OUR people

PATRICK COOK-DEEGAN // director + lead navigator

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Patrick is a leader in purpose learning, mindfulness education, and reimagining high school for the 21st century. In 2015-2016, Patrick was an education innovation fellow at Stanford's d.school. He came into the fellowship with the question: How do we help adolescents craft meaningful lives and develop a sense of purpose? Hence, the birth of Project Wayfinder.

Patrick has spent the last decade helping youth develop through a number of experiential education programs including: mindfulness education (Inward Bound Mindfulness Education), wilderness education (Back to Earth), social innovation (Brown University’s Social Innovation Initiative), and starting a travel abroad program for low-income students. Patrick is a longtime wilderness guide and has been deeply influenced by the history and practices of native traditions around the world. He is a graduate of the Tracking Project’s community mentoring training – a program focused on appropriately and effectively bringing native wisdom into the modern world.

Patrick has spoken at more than 100 schools and taught mindfulness at public, private, alternative, and charter schools. He has published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Edutopia, and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good and been featured in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and NPR. He is a Fulbright Scholar, graduate of Brown University, and former lecturer at Stanford's d.school.


claudia biçen // operations + creative director


In the spirit of wayfinding, Claudia has simultaneously pursued multiple paths in her life. As a visual artist, her work has focused on how people construct meaning in a transient world. Her project Thoughts in Passing, a series of pencil portraits and interviews with hospice patients, was exhibited the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle and has been shared in universities, high schools, hospitals and senior living centers across the US and UK.

Claudia has worked with young people around the world: as Program Manager of an internship program in Yosemite National Park for at-risk youth, leading art therapy workshops at an eating-disorder clinic in Los Angeles, teaching high school students in Uganda and volunteering at an HIV/AIDs orphanage in Tanzania. From 2010-2013 Claudia led marketing and operations for BlueOak, a Kleiner Perkins backed start-up tackling the electronic waste epidemic.

Claudia holds a BA in Philosophy & Psychology from the University of Oxford and an MSc in Social Anthropology from University College London where she wrote her thesis on the cross-cultural use of metaphor as a means to help people dealing with mental health issues.


Alexx TemeÑa // Community Creator

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Alexx graduated from Brown University with degrees in Cognitive Neuroscience and Contemplative Psychology. She blends curriculum design, art, and wellbeing practice to mentor youth and create transformative community experiences. Alexx travels the world teaching people how to live fulfilled lives through the lenses of neuroscience, psychology, education and mindfulness.

For the past six years, Alexx has worked with students at United World College: International School of Asia, Karuizawa in Japan, teaching leadership and design thinking. She taught mindfulness and leadership in various settings: with students, school administrators and teachers, and medical students and professionals

Her experience as a Filipina immigrant entering elite educational institutions informs her work in civic engagement and the arts. Alexx is currently working on a platform to unite changemakers from her hometown of Vallejo, CA, building a youth performing arts festival, and hosting intimate community showcases for local artists in the Bay Area. 


Wayfinder toolkit Team

kelly schmutte // founding curriculum designer

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Kelly co-founded Project Wayfinder with Patrick, and served as its Lead Product / Curriculum Designer for two years.  She is currently a Designer and Lecturer at the Stanford d.school, as well as a serial entrepreneur and passionate inventor.  

While working on Project Wayfinder, Kelly guided the team in shaping many of the core design principles and frameworks that led to the Wayfinder Navigation Toolkit, and designed many of the Toolkit’s activities. She is excited about the potential of Project Wayfinder to free students to align their skills and passions with an area of need in the world that moves them deeply, and feels privileged to have helped launch this work in the world.


Wayfinder Guides

Chris Rudd

Chris is a former Stanford d.school civic innovation fellow with a passion for merging technology, youth development, and social justice. Chris is the founder of Youth Tech Design, a program that empowers inner-city youth to create civic technology.

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Nirali Shah

Nirali is a certified mindfulness facilitator from UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center. She is the founder of Shvaas, a non-profit platform that has helped streamline efforts of hundreds of volunteers to connect and work on meaningful social change projects.

Matt Forkin

Matt is an engineer, designer, and wilderness educator. A life-long passion for nature connection led him to an immersive study of traditional skills including living off the land for a year stone-age style on the Canadian-Washington State border.

Adrian Michael Green

Adrian is the Director of Inclusivity at Colorado Academy and founder of lovasté. Adrian is an acclaimed writer, poet, and author of 9 self-published books of poetry and prose centered on loving yourself and others.

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Tim is an award-winning urban educator, clinical therapist and school counselor focused on purpose education amongst low-income, first-generation students in Boston. He currently serves as the Director of Community Engagement at Medford High School.

Dashielle Vawter

Dashielle Vawter is a transformational coach and the founder of Illumin. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she guides vision quests for Sonoma Academy and also does coaching and mentorship work with adults and teen girls.

Jenny Taryn Wyron

Jenny is an expressive arts therapist and community facilitator. She is a former Program Manager at Summer Search, holds degrees from Brown University and Smith College, and has worked with adolescents for the past decade. 



Hannah leads the Product & Design team at Back to the Roots, an organization that connects people to where their food comes from. She has taught Math, Science and the Arts at at-risk schools focused on teaching through meaningful outdoor experience.

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Scott is the Program Development Specialist at CAPS, award-winning program within the Blue Valley School District. He is the learning architect behind the caps accelerator and is on a mission to reclaim creativity in our schools.

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Hye Jung is a mathematics educator currently working at ʻIolani School and at Education Incubator. She is also a crew member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society



Raiki is the co-founder of ImaginEx, which provides problem-solving and self-management skills for elementary to university students. Based in Japan, he is also the leadership curriculum consultant for International School of Asia, Karuizawa


wayfinder research team


Andrew is a Teaching Fellow for Design for Extreme Affordability at the Stanford d.school, which applies design thinking to international development. He also facilitates workshops and constantly experiments with creative side projects (including his podcast, Doable). 

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Jeanette van der Lee

Jeanette is a social and organizational psychologist with a degree from Leiden University in the Netherlands. For the past year she worked as a Research Assistant at UC Berkeley for the Social Interaction Lab and the Greater Good Science Center.


Heather is the Director of Research at the Stanford Center on Adolescence. Her research primarily focuses on how young people develop purpose and the capacity for meaningful participation in and contribution to their communities and society. 


Nicholas Espeset

Nick is a systems engineer and classics scholar. His family history includes Norse explorers who came to America in the 10th century. He holds a Masters degree in Eastern Classics from St. John's and has a deep knowledge of Native North American history.



Wayfinder Wise Council

Chris McKenna

Guiding Teacher at Mindful Schools + Former Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project

Ashanti Branch

Founder & Director, The Ever Forward Club + featured in The Mask You Live In

Alan Harlam

Brown University, Director of Social Innovation Initiative  + Adjunct Lecturer in Public Affairs

Bob Lenz

Executive Director of the Buck Institute + co-founder of Envision Education


John Stokes

Master Tracker + Founder // Director of The Tracking Project       


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Sr. Program Manager Kamehameha Schools  + Polynesian Voyaging Society Crew Member    

Miki K. Tomita

Co-Founder Education Incubator + Education Co-Lead for Polynesian Voyaging Society

Dr. Susie Wise

Stanford's K12 Lab Network Founder +  Adjunct Professor Stanford d.school

dr. Bill Damon

Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence + Author of the Path to Purpose

Randle Charles

Oneida Nation, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) + graduate Institute of American Indian Arts          

Alex Lockett

Dean of Students at San Francisco University High School + catalyst mentoring program


Molly Efrusy

President Efrusy Family Foundation + Board Member Haas Center for Public Service 


Vicki Zakrzewski

Founder + Director of UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center Education Program 

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Dave Mochel

Founder of Applied Attention. He gave this TEDx talk worth checking out.

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