Honoring itrek Alumni innovators, entrepreneurs, and changemakers
In honor of reaching the milestone of 25,000 itrek participants, we launched the inaugural itrek25, a spotlight on 25 individuals in the itrek Alumni Network who are making significant contributions and inspiring positive change in areas such as:
Political Leadership & Social Justice
Ranging from impactful education initiatives to groundbreaking environmental projects, the itrek25 honorees below represent a snapshot of the impact, leadership, and innovation of our alumni Network.
Political Leadership & Social Justice
Harvard Policy, 2013
Phil Olaleye - Closing the Opportunity Gap in Atlanta
State Representative, Georgia State Representative
Executive Director, Next Generation Men and Women
In addition to serving as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Phil is the Executive Director of Next Generation Men & Women, an education non-profit closing the opportunity gap for under-resourced high school students in Atlanta. Before that, Phil served as the Director of Performance Management at WorkSource Atlanta and as a U.S. Peace Corps Children, Youth, and Family Volunteer in the Philippines.
The former President of the Organized Neighbors of Summerhill, Phil is a 2021 Georgia Trend 40 Under 40, and was a 2020 Atlanta Business Chronicle 40 Under 40 honoree. He graduated from Duke University in 2007 and received a master's in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2014.
Tufts Policy, 2019
Kudrat Chaudhary - Legal luminary and human rights advocate
Commissioner, Immigrant Rights Commission for San Francisco
Kudrat is the first South Asian to be nominated and selected as a Commissioner on the Immigrant Rights Commission for the city & county of San Francisco. She has been working as a gender rights specialist on gender based violence asylum claims, in San Francisco. At the age of 22, Kudrat published her first book “Laiza: Sometimes the End Is Only a Beginning”, about human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake.
As one of the founders of a non-violent movement called “Stop the Shame,” Kudrat was selected for the ‘Leading Non-Violent Movements for Social Progress’ at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Columbia Law & Policy, 2018
Ido Dembin - Advancing democratic values and civic engagement in Israel
Executive Director, Molad
Ido is the executive director of Molad – the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy. Prior to joining Molad, Ido served as the Israel Director at itrek, as an advisor at the Israeli mission to the OECD, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe in Paris, and as an associate at Herzog, Fox & Ne'eman.
Ido is a Tel Aviv University-educated lawyer and also holds a Master's degree in Human Rights from Columbia University, New York, where he wrote his thesis on the Israeli Government's legislation curbing Civil Society activism, and served as Chief Editor of RightsViews, the program's online magazine.
He is the Founder and Chief Editor of "Mr. Dembin Goes to Washington", a US politics and society blog. He has written for many Israeli outlets, including Ha’aretz, Walla, The Times of Israel, Liberal Magazine, and more.
Mirian Campos Moraes e Silva
Stanford Law, 2019
Mirian Campos Moraes e Silva - Championing Brazil’s economic growth
Government Official, Ministry of Finance of Brazil
Mirian has been a dedicated public servant in the Brazilian Federal Government since 2014, wearing multiple hats in trade and finance policy making. Her journey includes serving as Chief of Staff and as a trade and international advisor, participating in trade negotiations, representing Brazil before international organizations, and contributing to the trade department at the Brazilian Embassy in the U.S. Mirian’s also served in the Brazilian Trade Remedies Authority, where her leadership supporting Brazilian companies in antidumping and safeguard investigations abroad led to the reversion of relevant measures in the steel sector, amplifying the companies' competitiveness and contributing to Brazil's exports.
Recently, Mirian joined the Federal Supervisory Board overseeing the Fiscal Recovery Program. As Deputy Board Member of the Ministry of Finance, she actively monitors compliance and designs enhancements for the program. Mirian is part of Women Inside Trade, a Brazilian network of women professionals, and serves as a board member for ABCI Institute, a U.S. nonprofit working to disseminate information and promote discussion on trade-related matters.
Cecil Brooks, Jr.
Georgetown Policy, 2023
Cecil Brooks, Jr. - Lighting a path to opportunity in the Bronx and beyond
Bronx County Committee Member, New York State Democratic Party
Prior to his selection as a National Urban Fellow, Cecil served the House of Representatives as a Senior Constituent Services Liaison for the 15th Congressional District where he grew up. In addition to fielding casework from across the South Bronx, he tracked New York’s response to the COVID pandemic while providing insight into emerging community leaders. He was proud to join a diplomatic mission investigating the economic drivers of emigration from his native Honduras – becoming a trusted expert on casework involving commercial, tax, and planning issues. Previously, Cecil worked as a Program Manager at the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) managing 30 mayoral initiatives through the Small Business First portfolio. Much of his work at SBS revolved around commercial regulations, tax incentives, and financial literacy.
Cecil is a Fellow in the New Leaders’ Council (NLC) and serves as a Board Member and alum at the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) which advocates for academic enrichment for underserved students.
Sustainability & Environmental Impact
Stanford STEM, 2020
Aadith Moorthy - Empowering farmers all over the world to go green
Founder & CEO, Boomitra
Aadith is the founder & CEO of Boomitra, which works with 150,000+ farmers and ranchers around the world to increase soil carbon levels and improve crop yields. With the help of cutting-edge AI technology, Boomitra is able to accurately estimate soil carbon levels using satellites, without the need for any hardware or extensive soil sampling. Boomitra’s farmers have sequestered 10M+ tons and are now supported by carbon credit buyers (corporations and governments) who have made $100M in binding agreements to buy carbon credits generated by Boomitra's farmers.
Aadith's expertise and leadership in the field of AI have earned him recognition as a top founder in AI by TechCrunch. In addition, Aadith is a Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholar and holds two Bachelor's degrees from the California Institute of Technology and a Masters from Stanford University. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials Science at Stanford.
Harvard Policy, 2014
Anna Shpigel - Driving climate action and sustainable partnerships in government
General Counsel and Chief Climate Officer, Commonwealth of Mass Operational Services
Anna is the General Counsel and Chief Climate Officer for the Operational Services Division. Prior to joining OSD in 2017, Anna served as the Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration New England Region. She was appointed to this position by the White House in November 2014. Anna has also served as the General Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources where she championed the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Production Standard legislation and implementing regulations, developed the Massachusetts Clean Cities Incentive Program, and worked with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to promote public school renewable energy education programs.
Anna has an MPA from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, concentrating in energy economics, climate change policy, and expansion of public-private partnerships facilitating renewable energy research, innovative technology, and energy efficiency programs. She also holds BA Magna Cum Laude from Brandeis University and JD from Suffolk University Law School.
Johns Hopkins Policy, 2016 & 2017
Elias Stahl - Propelling a waste-free future one shoe at a time
Leader, Johns Hopkins Policy, 2016 & 2017
CEO and Founder, HILOS
Elias Stahl is the CEO & Co-Founder of HILOS, a venture-backed startup on a mission to reinvent the world’s most wasteful supply chains. Starting with footwear, HILOS blends 3D printing and computational design to deliver an on-demand, zero-waste future. A recent Yale case study found that HILOS’ technology reduces carbon by half and water usage by 99%.
To date, HILOS has received numerous accolades and awards, such as Glossy’s Best Breakthrough Startup, the Global Footwear Awards, Most Innovative World Technology, and Best in Show at SXSW 2022.
Prior to HILOS, Elias worked on urban policy while at the National League of Cities and helped Fortune50 brands leverage their influence for social impact as VP of Product at Handshake.
Columbia Policy, 2016
Cassia Moraes - Empowering tomorrow's climate leaders
Partnerships Manager, Climate-KIC
Cassia is a sustainable development expert and currently serves as the Partnerships and Outreach Manager at Climate KIC, the largest public-private partnership to foster climate innovation in Europe. She is the Founder and CEO of Youth Climate Leaders, an organization that trains and connects young people with networks and opportunities to start their careers as climate leaders. Cassia is also a member of the Regional Coordinating Committee (LatAm), UNDRR’s MCR2030 initiative: Cities and Climate Change. Previously, she served as the Deputy Executive Coordinator at the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change and worked as a Consultant at CIVICUS, UNDP, and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
Chicago MBA, 2018
Aviv Shalgi - Illuminating a greener path for homeowners everywhere
Founder & CEO, Solar Simplified
Aviv Shalgi is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Solar Simplified, a climate-tech startup transforming the energy space by enabling easy access to affordable solar energy. The Solar Simplified platform matches renters and homeowners who care about the environment and want to save money on the electricity bill with local solar farms.
Aside from building two successful startups, Aviv is a Business Development and Corporate Development professional with several successful M&A, VC investments, and joint ventures under his belt. For more than 6 years, Aviv has been a Board Member, Mentor, and Advisor to many entrepreneurs, startups, investors, VCs, and non-profit organizations.
Business & Innovation
Harvard Law School, 2017
Jennifer Shulkin - Pioneering a new approach to chronic pain management
Co-Founder & CEO, Override Health
Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. She has served as a judicial law clerk in the Eastern District of New York, Manhattan assistant district attorney, and white-collar criminal defense attorney in Washington, DC. Pivoting from criminal law and turning to a more personal cause, she now runs Override Health to help people like her who experience chronic pain. Its approach combines virtual, interdisciplinary care, peer support, and a mobile app with a digitized pain neuroscience education curriculum and health metrics tracking.
Override raised a seed financing round of $3.5 million led by 7wireVentures and Martin Ventures, with SignalFire and Confluent Health also participating. The company raised a seed extension of another $1 million with Esplanade Ventures this summer. Override is currently launched in 8 states and has started relationships with a few health systems and health plans.
Wharton MBA, 2019
Ron Kerbs - Protecting kids from online predators through voice analysis
Founder & CEO, Kidas Inc
Ron is the Founder and CEO of Kidas. At Kidas, Ron and his team create software to protect kids from bullying, scams, online predators, and harassment in online multiplayer games like Fortnite, Roblox, and over 400 other games.
PortectME by Kidas protects kids while they play from over 60 types of risks including online predators, scams, and many other cases. So far, Kidas’ technology has analyzed millions of voice conversations and alerted hundreds of parents. Some notable cases include kids who plan to bring real guns to schools, kids setting up meetings with predators, and credit scams.
Kidas has received a grant from The Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation and has also raised significant external funding from leading NY-based VCs and angel investors.
Columbia MBA, 2016
Laura Kornhauser - Busting bias and unleashing finance's fair side
CEO and Co-Founder, Stratyfy
Laura is the Co-Founder and CEO of the pioneering FinTech platform, Stratyfy, where her team is dedicated to accelerating financial inclusion by providing greater transparency and less bias to critical financial decisions. Stratyfy’s UnBias™ helps financial institutions proactively identify and remove hidden bias in data and models, and conduct proactive Fair Lending risk assessment with ease. In July 2023, Stratyfy announced its partnership with Beneficial State Foundation's Underwriting for Racial Justice Program, where it will work with 20 lenders to increase access to fair credit by Black and Latinx people in the U.S.
Prior to Stratyfy, Laura spent 12 years at JPMorgan, focused on building and delivering credit and risk products to corporate and institutional customers. Throughout her career, Laura has championed the use of ML to drive financial inclusion – including as a founding member of MoreThanFair, a research contributor in the groundbreaking study on fairness in ML with Stanford University, and an expert for MIT’s AI Policy Forum.
n 2020, Laura was chosen as both an Inspiring Female in Fintech by NYC FinTech Women and the Women in FinTech Powerlist by Innovate Finance.
Harvard Policy, 2011-2013
Yaniv Rivlin - Blending startups, peace, and bestselling prose
Founding Partner, Adva Growth
Yaniv boasts a 20-year multidisciplinary career, founding and leading companies, communities, funds, and organizations across private and public spheres. Currently, Yaniv is building and leading Adva Growth, an investment fund, which focuses on the service economy in the New Centers of Israel. Previously, Yaniv served as Senior Director at Bird where he oversaw virtually all aspects of its market strategy, expansion, and policy.
Alongside his professional career, Yaniv has served as an ambassador for the OneVoice Movement, a global initiative of the PeaceWorks Foundation that empowers activists working to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recently, Yaniv published his first book, Live Like a StartUp: Take the Initiative and Transform Your Life, which has become a #1 international bestseller. He is also a leading keynote speaker to companies and organizations, including Lexus, YPO, the IDF, and the Israeli Department of Education.
In addition to a number of academic awards and fellowships, Yaniv was selected as one of Israel's "40 under 40" by TheMarker magazine and as one of 10 Israeli trailblazers by Samsung and Haaretz newspaper.
Jessica Schaefer - PR powerhouse crafting stories worth millions
CEO and Founder, Bevel
Having launched her public relations consultancy in 2017 to address an industry void, Jessica serves as a bridge between clients and stakeholder communities, leveraging traditional mediums and breaking through the new age media. In June 2023, Bevel was acquired by Avenue Z, a strategic communications and marketing advisory founded by serial entrepreneur Jeffrey Herzog.
Jessica honed her communications skills during her tenure at Point72, where she led communications for the firm’s venture capital arm — Point72 Ventures — in addition to serving as Vice President of corporate communications of the family office. Prior to Point72, Jessica had multiple sales and marketing roles at Moody’s, which included Head of Marketing Communications and Director of Global Sales, managing a book of $12.5M.
Jessica has received multiple awards for her work including PR News “Rising Stars 30 under 30” and Moody’s “Rising Star Award.”
Bridge Building & International Development
Harvard Policy, 2017
Niruban Balachandran - Sparking dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Indonesians
Foreign Policy Expert and Peace Practitioner
Prior to joining the East-West Center, Niruban led the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation's global environmental grantmaking portfolio in Flint, Michigan. Previously, he served in the World Bank in Indonesia for 7 years, leading programs in rural village development, governance, and environmental protection.
Niruban has been active in supporting and promoting ties between Israel and Indonesia over the years. To strengthen ties between Israelis and Indonesians, Niruban formed partnerships and collaborations with organizations such as the Peace Factory, Nas Daily Global, and the RAHIM Foundation Indonesia, expanding reach and support to advance interfaith dialogue with Indonesian Muslims.
Niruban is a recognized change-maker in the global peacebuilding movement, with affiliations at the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Varieties of Peace Network, and Harvard Divinity School's Religions & the Practice of Peace Alumni Leadership Network. He is a Truman Security Fellow and was named a National Security Next Generation Leader by the New America Foundation. His writing has been published in Yale Global, The Jerusalem Post, Tablet, and The Jakarta Post, among other prestigious outlets.
Harvard Policy, 2021
Zipporah Gatiti - Brewing change in Kenya from bean to cup
CEO, Taste of Kenya
In 2015, Zipporah ran a small trial with her grandmother, a coffee farmer in Kenya. Zipporah took some of her coffee beans, cut out the middlemen, and sold them at a trade fair in Ireland. Zipporah’s grandmother made double what she would earn in a year with just a tenth of her coffee. “Imagine if I had access to all her coffee, her neighbors’ coffee, and their neighbors’ coffee,” she thought. This drove Zipporah to build Taste of Kenya, a social impact company that optimizes the coffee supply chain by sourcing, roasting, and packaging coffee locally in Kenya.
Today, Taste of Kenya links over 1000 farmers in Kenya directly to coffee buyers, cutting out the middlemen, and paying farmers a fair rate. Zipporah has received several awards and recognitions for her innovative and sustainable business model, including the MassChallenge Switzerland Gold Award and the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Founder Award.
Harvard Policy, 2014
Jonathan Chang - Revolutionizing access to capital for the unbanked
CEO, Fintopia Indonesia
Jonathan is the CEO of Fintopia Indonesia, the largest micro-lending digital platform in Indonesia, having channeled more than $2 billion in unsecured loans to millions of borrowers (mostly unbanked and underbanked). This unicorn FinTech firm employs 600 people, 60% of whom are women.
Previously, Jonathan was the Regional Head of Government Partnerships and Engagement at Shopify and the Country Head of Google for Education in Indonesia. Prior to Google, Jonathan served as Senior Advisor of Higher Education to Indonesia's Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology. In addition, he was the Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre and the Overseas Colleges at the National University of Singapore, and the Lien Centre for Social Innovation at Singapore Management University.
Jonathan graduated from UC Berkeley, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and earned his doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
MIT MBA, 2016
Bar Pereg - Disrupting tech through innovation and purpose
Founder and CEO, Polly-labs
Bar is an impact innovation and venture-building expert with 15 years of experience working at the intersection of technology, business, and social impact. She is the founder and CEO of PollyLabs, a Startup Studio dedicated to rapidly advancing solutions for pressing societal issues by leveraging existing, proven technologies. PollyLabs focuses on challenges faced by underserved communities and their support networks, including disaster victims and their aid providers, migrant workers, and their ethical employers, and regenerative agriculture farmers and their supply chain partners.
Before her work at PollyLabs, Bar played a crucial role in Deloitte's Purpose Strategy and ESG practice. Her contributions extended beyond the organization, as she engaged with esteemed institutions such as the United Nations, The World Bank, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
She has co-authored several foundational pieces on purpose-driven strategy, ESG, and market-based solutions to social impact. Her expertise and insights have guided leading multinational corporations and public entities on topics such as public-private partnerships and blended capital.
Harvard Policy, 2018
Yovav Gavish - Capital catalyst driving cross-border innovation
Venture Capital Investor and Ex. Board Member, World Bank Group
During the past 5 years, Yovav has served as a Board Member at the World Bank Group, representing Israel, leading Israel’s engagement with the WBG institutions, and working closely with Israel's private sector to create opportunities for collaboration.
During his tenure, Yovav was fortunate to lead several historic collaborations between Israel and the WBG on Water, Digital Health, Agtech, Climate, and Cybersecurity, and develop projects between Israel and countries in the region to enhance regional integration.
Prior to joining the WBG, Yovav was the CFO of the Israeli Government Companies Authority, the ownership entity of 80 state-owned companies. As head of the Finance Division, Yovav led private privatizations, IPOs, investments, portfolio management, and innovation. The reforms that he ushered in resulted in portfolio performance improvement - from a loss of $200M a year to a $1B profit a year in less than 3 years.
Education & Community Engagement
NYU Policy, 2019
Cecilia Vales - Championing gender equality on and off the field
Founder, and Director, She Wins Mexico
Cecilia has dedicated her career to empowering women and promoting gender equality by combining her two passions: sports and education. Formerly a soccer player herself, Cecilia established her global nonprofit to equip young girls with confidence, life skills, and English language training. Founded in 2015, She Wins focuses on supporting young girls from indigenous communities in Mexico with skills to overcome barriers and pursue their dreams.
Cecilia has served as a delegate to the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) from the Department of State and the UN’s eQuality Football Workshop. She worked on sports consultancy projects for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Mexico, and the Agitos Foundation of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), among others.
Oxford Policy, 2019
Cole Scanlon - Edtech trailblazer making higher education accessible to all
Co-Founder and Co-Director, FairOpportunityProject.org
As co-founder and co-director of Fair Opportunity Project, a global Edtech nonprofit, Cole brings free college application advice to over 60,000 public educators annually. Featured in Forbes, The New York Times, and The Harvard Education Magazine, Fair Opp continues to work with counselors around the US to help students attend and afford college.
Cole also co-directs the Lab for Entrepreneurship and Development, a Harvard IQSS research lab he co-founded, and serves as an advisor at Yale's Center for Digital Health and Innovation. Cole has been recognized on Forbes 30 Under 30 for education.
Holding degrees from Harvard and Oxford, his journey includes impactful roles at The World Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Google. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harvard Gazette, and Forbes.
Stanford Law School, 2019
Felipe Neves - Inspiring young minds toward a corruption-free world
Founder, Civics Educacao
Felipe is the Founder of Civics Educacao and is the Head of Google Workspace for Education in Latin America. Felipe teaches to underprivileged students in São Paulo, Brazil the main aspects of the constitution and current anti-corruption regulations. Also, Felipe created a scholarship program to allow underprivileged students to get accepted to top tier law schools in Brazil. In 2018, Felipe was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Brazil.
Through itrek Microgrants, Felipe provided skills training and created a book club to over 60 low-income law school students in Brazil and, at the same time, increased awareness and knowledge about the Israeli and Jewish communities.
Cornell MBA, 2019
Mae Tan - The digital trailblazer ensuring no senior is left behind
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Mae co-founded the tech non-profit, kampungkakis.org, a neighborhood buddy system that matches resident volunteers to seniors based on proximity, spoken language, and assistance type. Within 6 months, the initiative galvanized over 1,000 volunteers and supported over 500 seniors.
Besides championing KampungKakis, Mae is also passionate about driving financial inclusion. In her day job, Mae serves as Senior Global Partnerships Manager for GoTo Financial, the fintech arm of Indonesia’s largest tech company, the GoTo Group. In her role, she forges impactful partnerships with global tech and payments partners to accelerate financial inclusion amongst Indonesia’s underbanked.
Mae has been awarded the Social Impact award by Women in Payments and received the Mastercard CEO Force for Good award for her positive impact in the industry and at KampungKakis. She was also recognized as Singapore’s Prestige 40 under 40 and has been nominated for the Singapore President’s Award for Volunteerism and Philanthropy.
Harvard Policy, 2019
Shahar Brukner - Democratizing social impact data for nonprofits
Co-Founder and CEO, Impala
Shahar is the CEO of Impala, a startup building the data infrastructure that allows nonprofits and philanthropists to fundraise more effectively by making social impact data accessible and actionable for all.
While pursuing his Master's degree at Harvard, Shahar started BrainGain Israel to provide scholarships for Israeli students studying at top US universities. The Fellowship offers a two-year tuition subsidy and training and mentorship from Israeli public policy alumni. Before this, Shahar worked with the Israeli Attorney General, focusing mostly on high-profile criminal cases and criminal law reforms.