Ayan Kishore is an experienced social entrepreneur and leader in technology for social impact and international development. He has a successful record in building and growing tech organizations that have helped millions globally– particularly minorities and the disadvantaged –to learn and secure jobs. As CEO, Kishore is tasked with unlocking opportunities for large-scale systems change and driving innovation through technology to transform how students, jobseekers, and older adults across the globe read, learn, and work through inclusive and equitable access to information. Prior to joining Benetech, Kishore founded and directed a digital social innovation lab at Creative Associates International focused on global literacy and peacebuilding. He served as EVP, Operations and Technology, and helped lead the IPO at Professional Diversity Network (PDN), an organization focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in the American workforce. He also founded and served as CEO for CareerImp, providing career improvement tools for jobseekers and college students to understand and overcome algorithmic biases in recruiting. Since 2008, Kishore has served as the Chairman of the Board for Development Solutions Organization, a volunteer program for top-tier college students and private sector professionals to provide pro bono consulting to racial justice and international development nonprofits. Kishore received a BSS in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MS in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University.
Kathie has over 20 years of accounting and finance experience with internet, semiconductor, hardware and nonprofit companies ranging in size from startup to publicly held. Kathie has a deep operational background with a continuous mindset toward process improvement, which augments her financial analysis and planning capabilities. Kathie serves as Benetech’s CFO via Ravix where she is CEO and managing partner. Previously, Kathie has served in finance roles for Neato Robotics, eBay and Agilent Technologies following her career launch with Hewlett-Packard. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the University of California, Berkeley. Kathie cycles everywhere, logging over 1,000 miles per year.
Joel is a seasoned business executive with over 20 years of experience. At Benetech, Joel is responsible for all revenue generation, go-to-market strategy and operations, program and product marketing, and communications. Prior to Benetech, Joel was VP of Product Marketing at Nexant and has held senior marketing, revenue, product, and business development roles at startups and public companies as well as nonprofits. Over the past 20+ years Joel’s work has spanned a range of global technology challenges from sustainability and energy management to speech recognition and security, all at the juncture of leveraging technology for action and impact. Joel is passionate about seeking new ways to apply software for social good. In his free time, Joel enjoys cycling, fly fishing, backpacking and time with family.
Lucy has extensive experience counseling mid-stage to late-stage companies. In 1998, she pioneered the “fractional” general counsel model to address the in-house legal needs of emerging growth companies; and since 1998, she has worked in that capacity in a variety of technology sectors, including pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, interactive media, and mobile applications. Prior to establishing her fractional general counsel model, Lucy served as Vice President, Legal Affairs for a national behavioral managed care company. Before her tenure in the managed care sector, she had been in a general corporate practice with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. Lucy is active with the Board of Directors for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and is also Chair of the chapter’s Pro Bono Committee. Throughout her career she has devoted her time and expertise to various not-for-profit organizations. Before law school, while working as Deputy Director of the Seventh Step Foundation and, then, as a Research Associate in the San Francisco office of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, she served on the Boards of Directors for both the San Francisco Child Abuse Council and the Center for Applied Local Research. She later served as Director, Outreach and Alliance Development for a non-profit microfinance investment vehicle, which mobilized private capital to provide loans to microfinance institutions in developing countries. Lucy received her baccalaureate degree in psychology from Vassar College, an interdisciplinary master’s degree in education and psychology from Tulane University, and, then, her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Edy Penn brings 20 years of improving the employee experience and has a deep desire to ensure that employees feel heard, valued, and understood in the work environment. She has a broad range of Human Resources experience, including talent acquisition, coaching, staff training and development, culture-building, and diversity, equity, and inclusion support and implementation. Edy has a B.A. and a J.D., both from Temple University.
Aaron Firestone is an experienced Business Development executive. At Benetech, Aaron is responsible for developing and implementing strategic fundraising priorities, enabling Benetech to scale impact in existing and new areas of work. Prior to Benetech, Aaron held marketing and program director roles at various environmental nonprofits. Aaron earned an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, where he focused on social enterprise and sustainable business, and he holds a B.A. in psychology from Swarthmore College. Aaron is passionate about harnessing new business models to drive social impact. In his free time, Aaron enjoys gardening, woodworking, and playing in the ocean with his family.
Lisa oversees outreach, community, and advocacy work for Benetech’s Bookshare initiative. Lisa is an expert on special education policy and law, inclusion, and family and school collaboration, especially as it relates to accessible educational materials. She has a PhD in Special Education and Policy from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University as well as a MA in Special Education from Santa Clara University.
Michael Johnson is a seasoned executive with almost 40 years of experience in the technology, publishing, and education markets. Michael speaks regularly around the world on the need for content that is Born Accessible, meaning designed from the beginning in digital formats that are compatible with all key book reading platforms and accessibility features. Michael also works directly with the publishing industry to implement Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program which empowers organizations to create, distribute, sell and offer fully accessible ebooks. He fervently believes in the importance of providing equal access to written information for people with disabilities and is using his long-standing relationships in the publishing industry to lead to systematic change.
David has more than two decades of experience and a proven track record of bringing high-quality software solutions to market. He has been the Director of Engineering at Benetech since 2015 and manages overall software engineering responsibility for Benetech’s digital applications, systems operations and software development teams as well as the software architecture design for Benetech’s Bookshare application. David has a Masters in Artificial Intelligence from Georgia Institute of Technology and a BSC in Mathematics and Computer Science from Macquarie University.
Mario is a mission-driven marketer with over 20 years of experience helping teams to create impact. At Benetech, he leads product marketing, user growth, and loyalty, leveraging data and customer insights to design and execute campaigns. Prior to Benetech, he worked as a brand strategist for B2B and B2C tech startups and Fortune 500 clients. Mario has a Master in Public Administration from Baruch College, a Master in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Chicago.
Charles has over 25 years’ accessibility development experience and has been a pioneer in accessible product development since 1993. Charles currently is an active member of multiple W3C Standards working groups. Charles is the technical architect of our new Global Certified Accessible (GCA) initiative at Benetech to certify publisher content as conforming to the EPUB Accessibility Specification. Charles has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.
Katy is a dedicated, client-focused project manager with over 10 years of experience working with SaaS web-based applications in digital and traditional publishing. At Benetech, she is responsible for defining the product strategy and roadmap, gathering and documenting product requirements and user stories for multiple, large-scale projects. She manages the products for Bookshare U.S., Bookshare International, data processing and reporting, and U.S. higher education initiatives. Katy is a seasoned book industry professional, previously working for Independent Publishers Group, INscribe Digital, and Borders Group Inc. In addition to her role at Benetech, Katy is the President of the non-profit Bay Area Women in Publishing and serves on the Alameda City Commission on Persons with Disabilities.