Nicole Nason

Nicole Nason moved to Connecticut after a successful career as an attorney and senior executive in the federal government in Washington, DC. She discovered the Darien Martial Arts Academy while searching for martial arts instruction for her daughters. After five years of intense work and study, Nicole earned a black belt in karate. She then created Koe in Classroom and Project Koe Kickboxing programs. Nicole is an ACE-certified group fitness instructor, and she combines her love of martial arts with her commitment to fitness and health through teaching the Project Koe programs. Nicole is a graduate of American University School of Public Affairs and a law degree from Case Western Reserve University. She lives with her husband, David, and their three children in Connecticut. 

Erin Thomas

Erin Thomas is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor with a different kind of mission. Growing up as an athlete bombarded with media messages about weight loss and beach bodies, she learned that no one is immune to the negativity that drives us to be “healthy.” Fad diets make us martyrs among friends, and in a world where an hour boot camp class is punishment for that donut we had at lunch, who’s to say what healthy actually is anymore. She’s sharing a revolutionary idea that will change how we view “taking care of ourselves” in order to create better relationships with food and exercise.



Kara Andrade

Kara Andrade is a PhD student at American University’s School of Communication. She is a researcher, journalist and entrepreneur who focuses on Latin America, media, technology and society. She has more than ten years of experience working in the United States and Latin America as a bilingual journalist, entrepreneur and multimedia producer for a variety of leading media organizations. Learn more at: 

Melissa Bradley

Melissa L. Bradley has more than 20 years of entrepreneurship, investment and leadership experience. She is the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative and Executive in Residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Since 2012 Melissa has been a Professor of Practice at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. She is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sidecar Social Finance. From 2012-2015, she served as a Presidential Appointee under President Obama as the Chief Strategy Officer at the Corporation for National Service to the Director of the White House Social Innovation Fund.

Sarah Preston

Sarah is a senior at American University studying public relations (School of Communication) and interdisciplinary studies (CLEG, School of Public Affairs). She is the content manager at the Space Frontier Foundation and communications director for the Alliance for Space Development. With associates at the space policy consulting firm PoliSpace, she helped to shape new regulation for commercial spaceflight and space resource mining. This year, Sarah started an American University chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, bringing together a community of students who want to share their passion for space exploration. Sarah grew up on the beaches of Cape Cod and the farmlands of Hershey, Pennsylvania where she learned to love puzzles, sailing, and storytelling.

Maria Rose Belding is the co-founder and executive director of the MEANS Database, a nonprofit communications platform for emergency food providers in 36 states and counting. She is a nationally recognized writer on food security policy and practice, with pieces published by Scholastic, Gannett and the Huffington Post and her resources for fellow students in schools in nine nations. Maria Rose's work has been honored by STOP Hunger Now, L'Oreal Paris, South by Southwest, and the White House. She is a sophomore at American University's College of Arts and Sciences where she studies public health on the premed track with minors in power napping and caffeine studies.

Stan Stalnaker

Stan Stalnaker is Founding Director of Hub Culture, the Ven digital currency and HubID digital identity system. He is also Member of the Board and Communications Chair of the Digital Asset Transfer Authority, the premier self- regulatory organization for digital assets. As an author and commentator, his expertise on P2P economies, digital currency, internet identity and social globalisation are regularly found in major consumer media worldwide and in private consultation with the world’s leading companies. Stan’s views on P2P were named the lead Breakthrough Idea of 2008 by the Harvard Business Review, and other writings have appeared in the New York Times online, GQ, TechCrunch, Internationalist, CNN Bespoke, Washington Post, PSFK and other publications. He is currently at work on a new book, Animal Ranch, due for publication in 2016.  For more information on Stan, please visit

Patrick Malone

Professor Malone is the Director of the Key Executive Leadership Programs in the School of Public Affairs at American University.  He teaches courses in leadership, executive problem solving, organizational analysis, and public administration. He is a frequent guest lecturer on leadership and organizational dynamics in state and federal agencies, professional associations, and universities across the country.  His research interests and scholarship include work in public service motivation, adult learning theory, leadership, ethics, and organizational behavior.  His most recent publications include “Thinking Up,”Selfies in the Workplace: Narcissists and the Public Manager,” “Making Assumptions? Try the Power of Inquiry,” and “Enhancing Your Leadership by Tapping into Staff Attitudes.”


Jordan Coleman

Jordan Coleman is a Junior at American University studying film and media arts with AU's School of Communications. He is also a film director who has directed 2 award winning films by the age of 17.

     At the age of 10, Jordan was the voice of cartoon character, "Tyrone the Moose" on the Nickelodeon show, The Backyardigans. After gaining income from the television the show; he was able to fund his first film, “Say It Loud”. The film stressed the importance of education for African American males and was picked up by AMC theaters for a 7-city film tour across the country. The documentary has appearances by figures like: Sen. Cory Booker, Kobe Bryant, Michael Strahan, Ludacris and more.

     At the age of 16, Jordan directed his second film, Payin’ The Price, which was a cautionary tale teen dating violence. Jordan has won awards from the Motion Picture Association Of America, HBO, Peachtree International Film Festival and more. He is currently working on his third film, which is a conversation on the police brutality in America.


Jason Ganz

Jason Ganz is a futurist, entrepreneur and tech-optimist. He is fascinated by the power of exponential technology to change the way we live and work. He is the CEO of Agora VR, a virtual reality communications company dedicated to reshaping the ways we share information. Jason is a 2014 graduate of American University's Kogod School of Business.


Deon Jones

Deon Jones was most recently a member of the start-up team at Opportunity@Work operationalizing the national TechHire Initiative announced by President Obama to connect more Americans to well-paying tech jobs. Beyond his contributions at Opportunity@Work, Deon has become a nationally recognized voice on the upward mobility and wellness of young people, particularly those growing up in poverty and at-risk communities. As a passionate advocate for the wellness of young people, he was a National Spokesperson at the Campaign for Youth Justice, where he traveled globally speaking on the organization’s mission to end youth incarceration in the U.S. adult criminal justice system. In addition, he served on the board of America’s Promise Alliance, an organization founded by General Colin Powell to end the U.S. high school dropout crisis.

Deon voluntarily serves as Executive Director of Code The Streets, the nation's first social accelerator providing technology startups cash, resources, and mentors to solve the most acute problems facing inner city youth.  His community outreach includes serving on the boards of Youth First! Justice Initiative and Blueprint for Success. In addition, he was appointed to the National Council of Young Leaders formed from a recommendation from the White House Council on Community Solutions. 

Deon earned his B.A. in political science from American University's School of Public Affairs, where he was awarded the Truman Scholarship. He was also a 2013 Public Policy and International Affairs fellow at UC Berkeley.