Announcing the Director’s Fellows Second Cohort

Enhancing the new Media Lab ecosystem


By Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab

Each year, the Media Lab selects a group of extraordinary individuals from different industries and geographies as Director’s Fellows. These people become conduits for unlikely collaborations between the Lab and the world. The first group included prison activist Shaka Senghor, comedian Baratunde Thurston, and open education expert Philipp Schmidt, among others. (These Fellows officially started in July 2013 and will continue on for a second year.) Today, I’m excited to announce nine new members of the Director’s Fellows program who will be joining us this month.


MARKO AHTISAARI

Marko is a visionary entrepreneur and designer, formerly executive vice president of design at Nokia, where he was responsible for both hardware and user interface design. He is also the founder of Doppler. He studied philosophy, economics, and music at Columbia University.

SULTAN SOOUD AL QASSEMI

Sultan is a United Arab Emirates-based columnist and commentator on Arab affairs whose tweets became a major news source during the Arab Spring. He analyzes the way political leaders in the Gulf use social media and how this might affect the political landscape.

KATY CROFF BELL

An ocean explorer with National Geographic, Katy uses deep sea technology to explore the depths of the ocean. She is chief scientist of the Nautilus Exploration Program. She has a PhD in geological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.

Watch her recent Media Lab Conversations Series talk here.

GILLIAN CALDWELL

A social entrepreneur, filmmaker, and attorney, Gillian Caldwell has 30 years of experience advocating for social justice around the world. She once directed a global undercover investigation and campaign on the Russian mafia’s involvement in trafficking women for forced prostitution.

VAN JONES

CNN host Van Jones is also president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the US economy. His new initiative, Yes We Code, aims to help 100,000 low-opportunity young people become the world’s best coders.

JOYCE KIM

Joyce Kim is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Her current focus is on protocols for money and using cryptocurrency to allow people to economically empower themselves. She believes that financial access is a prerequisite to fulfill all human rights.

COLLEEN MACKLIN

Colleen is the director of PETLab, a lab focused on developing games for experimental learning and social engagement. At the Game Developer Conference in March, she unveiled “Play, Make, Appreciate: A Manifesto,” to encourage more diversity in games.

Here she is in a recent Media Lab Conversations Series talk.

QUENTIN MITCHELL

One of Kenya’s most successful and most competitive young rally drivers, Quentin operates a small-scale auto body shop focused on rally cars and classic car restoration near the tea farms outside Nairobi, where he was born.

PASHON MURRAY

Pashon is co-founder of Detroit Dirt, a composting and biomass collection company specializing in providing compost and biomass solutions for metro Detroit. In May 2014, Newsweek named Pashon one of its “13 Women in Business to Bet On.” Her claim to fame? This Ford commercial.


As the Media Lab evolves into a global network, we seek to increase our direct impact through non-traditional pathways. Project-driven collaborations between the Fellows and Lab researchers are a vital part of this changing Media Lab ecosystem. With their diverse geographies, industries, and expertise, the Director’s Fellows are helping us broaden our ability to inspire others and be inspired in return.

You can see all of the Director’s Fellows’ bios, including those from Cohort 1—who will be entering a second year—here.