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.

Leadership

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 currently runs Neoteny and is the co-founder and a board member of Digital Garage. Previous boards he served include The New York Times Company, Sony Corporation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He served as director of the MIT Media Lab from 2011 to 2019.

Team

Victor Lazo
Victor Lazo
Technology and Communications Director
Victor is the Technical and Communcations Director for Connected Camps. He holds a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. Victor manages all the technical needs for the camp servers.
Diego De La Peza
Diego De La Peza
People Director
As People Director, Diego works to recruit, support, and develop Connected Camps’ incredible talent. With an MBA in Design Strategy, Diego loves challenging convention in order to create human-centered business solutions. Outside of work, you’ll find Diego studying foreign languages and playing all things Nintendo.
Sima Patel
Sima Patel
Administrative Director
Sima is the Administrative Director for Connected Camps. She holds an MPA degree from CSUF. Within her role she manages the operational infrastructure to achieve productivity, legal, financial, and mission goals. She also manages new and existing b2b relationships. Her love for mission driven work has brought her to Connected Camps and keeps her engaged and excited about each work day. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her family.
Luke Lohden
Luke Lohden
Product Manager
Luke is the Product 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 develop and design our online virtual classes.
Bethany Pyles
Bethany Pyles
Esports Program Manager
Bethany Pyles is the Esports Program Manager at Connected Camps. Bethany oversees the program development and strategic planning of our esports programs and coaching. Bethany also serves on the North America Scholastic Esports Federation leadership team. Bethany has previous professional experience as a case worker for refugees and survivors of intimate partner violence. She also has experience mentoring and coaching youth in a varierty of settings. Bethany is a graduate of Indiana Univeristy of Pennslyvania and holds a B.A in anthropology. In her free time, you can find her playing games with friends or traveling to new places.
Jake Lui
Jake Lui
Product Supervisor
Jake is the Product Supervisor at Connected Camps. Previously a longtime Connected Camps counselor, he is committed to the mentorship and professional development of counselors and instructors, making sure that classes are always engaging, informative, and most of all, fun!
Victor Lazo
Drake Everlove
Esports Program Supervisor
Drake Everlove is the Performance Coach at Connected Camps. He provides resources, development, and feedback to the esports coaching staff. He has a B.A. of History from UCLA. As a lifelong gamer, Drake is passionate about the positive impact games can have on youth.
Cindy Hau
Cindy Hau
Design & Marketing Specialist
Cindy is the Design and Marketing Specialist for Connected Camps. With a love for intricate illustrations and geometric designs, Cindy creates brand assets for digital marketing, manages web content, and maintains an active brand persona across all social media platforms. Cindy’s adoration for complex characters in story-driven video games fueled her interest in how games can shape the lives of youth which she explores through her work. In her spare time, she enjoys playing League of Legends and collecting video game novelties.
Namir Salvant
Namir Salvant
Customer Support Specialist
Namir Salvant is the Customer Support Coordinator for Connected Camps. Namir works with the support team to create positive interactions and bridge the communication between counselors and customers. He is always big into the esports scene and does what he can to grow the esports programs whenever possible. His focus is to grow and to help reflect Connected Camps’ vision for the future!
Emily Leckie
Emily Leckie
Volunteer and Training Coordinator
Emily Leckie is the Volunteer and Training coordinator. She comes to this role with many years of summer camp experience, and experience in creating adaptive programming for youth with special needs. Social emotional and experiential learning are two things dear to her heart. In her free time, Emily is active in county 4H and coaches European Regional League of Legends.

Meet Our Counselors

Program Partners

Richmond Collaborative
Committee for Children
Orange County High School Esports League
MindFoundry
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.