Leaders in their Field

The Ignite Institute’s Faculty are some of the top thought leaders in their field. Together they bridge ancient and modern wisdom, design thinking, and Silicon Valley’s best business practices into a unique curriculum that teaches leaders to navigate through difficult problems and uncertain futures.

Ignite Center Faculty

Cesar Castro

Cesar Castro

Sr. Director of Community Cloud Adoption and Engagement, Salesforce

Cesar is currently Community Cloud Sr. Director of Adoption and Engagement at Salesforce. In this role he is developing best practices for adoption/engagement for Salesforce Community Cloud Customers. Prior to Salesforce he was Director of Social Strategy Consulting at Lithium Technologies where he led strategic engagements with customers in retail, telecom, service provider, high-tech, software and internet business sectors. Cesar’s strategic consulting experience includes community, business, innovation, gamification and social strategy. He has worked with customers in the U.S., Latin America, Western Europe and Southeast Asia and brings a diversity of industry experience to his current role.

Dave Epstein

Dave Epstein

Advisor, Investor, Board Member and Management Consultant, Epstein Advisors

Dave is an advisor, investor, and management consultant at Epstein Advisors. Specializing in matching markets, teams, strategies and funding in the areas of clean tech, semiconductors, and medical device technologies, he is active today with several early stage companies. Dave shares his knowledge and network to help entrepreneurs focus on success while navigating the treacherous start-up waters. Currently, Dave’s investments include: Neruametrix, non-invasively detecting Parkinson’s and other degenerative brain disorders; Left Lane Networks, supporting the sharing economy; Orbital Systems, Watty, and Enersize in the water and energy saving business; CrowdOptic combining intelligent live streaming with location data and wearables; Single Technologies, a superfast 3D single molecule microscope advancing genomic diagnosis; and others.

Dr. David Vasquez-Levy

Dr. David Vasquez-Levy

President, Pacific School of Religion

David is a sought-after speaker who addresses issues ranging from immigration to sacred story-telling. As President of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, he is a recognized leader in efforts to rethink the structures of higher education to meet the challenges of demographic shifts and economic sustainability for the twenty-first century.

Derene Allen

Derene Allen

Executive Director & Faculty, Ignite Institute

Derene is an experienced growth strategist, working with Corporate Marketing, Human Resource and CSR Departments, nonprofits and entrepreneurs. She has extensive experience working with early-stage entrepreneurs in refining their business models and helping nonprofits develop more sustainable financial models, devising social enterprises, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment strategies that result in increased earned income, engagement, and volunteer participation, particularly from multicultural communities.

Donald R. Proctor

Donald R. Proctor

Founder and CEO, Bk97 Digital; Former Sr. Vice President, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Bk97 Digital provides advisory services to companies and government agencies on product strategy, innovation, technology policy, and cybersecurity. Prior to founding Bk97 Digital, Don held a variety of leadership positions in the company’s enterprise, commercial, and service provider businesses, including as a Senior Vice President in Cisco’s Security and Trust Organization and Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco’s software engineering group and was responsible for development of Cisco’s IOS software, network management, VoIP, web collaboration, and global government businesses.

Dr. Dorsey Blake

Dr. Dorsey Blake

Faculty, Ignite Institute

Dorsey brings with him a long history of social-justice leadership stretching back to the Civil Rights
movement with Martin Luther King, Jr. He teaches courses and seminars on community-based
leadership relying on models rooted in partnership and collaboration.

Doug Solomon, PhD

Doug Solomon, PhD

CTO and Fellow, IDEO

Doug Solomon is an IDEO Fellow and an innovation consultant. For five years, Doug was Chief Technology Officer at IDEO, working with clients to leverage technologies that create both business and social value. Prior to joining IDEO, he was vice president of investments at Omidyar Network, where he helped pioneer a new approach to socially impactful investing. He was also senior vice president of corporate development and chief strategy officer at both Apple and Palm, and he held leadership positions at a Paul Allen-owned technology incubator, Interval Research, and several technology start-ups. Doug began his career by applying marketing and other business concepts to public health programs in Asia, where he learned the importance of cultural awareness and community involvement in achieving meaningful social change.

Dr. Filipe Maia

Dr. Filipe Maia

Faculty, Ignite Institute

Filipe, a Brazilian theologian, studies and teaches the religious dimensions of economic systems to imagine different ways of organizing human communities. He is particularly interested in how traditions of ancient wisdom help us to engage with the unpredictability of the future.

James Keene

James Keene

City Manager, City of Palo Alto

City Manager of Palo Alto, California (since 2008). He has
previously served as the City Manager of Berkeley, California and
Tucson, Arizona. He also served as the Executive Director of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), Coconino County Manager (Flagstaff and Grand Canyon), Director of Strategic Issues and ICMA West for the International City and County Management Association, and President of the Alliance for Innovation. His life-long commitment to public service is driven by a passion for the American experiment in self-government; place-making; sustainability; community building and civic engagement; and innovation to transform government.

Dr. Jay Johnson

Dr. Jay Johnson

Lead Faculty, Ignite Institute

Jay is a Christian theologian who draws on ancient spiritual practices to analyze and envision contemporary social structures for the common good. Jay’s published work deals with the development and sustaining of vibrant communities of social justice and ecological thriving.

John Stoddard

John Stoddard

Chief of Innovative Service and Product Design, YouSpace - Former Sr. Designer, IDEO

John Stoddard is a designer and teacher specializing in new service and product innovation. As Chief of Innovative Service and Product Design at YouSpace, a Silicon Valley startup, he focuses on new applications of machine vision and artificial intelligence. He teaches Design Thinking methodology, and applies it in his projects, to help maximize business impact. Until 2014 John Stoddard served as Senior Designer at IDEO, the global design and innovation firm, where he led innovation projects for corporate and start-up clients in the USA, Europe and Asia.

Kenneth (Hap) Klopp

Kenneth (Hap) Klopp

Executive Chairman, Obscura Digital Founder, Founder - The North Face

Among his many exploits, Mr. Klopp was the founder of The North Face, where he served as President and CEO for 20 years. During that time The North Face was honored with many awards for being the best managed company in its industry, including being lauded by Business Week Magazine for providing one of the highest quality products of any company in the United States. Mr. Klopp led The North Face to its position as the largest and most technically advanced company in its industry and one of the largest privately held companies in the San Francisco East Bay.

Jonathan Reichental, PhD

Jonathan Reichental, PhD

Chief Information Officer, City of Palo Alto

For over 25 years, Dr. Jonathan Reichental has been successfully helping organizations leverage the value of information and communications technology to solve business problems, increase effectiveness, and support revenue growth. He has experience in both the private and public sectors. He spent over 15 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in a variety of technology-related roles including leading technology innovation by delivering specific expertise in emerging technologies and the impact of macro trends such as demography on organizational success.

LJ Rose

LJ Rose

Certified Master of the Leadership Challenge


LJ Rose is a leadership facilitator, consultant and coach. With over 20 years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors, she facilitates workshops for global leaders and executive teams. LJ partners with organizations, business authors and consulting companies to deliver solutions that lead to excellence. Passionate about culture, ideas and results, LJ works with employees at numerous organizational levels, in functions as varied as Finance, IT, Sales, Marketing, R & D, Engineering, Operations, Manufacturing, HR, and Customer Support. She has consulted with a wide range of clients such as Intel, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Santa Clara University, and Western Union among others.

Mahsea Evans

Mahsea Evans

Faculty, Ignite Institute

Mahsea facilitates workshops to help students identify both skills and obstacles in their personal and communal histories for the sake of enhancing their effectiveness as leaders. As an educator, artist, and community organizer, Mahsea equips communities to overcome conflict through deeper levels of honesty and transparency.

Mark Cavender

Mark Cavender

Founder and Managing Director, Chasm Institute, LLC

Mark Cavender is Founder and Managing Director of Chasm Institute LLC. With over 15 years of experience in enterprise software, Mark has a unique blend of strategic and tactical marketing skills coupled with a strong background in software sales. Mark has personally consulted with over 350 high-tech companies. Among his clients are large enterprise software, hardware, telecommunications and clean-tech companies such as AMD, Infor (Intentia / Lawson Software), Intel, Oracle (Hyperian), SAP (Business Objects), IBM (mid-range systems, Cognos, FileNet, and Tivoli), JDS Uniphase (Acterna), First Solar, and Grundfos.

Peter Macdonald

Peter Macdonald

Senior Design Lead, IDEO

Peter MacDonald joined IDEO in 1993 and serves as a senior design lead. He is experienced in product development process from initial user observations to concept generation, concept development, industrial design, mechanical engineering design, prototyping, detailed design, and engineering documentation. Prior to IDEO, he worked at Aerobie, Inc. (formerly Superflight, Inc.), Wang Laboratories, Inc., and Group Four Design, Inc. as an industrial designer.

Sal Giambanco

Sal Giambanco

Partner, Omidyar Network

Sal leads the human capital and operations functions of Omidyar Network. In this role, he works to develop and scale the talent at Omidyar Network and its portfolio organizations. Sal brings a wealth of executive experience in human resources management to his role as a partner at Omidyar Network. From 2000 to 2009, Sal served as the vice president of human resources and administration for PayPal and eBay Inc. Prior to joining PayPal, Sal worked for KPMG as the national recruiting manager for the information, communications, high-tech, and entertainment consulting practices, while also leading KPMG’s collegiate and MBA recruiting programs.

Scott Underwood

Scott Underwood

Co-Founder and Partner, Innovationship

Scott Underwood champions design thinking and innovation through workshops, presentations, project-based engagements, and ongoing mentoring. He has helped thousands of people learn and apply new skills to real-world projects at organizations around the world, including startups, multinationals, academic institutions, and nonprofits, in fields such as healthcare, education, technology, food and beverage, and consumer goods. Scott builds on stories and experiences gained from over two decades at IDEO, where he served as a corporate storyteller, workshop facilitator, and leader of knowledge sharing. In 2012, he cofounded Innovationship with two former colleagues in order to focus on training, mentoring, and project guidance using the design thinking approach. He has also led dozens of sessions of ExperienceInnovation, a design thinking simulation created by ExperiencePoint and IDEO.

Dr. Sharon Fennema

Dr. Sharon Fennema

Faculty, Ignite Institute

Sharon explores the intersection of social-justice advocacy and ritual practices. As a scholar and activist, Sharon analyzes the cultural consequences of racial, sexual, and gender identities in the public square.

Sharon Jacob

Sharon Jacob

Assistant Professor at Pacific School of Religion

Sharon Jacob is the Assistant Professor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Bangalore University and went on to earn her Masters of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary and Masters of Sacred Theology from Yale University. She earned her Ph.D from Drew University. Her research interests include gender and sexuality studies, feminist theory, race and whiteness theory, and postcolonial theory. Her book published with Palgrave Publishers' Bible and Culture series is entitled: Reading Mary Alongside Indian Surrogate Mothers: Violent Love, Oppressive Liberation, and Infancy Narratives.

Dr. Susan Abraham

Dr. Susan Abraham

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean Pacific School of Religion

Susan, a feminist scholar originally from Mumbai, India, investigates trends in popular culture to study
the relationship between spirituality and economics in a secular age. Susan has a wide range of teaching
experiences across the country in various types of institutions and has taught courses, for example, in
the ways contemporary sporting events resemble ancient religious practices.