Designing education toward the future of work.

Designing education toward the future of work.


Education Design Lab

uses design thinking

and other tools to help

Education Design Lab uses design thinking and other tools to help schools, employers and innovators to design, test, and implement new education models.


design, test and implement

new education models.



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

The school-to-work pipeline is broken.

Our design work reimagines student pathways in three categories:



Our 3 areas of work: Discovery (passions & pathways), Experience (efficient & affordable), Launch (workforce readiness).

KKathleen_deLaski-Education-Design-Labathleen deLaski

Founder & President

Kathleen created 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

Design Director

As Education Design Lab’s Design Director, 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 lead Design Thinking: DC, a growing community of more than 2,000 designers, innovators and entrepreneurs coming together in Washington D.C. to make practical use of design thinking for business, government and nonprofits.

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 Fellow

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.

Kevin Clark, PhD

Kevin Clark

Board Member

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 and together they have initiated an on-line economics education project,

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 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 Education Design Lab in its 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 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.

Erik Heyer


Board Member

Erik Heyer is currently Executive in Residence at Bridges Ventures, a U.K.-based private equity investment manager that is entirely dedicated to sustainable and impact investing.  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.


Catherine_Wallwork-Education-Design-LabCatherine Wallwork

Researcher & Community Builder

As Education Design Lab’s Researcher & Community Builder, it is Catherine’s job to make sure that the Lab stays up to date on all emerging higher education innovations, thought leaders, and challenges facing today’s students. She also manages the Lab’s Innovator Network, where she helps foster a community of thinkers and doers committed to improving higher education through design.

Catherine is an experienced nonprofit fundraising and communications professional. She started her career in San Diego at Invisible Children, where she oversaw a portfolio of over 12,000 individual and recurring donors, and contributed to a number of successful online advocacy and fundraising campaigns. More recently, Catherine has worked as a communications and development consultant to a number of D.C.-based nonprofits. Immediately prior to joining the Lab, Catherine worked in development and marketing at Saylor Academy, a nonprofit provider of tuition-free online courses.

Catherine holds a B.A. in English and Africana Studies from SUNY Geneseo, and is committed to striking the perfect balance of innovation and best practices (and excellent grammar) to build momentum for nonprofits.

Lou Pugliese


lou headshot

Board Member

Lou is currently President of Quantum Thinking and Senior Fellow for Saylor Academy. Over the past twenty years, he has developed a strong track record managing growth stage businesses and acquiring and developing numerous education enterprises. Lou is a noted international speaker on educational technology and has addressed a wide range of issues in education and education policy. Prior to the recent acquisition by Blackboard, he was the former Chairman and CEO of Moodlerooms.

Prior to Moodlerooms, Lou was President of Learning Diagnostics Inc., an education a consulting practice, and vice president of corporate development and company director at Educational Testing Service (ETS).  Prior to ETS, Lou was an entrepreneur in residence at Novak Biddle Venture Partners, an equity financing firm established in 1997 to provide assistance to the management of young, information technology businesses. There he shaped the strategy for private equity investments in early stage educational technology companies. While working with Novak Biddle, Pugliese was named CEO of AnswerLogic, a software company that delivers online question answering solutions for business through its innovative natural language processing technology. Lou’s affiliation with Novak Biddle began with the firm’s early stage lead position in Blackboard, Inc., where he was founding CEO. Under his leadership, Blackboard experienced 500 percent annual revenue growth rates, international customer expansion to more than three million individuals teaching and learning on Blackboard, the roll out of multiple products and services and attainment over $50 million in private financing.


Don Fraser, Jr.Don_Fraser_Jr-Education-Design-Lab

Higher Ed ReDesigner

As Education Design Lab’s Higher Ed ReDesigner, Don connects higher education institutions with entrepreneurial start-ups to design new education models for student success, lifelong learning and workforce readiness. Don reimagines and disrupts higher education by designing with students, higher education and industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and others. Don leads design challenges, design challenge cohorts, and delivers other Lab projects targeting new higher ed models. He is currently leading the Badging Challenge Design Cohort.

Don is a nationally recognized expert in postsecondary planning and college success. He acutely understands of the student experience, as well as ways in which schools can develop innovative programs in order to foster student success, especially for those from historically underrepresented populations. He deeply believes in the combination of technology and interpersonal relationships as a means to improve student outcomes.

Prior to his work at the Lab, Don founded CollegeSnapps, a Washington, D.C. based education technology startup company. He also served as the Director of Education for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), where he created educational opportunities for high school counselors and college admission professionals including Critical Components, NACAC’s first new conference in over 20 years.

Don brings his roots in psychology and school counseling and history of transforming student perspectives and needs into action to the Lab’s design thinking-driven process. Don received his B.A. in Psychology from Boston College and his Master’s of Education in School Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, where he is also working on his Doctorate in Leadership in Urban Schools. He makes a point of maintaining his connection to students, through his teaching at Johns Hopkins University and Boston University and work directly with students and families.


Gabriella Schiro 

Graphic Designer & Office Manager

As Education Design Lab’s Graphic Designer & Office Manager, Gabriella designs visual explanations, information graphics, and print and digital materials while maintaining a productive office environment. She supports all aspects of the Lab’s operations, from design challenges to design facilitation.

Gabriella has a multi-faceted background in both nonprofit and small business design and administration. She began her career in 2011 as the Exhibitions Marketing Assistant at International Arts & Artists, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing and promoting the arts both nationally and internationally. Since then, she has worked in management positions at local arts-oriented businesses. Before joining the Lab, she served as Design/Production Manager at a screenprinting, embroidery, and large format print shop, where she focused her work on improving production efficiency and customer relations in addition to managing the design department.

Gabriella holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Gettysburg College and recently completed an Interactive Media Design Post-Baccalaureate Certificate through Towson University.



Laurence Roth

Chief Growth Officer

Larry is Chief Growth Officer at the Education Design Lab, developing and executing partnership strategies to maximize the Lab’s mission to support underserved student populations in the “Learner Revolution.” At the Lab, he also advises both intrepreneurs and entrepreneurs designing new programs and services for the post-secondary market. Larry brings 25 years of experience leading and advising start-up/early stage companies in the digital media and education technology sectors. He was most recently at the national non-profit College Summit, where he launched and operated a national initiative designed to dramatically re-envision the organization’s program and business models.

Previously, Larry was a senior executive with Agile Mind, an early stage provider of digital mathematics programs for grades 8-12 in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to his work in education, he co-founded Cinea, Inc., a digital rights management company, which was recognized as one of the top Virginia start-ups in 2004. After selling the company to Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB) he continued there as a vice president of marketing and business development. Previously, Larry worked as an executive with AOL, Viacom and MGM/UA and was one of the pioneers in the media industry’s transition to digital publishing and distribution.

Larry has been recognized for his work with young entrepreneurs in the Fairfax County Public Schools, and was a finalist for the FAST 50 award, honoring the leading entrepreneurs in the State of Virginia. He also sits on the Board of Innovate and Educate, a national organization dedicated to developing alternative employment pathways for underserved populations in the U.S and around the world. Larry holds an M.B.A. from the Andersen School at UCLA and a bachelor’s degree in Science, Technology and Society from Vassar College.


Michael Meotti photo-2

Michael Meotti

Higher Ed Fellow

Mike brings extensive experience in higher education policy, innovation and management to Education Design Lab’s work.   Mike has a broad perspective on the challenges facing colleges and universities based on his past leadership positions in state government, nonprofit organizations and higher education systems. He has led transformation initiatives in all of these sectors.

Mike served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Higher Education and Executive Vice President and chief operating officer of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. 

Mike was a member of the Executive Committee and Vice Chair of the Federal Relations Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO).  He led the Connecticut delegation in the National Governors Association Best Practices Academy “Complete to Compete” and in Complete College America.  Michael was also active in the state policy track of Achieving the Dream and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition for the Common Core Standards.  He earned his J.D. and B.S. degrees from Georgetown University.

Prior to his work in higher education, Mike led several nonprofit organizations that provided services addressing the needs of many “first generation” and returning adult students.



Dawan Stanford, JD, PhD

Director, Design Strategy & Operations

As 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 lead Design Thinking: DC, a growing community of more than 2,000 designers, innovators and entrepreneurs coming together in Washington D.C. to make practical use of design thinking for business, government and nonprofits.


Alexander Williams

ReDesign Associate

As Education Design Lab’s ReDesign Associate, Alexander reinvents higher education through project coordination and institutional collaboration, with a particular focus on engaging the Innovator Network and fueling the Lab’s impact engine. He envisions higher education as a mechanism for empowerment, developed from working with institutional consortia in Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky, and now DC. 

Alexander first became exposed to the intricacies of higher education while serving as a Student Representative on the Board of Visitors for George Mason University. Recognizing that the individuals involved in the education process produce the value associated with that education, Alexander took the leap to become one of those involved individuals and began a career in education. As a graduate student at Teachers College of Columbia University studying for a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, he published research with fellow students and faculty on education leadership models and coordinated special projects for the New Jersey Consortium of Community Colleges. After graduating, Alexander moved to Louisville, Kentucky to complete a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Serving under the leadership of 55,000 Degrees, he analyzed student success data for Jefferson Community & Technical College and organized community collaboration efforts around educational persistence for the Louisville metro area.
A proud native of DC, Alexander brings to the Lab his passion for a higher education experience that empowers individuals personally and socially. He is excited to be involved in the questions related to skills badging, traditional model redesign, and the overall work of the Lab.


Binh Thuy Do

Director of Projects

Binh brings a unique set of design experiences, strategic planning and project management skills to the Education Design Lab. Her work engagements have spanned both K-12 and higher education; in the latter, she has done extensive work leading strategic master planning efforts with a number of higher education institutions throughout California.

Binh uses a practical approach to everyday innovation and employs the Lab’s design process, methods and tools with an eye toward expanding the range of the possible while remaining grounded in the real world constraints. Solid innovation requires both generating new ways of responding to unmet human needs and operating model innovation based on understanding how higher education institutions work. Binh excels at weaving this balance into the Lab’s work.

Binh is deeply passionate about reimagining education to meet the needs of all stakeholders. Her interest in learning innovation extends to her own educational career: she received her MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University; a leading program that emphasized extensive online team collaboration on case study work, mirroring the experience of those on campus.


Ricardo Goncalves

Designer In Residence

Ricardo is a design strategist, knowledge broker and social entrepreneur working in the intersection of design, education and technology. He holds a MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons The New School for Design (New York). His graduation thesis project, entitled Flip it Forward, explored the future of learning in K-12 education through design in contexts as diverse as India, The U.S. and China. Flip it Forward has been awarded by The New School and selected by the Unreasonable Institute as an innovative approach to re-imagining education. 

Ricardo’s work is an attempt to collaboratively respond to pressing social changes—moving from problem-solving into dreaming, imagining and co-creative spaces. He believes that in order to scale positive social change, organizations are required to shift their routines, cultures and ways of working. 

Core topics of expertise: knowledge dissemination (capacity building, networks); design-thinking; design of learning environments; open innovation; systems thinking; social-emotional learning, and social innovation. For further information about his work:


Sarah Folger

Service Design Summer Associate

As Education Design Lab’s Service Design Associate, Sarah provides support across several Lab projects. Trained as an industrial and interaction designer, she is assisting the development and execution of the Lab’s crowdsourcing initiative to future higher education ecosystems. She is also lending her design thinking, graphic design, and storytelling expertise to projects such as the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge.   

Sarah worked at Hallmark Cards Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri as an Industrial Design Intern. During that time, she used design thinking methods to develop new products areas for their Christmas Line and assisted in the re-design of a customization ordering software. While at Syracuse University, she led the school’s chapter of Industrial Designer Society of America for two years and held design challenges and design thinking workshops for students.

Sarah is a graduate of the Industrial and Interaction Design Program at Syracuse University. She is looking forward to using her skills in design thinking, user-centered design, and experience design to do work in the social realm.