Project Wayfinder is a collaborative effort led by Patrick Cook-Deegan, a recent education innovation fellow at the K-12 Lab, and Kelly Schmutte, a designer and lecturer at the Together they are combining their backgrounds in high school education, higher education innovation, purpose learning, design thinking, and adolescent development to create the building blocks of Project Wayfinder.




Co-director and Lead Program Designer

Patrick Cook-Deegan is a longtime adolescent educator. Over the past decade, he has helped launch or grow a number of innovative youth programs including Back to Earth, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, and Brown University’s Social Innovation Initiative, as well as launching a travel abroad program for low-income high school students. He has taught at public, private, alternative, and charter high schools.  

In 2015-2016, Patrick was an education innovation fellow at Stanford's He came in to the fellowship with the question: How do we help high school students craft meaningful lives and develop a sense of purpose? Hence, the birth of Project Wayfinder.

Patrick has spoken at more than 100 high schools and universities and written on mindfulness, purpose education and high school innovation for Stanford Social Innovation ReviewEdutopia, and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good. A graduate of Brown University and Fulbright scholar, Patrick has been deeply influenced by the history and practices of native traditions around the world. He is a graduate of the Tracking Project’s community mentoring training – a program focusing on appropriately and effectively bringing native wisdom into the modern world.

He feels inspired and grateful for the legacy of the Polynesian navigators, or Wayfinders, and hopes this project will effectively bring together 10 years of searching for meaningful ways to engage youth in their moral and personal development.



Kelly Schmutte

Co-director and Lead Product Designer

Kelly Schmutte is a Designer and Lecturer at the Stanford and in the Mechanical Engineering Design Department.  Her expertise in human-centered design has been the focus of her studies and work as a design practitioner and entrepreneur for the past 10 years.  She holds dual degrees from Stanford in Product Design (MS, BS).  Besides teaching, her work at the has spanned projects in education design and environments design.

In 2013-2014, Kelly served as a Project Manager for the @Stanford project, a yearlong collaboration between students and designers to imagine and design the future of living and learning at Stanford.  This work culminated in Stanford 2025, a highly experiential, immersive event showcasing four major possible shake-ups to higher education.  Among them was Purpose Learning: Declare a Mission, not a Major. The ideas presented in the exhibit are continuing to influence and inspire Stanford community members and people in higher education around the globe.  Kelly continues to oversee ongoing work and experimentation around Stanford 2025, and was very excited to collaborate with Patrick on expanding on ideas from Purpose Learning to Project Wayfinder.

As a design professional, Kelly is also a serial entrepreneur and passionate inventor, having worked on projects as diverse as innovations in ballet pointe shoes and creative ways for couples to rekindle romance.  She loves working with young people and helping them discover more joy in the things they love most.  She is excited and hopeful about the impact of Project Wayfinder to free students to align their skills and passions with an area of need in the world that moves them deeply.


Wayfinder Guides

Chris Rudd

Chris is a former Stanford civic innovation fellow with a passion for merging technology, youth development, and social justice. Chris is the founder of Youth Tech Design, a program that empowers inner-city youth to create civic technology.


Nirali Shah

Nirali is a certified mindfulness facilitator from UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center. She is the founder of Shvaas, a non-profit platform that has helped streamline efforts of hundreds of volunteers to connect and work on meaningful social change projects.

Matt Forkin

Matt is an engineer, designer, and wilderness educator. A life-long passion for nature connection led him to an immersive study of traditional skills including living off the land for a year stone-age style on the Canadian-Washington State border.

Adrian Michael Green

Adrian is the Director of Inclusivity at Colorado Academy and founder of lovasté. Adrian is an acclaimed writer, poet, and author of 9 self-published books of poetry and prose centered on loving yourself and others.

Alexx Temena

Alexx is an experience designer and with a deep background in mindfulness and cross-cultural communication. She studied the history and practices of contemplative psychology at Brown and Harvard.

Dashielle Vawter

Dashielle Vawter is a transformational coach and the founder of Illumin. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she guides vision quests for Sonoma Academy and also does coaching and mentorship work with adults and teen girls.

Dave Mochel

Dave is a mindfulness coach and longtime human development teacher at leading independent schools around the country. He is the founder of Applied Attention where he gave this TEDx talk worth checking out.


Claudia Biçen

Claudia is an internationally acclaimed British-American artist whose work has been featured at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. Her latest project, Thoughts in Passing, explores the regrets and reflections of people at the end of their life.

Jenny Taryn Wyron

Jenny is an expressive arts therapist and community facilitator. A former Program Manager at Summer Search, she holds degrees from Brown and Smith, and has worked with adolescents for the past decade. 


Wayfinder navigation toolkit Team

Gloria Chua

Gloria is a Master's student in Computer Science at Stanford with a BS in Product Design.  She is a human-centered product and interaction designer,  interested in using technology for social good.

Nicholas Espeset

Nick is a systems engineer and classics scholar. His family history includes Norse explorers who came to America in the 10th century. He holds a Masters degree in Eastern Classics from St. John's and has a deep knowledge of Native North American history.


Sonia is a Master's of Education student in the Learning, Design, and Technology program.  She has experience in UX design, product design, and learning experience design. She is particularly interested in designing for education, wellness, and play.

Wayfinder Wise Council

Chris McKenna

Guiding Teacher at Mindful Schools + Former Executive Director of the Mind Body Awareness Project

Ashanti Branch

Founder & Director, The Ever Forward Club + featured in The Mask You Live In

Alan Harlam

Brown University, Director of Social Innovation Initiative  + Watson Institute, Adjunct Lecturer in International and Public Affairs

Bob Lenz

Executive Director of the Buck Institute + co-founder of Envision Education


John Stokes

Master Tracker + Founder // Director of The Tracking Project 

Miki K. Tomita

Program Director and Co-Founder Education Incubator + Education Co-Lead for Polynesian Voyaging Society

Susie Wise

Founder + Director, K12 Lab Network + Adjunct Professor Stanford

Bill Damon

Stanford University, Professor of Education, Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence + Author of the Path to Purpose

Randle Charles

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), member of the Oneida Nation // graduate Institute of American Indian Arts

Alex Lockett

Dean of Students at San Francisco University High School and catalyst of UHS's innovative mentoring program

Molly Efrusy

President + Co-Founder, Efrusy Family Foundation + National Advisory Board Member, Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford

Vicki Zakrzewski

Founder and Director of the Greater Good Science Center Education Program at UC Berkeley

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