Edward Abeyta, Ph.D.
Director Pre-Collegiate and Career Preparation Programs
and Assistant Dean for Community Engagement,
University of California, San Diego, Extension

Edward L. Abeyta, Ph.D. is Director Pre Collegiate and Career Preparation Programs & Assistant Dean for Community Engagement at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension. Prior to joining UCSD Extension in 1995, Edward began his service at UCSD as a counselor for the Early Academic Outreach Program serving underrepresented students in San Diego high schools and later assumed the role of Registrar and Director of Academic Services at UC San Diego Extension. In 2010 he established the UCSD Extension K-16 Programs & Outreach division where he currently serves at the Director.

Dr. Abeyta has a B.A. from the University of New Mexico, a M.A. from the University of San Diego and his Ph.D. in Post Secondary Adult Education from Capella University. Edward has been recognized from UCSD and the UC Office of the President for his involvement in staff diversity and development initiatives. In 2008 Edward was selected to a two year term as the Staff Advisor to The Regents where has served on the UC Diversity Commission, Post-retirement Task Force, and The Regents UC Commission on the Future.

He is an active member in the San Diego community as a member of LEAD San Diego and board of the San Diego Youth Symphony, San Diego Youth Council, and Herb Klein Leadership Roundtable. Edward is also a founding board member of the San Diego Urban Discovery Charter School and is deeply involved in programs servicing foster youth, veterans, and other youth development programs.


Kim Richards
Founder and Principal of KDR PR
(619) 708-4430 or kim@kdrpr.com 

Kim Richards grew up in a household dedicated to education and the arts. The daughter of a music teacher and high school history teacher, her life was spent in the classroom, learning traditional subjects fused with music appreciation. This background fueled a 13-year study of classical piano, and a lifelong passion for innovative learning that became the inspiration for founding KDR PR in 2011.

Kim has quickly established her reputation as an expert in representing STEAM initiatives around the U.S., connecting hundreds of schools and organizations through STEAMConnect, and orchestrating events in San Diego to highlight STEAM initiatives and provide a space for collaboration.

Kim and her team are also gaining attention for clients in all major San Diego press including UT San Diego, KPBS, Voice of San Diego, North County Times, San Diego Magazine and Xconomy, as well as all local broadcast TV stations. In the world of education, they are securing coverage in THE Journal, Gettingsmart.com, Edudemic, eschoolnews, and more. For past life science clients, Kim secured coverage in outlets such as Shape, Reuters Health, Inc. Magazine, Fortune Small Business, LA Times, New York Times and Consumer’s Digest. Her work has also earned recognition from the Public Relations Society of America.

Kim currently sits on the boards of the BIOCOM Institute and King-Chávez Neighborhood of Schools, the San Diego Advisory Council for Art of Science Learning, and is a member of the arts education task force with CREATE CA that wrote a new Blueprint for Creative Education through the California Department of Education.


John M. Eger, Ph.D.
Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy
and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, School of Journalism and Media Studies,
at San Diego State University

John M. Eger, author and lecturer on the subjects of creativity and innovation, education and economic development, is the Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, School of Journalism and Media Studies, at San Diego State University.

A former Advisor to two Presidents and Director of the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy he helped spearhead the restructuring of America’s telecom Industry and was Senior Vice President of CBS responsible for worldwide enterprises, which opened China to commercial television.

More recently he served as Chair of California Governor’s first Commission on Information Technology; Chair of the Governors Committee on Education and Technology; and Chair of San Diego Mayor’s “City of the Future” Commission.

He is the author of over 100 articles, books and book chapters. More recently he authored the seminal “Guidebook for Smart Communities”, a “how to” for communities struggling to compete in the age of the Internet; and “The Creative Community: Linking Art, Culture, Commerce and Community”, a call to action to reinvent our communities for the Creative Age.



M.A. Greenstein, Ph.D.
Founder, George Greenstein Institute, Adjunct Assoc. Prof, Art Center College of Design
Grad Faculty Advisor, MICASocial Design

As an internationally recognized arts and science researcher, experience designer and knowledge architect, Dr. M. A. Greenstein has been redrawing the front lines of arts and science to help decode the complex data of brain science into relevant insights and whole-brain strategies for design thinking, prototyping and problem-solving.

Dr Greenstein’s work (and the emergent industries of applied neuroscience translation and design thinking) has reached thousands of children, young adults, university leaders and organizations searching for new paths of whole-brain and interactive thinking, feeling and doing. As adjunct faculty at MICASocial Design and at Art Center College of Design and as a former Fulbright Scholar to Taiwan/China, she has forged frontiers in cross-cultural research and education and in future arts and science invention.  As the creator of the Inventio!Brains System and of two educational companies dedicated to creating equal access to brain knowledge  (the George Greenstein Institute and SM+ART), Dr. Greenstein has proven her skills and insights as a nimble innovation strategist, a seasoned design thinker, a daring social entrepreneur, and as a trusted coalition builder and coach.

At home and abroad, Dr Greenstein is recognized as an advisor to the STEAMConnect Initiative in San Diego, is an XPrize Vanguard for Global Learning and is a member of the NSF funded SILC Network for Spatial Studies and Research. A passionate advocate for tapping whole-brain potential, Dr. Greenstein envisions a reachable goal: Generate Wonder with the Brain in Mind


Ed Hidalgo
Senior Director of Staffing, Qualcomm

Ed Hidalgo serves as senior director of staffing for Qualcomm Incorporated, where he is responsible for the global contingent workforce, immigration and relocation. Hidalgo is also the co-founder of a Qualcomm program called Career Explorations, which provides career counseling and coaching to Qualcomm employees. Through this program he spearheaded the launch of a new initiative called the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, which works to introduce San Diego middle school youth to technology and engineering careers, while also providing on-site volunteer opportunities for Qualcomm employees. He also serves as the executive sponsor for Qualcomm’s Workforce Development Labs, where he works to promote youth and veteran engagement in workforce development and lifelong learning through hands-on internships.

Hidalgo’s background includes more than 15 years of staffing experience. Prior to his role at Qualcomm, he worked as an area manager for Manpower where he was responsible for technical recruiting and site-management operations, contributing to the employment of thousands of workers throughout San Diego County.

Ed is a co-founder of the Manpower High Tech High Academic Internship Program, which created more than 650 internships in more than 200 community businesses and agencies. He also serves on the boards of San Diego Workforce Partnership and San Diego Second Chance Program. He graduated from the University of Miami in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.


Laura Kohn
Executive Director, Education Synergy Alliance

Laura is a 20-year leader in the field of education, with a range of experience in policy, government, advocacy, research, program design, nonprofit management and philanthropy. In 2012 and 2013, as Laura worked with leaders in San Diego on the inquiry that led to the establishment of ESA, she also consulted with states and cities around the country to help them build new, more effective teacher evaluation systems.

Laura was recently named a 2014 Presidio Institute Cross-Sector Leadership Fellow, one of 24 business, non-profit and government leaders from around the nation who will receive training from Presidio, the White House, McKinsey and BlackRock to solve social problems through collective efforts.

Until 2011 when she moved to San Diego, Laura was executive director of the New School Foundation in Seattle, which used its successful partnerships with schools in low-income neighborhoods as a platform to foment education reform locally and in Washington State. Laura and the foundation played a key role in promoting PreK-3rd in the state, to create an education continuum between early learning and early elementary grades so that students develop a solid reading and math foundation.

Laura’s prior roles include director of education for the city of Seattle, Washington State advocacy consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and education policy advisor to Washington’s governor. She has served on the boards of directors of many education organizations, including her current role on the board of San Diego United Parents for Education.


Ellen Potter, Ph.D.

Director of Education Outreach, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences

Ellen Potter has served as the liaison between the Salk Institute scientists and San Diego County educational community for the past 20 years. She is a neurobiologist by training, educator and founder of the Salk Mobile Science Laboratory (MSL).  She played a key role in the development of this award winning three-day science curriculum. The Salk Mobile Lab is a unique, interactive mobile science program that brings researchers, teachers, faculty, community and Salk volunteers into middle school classrooms all around San Diego County. In addition she oversees all educational outreach programs offered by the Salk Institute that include Salk MSL, High School Scholars Program and March of Dimes High School Science Day.  Ellen has served on advisory panels for HHMI Educational Initiatives at the Dolan DNA Learning Center and is a scientific advisor to Reuben H Fleet Science Center. Over the years Dr. Potter has fostered many collaborations with other local institutions throughout San Diego, such as UCSD Biobridge, The Scripps Research Institute, Birch Aquarium and SDCOE. She serves on the Educational Steering Committee for BIOCOM (life science industry association representing more than 500 members) and was honored by San Diego Science Alliance with a Partnership Award for Sustainable Programs in recognition of the Salk MSL.


Nan Renner, Ph.D.
Research Associate, UCSD CREATE

Learning—an engine for change—fascinates Nan Renner and motivates her work in design and research. Renner’s BA in Visual Art, Theory and Practice from Northwestern University and PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of California San Diego reflect her abiding interest in perception, representation, and meaning-making. She worked in museums for twenty years, as San Diego Museum of Art graphic designer, San Diego Natural History Museum exhibit developer, and Bilingual Exhibits Research Initiative co-principal investigator. She directed the San Diego Incubator for Innovation (Art of Science Learning/Balboa Park Cultural Partnership), fostering creativity and community-driven innovation with an emphasis on science and technology. She presently conducts research with UCSD CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence), contributes to the InforMath Collaborative, exploring ways to integrate mathematics with art and science in informal learning environments, and advises the California Networks for Collaboration, a program of the California Association of Museums.


Dalouge Smith

President & CEO, San Diego Youth Symphony

Dalouge Smith is in his 10th season leading San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory. He has overseen development of SDYS’ vision to “make music education accessible and affordable for all students.” In pursuit of this vision, Dalouge has transformed SDYS into a community instigator for restoring and strengthening music education in schools. SDYS has expanded its work beyond music programs to include measurement, partnerships, community awareness, and community action.

Dalouge has served as a national leader in the U.S. El Sistema movement since co-founding the National El Sistema Network in December 2010 and convening the first summit of El Sistema inspired programs in 2011. He has been a featured speaker at the LA Phil’s past three El Sistema conferences, writes annually for The Ensemble, the U.S. El Sistema newsletter, and serves on the Advisory Board of Sistema Global. SDYS’ Community Opus Project is the first El Sistema project to be featured in Grantmakers for the Arts “Reader.”

Additionally, Dalouge is highly regarded as an arts advocacy leader. Dalouge serves on the board of California Arts Advocates and was founding President of Californians for the Arts. He was Chairman of the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition for eight years until the end of 2010. Dalouge speaks regularly on the community impact of the arts and importance of arts education at local events as well as state and national conferences. His guest editorials and radio appearances highlight the importance of the arts, as does his arts advocacy blog “Dog Days” at the national website artsjournal.com.


Steve Snyder, Ph.D.
CEO, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Steven Snyder, Ph.D. comes to the Fleet from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where he served as Vice President of Exhibit and Program Development. There he was responsible for redefining the direction and processes for the development and implementation of all exhibit, theater and public programs for a 180+ year old institution and in so doing transforming the existing museum into a more dynamic, relevant, educational experience. As a member of senior leadership, he helped to shape the strategic direction and chart a new course for the organization. Dr. Snyder conceived of and led the

development of a new educational direction for the organization that will drive the future direction of conceptualization and implementation of all exhibit, program and theatrical offerings. He managed an extensive staff, including designers, developers, interpreters, evaluators and scientists, while directing over $5M in annual operations and $2M in annual capital projects. Dr. Snyder developed new experiences and products to increase attendance and revenue while maintaining the integrity of the organization’s educational mission, including over 80,000 square feet of new exhibitions and programs, and served as a key public spokesperson for the organization.

At Science City/The Kansas City Museum in Kansas City, MO, Dr. Snyder served as Director of Science, then Director of Attraction Development, and played a key role in helping a small regional history museum expand to encompass a new science center located in a restored 850,000-square-foot train station, an existing regional historic site. Through careful management, he changed staff perceptions about roles and possibilities for the organization, its reach and mission. He led the development of all exhibits, programs and theatrical offerings, and managed a highly diverse team with backgrounds in education, science, history, collections, entertainment/theater and graphic design. While overseeing the development and management of budgets and strategic planning, he also developed new techniques to attract new (and retain old) audiences, and developed relations (professional, sponsorship and donor) with community and business leaders.


Tomoko Kuta

Director, Education and Exhibitions, The New Children’s Museum


Ed Honowitz
Education Policy Advisor, California State Senator Carol Liu
Chair of the Senate Education Committee


Young Haagensen
Director, Alumni Development, Notre Dame Academy
Advisor to Greater San Diego Science & Engineering Fair