Carmen Rojas is the CEO of The Workers Lab, an innovation lab that invests in entrepreneurs, community organizers, and technologists to create replicable and revenue generating solutions that improve conditions for low-wage workers. The Workers Lab invests capital, offers an accelerator program focused on business and leadership development, and connects ventures to a broad network of supporters to support their continued development and success.
Carmen holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007. She taught in the Department of City & Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley from 2009-2011. Her teaching focused on the history of cities in the US, a practicum on local economic development, planning pedagogy, and race in the practice of city planning.
Hailed as a “transformational storyteller,” Echo Brown is a writer, performer, & actress from Cleveland, Ohio. Echo’s meteoric rise in the San Francisco art scene with her hit one-woman show, Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters, has been widely praised. Attracting the attention of TV networks and literary agencies, Echo continues to garner critical praise for her stunning debut.
A graduate of Dartmouth College with a B.A. in political science, Echo took an unusual path into theater. Echo began her career as an investigator, investigating allegations of misconduct against members of the New York City Police Department. Echo went on to study investigative journalism at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism before moving to California to work for Challenge Day, an award winning non-profit that provides transformational workshops in high schools.
Janene Lin has worked in advertising all over the country for the last ten years, helping brands tell their stories to the world. She is driven to inspire the world’s greatest brands to stand for something more meaningful than just profits. Janene has won accolades for branded storytelling, including several Cannes Lions for Film Innovation and Creative Effectiveness, as well as earned recognition in the press, including Time Magazine’s 2013 Top Ten Ads and TED’s 2012 Ads Worth Spreading.
Janene is equally as passionate about playing and performing improv theatre. She has worked with some of the greatest improv masters from companies such as Upright Citizens Brigade, Annoyance Theatre, IO Chicago, Leela San Francisco, and has performed at various improv festivals across the country with her 5-person ensemble troupe, Sketchy Alley.
Janene is a contributing writer for a feature-length documentary film, The Big Flip, which is currently making its way around the film festival circuit.
Kazuya Iwata has been designing, producing, and organizing the Real Escape Game in the United States to create immersive and unforgettable experiences. Real Escape Game from Japan is a unique and interactive live puzzle event where teams solve mysteries and clues within a time limit. Kazuya is currently the CEO and Live Game Designer / Director of SCRAP Entertainment Inc.
Michael Towne is a child life specialist and manages Child Life Services at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, here in San Francisco. With an amazing team, Michael builds innovative ways for children to get through experiences at the hospital. Play serves as the means for children and teens to understand. Creativity helps them make meaning of their experience. Fun takes on new facets and depth while fighting for your life.
Michael has 20 plus years of experience working with sick children and their families, including many years of grief, loss and bereavement work. He is a gardener, an idealist, kid at heart, and is working hard on becoming a crazy old man.
Vinitha is an artist, designer, and entrepreneur. She opened Google’s first office in India, was a fellow at the Institute for the Future, and sits on the boards of Nexleaf Analytics and California College of the Arts. Vinitha is the founder and Executive Director of Zoo Labs, the world’s first music accelerator.
Zoo Labs sits at the intersection of art and business and is about re-imagining entrepreneurship as a creative endeavor and supports teams of artists leading with their vision and craft. With roots in Silicon Valley, her non profit brings together some of the best mentors in tech, business, and art to have a hand in shaping the future—something bigger than its parts. Sometimes people ask her if she’s crazy. And she might well be.