The Project Fellows 2016-2017

Meet the five project fellows for 2016-17! Project fellows are accomplished professionals who are focused on work to accelerate large-scale impact in their areas of expertise. The fellows join the, learn human-centered design and use it to explore, experiment and advance an ambitious project in their sector. Ultimately, they seek to create systems-level change in the world. 

Read on learn more about these remarkable individuals.


The 2016-17 Fellows Cohort


MARk brand

Mark is one of Canada’s most recognized social entrepreneurs. Having successfully created eleven businesses in Vancouver, he has become a prominent example of a new generation of leadership that focuses on passion and purpose. Brand and his teams are determined to breathe new life into marginalized and isolated communities through food, training and meaningful employment.

Combining emerging technologies, alternate currencies and historical best practices, they are creating new blueprints to share globally with the intention of bettering the world. Brand has been recruited to speak, mentor and mediate on the topics of social inclusion, community collaboration, and food security from TED talks to correctional facilities, and everywhere in between. He sits on government councils, not for profit boards and business advisory committees bringing the lens of community first. Brand has found a unique balance through his social impact efforts and love for our neighborhoods, proving that you can be successful in business while contributing to your community in a long-term and meaningful way.

During his time at Stanford, Mark will focus on Positive Access Link, or P.A.L. for short. P.A.L. seeks to build on an alternate currency Mark created for marginalized and isolated populations, taking it from physical, to digital. You can follow Mark on Twitter at @eastvanbrand.



Mario scales opportunities for individuals to engage civically and for progressive social change. He started this work as a community organizer in the Northwest Bronx and later joined the field of philanthropy. There he became the first program director of the Funders' Committee for Civic Participation, providing leadership around new philanthropic investments in both integrated voter engagement strategies and for a fair and accurate 2010 census count.
In 2010, Mario co-founded the New American Leaders Project, the country's first and only organization dedicated to training first- and second- generation immigrants to run for elected office, working in deep partnership with longstanding local, state and regional immigrant rights organizations. He spent five years at the intersection of technology, diversity and social justice as an Impact Advisor at the Kapor Center for Social Impact
Today, Mario explores bringing the best of technology to the best side of ourselves. During his fellowship, Mario will be testing initiatives to catalyze and support our society's single largest, shared civic act: giving. Follow Mario on Twitter at @Mariobasa.



Angela believes that the word “institutional” should never be used to describe the school food experience. Hungry students have a hard time learning, and school meals provide the nutrients necessary to ensure hunger does not inhibit a student’s ability to succeed in the classroom. As the Project Manager for San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) Future Dining Experience, an IDEO-designed initiative of Student Nutrition Services, she is focused on creating a student-centered, financially-stable meal system that creatively engages students in eating great food. The project uses student input to reimagine and redesign the school dining experience in order to make it more equitable and enjoyable for all students.
Raised in her mother’s kitchen, Angela has always had a love of food and a deep appreciation of food’s ability to strengthen communities. After earning a Master’s in Food Studies from NYU, she made her way to California and worked for a non-profit kitchen incubator with the mission of launching women-owned food businesses. She joined the Future Dining Experience two and a half years ago and has worked with hundreds of students to reimagine thirteen cafeterias so far. 
During her fellowship, Angela will dedicate her energy, passion, and resources to changing the way we think about school meals. Angela wants to transform the tepid environment of school cafeterias into a culturally relevant and enjoyable experience. She will focus on understanding the cultural, economic, and environmental barriers faced by students of color and will strive to create a unique solution that attacks the inherent disparities in opportunities caused by hunger. Angela believes that designing engaging school meal programs that feed our students will transform our school communities and increase academic success among all students. Angela can be found on twitter at @AngelaLMcKee.



Sydney is a public-sector innovator, helping make our government a workplace that unlocks creativity to solve the complex problems facing our Nation.

She leads the Innovation Lab@OPM, where we teach human-centered design through workshops and immersion projects with Federal leaders and professionals. She also leads the Presidential Management Fellows program, which strives to bring the highest caliber graduate students to lead in the Federal government.

Her passion is building capabilities – organizational, individual, and community-based – in new ways of thinking and acting that help people and institutions flourish. She has done this all over the world, starting in Eastern Europe and ending up back home working in her own government. She also tries to do this for her two teen-aged daughters, who may be getting tired of hearing about the power of positive thinking! Her Irish Terrier, Ginger, is always a receptive audience. You can follow Sydney at @OPMCLO on Twitter. 



Older adults are an untapped resource for climate action and Mick Smyer established Graying Green: Climate Action for an Aging World to move Baby Boomers from climate anxiety to climate action. 
Graying Green links two global patterns: population aging and climate change. It brings together climate communicators, climate scientists, community and business leaders to develop and implement evidence-based action steps to engage older adults on climate change. Thus far, climate scientists have not targeted older adults for systematic collaboration. However, older adults are important for developmental and political reasons. Mick is currently working with colleagues at Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of Queensland, and elsewhere to apply psychological principles in developing evidence-based strategies for climate communication and action.
The Graying Green project leverages Mick’s experience in academic administration, gerontology and international consultation to collaborate on developing, implementing, and evaluating effective climate action strategies for an aging world. With twenty years experience in higher education administration, Mick is the former Provost and a current Professor of Psychology at Bucknell University. A national expert, Mick has written and lectured extensively on aging. In addition to holding leadership roles in national organizations on aging, Mick has also consulted with Fortune 500 companies, state and national legislative leaders, and higher education organizations on the impacts of aging. Mick also has experience in translating issues of aging for larger audiences, including appearances on PBS, NPR, and other media outlets. 
A native of New Orleans, Mick also provides vocals and “nuanced” washboard with the Rustical Quality String Band, including on their most recent CD, Rescued from Oblivion. You can follow Mick on Twitter at @MickSmyer