Studio lead

Betsy brings more than a decade of education and impact strategy experience to her role as Studio Lead. Here, she spearheads programmatic development, relationship building with schools, and facilitates learning programs to enhance capacity within schools across the country. Betsy is also the co-founder of Why We Work Here, a non-profit that partners with high school educators to teach design thinking as an approach to community leadership – that is, how to diagnose and respond inventively and collaboratively to pressing community issues. Previously, Betsy was a strategist at Purpose, a global consultancy that worked with NGOs, foundations, and corporate partners to increase their social impact. There, she focused her portfolio on public education and scaling local, place-based initiatives, including designing and facilitating a learning program with leading national education nonprofits to support greater teacher and parent voice in district- and state-level policy conversations through facilitated skill-building. Betsy holds a degrees from MIT and Washington University in Saint Louis.

Aaron Wilson-ahlstrom

Director of programs

As Director of Programs, Aaron provides leadership and coordination for Ei’s signature one-year program. He also leads development and delivery of Ei’s corporate and K12 programming. Previously, Aaron supported the development of Henry Ford Learning Institute’s K-12 core curriculum and related professional development programs for teachers, partners, and educational communities. Prior to joining HFLI in 2007, Aaron was a founding advisor/teacher at University Preparatory High School in Detroit, a charter school in the Big Picture network. His commitment to innovative, student-centered education and educational reform began as an undergraduate, when he was a counselor at the High/Scope Institute for IDEAS summer program for teens. After graduation, he worked full time at the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Mich., co-directing the Institute for IDEAS and providing training in active and cooperative learning to teachers and after-school providers. Aaron earned a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Michigan’s Residential College in 1995 and an MA in Education and his secondary Teacher Certification from the University of Michigan in 2000.

Victor Saad


Two years ago, I became curious about learning practical ways to improve the world. After researching business schools, I decided my options were either too expensive or less than what I was looking for, so I took one year to create a self-made Masters Program based on apprenticeship and experience. I called it The Leap Year Project and  traveled around several states and countries to work with some of the best and brightest. By the end, the project had sparked a conversation around taking risks to create change and several people took leaps of their own. We compiled our stories into a book and an end-of-project TEDx talk.

Learning through experience gave me a deeper understanding of the theory behind good business and social change, while also teaching me the adaptability necessary to make things work in our new economy. I believe this type of experience-based education provides transformative lessons, costs far less than current models, and can equip individuals to face today’s problems with an inventive spirit. Now, through this new school, a great team and I are building bridges to innovative individuals, companies, and organizations to create a new type of Higher Education based on experience.

When I’m not meeting with Ei students or teammates, I’m normally on a plane to a new place or across the table from a good friend.

Eli Sidman


What sparks our curiosity and what makes it fade? Where in our lives do we go from asking “why?” to saying things like “I’m just not good at that,” or “my brain doesn’t work that way”? Following a path from physics to science education to object design, Eli believes that to learn something new we must start by being curious. His work explores how the experience of designing – actively uncovering opportunities and iteratively reimagining new possibilities – can be an incredible opportunity to stoke curiosity in everyone from kids to adults. Through his work at Experience Institute he creates design experiences that fuel curiosity for a new generation of students and educators.

Eli has previously worked with MIT, NASA, Samsung, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) where he currently serves as adjunct faculty. He received a B.A. in Physics and Visual Art from Bowdoin College and a Master of Design in Designed Objects from SAIC.