Minerva Project
Executive Leadership
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Ben Nelson
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Ben Nelson
Founder
Chief Executive Officer
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Accomplishments
Nelson’s passion for reforming undergraduate education was first sparked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where he received a B.S. in Economics. After creating a blueprint for curricular reform in his first year of school, Nelson went on to become the chair of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE), a pedagogical think tank that is the oldest and only non-elected student government body at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ben Nelson is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Minerva, and a visionary with a passion to reinvent higher education. Prior to Minerva, Nelson spent more than 10 years at Snapfish, where he helped build the company from startup to the world’s largest personal publishing service. With over 42 million transactions across 22 countries, nearly five times greater than its closest competitor, Snapfish is among the top e-commerce services in the world. Serving as CEO from 2005 through 2010, Nelson began his tenure at Snapfish by leading the company’s sale to Hewlett Packard for $300 million. Prior to joining Snapfish, Nelson was President and CEO of Community Ventures, a network of locally branded portals for American communities.
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Geoff Watson
President & Chief Business Officer
Geoff Watson
President & Chief Business Officer
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As President & Chief Business Officer, Geoff manages all operations and has direct responsibility for continuing to grow the business. Prior to Minerva, Geoff was Senior Vice-President at Guild, where he led the buildout of Guild's academic partner network. Previously, he led venture incubation at Entangled (which was acquired by Guild), where he helped launch multiple new edtech companies. Geoff was also a Partner at Monitor 360, where he introduced a new analytics platform to blue-chip clients, including Gates Foundation, Harvard University, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Pfizer. Earlier in his career, he was President of Intrax, an international education company serving over 50,000 students annually from 80+ countries. He was instrumental in launching innovative, State- Department-sponsored cultural exchange programs, including the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program for Muslim youth and the Korea West internship program. He holds an MBA from Wharton and B.A. from Dartmouth College.
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Noah Pickus
Chief Academic Officer
Noah Pickus
Chief Academic Officer
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Accomplishments
An American Council on Education Fellow at Franklin & Marshall College with President Dan Porterfield, he has also co-directed the Arizona State University-Georgetown University Academy for Innovation in Higher Education Leadership Intensive Program. His new book Start Up U: Stories from 21st Century Colleges and Universities is under contract with Princeton University Press, and he is the author of articles and opinion pieces on innovation and globalization in higher education as well as two books on immigration and citizenship. Dr. Pickus previously taught at Middlebury College as well as in China and Israel. He has held fellowships from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the A.W. Mellon Foundation, and the H.B. Earhart Foundation. Pickus earned a bachelor’s degree in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University and a doctorate in politics from Princeton University.
Noah Pickus is the Chief Academic Officer at the Minerva Project where he oversees its programs in higher education, high school, and professional learning. He was previously Associate Provost at Duke University and Dean of Undergraduate Curricular Affairs and Faculty Development at Duke Kunshan University. A faculty member at Duke for 25 years, he is currently Professor of Social Sciences at Minerva University. At Duke, he directed strategic planning, cross-university initiatives, and academic innovation. At DKU, he led the design and implementation of an interdisciplinary and problem-based undergraduate curriculum and oversaw the faculty hiring process. Dr. Pickus earlier served as the Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, where he established the institute as a signature university-wide interdisciplinary program and oversaw its expansion in research, policy engagement, and high impact undergraduate programming. Prior to joining the Kenan Institute for Ethics, he was the founding director of the Institute for Emerging Issues under former Governor James B. Hunt Jr. at NC State University, a university-based venture in shaping public debate, public policy, and institutional practices.
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Brian Fields
Chief Product Officer
Brian Fields
Chief Product Officer
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Accomplishments
Brian Fields, Ph.D. is the Chief Product Officer at Minerva. He joined Minerva in 2013 and played a crucial role in the development of Forum™, enabling its scalability and other performance improvements. Prior to Minerva, he specialized in the field of computer architecture, researching ways to improve the performance of general purpose microprocessors. He was a computer architect at Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq, and NVIDIA; and his Ph.D. thesis won the test-of-time Influential Paper Award from the International Symposium on Computer Architecture 15 years after its publication. Brian holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Betsy Tucci
General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer
Betsy Tucci
General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer
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Betsy oversees all legal, financial and people functions including all regulatory matters such as contracts, intellectual property, and people operations. Betsy was previously General Counsel and Company Secretary of InStride. Prior to InStride, she served as Associate General Counsel for the Boston Consulting Group, where she focused on the firm's BCG Digital Ventures division, which collaborates with clients to develop, commercialize and scale new digital business concepts. Previously, Betsy was the Principal Counsel for the Disney Parks Digital team, supporting digital efforts globally for Disney theme parks and resorts, cruise lines, merchandise, and food and beverage. She has also served as Vice President/Senior Loan Closing Specialist at Wells Fargo and as an Associate at the law firm of Alschuler Grossman Stein & Kahan. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from UCLA Law School and a B.B.A. from Idaho State University where she graduated with High Honors.
Strategic Partnership Leads
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Kenn Ross
Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships, Asia
Kenn Ross
Managing Director
Strategic Partnerships, Asia
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Accomplishments
Prior to Minerva, Ross held executive positions in Fortune 30 and mid-sized multinational companies in the clean energy, technology, and consulting industries. Ross earned his B.A. from Middlebury College and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Kenn Ross is the Managing Director of Asia at Minerva. Originally from the United States, he has lived in Asia for more than 20 years, where he is well-known for his knowledge of higher education issues, education innovation, and China-America cross-border education. In addition to Minerva, Ross is also Founder of the International Foundation for the Promotion of Academic Soft Skills (IFPASS), a US-based nonprofit that provides non-cognitive skills-based and experiential education in China. He regularly speaks at global education events such as TEDx and is also a frequent commenter on Chinese television, where he speaks on topics related to Chinese and international education. Ross’ 2015 book Academic Soft Skills (留学软实力) is considered by many in China as a definitive guide to preparation for global study.
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Sharan Singh
Senior Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships, Americas & EMEA
Sharan Singh
Senior Managing Director
Strategic Partnerships, Americas & EMEA
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Sharan C. Singh is Senior Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He is responsible for leading the creation of Minerva’s partnership ecosystem across these regions with a diverse range of institutions, including governments, corporations, multilateral organizations, education institutions and NGOs. Prior to Minerva, he worked in higher education as a senior administrator for 16 years and is also an experienced management consultant. Sharan graduated with a B.A. from Whittier College with a double major in International Relations and Business. He also holds an M.A. in International Business from Nova Southeastern and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami.
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Laura Bookmyer
Director, Strategic Partnerships, North America
Laura Bookmyer
Director
Strategic Partnerships, North America
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Laura Boookmyer is Director of Strategic Partnerships, North America at Minerva Project. She has over 15 years of experience working with institutions in higher education on transforming teaching and learning. She also has experience in collaborating with higher ed institutions to address program design and development. Her experiences have equipped her to successfully tackle complex challenges in higher education, helping institutions better serve their students. At Minerva Project, Laura works to build strategic partnerships to accelerate innovation and achieve goals. She has a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University.
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Michael Caruana
Director, Strategic Partnerships, EMEA
Michael Caruana
Director
Strategic Partnerships, EMEA
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Yun-Te Sung
Partnerships Representative
Yun-Te Sung
Partnerships Representative
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Yun-Te Sung is Business Development Representative at Minerva Project. She works with university leaders to identify partnership opportunities with Minerva Project. She is passionate about education, technology, and innovation for the public good. Yun-Te Sung graduated from Minerva Project's flagship program, Minerva University, with a degree in Social Sciences.
Program Operations and Partner Success
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James Genone, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Higher Education Innovation
James Genone, Ph.D.
Managing Director
Higher Education Innovation
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Accomplishments
Before joining Minerva, Dr. Genone was Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, Camden. His areas of expertise include the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and he has both taught and engaged in research on topics such as the nature of sensory consciousness, semantic reference, personal identity, concept acquisition, and perceptual knowledge. Dr. Genone earned his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.
James Genone, Ph.D., is Managing Director of Higher Education Innovation at Minerva Project and Professor of Social Sciences at Minerva Schools University. He oversees academic strategy, program design, and program delivery for Minerva’s higher education partnerships. He also works closely with Minerva’s Product Team to develop and refine the technology we use for curriculum design, instruction, and assessment of student learning. Previously he was Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Minerva University, where he oversaw the Cornerstone courses for the undergraduate general education program, and coordinated curriculum development across colleges.
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Josh Fost, Ph.D.
Managing Director, High School Innovation
Josh Fost, Ph.D.
Managing Director
High School Innovation
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Accomplishments
Dr. Fost earned a Ph.D. in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University, and a B.A. in neuroscience and philosophy from Bowdoin College.
Joshua Fost has a diverse background centering on the intersections between science, philosophy, technology, and education. Before joining Minerva, Dr. Fost was an Assistant Professor at Portland State University, where he taught disciplinary courses on neurophilosophy, artificial intelligence, critical thinking and ethics, as well as interdisciplinary courses on artificial life, design and society, and the rise of modern physics. His background also includes six years as a private sector consultant and Chief Technology Officer for a diverse set of companies. In his time at Minerva, Dr. Fost has led and contributed to a wide range of academic projects and programs. Chief among these include the creation of a quantitative measure of knowledge transfer used to track student progress in the general education program; the use of Big Questions to focus first-year courses on a diverse array of enduring globally significant issues; creation and management of the Master of Science in Decision Analysis program and the Minerva Baccalaureate program for high school students; and oversight of institutional and educational research.
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Megan Gahl, Ph.D.
Senior Director, Curriculum & Pedagogy
Megan Gahl, Ph.D.
Senior Director
Curriculum & Pedagogy
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Christine Looser, Ph.D.
Senior Academic Director
Christine Looser, Ph.D.
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Scott Wisor, Ph.D.
Academic Director
Scott Wisor, Ph.D.
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Abha Ahuja, Ph.D.
Academic Director
Abha Ahuja, Ph.D.
Academic Director
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Abha Ahuja is Academic Program Director at Minerva Project where she conducts program design and oversees curriculum delivery for Minerva Project's higher education partnerships. Passionate about diversity and inclusion in STEM, Abha realized the potential of online education early in her career, designing innovative virtual courses as an Associate Professor in the College of Natural Sciences at Minerva University. Prior to joining Minerva University, Abha conducted postdoctoral research at Harvard University and served as a Lecturer and Curriculum Fellow at Harvard Medical School. She studied Zoology at Delhi University (India) and earned her Ph.D. in Genetics from McMaster University (Canada).
Erin Kamler
Erin Kamler, Ph.D.
Academic Director
Erin Kamler, Ph.D.
Academic Director
Erin Kamler
Dr. Erin Kamler is an Academic Program Director at Minerva Project based in the Asia Pacific region. Prior to joining Minerva Project Dr. Kamler worked as Assistant Professor of Arts and Humanities at Minerva University, Affiliated Researcher at Chiang Mai University, and an international gender equality consultant in Southeast Asia in partnership with NGOs, UN agencies, members of government and civil society. An award-winning composer, playwright, and author with over 25 years of creative and production experience in the entertainment industry, Kamler’s book “Rewriting the Victim: Dramatization as Research in Thailand’s Anti-Trafficking Movement” is available from Oxford University Press. Kamler holds a PhD in Communication from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, an MA in Communication and MA in Public Diplomacy from The Annenberg School, and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
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Meaghan Duff
Senior Academic Director
Meaghan Duff
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Ayo Seligman
Managing Director, Brand & Creative
Ayo Seligman
Managing Director
Brand & Creative
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Ayo Seligman is Managing Director of Brand & Creative at Minerva. He leads design and development of brand identity, strategic marketing, and visual design. His work on partner engagements includes strategic visioning, positioning, and contribution to overall program design. In addition, he and his team ensure that partner branding and marketing communications reflect the premium nature of Minerva learning experiences. Prior to Minerva, Ayo spent two decades as a brand and design consultant, working internationally with clients ranging from startups and social impact organizations to global Fortune 100 enterprises, including Accenture, Disney, HP, Kia, Microsoft, Naver, Nextel, Samsung, and Wells Fargo. He holds a B.A. in Design from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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Diana El-Azar
Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Diana El-Azar
Senior Director
Strategic Communications
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Diana has over 20 years’ experience in the private and not-for profit sectors, namely in strategic communications, business development and stakeholder management. She spent over 12 years at the World Economic Forum (WEF) where her most recent role was heading Marketing and Outreach, engaging over 1000 companies in corporate citizenship issues such as gender, sustainability or education. Previously she built and managed partnerships with C-suite executives from Fortune 500 companies in the media and technology sectors. Prior to the WEF, she held various business positions with Reuters in Beirut, London, Paris and New York; as well as with the United Nations Development Program.
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Capri LaRocca
Director of Experiential Learning
Capri LaRocca
Director of Experiential Learning
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Capri LaRocca is Director of Experiential Learning at Minerva Project. Prior to joining Minerva Project, Capri played multiple roles at Minerva University to design and build the unique Student Life programs at its global Campuses. She works with universities around the world to design learning journeys that integrate academic curricula with cross-contextual experiential programs. Taking a student-centric approach, Capri advises teams in the best practices for creating educational experiences anchored in practical knowledge, personal reflection, and cultural immersion. She studied Science, Technology and International Affairs at Georgetown University and architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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