Founding partners

We met at Stanford University during our time as members of the Stanford Improvisors (SImps, for short). After exploring a variety of fields, we all realized that improvisation and design thinking were the most valuable tools we had as collaborators, communicators, and leaders. We founded Collective Capital in 2014 to bring these mindsets to as many teams as possible.

Austin Meyer Journalist-Ultrarunner Austin Meyer is a passionate believer in the powers of improv and design thinking as tools for unlocking the creativity within each one of us. At Stanford he studied creative writing before getting his master’s degree in journalism. He was the 2015 New York Times international reporting trip with Nicholas Kristof competition winner and his stories have been published by the New York Times, LA Times, and KQED among others. He is currently working for SAP Software & Solutions in Palo Alto where he is developing a program to scale design thinking and creative cultures in organizations all over the world.

Austin Meyer
Journalist-Ultrarunner

Austin Meyer is a passionate believer in the powers of improv and design thinking as tools for unlocking the creativity within each one of us. At Stanford he studied creative writing before getting his master’s degree in journalism. He was the 2015 New York Times international reporting trip with Nicholas Kristof competition winner and his stories have been published by the New York Times, LA Times, and KQED among others. He is currently working for SAP Software & Solutions in Palo Alto where he is developing a program to scale design thinking and creative cultures in organizations all over the world.

Erik Olesund For-Good Designer Erik Olesund is a strategic designer and improvisor in San Francisco. He uses design to grasp and solve problems that matter by focusing on what people need and experimenting his way forward. As the Global Program Manager and Lecturer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the d.school) at Stanford, Erik has been teaching design thinking – a human centered approach to problem solving and rapid innovation – to students from all over campus. His teaching included the flagship introductory class Design Thinking Bootcamp, classes on the intersection of storytelling, improvisation, and design, and Design Thinking for Public Policy Innovators. When he is not improvising, he is likely climbing a mountain or having coffee.

Erik Olesund
For-Good Designer

Erik Olesund is a strategic designer and improvisor in San Francisco. He uses design to grasp and solve problems that matter by focusing on what people need and experimenting his way forward. As the Global Program Manager and Lecturer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the d.school) at Stanford, Erik has been teaching design thinking – a human centered approach to problem solving and rapid innovation – to students from all over campus. His teaching included the flagship introductory class Design Thinking Bootcamp, classes on the intersection of storytelling, improvisation, and design, and Design Thinking for Public Policy Innovators. When he is not improvising, he is likely climbing a mountain or having coffee.

Karrah Phillips Cross-Sector Strategist Karrah is a catalyst and systems thinker energized by the intersection of technology, human capital, and social impact. Regardless of industry, she believes that solving big problems requires a capacity for empathy, a deep ability to collaborate, and compelling storytelling. Thus she is inspired to share applied improv, an unparalleled tool for developing these skills, with as many change makers as possible! When she is not teaching or on stage, she works as a Program Manager with SYPartners to help leaders transform their organizations, their teams, and themselves.

Karrah Phillips
Cross-Sector Strategist

Karrah is a catalyst and systems thinker energized by the intersection of technology, human capital, and social impact. Regardless of industry, she believes that solving big problems requires a capacity for empathy, a deep ability to collaborate, and compelling storytelling. Thus she is inspired to share applied improv, an unparalleled tool for developing these skills, with as many change makers as possible! When she is not teaching or on stage, she works as a Program Manager with SYPartners to help leaders transform their organizations, their teams, and themselves.

 
Jonathan Proctor Resident Scientist Jonathan Proctor's passion for spontaneity, creativity, and co-creation sprouts from a drive to make the world a better place. Like the rest of the Collective Capital crew, Jon performed with the Stanford Improvisors and was selected to be a teaching assistant for Stanford’s Beginning Improvisation course—one of the top 10 highest ranked courses at Stanford. When Jon is not leading workshops he’s pursuing a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley.

Jonathan Proctor
Resident Scientist

Jonathan Proctor's passion for spontaneity, creativity, and co-creation sprouts from a drive to make the world a better place. Like the rest of the Collective Capital crew, Jon performed with the Stanford Improvisors and was selected to be a teaching assistant for Stanford’s Beginning Improvisation course—one of the top 10 highest ranked courses at Stanford. When Jon is not leading workshops he’s pursuing a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley.

Mona Thompson Performer-Teacher Mona Thompson began studying, performing, and teaching improvisation when she was in high school and never looked back. She currently lives in San Francisco, teaches classes with BATS Improv and Un-Scripted Theater Company, and coaches the improv team at San Mateo High School, She is an ensemble member at Un-Scripted Theater Company and performs with various other area groups, including her two-woman group, Mona and Shara Do Improv. When Mona isn't performing or coaching improv, you can find her acting in or producing various theatrical experiences ranging from magic shows to one-night adventures on Alcatraz.

Mona Thompson
Performer-Teacher

Mona Thompson began studying, performing, and teaching improvisation when she was in high school and never looked back. She currently lives in San Francisco, teaches classes with BATS Improv and Un-Scripted Theater Company, and coaches the improv team at San Mateo High School, She is an ensemble member at Un-Scripted Theater Company and performs with various other area groups, including her two-woman group, Mona and Shara Do Improv. When Mona isn't performing or coaching improv, you can find her acting in or producing various theatrical experiences ranging from magic shows to one-night adventures on Alcatraz.

David Havens Social Impact Specialist David Havens has embraced the way improvisation and design thinking can improve the world since his brain first started working, and even moreso after studying the fields formally at Stanford and iO Chicago. Professionally, he has played many characters: venture capitalist, data analyst, call center manager, product strategist. Theatrically, he has played many more. He can’t wait to hear about what you’re working on next - and especially how he can help.

David Havens
Social Impact Specialist

David Havens has embraced the way improvisation and design thinking can improve the world since his brain first started working, and even moreso after studying the fields formally at Stanford and iO Chicago. Professionally, he has played many characters: venture capitalist, data analyst, call center manager, product strategist. Theatrically, he has played many more. He can’t wait to hear about what you’re working on next - and especially how he can help.


Coaches

Jessia Hoffman New York City Jessia Hoffman is an educator, performer, and playwright with 10 years of improv training. A Bay Area native, she is a recent New York transplant working in the Artistic Department of Signature Theatre. In California, she led classes for BATS Improv, coached the Aragon Improv Team, assistant taught Stanford courses, developed curricula for two university arts programs, and performed with the Stanford Improvisors, Un-Scripted Theater Company, and various scripted organizations. Jessia is thrilled to bring this highly collaborative, widely applicable brand of improv to NYC.

Jessia Hoffman
New York City

Jessia Hoffman is an educator, performer, and playwright with 10 years of improv training. A Bay Area native, she is a recent New York transplant working in the Artistic Department of Signature Theatre. In California, she led classes for BATS Improv, coached the Aragon Improv Team, assistant taught Stanford courses, developed curricula for two university arts programs, and performed with the Stanford Improvisors, Un-Scripted Theater Company, and various scripted organizations. Jessia is thrilled to bring this highly collaborative, widely applicable brand of improv to NYC.

Rebecca Poretsky San Francisco Rebecca is an improviser, actor, trainer, and coach with a degree in Government and International Relations from Smith College, and a working background in the non-profit world. She narrowly and gladly escaped becoming a lawyer and truly believes improv can help make the world a better place. Rebecca regularly leads workshops at companies and organizations all across the Bay Area and beyond, applying the principles of improvisation to the workplace, teaching presentation skills, engaging in role playing, and facilitating design thinking workshops. She performs frequently with the BATS Improv company in San Francisco, as well as with other groups. When not teaching or performing improv, Rebecca is likely on her bicycle, hanging out with her dog, or stuck under a pile of library books that she is ostensibly reading. 

Rebecca Poretsky
San Francisco

Rebecca is an improviser, actor, trainer, and coach with a degree in Government and International Relations from Smith College, and a working background in the non-profit world. She narrowly and gladly escaped becoming a lawyer and truly believes improv can help make the world a better place. Rebecca regularly leads workshops at companies and organizations all across the Bay Area and beyond, applying the principles of improvisation to the workplace, teaching presentation skills, engaging in role playing, and facilitating design thinking workshops. She performs frequently with the BATS Improv company in San Francisco, as well as with other groups. When not teaching or performing improv, Rebecca is likely on her bicycle, hanging out with her dog, or stuck under a pile of library books that she is ostensibly reading. 

Natalya Thakur San Francisco Natalya loves teaching design thinking, improv, and storytelling as a way to provide creative solutions to problems and help others achieve a stronger self-identity. At Stanford she developed specialities in international relations, human-centered design thinking, and social entrepreneurship. Natalya is also a strong advocate of women’s empowerment. She is a founding member of Girls Driving for a Difference, a social venture aimed at empowering girls to be leaders of social change, and holds a Chair position for a women leaders incubator in the Bay Area. She has been featured in Fast Company, IDEO Futures Podcast, and as a speaker at the SXSW Education Conference in Austin,TX. Natalya currently works in finance, and also serves as a design thinking consultant for different organizations. She is constantly looking for new perspectives or ways to help others, feel free to reach out @natalyathakur!

Natalya Thakur
San Francisco

Natalya loves teaching design thinking, improv, and storytelling as a way to provide creative solutions to problems and help others achieve a stronger self-identity. At Stanford she developed specialities in international relations, human-centered design thinking, and social entrepreneurship. Natalya is also a strong advocate of women’s empowerment. She is a founding member of Girls Driving for a Difference, a social venture aimed at empowering girls to be leaders of social change, and holds a Chair position for a women leaders incubator in the Bay Area. She has been featured in Fast Company, IDEO Futures Podcast, and as a speaker at the SXSW Education Conference in Austin,TX. Natalya currently works in finance, and also serves as a design thinking consultant for different organizations. She is constantly looking for new perspectives or ways to help others, feel free to reach out @natalyathakur!

Shara Tonn San Francisco Shara Tonn is an improv performer, teacher, actor and clown. An alumna of the Stanford Improvisors, Shara performs with Un-Scripted Theater Company, Minerva, The Human Knot, and Mona and Shara Do Improv. Shara also recently enrolled in the SF Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory and started performing for a Bay Area Children’s Theater show. She teaches improv at Collective Capital, Un-Scripted Theater Company and Aragon High School. 

Shara Tonn
San Francisco

Shara Tonn is an improv performer, teacher, actor and clown. An alumna of the Stanford Improvisors, Shara performs with Un-Scripted Theater Company, Minerva, The Human Knot, and Mona and Shara Do Improv. Shara also recently enrolled in the SF Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory and started performing for a Bay Area Children’s Theater show. She teaches improv at Collective Capital, Un-Scripted Theater Company and Aragon High School.