Hi, we’re Ei.

Experience Institute was founded out of a need to close the gap between learning and experience.

Our story began when our founder reimagined higher education for himself through a year of experiences with companies around the world. His adventures made it clear that something was missing in how we think about learning, work, and growth.

Today, over half of employees feel disengaged from their work (Gallup), leading to lower productivity and high turnover. Only 25% feel empowered to be creative (Adobe). 88% of executives believe their organization isn't ready for the future (Deloitte). And this "engagement gap" is costing companies $550-$600 billion per year (Gallup).

Experience Institute reignites the spark of motivation and purpose that only happens through transformational learning experiences.

We take teams out of their routine to develop and enrich their skill sets by applying their learnings to business challenges and innovation opportunities. We create a space to experiment, make mistakes, and reach breakthroughs.

Employees should feel emboldened to take leaps in their roles, not disengaged. After a decade of research and work with thousands of leaders, we understand the dynamics of engagement and growth. And we’re here to partner with you to build programs that help employees recapture motivation. By taking leaps, we can transform learning into fuel for organizational and individual growth.


Sara Loncka

From teaching 8th-grade history with Teach for America to designing learning experiences for leading companies like Facebook, Visa, and Chevron, Sara has facilitated groups of all sizes and worked at nearly every level of professional development. Sara served as the director of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, the nation’s premier Fellowship for aspiring public leaders, and is a recipient of the Missouri Community Suicide Prevention Award for her efforts in youth suicide prevention. An actor at heart and by training, she uses her stage background to facilitate and design dynamic learning experiences.

Victor Saad
Chairman of the Board

In 2012, Victor founded Experience Institute after designing his own Master’s through 12 work experiences in 12 months. Over the past 9 years, he’s worked with thousands of students and professionals to grow their careers through engaging curriculum and meaningful experiences. He’s also a Lecturer in Design at Stanford and a Forbes 30Under30 recipient in the field of education. When he’s not leading Ei, he’s on his bike or working on his next writing project.

Erin Murphy
Director of Partnerships

Erin is Ei's Director of Partnerships and Senior Facilitator. Her career has centered around the nexus of travel and education, and she spent the last decade designing curriculum and running operations in the study abroad space, first at Rustic Pathways and then at Verto Education. Erin is passionate about illuminating connections between global issues and local stories. Erin holds a masters in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and lives in Virginia with her partner, Ann, and their pitbull, Sugar.

Zak Tracy
Head of Finance

Zak is the resident CFO for Experience Institute. Prior to joining the team he spent a decade inside large corporations building financial systems and designing new business models. Now he helps creative-first companies stay financially healthy and poised for growth. He is an alum of Ei's year-long program, a student coach, and business operations facilitator.

Amelia Rosenman
Director of Program Delivery

Amelia has been designing and facilitating immersive, transformative professional learning experiences since 2010. She cut her teeth as a leader and design thinker when she co-founded and directed the Bayview Science Institute with and for San Francisco public school teachers. In her 8 years at the California Academy of Sciences, Amelia built expertise in coaching, work process improvement, and leading inclusive teams. Prior to joining Ei, Amelia helped companies upskill their managers as a facilitator with LifeLabs Learning. When she is not busy steering program delivery at Ei, Amelia enjoys swimming in the San Francisco Bay, dancing two-step, and learning languages.

Phoebe Sajor
Content Coordinator

Phoebe is a Southern California-based creative with a love for telling stories. A people-person and marketer, she is passionate about bringing a human touch to the content and writing she produces. She helps create and curate content for Ei and Experience Lab’s social platforms, and helps write and run Experience Lab’s blog. Phoebe recently finished her B.A. in Sociology from UCLA. In her free time, she loves to write, meet new people, eat Vietnamese food, and hang out with her dogs.

Katie Crain
Studio Manager

Katie brings years of experience in high-performance, demanding environments. Her background in Music Management and Event Coordination has fostered her interpersonal skills, administrative prowess, and technical abilities. Katie now manages Ei's systems and logistics for Ei learning experiences and coordination. She’s also the ring leader for her two high-energy kids and the Crain family’s grand adventures.

Megan Christensen
Strategist & Sr. Facilitator

Megan is a Strategist and Sr. Facilitator at Experience Institute. Over the past 10 years, she has designed and led courses in leadership, innovation, and business development for hundreds of founders, teams, and nonprofit leaders around the world. Megan holds an MBA and MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and is a Faculty Instructor at Baumhart MBA, Loyola University Quinlan School of Business.

Lisa Pertoso

The driving force throughout Lisa's 20+ year career in education has been to empower people to be more self-aware, empathetic, and adaptable leaders, regardless of their role. From helping students master their communication skills in China to partnering with executives to build healthier cultures, Lisa is passionate about creating experiences that help people foster the leadership skills that make us more human.

Kaz Brecher

As a professional curious catalyst, Kaz drives breakthrough change for businesses and organizations through innovation and social impact, in emerging platforms and larger cross-disciplinary problem areas. Her practice applies agile methods from digital innovation to complex challenges. As a master facilitator, she’s held innovation faculty positions with THNK School of Creative Leadership in Amsterdam and Vancouver. Based in Los Angeles, Kaz is a Stanford graduate, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Certified Scrum Master.

Juan Carlos Rivas
Sr. Facilitator

JC is a passionate facilitator of growth & learning for individuals and organizations. A connector to insight, learning, tools & resources, he designs solutions to social problems in the immediate community. JC also serves as the Associate Director of the Changemaker Hub at the University of San Diego and adjunct faculty at the Kroc School for Peace Studies.

Aaron Wilson Ahlstrom

The son of an architect and a public school teacher, Aaron found his calling designing and facilitating learning programs. As Ei’s former Director of Programs, he provided leadership and coordination for Ei’s corporate and higher ed programming. Previously, Aaron supported the development of the Henry Ford Learning Institute's core Design Thinking curriculum and related professional development programs for teachers, partners, and educational communities. Aaron also has a long history of working alongside Allies for Change and Justice Leaders Collaborative, providing anti-oppression education, training, and resources for individuals and organizations committed to social change.

Melissa Wong

Melissa is a facilitator, coach and program designer who delights in thinking about how people feel connected to themselves and groups. As a certified Co-Active coach, she offers 1:1 support to people in career transitions and applies her facilitation background to helping companies and teams work together better. Melissa ran the community for Seth Godin’s altMBA, helped creators at Kickstarter and Soundcloud launch, and has literally produced a circus.

Olamide Alli-Odai

Olamide is a change, equity, and talent consultant with more than a decade of experience in strategy, employee success, and leadership. An experienced human capital professional and former educator, Olamide is committed to mission-driven organizations that work to empower people of color through advocacy, intentional corporate responsibility, and highlighting BIPOC who lead movements of change. Olamide holds her M.B.A. from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. She is an entrepreneur, natural connector, and synergist who strives to network people to one another.

Alexis Schilf

Alexis is a service designer and facilitator at the intersection of human-centered design, technology, and social impact. She has experience facilitating design thinking globally and has mentored teams through the design process in universities, federal and local governments, and Fortune 1000 companies. Alexis is passionate about building innovative workplaces and developing entrepreneurial and experiential education.

Dustin Liu

Dustin's research interests center on what makes transformative learning possible. Previously, he's worked to support the professional learning and network activation of educators in both K-12 and post-secondary settings. In addition to his collaboration with Ei, Dustin is currently a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University and working to power organizations through human-centered gatherings.

Odell Mitchell III

Odel Mitchell, III, Esq., is a thought-provoking keynote speaker, gifted entertainment attorney, and recognized expert in leadership, change management, and values-based performance. He excels in helping audiences understand their values, adapt to change, and create a culture committed to achieving results through relationships. Odell’s participants appreciate his engaging storytelling, effusive enthusiasm, and deep understanding of their styles and needs.

Angela Cox

Angela Cox, PhD, is an organizational effectiveness consultant focused on employee engagement, inclusivity, and the impact of personal styles, values, and neurodiversity on team culture. Angela has served as a consultant for more than 15 years in both academic and corporate environments, including creating and implementing values-based leadership and cultural-change initiatives within Fortune 100 companies.

Tyler Fowler

With a background in marketing and advertising, Tyler has made a career of helping people communicate and collaborate. Tyler has worked with dozens of corporate clients to facilitate workplace learning and hundreds of students and young professionals through Ei's higher ed programs. Specializing in using the skills of improv to unlock creativity in the workplace, Tyler has a knack for listening intently and helping workshop participants engage fully.

Janna Sobel

Janna is a performance coach, teacher & facilitator. She coaches public speakers and teaches Improvisation, Improv for Anxiety, and Improv for Wellness at the world famous comedy school, The Second City, where she co-founded the Live Storytelling program. In her work with business leaders at The University of Notre Dame's Innovation Academy, and in The Leadership Studio at University of Chicago’s Both School, Janna uses Applied Improvisation and Applied Storytelling tools that let people make valuable discoveries about communication and collaboration, through laughter and play.

Mike Schnall

Mike's academic background in conflict transformation (PON-HLS) and passion for learning design has led him to spend the past seven years living in the Middle East working to integrate negotiation skills into formal school systems in the region. From founding an experiential education department in a K-12 school in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, to designing and facilitating immersive teacher education journeys across North America, Africa and sub-continental Asia, Mike's experience to date leaves him radically optimistic about the future of work (and humanity!). Michael is most activated when engaging with like-hearted partners to re-imagine learning spaces and systems to harness what he believes is at the core of learning: play, creativity, connection, and genuine curiosity.

Jessica Palmert

Jessica Palmert has worked at the intersections of gender equity, racial justice and disability inclusion for over two decades in Chicago. She began her career as a youth worker, organizer and community-based researcher. These roles allowed her to hone her facilitation skills and cultivate participatory learning environments for youth and adults. In addition to facilitating for Ei, Jessica works as a racial equity coach and senior strategist for a DEI company. Jessica lives with her teens and a tiny dog in a houseplant jungle.

Bre Przestrzelski

A child-like dreamer, Bre enjoys designing, coaching, and facilitating inclusive learning experiences that build compassionate individuals, organizations, and communities to create meaningful impact. Bre previously served as a co-instructor for Design Summer and is now a facilitator for Ei's college to career program, Experience Lab at Penn. They are grateful for the opportunity to participate in students' growth at key inflection points. In their spare time, Bre chases sunsets, hikes in the rain, and fails miserably at cooking.

Josh Nadzam

Josh’s passions focus primarily on social change, and he believes experiential learning is impactful because there is no better teacher than experience. Josh is the co-founder of On The Move Art Studio, a nonprofit mobile art room that provides free arts classes to at-risk youth. With a strong background in social work and empathic communication, his facilitation superpowers are his ability to communicate with empathy and strive to make people feel heard. His facilitation experience is plentiful, including as a longtime college instructor, keynote speaker, workshop leader, and leader at retreats such as the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreat. An alumni of the University of Kentucky’s Track & Field team, he is an avid runner, hiker, and nature enthusiast.

Bill Pacheco

Bill is an innovation catalyst that brings deep expertise in design thinking & product design gained during 25+ years leading engineering and design teams at Cybex, Life Fitness & Keurig Dr. Pepper. As a long time member of Stanford’s Design Thinking Exec Ed coaching team, Bill has built the capability and creative confidence of hundreds of business leaders and innovators from around the world.

He is the founder of Open until 8, LLC; a consultancy focused on helping companies be more creative & adaptable. Bill also serves as Innovation and Design Thinking Senior Fellow at Trinity College and as an Adjunct Professor at Boston University.

Melissa Quinn

Melissa helps to advise and design all innovation and executive curriculum at Ei. Previously, she led the operations of Doblin, acquired by Deloitte through the Monitor Group acquisition. After integrating Doblin into Deloitte, she continued to be responsible for supporting the global growth of the business, with emphasis on building the practice's capabilities, talent, and global footprint.

Jon Axtell
Learning Systems

As a learning systems and visual designer, Jon is passionate about helping organizations and companies build fun and engaging learning experiences that move the world forward. He supports Ei in the strategy and creation of digital learning tools, technology, and creative assets.

Nic Dimond
Instructional Designer

Nic is a creative-minded designer, builder, project manager, simulation expert & not-for-profit arts leader. He excels in finding signal in noise, writing, building and leading teams, simulation design, coaching, and mentoring. He's worked alongside some of the most well-known companies in the world, often as a thoughtful guide and a clear voice.

Heather Lawrence
Facilitator, K-12

Heather has spent 20 years cultivating School District Leadership. She’s been a school leader and trained others to succeed as leaders in classrooms and districts. She works in public and private settings to build policies and programs that promote inclusiveness, innovation, and impact in classrooms and for communities. At Ei, she supports districts, facilitates collaborative experiences, and builds systems of support and learning.

Nicodemus Ford
Facilitator, K-12

Nicodemus aspires to cultivate joy, healing, and transformation for youth and communities and lives a life reflective of those ideals. In his role with Ei, he brings over twenty years as an educator and coach to facilitate professional learning for K-12 schools in human-centered design and self-directed learning and teaching.

Bill Fetter
Marketing Strategy

Bill manages Ei's marketing tech and brings over 25 years experience in corporate marketing and sales, most recently focusing on the deployment of technology to customer journeys. A committed lifelong learner and avid global traveler, Bill is a huge advocate for the ability of experiences (especially ones that stretch and challenge) to grow our understanding of ourselves and others.

Stephanie Merello

Stephanie has spent the past 10 years working with creative companies and studios as a CPA and small business consultant. Her work focuses on helping business owners manage their accounting and financial systems. Since 2015, she's supported Experience Institute's financial health maintenance and served as the link between the team and our clients so great learning can continue to happen.

Our Philosophy

Why Experience?

The most transformational learning is experiential. Ei programs are rooted in community and focused on direct application.

Experiential learning asserts the deepest learning comes from having the opportunity to not just understand something intellectually and abstractly, but to have opportunities to tinker with it until it bends or breaks. Then to reflect, so we can take what we learn and make it transferable.

We’ve designed a methodology for teaching through experience. We root each workshop in addressing specific personal or organizational challenges, and then cycle through core elements of experiential learning:

These 4 values reflect the way we build our learning products, our team, and our company.

1. Character

Do the right thing even when it's hard.

2. Curiosity

Explore the future even when the past has worked.

3. Care

Take time for one another even when work is pressing.

4. Craft

Do good work even when resources are limited.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We believe diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments are the heartbeat of a healthy and joy-filled society. We strive to examine and improve our own practices regularly to create spaces where everyone can flourish.


We intentionally expand our network and community so we can build a more diverse team as we grow.


We love our work, and hold it loosely enough to create space for health, wellness, and play.

Media & Materials

We design our content and materials to reflect the wide array of amazing people who learn with us.


We price our programs to be accessible to all learners while also enabling us to care for our incredible team well.


We aim to move more slowly so we can do thoughtful work that considers the impact of what and how we teach.


We look for ways to support organizations who are actively building new pathways in workforce development and access to education.

Questions about our programs?

Let us know how we can help.

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