Project Wayfinder is a collaborative effort led by Patrick Cook-Deegan, a recent education innovation fellow at the K-12 Lab, and Kelly Schmutte, a designer and lecturer at the d.school. Together they are combining their backgrounds in high school education, higher education innovation, purpose learning, design thinking, and adolescent development to create the building blocks of Project Wayfinder.
Co-director and Lead Program Designer
Patrick Cook-Deegan is a longtime adolescent educator. Over the past decade, he has helped launch or grow a number of innovative youth programs including Back to Earth, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, and Brown University’s Social Innovation Initiative, as well as launching a travel abroad program for low-income high school students. He has taught at public, private, alternative, and charter high schools.
In 2015-2016, Patrick was an education innovation fellow at Stanford's d.school. He came in to the fellowship with the question: How do we help high school students craft meaningful lives and develop a sense of purpose? Hence, the birth of Project Wayfinder.
Patrick has spoken at more than 100 high schools and universities and written on mindfulness, purpose education and high school innovation for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Edutopia, and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good. A graduate of Brown University and Fulbright scholar, Patrick 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 focusing on appropriately and effectively bringing native wisdom into the modern world.
He feels inspired and grateful for the legacy of the Polynesian navigators, or Wayfinders, and hopes this project will effectively bring together 10 years of searching for meaningful ways to engage youth in their moral and personal development.
Co-director and Lead Product Designer
Kelly Schmutte is a Designer and Lecturer at the Stanford d.school and in the Mechanical Engineering Design Department. Her expertise in human-centered design has been the focus of her studies and work as a design practitioner and entrepreneur for the past 10 years. She holds dual degrees from Stanford in Product Design (MS, BS). Besides teaching, her work at the d.school has spanned projects in education design and environments design.
In 2013-2014, Kelly served as a Project Manager for the @Stanford project, a yearlong collaboration between students and d.school designers to imagine and design the future of living and learning at Stanford. This work culminated in Stanford 2025, a highly experiential, immersive event showcasing four major possible shake-ups to higher education. Among them was Purpose Learning: Declare a Mission, not a Major. The ideas presented in the exhibit are continuing to influence and inspire Stanford community members and people in higher education around the globe. Kelly continues to oversee ongoing work and experimentation around Stanford 2025, and was very excited to collaborate with Patrick on expanding on ideas from Purpose Learning to Project Wayfinder.
As a design professional, Kelly is also a serial entrepreneur and passionate inventor, having worked on projects as diverse as innovations in ballet pointe shoes and creative ways for couples to rekindle romance. She loves working with young people and helping them discover more joy in the things they love most. She is excited and hopeful about the impact of Project Wayfinder to free students to align their skills and passions with an area of need in the world that moves them deeply.
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 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.
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.
Alexx is an experience designer and with a deep background in mindfulness and cross-cultural communication. She studied the history and practices of contemplative psychology at Brown and Harvard.
Laine is a Master's student in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford with a B.S. in Product Design. She wants to use design to create inclusive, innovative workplaces, and was a past Mayfield Fellow.
Tania is a freelance product and experience designer who applies design to education challenges with the hope of creating equitable outcomes for all learners. She is a veteran d.school team member.
Gloria is a Master's student in Computer Science at Stanford with a BS in Product Design. She is a human-centered product and interaction designer, interested in using technology for social good.
Sonia is a Master's of Education student in the Learning, Design, and Technology program. She has experience in UX design, product design, and learning experience design. She is particularly interested in designing for education, wellness, and play.