About Us

About Us

Jump to: Leadership | Meet Our team | Meet Our Counselors

Our mission is to build a global online community where kids build, code, play, and learn from one another. We tap the power of youth tech experts to teach and mentor, and have served thousands of kids through our online and community-based programs.

Connected Camps is a not-for profit organization providing connected learning experiences that foster creativity, problem solving, collaboration and interest-driven learning. It was catalyzed by three girl geeks with a passion for education and the positive potential of technology. Mimi is an educational researcher and advocate for connected learning, on a decades-long hunt to bridge education and entertainment. Katie is a game designer, educator and force behind the creation of Institute of Play and its partner school Quest to Learn. Tara is a technologist and entrepreneur who founded LA Makerspace so kids can make and learn in her local community.

Our approach is backed by lots of research and testing in practice, and is part of the Connected Learning Alliance, dedicated to mobilizing new technology in the service of equity, access and opportunity for all young people. By leveraging the power of open networks and partnering with community-based organizations, Connected Camps is committed to delivering the highest quality online learning experiences to young people in all walks of life.


Mimi Ito

Mimi Ito, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Mimi Ito, Ph.D., is Professor in Residence and MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning at UC Irvine. She also serves as Director of  the Connected Learning Lab and as Chair of the Connected Learning Research Network.

Katie Salen

Katie Salen, Co-Founder and Chief Designer
Katie is Professor of Game Design and Development in the Department of Informatics at UC Irvine and a member of the Connected Learning Lab. She is the Founding Executive Director of Institute of Play.

Barak Berkowitz

Barak Berkowitz, Board Member
Currently Director of Operations and Strategy at the MIT Media Lab, Executive Chairman of Digital Garage, and the CEO of MarketCentrix, a strategic consultancy. Barak previously served as CEO of Evi, a virtual personal assistant. Prior to Evi, Barak was Managing Director of Wolfram|Alpha, the award winning “Computational Knowledge Engine.”

Joichi Ito

Joichi Ito, Board Member
Joichi is the director of the MIT Media Lab. He is chairman of the board of PureTech Health and a board member of Sony Corp., the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the New York Times Co. He is the co-founder and a board member of Digital Garage, and Internet company in Japan.


Victor Lazo
Victor Lazo
Technical Director
Victor is the Technical Director for Connected Camps. He holds a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. As System Administrator, Victor manages all the technical needs for the camp servers.
Luke Lohden
Luke Lohden
Program Manager
Luke is the Program Manager at Connected Camps. He is a veteran Connected Camps counselor and holds a degree in Computer Game Science and Business Management from UC Irvine. He coordinates and works with the counselors to design and run our camps and after-school labs.
Sima Patel
Sima Patel
Head of Operations
Sima is the Head of Operations for Connected Camps. She holds an MPA degree from the California State University, Fullerton. She works on both internally organizing our team, the logistics of the camps, and liaising with our community based partners.

Bethany Pyles
Bethany Pyles
Esports Program Director
Bethany Pyles is the Esports Coaching Coordinator for Connected Camps. Bethany overseas the hiring, training and management of our esports coaches. Her educational background includes a B.A in anthropology. Her focus on societies, cultures and vulnerable populations fuels her dedication to diversity and inclusion in esports.
Jake Lui
Jake Lui
Program Coordinator
Jake is the Program Coordinator at Connected Camps. Previously a longtime Connected Camps counselor, he holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from USC. He provides tech support and communicates with counselors, students, and parents to ensure that programs run smoothly.

Meet Our Counselors

Program Partners

Richmond Collaborative
Committee for Children
Orange County High School Esports League
Seattle Public Library

Connected Camps thanks Reid Hoffman & Michelle Yee, Kaoru Hayashi, Joi Ito, Microsoft Research, the Samueli Foundation, and Siegel Family Endowment for their generous support.