Project Wayfinder is a collaborative effort led by Patrick Cook-Deegan, an 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.
Patrick Cook-Deegan is a graduate of Brown University and a Fulbright scholar. Currently, Patrick is a lecturer and education innovation fellow at Stanford's d. school focusing his fellowship year on developing Project Wayfinder.
Patrick is a speaker, educator, and wilderness guide. He has spoken and led workshops at more than 100 schools and universities on service, self-awareness, and human rights. 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 the Social Innovation Initiative at Brown University as well as working as a human rights advocate on Burma. He is excited to bring his passions in four distinct areas – global citizenship, nature awareness, social innovation, and mindfulness meditation – together to form Project Wayfinder.
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 program – a program focusing on appropriately and effectively bringing native wisdom into the modern world. He feels 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 personal development.
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.