About Us

About Us

Jump to: Our Values | Meet Our Team | Meet Our Counselors | Leadership

Our Mission

Our mission is to build a global online community where kids build, code, play, and learn from one another. As a not-for-profit organization, we provide connected learning experiences – our “camps” – that foster creativity, problem solving, collaboration and interest-driven learning.
To accomplish this, we tap the power of youth tech experts – our “counselors” – to teach and mentor. In turn, we provide our counselors with multi-year job experience and professional support. Through this system, we have served thousands of kids through our online and community-based programs.

Our Approach

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, we are committed to delivering the highest quality online learning experiences to young people in all walks of life.

Our Values

Committed to Excellent Play 

We approach our work with professionalism and play in mind. Remember to have fun. We strive to be the best at what we do. Be exceptional.

Models and Mentors

Lead by example. Keep it kid-friendly. We set the bar for how to work responsibly with young people. Help others grow. Share knowledge and experience.

Always Human

Think of the person behind the screen. Act with empathy. Value the importance of community. Inquire more, judge less. We meet each other as we are. We’re not perfect, we’re real.

Lifelong Learners

We believe that feedback moves us forward. Our goal is to do better today than yesterday. Seek to learn from others. Know you don’t always have the answer. Build, test, iterate, repeat. Use data wisely.

Generous Collaborators

We work together to set each other up for success. No one person or team is more valuable than others. We care more about working toward the same goal, than we do about our own interests. Be humble. We help one another without judgment.

Advocates for Belonging

We aim to create an environment of safety, support, and inclusion for all community members, from teammates to learners. Value all voices and embrace differences. We strive to reflect the community which we serve. We care about equitable solutions.


Hover or Click On A Staff To Hear Their Story!

Cindy Hau
Cindy is the Design and Marketing Specialist. As a lifelong artist with interests in both design and customer satisfaction, her professional background includes many years of Customer Service and Graphic Design. When it comes to video games and entertainment, her adoration for excellent storytelling, characters, and designs is a constant inspiration for her. In joining Connected Camps, she is happy to find a space in which others are able to exercise their passion in video games – from the people she work with to the product and consumers.
Elissa Alves
Elissa is the Executive Administrator at Connected Camps, providing core support for the executive team. Elissa has a B.A. in English from Drew University. With a background in children's publishing, Elissa is passionate about creative engagement and excited to work with an organization that provides a unique and connected learning community for children. In her spare time, Elissa plays video game music on the violin.
Matthew Kreutter
Matthew joined Connected Camps as a Product Manager, overseeing the development of current and new programs. He earned a B.S. in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.Ed. from UMSL. Prior to joining Connected Camps, Matthew served as a middle school math teacher through TFA. Alongside teaching, Matthew led elective courses in videogame design and introductory programming, which is what initially drew him to Connected Camps' model.
Megan Timmermann
Megan is the Assistant System Administrator for Connected Camps. Previously a Connected Camps counselor, she now works on the upkeep and configuration of the computer systems used in the programs at Connected Camps. Megan has a passion for technology and gaming, and wants to use that passion to positively impact the youth of today.
Victor Lazo
Victor is the Technical and Communications 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.
Meet Our Counselors


Mimi Ito

Mimi Ito, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Mimi is the Executive Director of Connected Camps and Director of the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine. She is a cultural anthropologist and learning scientist by training, whose work has focused on how online communities can support learning. Connected Camps has been an effort that has grown out of this research, and collaborations with the Connected Learning Research Network which Mimi helped lead for over a decade.

Katie Salen

Katie Salen, Co-Founder and Chief Designer
Katie is the co-founder and Chief Designer of Connected Camps and also a Professor in the Informatics Department at UCI. Katie’s background mixes expertise in game design, learning, play, and youth development. Katie loves working with teams to design programs that have positive impacts on kids, preferably using games to do so!

Don Miller

Don Miller, Chief Operating Officer
Don is the Chief Operating Officer of Connected Camps. He has a background in finance, operations and strategy in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors. His passion for childhood education coupled with his experience helping organizations build the capacity to scale and advance their missions brought him to the Connected Camps team.

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.”

Carina Wong

Carina Wong, Board Member
Carina Wong is the Deputy Director and Senior Advisor for Innovation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her portfolio includes investments that seek to dramatically accelerate student success and improve the quality of teaching and learning in public schools today. Carina has worked in education in a variety of roles at the national, state, and local levels for over twenty years. She is a mother of three young children and is currently a Deputy Director on the College Ready team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Janella Watson

Janella Watson, Board Member
Janella Watson is an international speaker and educational consultant, with expertise in creativity, play and experiential learning. Drawing on more than 20 years of work as a researcher and practitioner in children’s museums and science centers, she is renowned for creating curriculum, media content, programs, exhibits and experiences that center equity and spark joy, learning and whole family engagement. Janella lives, works and plays in Providence, RI with her husband and her curious and kind kid.

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.

Lili Cheng

Lili Cheng, Board Member
Lili Cheng is a Corporate Vice President of the Microsoft AI and Research division, responsible for the AI developer platform. Prior to Microsoft, Lili worked in Apple Computer’s Advanced Technology Group on the user interface research team where she focused on QuickTime Conferencing and QuickTime VR. Lili is also a registered architect, having worked in Tokyo and Los Angeles for Nihon Sekkei and Skidmore Owings and Merrill on commercial urban design and large-scale building projects. She has also taught at New York University and Harvard University.

Program Partners

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


As a nonprofit organization, Connected Camps, part of the Connected Learning Alliance, is a nonprofit that relies on generous contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and public agencies.

Connected Camps’ indirect cost recovery rate for federal grants is 10%.