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.
Noah Pickus
Noah Pickus
Chief Academic Officer
Noah Pickus
Chief Academic Officer
Noah Pickus
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.
Brian Fields
Brian Fields
Chief Product Officer
Brian Fields
Brian Fields
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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Laura Bookmeyer
Director, Strategic Partnerships, North America
Laura Bookmeyer
Director
Strategic Partnerships, North America
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Michael Caruana
Director, Strategic Partnerships, EMEA
Michael Caruana
Director
Strategic Partnerships, EMEA
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Mohamed Gad
Partnerships Representative, Americas & EMEA
Mohamed Gad
Partnerships Representative
Americas & EMEA
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Yun-Te Sung Portrait (non-pro)
Yun-Te Sung
Partnerships Representative, Asia
Yun-Te Sung
Partnerships Representative
Asia
Yun-Te Sung Portrait (non-pro)
Academic Leads
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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 at KGI. 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 Schools at KGI, 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
Abha Ahuja, Ph.D.
Academic Director
Abha Ahuja, Ph.D.
Abha Ahuja
Erin Kamler
Erin Kamler, Ph.D.
Academic Director
Erin Kamler, Ph.D.
Erin Kamler
Program Operations and Partner Success
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Ayo Seligman
Managing Director, Brand & Creative
Ayo Seligman
Managing Director
Brand & Creative
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Diana El-Azar
Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Diana El-Azar
Senior Director
Strategic Communications
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Accomplishments
Diana holds a BA in economics from the American University of Beirut (cum laude), an M. Phil in Economics of Developing Countries from Cambridge University, as well as several diplomas and certificates in global leadership and digital marketing. She speaks English, Arabic and French fluently and dabbles in German and Italian.
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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Rudy Rubio
Senior Director, Higher Education Program Operations
Rudy Rubio
Senior Director
Higher Education Program Operations
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