William L. Guttman
Chairman of the Board
William L. Guttman is the founding chairman and chief executive of Carnegie Innovations, LLC (“CI”), the technology commercialization company of Carnegie Mellon University (“CMU”), and the parent company of Acrobatiq. CI’s portfolio serves more than 3,000 corporations, universities, and national governments, and licenses technologies to some four million users in 94 countries. He has also served for more than a decade as special advisor to the provost at CMU. Over the past two decades, he held senior leadership roles in several dozen institutionally backed ventures – in many instances serving as chief executive. As a CMU professor of economics, Bill served on the cybersecurity committee of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, and co-founded Cylab, one of the world’s largest cybersecurity research centers. Before entering the private sector, Bill worked on projects in over 30 countries for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he was a British Council Scholar.
Scott English is a Managing Director of Hearst Ventures and pursues strategic investments and acquisitions for the corporation in digital media. Scott has invested in, and served as a Board Director or Observer of, over sixteen companies. Most recently, Scott led the investments in portfolio companies BuzzFeed, Pandora, Relationship Science, Brightcove, Sling Media and Wide Orbit.
English joined Hearst in 1995 and has had a variety of operational and investment responsibilities during his tenure. Aside from his venture activities, Scott helped oversee two of Hearst’s digital businesses and acted as interim CEO of UGO Networks. In his first position at Hearst, Scott ran business development and strategy for Hearst’s HomeArts.com network of magazine websites culminating in the merger of HomeArts.com and Women.com (iVillage). Prior to Hearst, Scott worked for Details Magazine at Conde Nast.
English graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College and earned his MBA from Columbia Business School.
Farnam Jahanian is Provost and Vice President of Research at Carnegie Mellon University.
Prior to CMU, Dr. Jahanian led the National Science Foundation Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) from 2011 to 2014. With a budget of almost $900 million, he was responsible for directing CISE programs and initiatives that support foundational research, foster broad interdisciplinary collaborations, and contribute to the development of information technology workforce with skills essential to success in the increasingly competitive global market. During his tenure at NSF, CISE led several administration initiatives with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, including the National Robotics Initiative and the National Big Data Research and Development Initiative.
Dr. Jahanian was on the faculty at the University of Michigan from 1993 to 2014, where he held the Edward S. Davidson Collegiate Professorship in the College of Engineering, and served as chair for Computer Science and Engineering from 2007 to 2011 and the director of the Software Systems Laboratory from 1997 to 2000. Previously, he held research and management positions at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center.
Dr. Jahanian holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Charles A. Kennedy
From 1995 to 2002, Charles Kennedy was a principal investment banker at RBC Capital Markets, formerly Dain Rauscher Wessels (DRW), in Minneapolis and Boston. While at DRW, he managed transactions for companies in a variety of industries before joining the network technology team in 1997. Kennedy and the team managed six of the top 10 network technology IPOs of 1999. As a partner with DRW Venture Partners, he oversaw investments in 15 companies. In 2003, Kennedy began teaching courses at Duquesne University’s Palumbo Donahue School of Business and in 2004 joined the finance faculty at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. There, he taught courses in private equity; venture capital; investment banking; financial forecasting; commercial banking; financial distress; and other advanced financial topics. Pitt’s MBA Class of 2007 named him “Teacher of the Year.” Most recently, in 2010, he taught a venture capital/private equity course at CMU’s Tepper School of Business. Kennedy earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1995. He graduated valedictorian of his 1988 class at Duquesne, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Jay Katarincic is a Managing Director of Draper Triangle Ventures, working with Acrobatiq, Amplifinity, DirectWorks and Thread. He serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, 3RiversConnect, and The Children’s Institute. He previously served on the boards of the Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association and Shady Side Academy.
Jay graduated with a bachelors in economics from the College of the Holy Cross and has earned a JD/MSIA joint degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the Carnegie Mellon University Graduate School of Industrial Administration.
Rahim S. Rajan
Rahim S. Rajan is a Senior Program Officer in the Postsecondary Success strategy, U.S. Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this capacity, Rahim leads and manages a diverse portfolio seeking to help faculty and postsecondary institutions benefit from high quality, personalized learning technologies and tools such as digital courseware. These tools have been proven to improve the quality of undergraduate teaching and instruction by amplifying great instruction and helping students, particularly those that face the most significant challenges at the undergraduate level, to achieve greater mastery and velocity in their undergraduate education.
Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Rahim helped launch and grow a number of not-for-profit technology organizations in New York City, created by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. These organizations (JSTOR, ITHAKA) are proving to be transformational in advancing the scaled and networked distribution of scholarly research and literature across the globe. Prior to this, Rahim also assisted his family in repatriating their illegally seized land and assets in post-genocide Rwanda.
Rahim earned a BA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, is a graduate of the Institute of Ismaili Studies (London), and received a M. Phil. from the University of Cambridge. Rahim lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters.
Jenny is a Senior Program Investment Officer on the Program Related Investments (PRI) team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The PRI team manages the foundation’s $1.5B PRI pool which focuses on strategic investments in global health, global development, and US education. Within BMGF, Jenny oversees investments across multiple Foundation priorities ranging from biotech to education technology companies. She also represents the foundation on numerous boards. Prior to joining BMGF, Jenny was a Vice President in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs and worked in New York, Hong Kong and San Francisco from 2002 to 2012 and as the Business Unit Manager for the West Coast Offices. Jenny read History and Science at Harvard University from where she graduated magna cum laude.
Chief Executive Officer, Director
Eric is passionate about finding ways to pair great teachers and smart technology to help every student realize their fullest potential. He has worked in executive roles at Cengage and Pearson and was co-founder and President of Flat World Knowledge, the world’s first commercial higher education open textbook publishing company. Flat World Knowledge raised over $30 million in venture capital and has over 3,000 faculty and 500,000 student users.
Eric is a frequent speaker on innovation in education, and his work to make education more accessible and affordable while maintaining quality has been widely covered in media outlets including the New York Times, Wired, US News & World Report, Fast Company, NPR, Time, and others. Eric is an advisor to the non-profit Center for Education Technology in Tel-Aviv.
Favorite Professor: Pat Greenfield, for sure. Pat was head of the labor studies program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her passion for standing up for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves was inspiring, and the non-academic lessons she taught resonate today.
Favorite way to spend free time: Doing anything outdoors with his better half, Mayu, and two great daughters, Miya (8) and Emma (6). They spend as much time biking, kayaking, hiking, and digging for worms as possible (on the latter point – Mayu, not so much).
Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer
For all of her professional career, Alison has focused on understanding the trends and harnessing the power of technology to improve education. Over the past nineteen years, she has helped bring to market numerous transformative and market-leading print and digital learning products in multiple Executive roles, first at Pearson, and most recently, at Jones & Bartlett Learning. She is a long-time advocate of using technology to expand access to education and was instrumental in the development of Accesstext.org, a leading public-private partnership delivering alternate textbooks to students with disabilities. She was also a founding contributor of Coursesmart, LLC, now the world’s largest digital textbook store on the Internet. In addition to her professional career, Alison is a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Connecticut ARMY R.O.T.C. program and a veteran US Army Medical Service Corps Officer. She holds a Masters in Business Administration, cum laude from Norwich University.
Favorite professor: “Dr. Marilyn Stokstad, Distinguished Professor of Art History, University of Kansas, who had the courage to author a new kind of art history survey textbook, and then was equally brave letting me bring it to market.”
Favorite way to spend free time: Alison enjoys multi-player gaming, tournament poker, blogging, and writing and researching about new technologies, the Internet, and strategic marketing concepts. She is the author of Play Winning Poker, In No Time (Que Publishing, 2005). Alison and her husband, Jeff Albert, live in Pittsburgh.
Chief Technology Officer
John leads development of the Acrobatiq software platform and prior to that, he led the development of the Open Learning Initiative Platform. He joined OLI in 2002 after earning a Master of Information Systems Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College.
Chief Financial Officer
Rich has more than 20 years of financial management experience with emerging private and public companies. Rich also has extensive financing and mergers \ acquisition experience and has completed numerous transactions. Most recently, Rich was the CFO of Cohera Medical, Inc. ® (Cohera), a medical device company developing novel surgical adhesives and sealants. Rich was an early employee of Cohera and directly involved with raising more than $100 million through private and institutional investors including KKR, a leading global investment firm.
Prior to Cohera, Rich was the CFO for Active Media/ClubCom, Inc., venture-capital backed, start-up companies for which he built the accounting and treasury departments. Prior to this, Rich was the CFO for SMT Health Services, Inc. (SMT), a healthcare diagnostic services provider, when the company was owned by private equity firm Apollo Management L.P. Earlier in his career, Rich was an audit professional with KPMG L.L.P.
Rich is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). He received a Bachelor’s degree of accounting from Washington and Jefferson College.
Rich is a life-long resident of the Pittsburgh, PA area. He enjoys keeping active outdoors and trying to keep up with his two children, especially all of their sporting activities. In his free time, Rich can be found pursuing his passion for golf.
Chief Product Officer
Michelle began her career in college textbook publishing, but was soon distracted by technology—beginning with electronic production of computing books and digital publishing, and evolving into the building of online courseware. She joined Pearson Education in its earliest days to work on educational technology programs for higher education. After developing MyEconLab and other MyLab products, Michelle moved to London to work for Pearson International on technology for the global higher educational market. In that capacity, she traveled to and worked with Pearson customers and staff in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. She has a passion for providing technology that enhances students’ capacity to learn and succeed.
Favorite Professor: Too hard to choose—from her teachers at Bronx High School of Science to the many academics whose contributions informed and illuminated the online products she has developed, Michelle is grateful to have been exposed to their passion for their students, for teaching, and for their disciplines.
Favorite way to spend free time: Michelle loves travel and takes thousands of (sometimes successful) photos along the way, whether near or far from home. Fiction—whether film, theatre, or novels—is essential to her life, as is knitting, time with friends and family, and long, long walks.
Director of Research and Development
Benny G. Johnson, Ph.D., is Director of Research and Development for Acrobatiq. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Kentucky, and received his Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. For the past fifteen years, Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of artificial intelligence for education, leading the research and development effort of the Quantum technology for tutoring and assessment in chemistry, mathematics, accounting and special education. He is a recipient of the Tibbetts Award, the highest recognition given by the federal government to entrepreneurs for innovative research. In 2007, he was inducted into the University of Kentucky’s Alumni Hall of Fame. He enjoys playing music and powerlifting with his 19-year-old son.
Chris Doran has over 25 years of ed tech experience coming from the higher ed publishing world. He has held various sales, strategy, customer support/experience leadership roles and has a passion for educator and student outcomes. He has driven the success of some of the most successful ed tech products in the market and has lead sales campaigns on campuses around the globe. He has lead a global educator support network helping teachers successfully implement tech into their courses in eight languages on six continents. At Acrobatiq, he is tasked with building an environment where all customers will be successful, for building a world-class support organization, and for coordinating training and service offerings designed to maximize outcomes for platform users.
Favorite Professor: George Stowe, World History/Western Trad – Who knew that Pliny’s Rome could seem as timely and engaging as the nightly news!
Favorite ways to spend free time: Chris loves to cook and travel and is a long-suffering fan of his hometown Philadelphia sports teams.
Vice President, Product and User Experience
Bill Jerome is a computer scientist whose passion is connecting with the human user, developing easy-to-use systems capable of real good in the real world. His inspiration was sparked by virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier, who taught him the respect for his medium by telling him, “Real artists don’t love their tools – they strive to push their tools further and further so they can get closer to their artistic vision. Don’t be in love with your tools.”
Bill joined the Open Learning Initiative in its earliest days and is considered a founding member. More than a decade in the world of online education enabled him to creatively apply changing technology to real and dramatic needs, and in turn, push that technology to meet the needs of the application. He loves improving the experiences of learning to better answer education’s questions in a meaningful and directed way and is exhilarated by running into unexplored areas of computing accompanied by smart, talented people.
Favorite Professor: Dr. Klaus Sutner was Bill’s first professor of a computer science course at CMU – an amazing, eye-opening, and career-defining experience. Bill and Dr. Sutner still find ways to work together.
Favorite way to spend free time: Bill enjoys hiking and camping, but when weather forces him indoors he also enjoys watching movies and listening to music. He shares these loves with his daughter, imparting an affection for the finer points of film, such as an appreciation for the original Star Wars movies and a healthy skepticism about the prequels.
Chief Learning Scientist
Marsha Lovett has been studying and improving how students learn for more than 20 years. In addition to her role at Acrobatiq, she is Carnegie Mellon’s Director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, and a Teaching Professor in the Department of Psychology. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Carnegie Mellon and later returned to join the Psychology Department faculty. Her early research focused on learning, memory, and problem solving, and she developed computational models of strategy selection, skill acquisition, and working memory. Over time, her work turned toward applying these models to real-world learning situations and translating that theory into educational practice. She has published more than fifty articles on learning and instruction, co-authored the book How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, and developed several innovative, educational technologies, including StatTutor and the Learning Dashboard.
Customer Service Manager
Dennis has extensive experience making customers successful in the education space and other areas. Through tens of thousands of direct interactions with students, instructors and administrators, Dennis has gained not only a sense of urgency around assisting them but also a record for driving larger product and process improvements to benefit a broader set of users. His experience with customer support and engagement makes him a critical component in the partner lifecycle at Acrobatiq. In addition to this, as a photojournalist Dennis covered many of individuals and events that have shaped our history and culture and his work has appeared in periodicals around the world.
Favorite professor: Marrin Robinson – who taught me to see beyond the obvious – and the meaning of integrity.
Favorite ways to spend free time: reading, taking photos, playing squash, hanging with my family, and traveling as often as possible.
Christopher Genovese develops state-of-the-art statistical techniques to solve complex scientific problems. In addition to his role at Acrobatiq, he is Professor of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. His research spans the three pillars of statistics: application to scientific problems, mathematical theory, and advanced computation. His work has advanced knowledge in many applied areas, including cosmology, brain imaging, and learning science. Christopher received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley before joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon. He has published extensively in multiple disciplines and serves on the editorial board of several major journals. He is co-creator of the Learning Dashboard.
Peter holds a BS and MBA from Binghamton University, School of Management with concentrations in finance and management information systems. He also holds a MS in Software Development and Engineering from Pace University. Peter has spent his software engineering career working with a variety of different technologies and enjoys exploring how new technologies can be utilized to improve existing and future systems.
Favorite Professor: Dr. Surinder Kahai at Binghamton University’s School of Management. Dr. Kahai teaches a variety of information technology courses, focusing on technology interactions with leadership. Most admirable is his ability to excite all of his students, even those less interested in a subject, by relating the course content to their lives.
Favorite way to spend free time: Peter enjoys keeping active with regular exercise, watching movies, eating all types of food, and keeping up with the latest technologies.
Senior Software Engineer
James holds a B.S. in Science, Mathematics and Technology with a concentration in Information Systems from SUNY Empire State College.
He brings with him experience working with various industries including higher education, corporate finance, entertainment, small businesses, and non-profit companies. Some of his past projects include building interactive learning environments for colleges and web applications for Broadway shows and production companies.
Linda has over 25 years in the educational technology space. She has worked in project management, sales management, product management, and customer training and has visited schools throughout the U.S. in these endeavors. Each of these positions have allowed her to partner with educators as they employed effective technology solutions to help students achieve their stated learning outcomes. Her concentration on successful product onboarding positions educators and students to meet and exceed their goals using educational technology.
Favorite professor: Middle school instructor Mrs. Saban, who instilled a love of interpersonal communications and reinforced the notion that one is always communicating.
Favorite way to spend free time: Linda enjoys spending free time with family and friends, and, when she’s not communicating, swimming and reading a good book poolside.
Client Engagement Manager
Murray has spent the last decade working in higher education to improve teaching and learning through technology and curriculum design. She is passionate about creating a personalized learning experience and believes that education should meet the learner where they are.
Prior to Acrobatiq, Murray was a part of DeVry’s Innovation Team where she researched educational technologies and ran experiments to deliver transformative learning outcomes and experiences. She previously served as the Manager of Curriculum Development for Kaplan Higher Education. Murray is committed to helping every student and teacher achieve their educational goals.
Favorite Professor: At Denison University, Dr. Gina Dow inspired Murray to major in psychology and taught her how to think critically and be socially mindful.
Favorite way to spend free time: Murray enjoys the great outdoors and loves to go on adventures with her husband Bryan, son Ender and their two dogs. Most weekends you can find her dancing in the kitchen with her family in their home outside of Nashville, TN.
Sharon is the Accounting Manager for Acrobatiq. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Penn State University. She has over 20 years of experience working in the accounting field for numerous types of businesses: public accounting, non-profit organizations, and most recently 8 years with another Pittsburgh start-up company, Cohera Medical. Sharon and her husband, Jeff, live in Mt. Lebanon, PA. They have 2 sons, Matt and Ben, both attending Penn State. Sharon is an avid sports fan and enjoys bowling, skiing, traveling and walking the family’s dog Dewey.
Quality Assurance Manager
Kalyani is a multifaceted technical professional with 18+ year track record as a QA Manager, Sr QA Lead/Coordinator, and Senior Analyst in the Information Technology industry. She has proven achievements in leading and directing programming and QA technical teams and is an accomplished project and people manager with extensive experience in project management, requirements definition, software testing, and quality assurance in a variety of industries, including insurance and financial services.
Rachel Van Campenhout
Learning Content Manager
Learning Content Manager
Dylan has a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, with a minor in Language Technologies. He strongly believes that improvements in education lead to improvements in just about everything else that follows, and he loves working somewhere that’s pushing education forward.
Favorite Professor: Robert Harper, who taught Principles of Programming Languages at CMU, focusing on type theory and foundational programming language theory. The class shined a light on the concepts underlying programming languages. Professor Harper always managed to make the material engaging without dumbing it down or going over our heads. Although Harper cast many aspersions at dynamically typed languages (they’re just uni-typed static languages!), Dylan still enjoys their simplicity and dynamism. However, he tinkers with functional statically typed languages whenever he gets the chance.
When he’s not programming or reading about the field, Dylan enjoys getting out of the city to hike or snowboard, or going to the climbing gym and pretending that he’s out bouldering in the mountains. He also enjoys all mediums of storytelling, but isn’t quite sure if Netflix counts as a hobby. The jury is still out on that one.
For more than 15 years, Katie Nichele has dedicated her career to the development of meaningful training programs for some of the most recognized education organizations including Education Corporation of America and Kaplan Higher Education. With a steadfast emphasis on improving student outcomes, her direction has delivered effective tools for classroom instructors, curriculum design teams and managers serving K-8 and higher education populations.
A graduate from the University of Illinois, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History. After competing in multiple marathons across the country, Katie retired from running and redirected her energy towards frequent yoga practice. She also coaches tee-ball and enjoys attending Bears games with her husband, John. They live in the Chicago are with their two children.
Madisyn is a recent graduate of Western University’s Master of Media and Journalism and Communications program in Ontario, Canada. She also holds a BA in Communications Studies from Laurentian University and a Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Cambrian College, both located in Sudbury, Ontario.
In addition to her role at Acrobatiq, Madisyn works as a teaching assistant at Western University. Having spent time on both sides of the education system, both as a student and an educator, Madisyn is excited to bring a fresh perspective to the Acrobatiq team.
As a communications graduate, Madisyn has vast experience in social media, media relations, and story-telling. Earlier this year, her strategic communications plan for Sudbury Ontario’s Women’s Centre was nominated for an Emerge Media Award, and she was also awarded the David Vienneau Journalism Award for outstanding academics.
Favorite Professor: Dr. Janis Goldie her undergraduate thesis supervisor- who encouraged her to pursue her Master’s degree and try her hand at teaching someday.
Favorite way to spend her free time: Madisyn loves to play with her German Shepherd, Piper, and to cook delicious meals to feature on her food blog.