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Esme student with laptop writing in notebook

About Esme

We collaborate with the top universities in the world, such as University of Oxford, to deliver transformational learning experiences to a global audience.

Esme Learning is helping executives and working professionals reinvent themselves for the AI-enabled future, meeting the need to learn new cutting-edge topics and skills at an ever-increasing rate as the pace of technology change is transforming the nature of work. Having already pioneered the short-course, tightly engineered model of learning that has revolutionized how tier one universities deliver online classes, our founders have formed Esme Learning to reinvent learning once again, bringing advanced tools and technologies to bear on the learning experience, demonstrating completion rates above 90% while delivering a 50% to 1,800% improvement over student satisfaction versus other types of digital courses.

Designed for the time-starved executive, this online learning experience harnesses technology based on the latest university research that can deliver superior learning outcomes and help immediately apply knowledge to work.

AI-enabled knowledge acceleration to build collective intelligence at scale

The Riff Platform: Using artificial intelligence, we are re-architecting the experience of group collaboration through a new breakthrough technology.

The most effective learning experiences occur within small groups engaged in problem-solving exercises. However, in a digital / distributed work environment, how does one make this effective? Video conference calls cause people to tune out of the discussion.

Using artificial intelligence, we are redesigning the experience of group collaboration. This new capability changes the way your team members interact with one other in real time, as the video call is happening. With a simple on-screen cue, people can have more effective team interactions.

Company Leadership

Beth Porter, Managing Director

Beth Porter is the Co-Founder of Esme Learning Solutions and Founder & CEO of Riff Analytics. A former VP at Pearson Education and edX, Beth’s highly sought-after expertise stems from a deep passion for education and desire to provide the highest quality tech-enabled learning experiences. Beth has led pioneering research and developed products that transform online teaching and learning, including driving the Open edX initiative at edX and architecting the original Texas OnCourse program. Her engagements in higher education include researcher and lecturer at the MIT Media Lab and Boston University Questrom School of Business.

Beth Porter, Managing Director, Esme Learning

David Shrier, Managing Director

David is a globally recognized thought leader in technology and educational innovation.  The portfolio of digital classes he created for MIT and University of Oxford have engaged more than 15,000 innovators in over 140 countries, and revolutionized the model for university short-course offerings. He is an Associate Fellow with SaÏd Business School, University of Oxford and a Lecturer with the MIT Media Lab. David has published five books in the past five years focused on technology disruption, the three most recent of which with MIT Press or Little Brown.

David Shrier, Managing Director, Esme Learning

Michael Block, Board Director

Michael is Managing Director at Adit Ventures and a well-known market strategist and corporate advisor, an expert on macroeconomics, global markets, and alternative investments, and advises a wide variety of global institutional clients and fiduciaries.  He writes daily on global markets and is a frequent expert panelist on networks like CNBC, Fox Business, Fox News, CNN, and Bloomberg, and is cited frequently by publications and websites like CNNMoney.com, Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Michael Block, Board Director, Esme Learning

Executive Team

Kelly Lees, Chief Marketing Officer

For over two decades Kelly has accelerated multi channel growth for global consumer brands (AOL, Microsoft, Nike, Viacom), private equity-backed companies (Dr Martens, Jack Wills, Meri Meri) and early stage startups that operate in the areas of edtech and consumer goods (Tech Will Save US, Trip,com, Fire Tech, Rootopedia), having held multiple Chief Marketing Officer or equivalent positions.  Kelly has a BA from Kenyon College, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  She sits on the Innovation Council for the Serpentine Gallery, is on the advisory board for Common Sense Media and is a mentor for The Prince's Trust. 

Kelly Lees, Chief Marketing Officer, Esme Learning

James Donald, Head of Production

James is an award-winning executive producer and master storyteller with over two decades of international video and film production experience. His films have garnered over twenty-five awards, including a Peabody, two National Emmys and a CINE Masters Series award.

James Donald, Head of Production, Esme Learning

Julia Henderson, VP of Course Operations

Julia has spent her career leading learning experience, course operations, support, and success teams focused on educational technology and online learning at scale within companies including Pearson, edX, and O’Reilly Media. Julia sits on the board of Open2All, an educational technology startup. She is passionate about innovation in technology, lifelong learning and learning theory, experimentation culture, and agile methodologies.

Julia Henderson, VP of Course Operations, Esme Learning

Mark Hoeber, VP of Curriculum Development

Mark has a career history of translating complex technical topics into easily-understood material for a broader audience.  He has been leading technical content, training and enablement for Cybereason, a cyber security company, where he built the Cybereason Academy. He previously was the Head of Technical Communications for edX, and has held senior technical writing roles with IBM, Cisco, and Sun Microsystems.

Mark Hoeber, VP of Curriculum Development, Esme Learning

Alfie van der Zwan, VP of Strategic Development

Alfie is an experienced startup executive with deep insight into digital learning and innovation. He helped launch and run online classes for MIT and Oxford which built a global audience of over ten thousand innovators in 130 countries to develop their projects and capabilities and to drive change at scale. In addition to his corporate work, Alfie has advised multiple startups and coaches founders on Red Bull’s Academy for Social Entrepreneurs.

Alfie van der Zwan, VP of Strategic Development, Esme Learning

Maren Cattonar, VP Business Development

Maren Cattonar operates in the nexus between academia, industry, and government. She serves as a senior strategic advisor and ecosystem architect for BMNT/Hacking for Defense (H4Di), is an MIT Lincoln Laboratory research affiliate, and is on the board of the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF). She is also a mentor for the Harvard Business School, MIT, and US Air Force start-up and accelerator programs. Previously, at MIT, she was the director at the Food and Water Systems Lab (J-WAFS), the assistant director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, and a Corporate Relations Liaison Officer for Aerospace and Defense.  Prior roles include venture capital, and serving in technology program leadership with Northrop Grumman, US DoD and US DHS. She received her Masters in engineering and business from the University of Pennsylvania and her Bachelors in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Maren Cattonar, VP Business Development, Esme Learning

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