a separate organization to help universities and many other interested parties innovate to prepare the professional workforce. Kathleen is also the president of The deLaski Family Foundation, a leading Washington area grant-maker in education and the arts. She has separately spent 10 years in various roles in education reform, most recently as founder of EdFuel, which is developing a talent pipeline for the K-12 “edu-preneur” sector.

Previously, Kathleen helped Michelle Rhee create StudentsFirst, a national advocacy movement to create better school options. Kathleen has served as senior program officer for education at the Walton Family Foundation, and created Sallie Mae’s award-winning foundation to increase college access for low-income students.

Spending five years at America Online, she developed the first interactive tools to engage the public online in elections and the political process and helped the biggest news organizations create digital brands. She and her boss, Steve Case, were named by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics among “25 People Changing the World.” Kathleen was named by President Clinton as Chief Spokesman for the Pentagon, where she oversaw the military’s worldwide public information team. She also spent 13 years as a TV journalist, including 5 years as an ABC News Washington correspondent.

Dawan Stanford, JD, PhD


Director, Design Strategy & Operations

As the Education Design Lab’s Director of Design Strategy and Operations, Dawan develops and evolves the Lab’s design thinking and innovation tools, oversees its design challenges, and has strategic and overall operations responsibilities.

Driven by ideas from design and media theory, Dawan earned his Ph.D. from the European Graduate School. His research, teaching and published work explore how we learn, create and communicate. A Berkeley Law graduate, Dawan spent the early internet boom in Silicon Valley working with start-ups and multinationals and played several legal roles internationally for Symantec Corporation and others.

Prior to joining the Lab, Dawan ran a design thinking consultancy and a management consultancy combining design strategy and gerontology. Dawan also leads Design Thinking: DC, a growing community of more than 1,400 designers, innovators and entrepreneurs coming together in Washington D.C. to make practical use of design thinking for business, government and nonprofits.

Quintan Wiktorowicz, PhD


Design Challenge Lead

Quintan Wiktorowicz, in addition to being a Challenge Lead on the Lab’s Veterans to Cyber Security Jobs Challenge, helps CEOs and senior leaders leverage outreach/engagement, partnerships, and innovation to create opportunities and manage risk. He is an internationally recognized author and expert on national security and counterterrorism and served in two senior positions at the White House, where he led efforts to advance national security partnerships and innovation at home and abroad.

Quintan developed groundbreaking counter-radicalization initiatives for the Intelligence Community and the Department of State. Before his government service, he was one of America’s leading academics on the Muslim World. Quintan received his Ph.D. in political science from American University, was a Fulbright Scholar and professor at Rhodes College, Dartmouth College, and Shippensburg University; and Scholar-in-Residence in the Intelligence Community.

He has published three peer-reviewed books, an award winning audio book, and 33 articles and book chapters on the Muslim World and national security issues.

Michelle Batt


Design Challenge Lead

Michelle is a Design Challenge Lead for the Lab’s Badging Challenge. Michelle is also the President of Lead by Experience, offering strategic and tactical consulting to help leadership teams across: business, health care and education improve their customer experience.

Through her coaching, Michelle loves to “gently” break up typical functional silos to stimulate collaboration and steer change management across organizations. She integrates new, cost effective, ways to capture and understand customers’ expectations, wants and needs.

Prior to establishing her own business, Michelle held executive positions in telecommunications at MCI and NII Holdings where she held the position of Senior Director of Customer Experience. Michelle earned a Masters of Arts degree in Education: Curriculum & Instruction from Loyola College in Maryland and completed an Executive Certification in Global Leadership from Georgetown University – the McDonough School of Business.

Karen Hold


Design Challenge Lead

An “experience design” lead that thrives on helping clients innovate and adapt to a rapidly changing competitive landscape, Karen uses a practical approach to everyday innovation and employs best practices from the design toolkits of IDEO, Stanford dSchool, Pine & Gilmore, The Grove, Nancy Duarte, Gamestorming and others.

A Proctor & Gamble-trained brand marketer, Karen saw firsthand how P&G drove revenue and profit growth with innovation. Inspired by her experience, Karen founded her own small business, Broadband Publishing, earning an average net profit of 40% for the first 7 years through innovative marketing partnerships with Forbes and BusinessWeek magazines.

Karen holds a B.A. from Duke University in Public Policy Studies and an MBA from Georgetown – The McDonough School of Business.

Michael Youngblood


Apprenticeship Challenge Lead

Michael Youngblood is the Design Challenge Lead on the Lab’s Apprenticeship Challenge. Michael is using his ethnographic skills to design a meaningful apprenticeship program inside a 4-year degree.

He is concurrently the Managing Editor of Innovations journal, a quarterly publication by MIT Press about entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges. As an entrepreneur, he has co-founded or consulted multiple new ventures and has contributed to the founding of innovative programs in higher education, including a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship and the first crowdfunding platform at a public university in the U.S. In 2012, he was a co-instructor in one of the first ever massive open, online courses on entrepreneurship.

Michael’s approach to design thinking is grounded in his ethnographic fieldwork in K-12 schools in the U.S. as well as internationally in Vietnam’s education system. In addition to his B.S. in Anthropology, he recently completed an MPA. He is a member of the Sandbox network.

Kevin Clark, PhD


Future of Education Fellow

A Professor at George Mason University and current Director for the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity, Kevin brings a host of online and digital learning experience to Education Design Lab.

A leader in the role of gaming and media, in and out of school learning environments particularly with underserved populations, Kevin is expanding his work into children’s educational media, which includes television, video games, web-based environments, music, magazines, and books. He also serves as an advisor to PBS, Disney Junior, and the National Parks Service.

Kevin is a computer science graduate of North Carolina State University and a graduate of Penn State University where he earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Instructional Systems.

Phil Auerswald, PhD



Philip Auerswald is an associate professor at the School of Public Policy and (for 2013-2014) the Presidential Fellow at George Mason University. He is the author of The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs are Transforming the Global Economy.

Since 2010, Auerswald has served as an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative on topics related to job creation, education, and market-based strategy. During 2011-2012 he was a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. He is the co-founder and co-editor of Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, a quarterly journal from MIT Press about entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges, and an associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University.

Auerswald was also a lecturer and assistant director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government. In 2010 he organized the Presidents’ Symposium on the Future of Collegiate Education, held with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Washington and a B.A from Yale University.

Tyler Cowen, PhD



Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University and also Director of the Mercatus Center. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1987. His book The Great Stagnation: How America Ate the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better was a New York Times best-seller.

He was recently named in an Economist poll as one of the most influential economists of the last decade and Bloomberg BusinessWeek dubbed him “America’s Hottest Economist.” Foreign Policy magazine named him as one of its “Top 100 Global Thinkers” of 2011.

His book, An Economist Gets Lunch considers the economics of global food, and his very latest, Average is Over, looks at the implications of increasing inequality. He also co-writes a blog with Alex Tabarrokat www.marginalrevolution.com and together they have initiated an on-line economics education project, MRUniversity.com.

Erica Estrada



A Levinthal Fellow and lecturer in 2008 and 2009 at Stanford University’s esteemed school of design, Erica has worked on a variety of teams including one which redesigned the shifting experience for Volkswagen — developing a foot-operated gear-shifting system for concept vehicles. By night, she soldered LEDs and cut PVC and Coke cans with her Extreme Affordability Team as they worked toward the goal of providing affordable lighting products to villagers in Burma.

After graduating from Stanford, her night job became her day job and her lighting team traveled to Burma and Cambodia prototyping lights and experimenting with batteries. Within a year, d.light design won $250k in venture capital funding from a business plan competition, and subsequently garnered the resources to officially incorporate. Erica spent another year traveling the world with her trusty travel sheets, lighting up dark villages with LED lights as a product designer and co-founder of d.light design.

Erica became an expert on need finding methods, rough prototyping and unusual in-the-field experiences. During this immersion, she made sure to carefully document d.light’s users’ stories, some of which can be found at http://www.dlightdesign.com/customers.html. Returning to academia, Erica spent two years as the Director, of the Social Entrepreneurship Lab at the HassoPlattner Institute of Design at Stanford.

Raymond Rahbar



Raymond is CEO and Founder of UberOffices. UberOffices is a shared office space for early-stage technology and creative companies in the Washington, D.C.metropolitan area.

A founding member of the NexGen Angels, an investing club of more than 50 Washington, DC-area angels who are 40 or younger, Raymond also serves on the Board of Advisors for John Marshall Bank and is a partner in American Majestic, a privately held Northern Virginia based real estate development company specializing in luxury homes for high net worth clients.

Raymond holds a B.S. in Accounting and Finance from George Mason School of Management and a law degree from Syracuse University College of Law.

Oltac Unsal



As a Senior Advisor to the World Bank, Oltac has designed a World Bank angel co-investment fund and a technical assistance facility that creates or enhances angel networks, increases the “investability” of developing world tech entrepreneurs through an incubator and mentoring ecosystem. He also has spearheaded establishing new educational paradigms in the developing world.

A movie producer, past Microsoft and Cisco executive, Oltac also spent his early career in banking with Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse First Boston and today serves as a Managing Director of Smyrna Capital.

An entrepreneur and founding member of NextGen Angels, Oltac and NextGen always keep the entrepreneur top of mind. Their motto is, “We aim to benefit the companies we work with, help build the DC area startup ecosystem, become an investment partner of choice for top entrepreneurs, and make the process enjoyable for everyone.”

Jeffrey Selingo



Jeffrey Selingo, an author, columnist, and speaker, has spent his journalism career covering the business of colleges and universities worldwide.

His best-selling new book, College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, explores the college of tomorrow– how families will pay, what campuses will look like, how students will learn, and what skills will lead to success in the job market.

A contributing editor to The Chronicle of Higher Education and professor of practice at Arizona State University, Jeff’s work focuses on innovation in higher education and how students, parents, and employers should value one of the biggest purchases in life, the college degree.

Jeff is the former top editor of The Chronicle, where he worked for 16 years in a variety of reporting and editing roles. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post, and he is a contributor to the LinkedIn Influencer program where you can follow his blog posts on higher education.

Jeff’s work has been honored with awards from the Education Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Associated Press. He has been the keynote speaker before dozens of associations and universities and appears regularly on regional and national radio and television programs, including NPR, ABC, and CBS.

Jeff received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ithaca College and a master’s degree in government from the Johns Hopkins University.

Donita Prakash


Director, Partnership & Development

Donita assists The Education Design Lab in their efforts to develop and roll-out commercially viable solutions that have self-sustaining revenue streams. Prior to Education Design Lab, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of Acumen Solutions, Inc. where she helped the IT services firm double their revenues during her tenure.

Her team helped launch the award winning SchoolForce.com solution developed by Acumen Solutions for the K-12 education market working with leaders in charter schools in the District of Columbia and New York City Public Schools. Over the past 20 years, she has taken new products or services to market, many in their nascent stages (touch screen computing, mobile in the enterprise, cloud computing), across brands such as MCI, AOL, Dow Jones Telerate and Wells Fargo Bank.

Donita holds a B.A. in Economics from Mills College in Oakland, California.

Rebecca Horton


Co-lead, Cybersecurity Jobs Challenge

Rebecca is the co-lead on the Lab’s Veterans to Cybersecurity Jobs Challenge. She holds a masters in Design Management from SCAD and has led and/or designed projects for over 40 clients over the course of her career; to name a few: leading user experience research efforts and designing user journeys for a Fortune 500 company in the insurance industry, helping Charlottesville’s New City Arts Initative develop its strategic plan and organizational objectives prior to its successful launch in 2010, and spearheading Hanover Research’s shift from white paper deliverables to infographic and visualization-enhanced reports and presentations.

While Rebecca possesses many creative talents (both technical and strategic), her real passion is helping organizations innovate successfully, or as she likes to say “pivot into future what ifs.” She is the co-founder of a local design consultancy, Trestles, and leads its creative work in the DC market to help local clients engage users, improve present-day experiences, and design and build new offerings.

Erik Heyer


Entrepreneur in Residence

Erik Heyer is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at the Education Design Lab, and also at New Markets Venture Partners, a leading education-technology focused venture capital firm. He is a respected education leader, business manager and social entrepreneur.

Erik is founder and chairman of Capital Education Group, an autism services organization that operates The Auburn School network and the Little Leaves behavioral therapy programs. He is also founder and chairman of The Siena School, which is a leader in programs for students with dyslexia and language-based learning differences.

Previously, Erik was on the founding team and management committee of Victory Schools, a national leader in the charter school and public education reform movements. Victory was recognized for its accomplishments by the U.S. Department of Education (twice), TIME magazine, and numerous national and local leaders. In 2003, he was awarded a Broad Fellowship in the Broad Foundation Superintendents Academy.

He began his career in finance with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, before joining New Mountain Capital, a leading private equity investment firm. Mr. Heyer holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in systems engineering with high honors from the University of Virginia. He has served as a trustee or director of the International Dyslexia Association, the Institute for Excellence & Ethics, the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, and Calvert Education Services, one of the nation’s oldest homeschooling organizations and a leading online learning platform.