ThinkTank Facilitators

These are the facilitators from all our ThinkTanks.

Greg Affsa – Product Experience Manager – Optum

Over the course of his career as a designer, Greg has leveraged his expertise in Human Centered Design and Design Thinking to improve healthcare and help teams innovate faster. With the Gentoo Vest, Greg and his co-founder Ben Nadeau, radically improved the treatment experience for chemotherapy patients. Having brought Gentoo through Wentworth Accelerate Innovation + Entrepreneurship Center, Greg saw the value of leveraging the same design frameworks he used in product design to help student startups innovate faster. In his current role at Optum, he is a member of the Fusion team with works with teams across the enterprise to develop cutting edge solutions to improve healthcare for everyone.

Ela Ben-Ur – Principal Innovation Coach and Consultant – i2i Experience

Ela Ben-Ur believes that innovation is fundamentally about human experiences: experiences leading people to innovate; and experiences of all people touched by an innovation, leading it to be embraced and impactful. She is passionate about enabling people to articulate and amplify their natural ways of innovating, and apply these across contexts in their work and lives to achieve their goals. Ela shares design thinking and her Innovators’ Compass (, #innovatorscompass) through coaching, workshops, speaking and courses for organizations ranging from Accenture to Head Start, and institutions including pioneering Olin College (at which she is faculty), Harvard, MIT/Sloan, Babson, Dartmouth and the International Development Design Summit. Ela worked 13 prior years at renowned innovation firm IDEO. Her design practice and leadership at IDEO spanned from front-end user research to opportunity synthesis, strategy, concept development and prototyping in diverse industries, geographies and sectors. She co-founded the Design Research practice in IDEO’s Shanghai Studio and IDEO’s Leadership Studio for developing project leaders.

Suzi Hamill – Former Head of Design Thinking – Fidelity

Suzanne (Suzi) Hamill believes insight into human behavior is the key to building incredible customer experiences. For more than 20 years, she has designed and launched companies and digital experiences impacting how people live day-to-day. Most recently, Suzi was the Head of Design Thinking at Fidelity Investments. She led a team working in start-up style incubators – conducting research and experiments for new markets and product concepts. Additionally her team taught human centered design skills to thousands of employees, customers, and community members across the country. Suzi has lectured at Stanford University, Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, Berklee School of Music and MIT. Currently Suzi consults with organizations to envision new products, services, and business models.

Nan Ives – Principal – Experiential Innovation

Nan Ives is a skilled facilitator with extensive experience leading strategic planning, customer experience, and organizational change initiatives. As a champion of innovation, Nan teaches design thinking and human-centered design through innovation bootcamps, design sprints, and experiential events. For 25 years, Nan successfully led experiential marketing, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and workforce strategies at Fidelity Investments. She was also part of a core team who taught design thinking to thousands of associates, customers, and community partners. Her experience in social impact led her to work leading innovation events with notable non-profits organizations. She is an alumni of Designing for Social Systems at the Stanford and a Social Innovation Fellow at Babson University.

David Knies – Chief Growth Officer – Essential

David leads all new business, marketing, brand and corporate strategy for Essential, a Boston-based innovation + design firm. Prior to joining Essential in September 2018, David was Chief Strategy + Innovation Officer for Breakaway, a hybrid brand development and venture capital firm known for its work with some of the world’s most exciting startups and established brands, including Dunkin’ Donuts, EverybodyFights, Oath Pizza, Drizly, Wasabi, PUMA, TrueFit, Spartan Race,, Bemis, AARP, Velcro, IdeaPaint, Ascend Cannabis, Brown Brothers Harriman and DRIVN. Before the launch of Breakaway in 2011, David spent 20 years in global product, marketing, brand, general management and innovation roles at adidas, Groove Networks, Hearts On Fire, Reebok, Acclaim Entertainment and SmartPak Equine.

Eli MacLaren – Chief Market Maker – Business Innovation Factory

Eli MacLaren is a Chief Market Maker, leading Business Innovation Factoryʼs development efforts. She is responsible for the startup and scale of the Experience Labs. With over a decade of experience in building and leading social ventures, Eli is an accomplished social innovator with a deep knowledge of the new platforms required to catalyze and scale social innovation.

Gabriel Mugar – Design Researcher – IDEO

Gabe is a researcher and designer at the intersection of technology, media, and community building. His expertise lies in building and analyzing learning/collaborative experiences in large scale online contexts and local civic settings.

Alexis Victor – Brand Experience Strategist –  EPAM Continuum  

As a design strategy consultant, Alexis works with a variety of companies, such as Nationwide, Kohler, and Ford, to conduct research that reveals key insights that help clients innovate with confidence. Her specialty is translating research data into compelling visual stories that inspire action. Alexis is motivated by a passion for improving everyday people’s lives by designing more fulfilling product interactions.

Adam Zapotok – Associate in Design and Innovation – C Space

Adam Zapotok is a Designer in Innovation at C Space. Working on events planning, holding workshops, graphics, visual scribing, learning animation and videography. His interests and focuses change on an annual basis Leading him to a wide variety of skills. He has been involved in social innovation labs, non-profits, medical device start-ups, kinetic art, and now ethnography. Adam doesn’t know where or what his next interest will be but he’s excited to find out whats behind the next corner.

Sarah Folger – Business Innovation Factory

Sarah is an Experience Designer at Business Innovation Factory (BIF). She is fascinated by ‘why?’, motivated by curiosity, and interested in how people interact with each other and the world around them. What began as a pursuit in fine arts evolved into an industrial design degree and a passion for service design. While at BIF, Sarah has helped explore new ways to serve the burn community, how to create high-impact change through finite investments in education and how a digital platform could better serve Project Based Learning teachers. She maintains her curiosity in her free time, by exploring new foods, running spots, and experiences, and is always open to the next adventure.

Naz Mirzaie


Crystal Rome – Business Innovation Factory

Crystal is from Boulder, Colorado where she attended the University of Colorado and receive a double BA in Classical Archaeology and Anthropology. Her background includes fine art, environmental restoration, organic farming, and playing accordion in a gypsy bluegrass band. She is always curious and looking for simpler ways to accomplish everyday tasks. Joining BIF is an exciting next step in an ongoing quest to investigate the edge of what is possible and find ways to wrangle large scale challenges into human scaled action.

Ramon Salinas –  EPAM  Continuum

As an innovation consultant Ramon has worked with companies from more than 20 industries -including Goodyear, ExxonMobil, Abbott, and Converse- helping them identify and shape new growth opportunities. Currently, he is a Senior Business Strategist at Continuum, the global design and innovation firm, leveraging Design Thinking to develop human-centered solutions and to bring more consumer focus approaches to organizations. Over the years he has taught several innovation and entrepreneurship courses, and has served as a mentor to numerous startups. Ramon holds a Master’s in Humanities from UDD and an MBA from Babson College, where he teaches the Innovation Processes course.