MEET THE TEAM

iThrive’s band of adventurers includes social and emotional learning experts, game developers, educators, mental health professionals, and bards. We use our strengths to co-design with teens, publishers, other game developers, studios, and universities to create meaningful and equitable game-based learning experiences.

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

– Miss Rumphius

Susan Rivers, PhD

Executive Director & Chief Scientist

You know how every team has that person who just makes things work? That’s Susan. She leads the charge on iThrive’s strategy, navigating around and through all obstacles that come in the way of the team achieving our mission. She’s basically a mighty sorceress who uses her power to conjure just the right environment for success and inspiration. We’re not sure how she does it, sometimes it actually seems like magic.

Susan has a PhD from Yale, is a social psychologist, and comes to iThrive with a fascination for how environments can be designed to propel learning, foster social connections, and support identity formation. She passionately believes that game design and play are powerful tools for learning about the self, forging meaningful connections with others, helping emotional development grow in an authentic way, and making the world a better place for all humans. While she has designed meaningful environments for humans of all ages, she is particularly focused on teens now and is committed to listening and learning with and from teens to inform her leadership of iThrive.

When Susan isn’t busy helping teens realize their potential and changing the world, she’s probably enjoying a friendly (and competitive!) game of Love Letter  or Sushi Go with her 3 kids and husband, or getting video game lessons from her son. We’re lucky to have Susan leading the charge and we know we can always count on her when things get dicey.

TL;DR: Susan is a social psychologist who uses her powers to create the best-possible environment for iThrive’s team and ensures our strategy is on point.

Susan Rivers, PhD

Executive Director & Chief Scientist

“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

– Miss Rumphius

You know how every team has that person who just makes things work? That’s Susan. She leads the charge on iThrive’s strategy, navigating around and through all obstacles that come in the way of the team achieving our mission. She’s basically a mighty sorceress who uses her power to conjure just the right environment for success and inspiration. We’re not sure how she does it, sometimes it actually seems like magic.

Susan has a PhD from Yale, is a social psychologist, and comes to iThrive with a fascination for how environments can be designed to propel learning, foster social connections, and support identity formation. She passionately believes that game design and play are powerful tools for learning about the self, forging meaningful connections with others, helping emotional development grow in an authentic way, and making the world a better place for all humans. While she has designed meaningful environments for humans of all ages, she is particularly focused on teens now and is committed to listening and learning with and from teens to inform her leadership of iThrive.

When Susan isn’t busy helping teens realize their potential and changing the world, she’s probably enjoying a friendly (and competitive!) game of Love Letter  or Sushi Go with her 3 kids and husband, or getting video game lessons from her son. We’re lucky to have Susan leading the charge and we know we can always count on her when things get dicey.

TL;DR: Susan is a social psychologist who uses her powers to create the best-possible environment for iThrive’s team and ensures our strategy is on point.

Michelle Bertoli, MA

Senior Director of Learning

Have you ever been totally disarmed by someone’s and sheer talent for transfiguring research into digestible resources for game developers? We have. Let us expelliarmus this out for you: Michelle is our Senior Director of Learning with an MA from Yale and she draws on a decade of experience in social and emotional learning to lead our efforts in the education space to co-design game-based learning experiences with and for teens. If you think that sounds like a big deal: it’s because it is a big deal. At least we think so.

Michelle is always the first to wave the flag for teens and their role in our collective future. She believes adults often underestimate teens, and advocates that they’re doing exactly what they should be: preparing to venture out and become new leaders. Michelle helps them do that by integrating gameplay into their development and inviting them to cast a spell on their emotional growth.

When it’s time to relax, Michelle loves to kick back in the Ravenclaw common room and earn some house points in Lego Harry Potter. We’re thankful for Michelle’s penchant for Harry Potter, she really wingardium leviosas us up.

TL;DR: Michelle uses her magic to bring together games and learning for teens to thrive.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Michelle Bertoli, MA

Senior Director of Learning

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Have you ever been totally disarmed by someone’s and sheer talent for transfiguring research into digestible resources for game developers? We have. Let us expelliarmus this out for you: Michelle is our Senior Director of Learning with an MA from Yale and she draws on a decade of experience in social and emotional learning to lead our efforts in the education space to co-design game-based learning experiences with and for teens. If you think that sounds like a big deal: it’s because it is a big deal. At least we think so.

Michelle is always the first to wave the flag for teens and their role in our collective future. She believes adults often underestimate teens, and advocates that they’re doing exactly what they should be: preparing to venture out and become new leaders. Michelle helps them do that by integrating gameplay into their development and inviting them to cast a spell on their emotional growth.

When it’s time to relax, Michelle loves to kick back in the Ravenclaw common room and earn some house points in Lego Harry Potter. We’re thankful for Michelle’s penchant for Harry Potter, she really wingardium leviosas us up.

TL;DR: Michelle uses her magic to bring together games and learning for teens to thrive.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

John A. Shedd

Jane Lee, BA, PMP

Senior Director of Operations & Mental Health

We’re really, really PMP’d about Jane, our Senior Director of Operations & Mental Health with a B.A. in psychology from Syracuse University. If you’re ever trapped in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Jane is the person you want with you: trust us. Jane keeps our team surviving and thriving by designing systems, informing strategy, solving problems, and directing the team to produce excellent programs. If there’s a goal in sight, Jane is the one gathering resources and making the plan to stay on track. She comes to iThrive with a passion for plotting out projects and it shows.

Existing systems tend to only encourage a small percentage of teens to thrive: Jane’s mission is to disrupt those systems with new technology and design environments where all teens can thrive. Part of Jane’s role at iThrive  is to direct the production of game and program assets, and she’s an asset in so many more ways.

An active gamer, Jane is thrilled that iThrive allows her to combine two passions: games and psychology. She believes games can strengthen skills like pattern literacy, logic, teamwork and creative problem solving. Jane is an indispensable resource that we just can’t get enough of.

TL;DR: Jane solves problems and makes sure things get done.

Jane Lee, BA, PMP

Senior Director of Operations & Mental Health

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

– John A. Shedd

We’re really, really PMP’d about Jane, our Senior Director of Operations & Mental Health with a B.A. in psychology from Syracuse University. If you’re ever trapped in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Jane is the person you want with you: trust us. Jane keeps our team surviving and thriving by designing systems, informing strategy, solving problems, and directing the team to produce excellent programs. If there’s a goal in sight, Jane is the one gathering resources and making the plan to stay on track. She comes to iThrive with a passion for plotting out projects and it shows.

Existing systems tend to only encourage a small percentage of teens to thrive: Jane’s mission is to disrupt those systems with new technology and design environments where all teens can thrive. Part of Jane’s role at iThrive  is to direct the production of game and program assets, and she’s an asset in so many more ways.

An active gamer, Jane is thrilled that iThrive allows her to combine two passions: games and psychology. She believes games can strengthen skills like pattern literacy, logic, teamwork and creative problem solving. Jane is an indispensable resource that we just can’t get enough of.

TL;DR: Jane solves problems and makes sure things get done.

Kelli Dunlap, PsyD

Director of Mental Health Research & Design

Kelli’s magic happens in the shared space between games and psychology. She manages the development of iThrive’s mental health initiatives and produces content that explores the intersection of mental health and game design. She’s Fus Ro Doin’ it right and comes equipped with a PsyD in clinical psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology.

As a psychologist, researcher, and game designer, she advances iThrive’s mission by integrating best practices in mental health and game development to create gameful, meaningful experiences for teens. She loves to share her passion and expertise for games and mental health care, and her speaking schedule shows she’s in demand around the world!  Her approach to life is to boldly go where no one has gone before, collect relevant data, and share what she’s learned.

We are some of  Kelli’s biggest fans and honored she’s helping us explore how to make humanity a key game mechanic. Her passion for games and mental health is contagious, and luckily for the world she uses it to spread her knowledge, skills, and spirit.

TL;DR: Kelli dual-wields expertise in psychology and game design and the go-to source for any questions or interest in the intersection of mental health and games.

“Play is the highest form of research.”

– Albert Einstein

Kelli Dunlap, PsyD

Director of Mental Health Research & Design

“Play is the highest form of research.”

– Albert Einstien 

Kelli’s magic happens in the shared space between games and psychology. She manages the development of iThrive’s mental health initiatives and produces content that explores the intersection of mental health and game design. She’s Fus Ro Doin’ it right and comes equipped with a PsyD in clinical psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology.

As a psychologist, researcher, and game designer, she advances iThrive’s mission by integrating best practices in mental health and game development to create gameful, meaningful experiences for teens. She loves to share her passion and expertise for games and mental health care, and her speaking schedule shows she’s in demand around the world!  Her approach to life is to boldly go where no one has gone before, collect relevant data, and share what she’s learned.

We are some of  Kelli’s biggest fans and honored she’s helping us explore how to make humanity a key game mechanic. Her passion for games and mental health is contagious, and luckily for the world she uses it to spread her knowledge, skills, and spirit.

TL;DR: Kelli dual-wields expertise in psychology and game design and the go-to source for any questions or interest in the intersection of mental health and games.

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

– Benjamin Button

Trynn Check, PMP, MFA Candidate

Manager of Production

You know those completionist gamers who just have to get every side quest done, max out every stat, and collect every item in the game? We happen to know a real, actual Queen of Completion, our project manager: Trynn Check. We admire her meticulous planning prowess and her completionist orientation. Many would see a list of 500 tasks and throw up their hands. Not Trynn! She can take 500 tasks and turn them into a succinct, actionable plan with clear goals for everyone involved. She makes our endless task lists Trynn-possible.

If it sounds like Trynn is impressive,it’s because she is. She has an eye for structure in a way that allows her to seamlessly implement and document process while maintaining full transparency and efficiency. Trynn uses her powers to transform iThrive’s initiatives, research, and missions into clear-cut plans. She’s also a beacon of positivity and a workplace culture advocate. In addition to being the project manager of our dreams, Trynn also shares a deep connection with iThrive’s mission. As an advocate for thoughtful design and promoting mental wellness in games, she is thankful to help contribute to iThrive’s cache of resources for developers, mental health professionals, and educators. If we made a wish list of all of the things we wanted for our dream project manager, Trynn would check off all of those boxes.

Trynn is currently pursuing her MFA in Game Design from DePaul University and recently launched, Level You, her own independent serious games studio. She approaches game design with the same tactics she uses for both project management and playing games: research and follow-through. She was recently nominated and showcased at the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge, presented at the Meaningful Play Conference, spoke at IndieCade, and will be showcasing at the 2019 Game Developers Conference.

TL;DR: Trynn is the Queen of Completionists– a project efficiency wizard to be reckoned with.

Trynn Check, PMP, MFA Candidate

Manager of Production

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

– Benjamin Button

You know those completionist gamers who just have to get every side quest done, max out every stat, and collect every item in the game? We happen to know a real, actual Queen of Completion, our project manager: Trynn Check. We admire her meticulous planning prowess and her completionist orientation. Many would see a list of 500 tasks and throw up their hands. Not Trynn! She can take 500 tasks and turn them into a succinct, actionable plan with clear goals for everyone involved. She makes our endless task lists Trynn-possible.

If it sounds like Trynn is impressive,it’s because she is. She has an eye for structure in a way that allows her to seamlessly implement and document process while maintaining full transparency and efficiency. Trynn uses her powers to transform iThrive’s initiatives, research, and missions into clear-cut plans. She’s also a beacon of positivity and a workplace culture advocate. In addition to being the project manager of our dreams, Trynn also shares a deep connection with iThrive’s mission. As an advocate for thoughtful design and promoting mental wellness in games, she is thankful to help contribute to iThrive’s cache of resources for developers, mental health professionals, and educators. If we made a wish list of all of the things we wanted for our dream project manager, Trynn would check off all of those boxes.

Trynn is currently pursuing her MFA in Game Design from DePaul University and recently launched, Level You, her own independent serious games studio. She approaches game design with the same tactics she uses for both project management and playing games: research and follow-through. She was recently nominated and showcased at the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge, presented at the Meaningful Play Conference, spoke at IndieCade, and will be showcasing at the 2019 Game Developers Conference.

TL;DR: Trynn is the Queen of Completionists– a project efficiency wizard to be reckoned with.

Sierra Martinez, BA

Communications & Operations Coordinator

If there’s one thing right off the bat that you should know about Sierra, it’s that she radiates kindness and curiosity. She’s a proud military wife, mother, dog owner, and runner and holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. She is also, apparently, a superhero because she has 3 young kids and still has time to be our communications and operations coordinator. How do you ask? We have literally no idea, but we sure are jazzed to have her keeping things running for us.

Sierra comes to iThrive with a passion for writing, learning new things, and making the world a better place — which is good, because we’re passionate about those things, too. Sierra is doing a lot here, including: writing blogs, being our local logistics lead, wrangling social media, and helping create marketing materials, all while keeping us organized and in step. What we’re trying to say is that she gets it all done. She was especially drawn to the part of our mission that involves meeting teens through the medium of games and empowering them to become who they want to be; she hopes to someday use her insight from iThrive to guide her children on their own journey!

We mentioned that Sierra is a runner, and we weren’t kidding. Despite having an injury where doctors said she’d never run again, she’s since completed 5Ks, 10Ks, and even a “rugged maniac” race. You read that correctly – a “rugged maniac” race is a dangerous jaunt in the mud that involves running, climbing, lifting, (screaming?), and … whatever else you do in a mud race. She’s really proud to have run her first rugged maniac alongside her husband and she can’t wait to run another. Sierra also used to volunteer at animal shelters and used the skills she learned there to nurse her dog back to health after she found him outside of a grocery store. Yep: definitely a superhero. We’re glad to have such an optimistic, adventuristic, idealistic, communications and operations coordinator helping to run the day to day at iThrive.

TL;DR: Sierra is a communications and operations powerhouse who keeps iThrive on track.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

Sierra Martinez, BA

Communications & Operations Coordinator

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

If there’s one thing right off the bat that you should know about Sierra, it’s that she radiates kindness and curiosity. She’s a proud military wife, mother, dog owner, and runner and holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. She is also, apparently, a superhero because she has 3 young kids and still has time to be our communications and operations coordinator. How do you ask? We have literally no idea, but we sure are jazzed to have her keeping things running for us.

Sierra comes to iThrive with a passion for writing, learning new things, and making the world a better place — which is good, because we’re passionate about those things, too. Sierra is doing a lot here, including: writing blogs, being our local logistics lead, wrangling social media, and helping create marketing materials, all while keeping us organized and in step. What we’re trying to say is that she gets it all done. She was especially drawn to the part of our mission that involves meeting teens through the medium of games and empowering them to become who they want to be; she hopes to someday use her insight from iThrive to guide her children on their own journey!

We mentioned that Sierra is a runner, and we weren’t kidding. Despite having an injury where doctors said she’d never run again, she’s since completed 5Ks, 10Ks, and even a “rugged maniac” race. You read that correctly – a “rugged maniac” race is a dangerous jaunt in the mud that involves running, climbing, lifting, (screaming?), and … whatever else you do in a mud race. She’s really proud to have run her first rugged maniac alongside her husband and she can’t wait to run another. Sierra also used to volunteer at animal shelters and used the skills she learned there to nurse her dog back to health after she found him outside of a grocery store. Yep: definitely a superhero. We’re glad to have such an optimistic, adventuristic, idealistic, communications and operations coordinator helping to run the day to day at iThrive.

TL;DR: Sierra is a communications and operations powerhouse who keeps iThrive on track.

Success occurs when your dreams are bigger than your excuses.

– Anonymous

Dorothy Batten, MS, MBA, PsyD

Founder

Dorothy is iThrive’s founder and President of its Board of Directors. She also is the president of the D.N. Batten Foundation through which she grants to support innovative approaches to tackle mental health and environmental conservation issues. She’s a mentor and source of inspiration for all of us at iThrive and we couldn’t ask for a better founder. Through the foundation, she makes grants to support innovative approaches to tackle mental health and environmental conservation issues. Spending time with her sons made her realize just how stressed teenagers are these days and that we can help them.

Dorothy is our secret weapon because she has so many roles: businesswoman, philanthropist, counselor, mom, and human. She is our steadfast supporter and guide. When we need the drive to keep going, we know that Dorothy has entrusted us with iThrive’s mission. That empowers us to empower others.

Dorothy’s dreams are as big as her heart. She works tirelessly to support community programming in Charlottesville, VA, and serves on several  boards including RARE.org, the Women’s Initiative, and the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation. For a decade she served as a Director of Landmark Media Enterprises LLC. She believes that the world could be designed better to help teens thrive, and her vision for iThrive is that designing meaningful experiences is one way to make that happen.

TL;DR: Dorothy believes video games can empower teens to thrive and her mission, our mission, is to make that happen.

Dorothy Batten, MS, MBA, PsyD

Founder

Success occurs when your dreams are bigger than your excuses.

– Anonymous

Dorothy is iThrive’s founder and President of its Board of Directors. She also is the president of the D.N. Batten Foundation through which she grants to support innovative approaches to tackle mental health and environmental conservation issues. She’s a mentor and source of inspiration for all of us at iThrive and we couldn’t ask for a better founder. Through the foundation, she makes grants to support innovative approaches to tackle mental health and environmental conservation issues. Spending time with her sons made her realize just how stressed teenagers are these days and that we can help them.

Dorothy is our secret weapon because she has so many roles: businesswoman, philanthropist, counselor, mom, and human. She is our steadfast supporter and guide. When we need the drive to keep going, we know that Dorothy has entrusted us with iThrive’s mission. That empowers us to empower others.

Dorothy’s dreams are as big as her heart. She works tirelessly to support community programming in Charlottesville, VA, and serves on several  boards including RARE.org, the Women’s Initiative, and the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation. For a decade she served as a Director of Landmark Media Enterprises LLC. She believes that the world could be designed better to help teens thrive, and her vision for iThrive is that designing meaningful experiences is one way to make that happen.

TL;DR: Dorothy believes video games can empower teens to thrive and her mission, our mission, is to make that happen.

Location

iThrive Games Foundation
PO Box 610026
Newton, MA 02461

Contact

contact@ithrivegames.org

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