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We are a collective of designers, strategists, researchers, operators, and producers who create value together.

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Joel
Bravett
AFVS Resident Advisor

Joel Bravette is a generalist with experience across multiple sectors and disciplines. What he consistently brings to all engagements is a regenerative, ethical, and creative perspective. This has served him as a founder of his own design agency, trustee of the Vegan Society, speaker at the World Economic Forum, communications director at the Africa Centre, and a broadcaster for the BBC. Currently, Joel is co-owner and core team at Mirth Water.

  • Joel Bravette
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Heidi
Rataj
AFVS Resident Advisor

Heidi Rataj is a master at human-centered design for health and wellbeing, making her a perfect fit with our core values of creating positive social impact by building wellness into our brands.

She currently serves as program director at UCSD Health Innovation Lab, where she leads teams in the research and design of human-centered healthcare innovations.
In addition to her passion for forward-thinking solutions, Heidi draws upon a rich background in storytelling, production, marketing, and human understanding that was polished over decades in the entertainment industry.

  • Heidi Rataj
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Chris McKleroy
AFVS Resident Advisor

CEO / Founder Nocs Provisions; accessibly reinventing binoculars. formerly Co-Founder / Product at Boombotix; developed the first wearable speakers, 500k+ sold.  

 

"There's lots of ways to be as a person. People express their deep appreciation in different ways. But one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there. And you never meet the people, you never shake their hands. You never hear their story or tell yours but somehow, in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love, something is transmitted there. And it's a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation." - Steve Jobs

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Arindam
Basu
AFVS Resident Advisor

As a management consultant, Arindam Basu always approaches people on the basis of financial or operational management improvements. He has had clients ranging from small businesses with less than $1 million in revenues to multi-billion dollar organizations. Arindam cut his teeth in the wireless industry prior to a 10-year Wall Street tenure, and then he started his own consulting firms. He has been fortunate to have experienced significant supply chain success stories pre- and post-pandemic, including contract negotiations, cost reduction, and inventory management.

  • Arindam
  • Chris McKleroy
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Annie
Brown
AFVS Resident Advisor

Annie Brown is a researcher and startup founder interested in artificial intelligence and the creator economy. Annie has worked for over a decade to grow communities and drive sales for B2B & B2C brands, including YC-backed startups. Annie Brown is currently conducting research with UCSD’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization and is a regular contributor for various tech and startup publications.

  • Annie Brown
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Kurt
Baehmann
AFVS Resident Advisor

Kurt Baehmann believes that businesses are the cause of, and the solution to, many of the world's problems. He is witnessing a societal shift where people are realizing the impact of the products they buy on others' lives. His professional background has primarily been in marketing and operations, with his previous role as Sustainability Manager for one of the nation's largest grocery co-ops.

Kurt has a particular affinity for B Corps, valuing both their branding perspective for consumer trust and their accountability.

He created Forward Outdoor as an online resource for sustainability information for the outdoor consumer. Kurt possesses in-depth knowledge of sustainability, particularly in the outdoor and food industries, and applies these principles across a diverse range of businesses.

  • Kurt
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Samantha
Perry
AFVS Resident Advisor

Samantha has worked at various ad agencies and studios, including Wieden & Kennedy. She has worked on many brands, including Old Spice, Vital Proteins, TurboTax, Jack Link’s, Conagra Brands, and Subaru. Samantha is now working with Olympian and author Alexi Pappas on a lifestyle brand and film studio. Samantha loves finding the human truth in a brand — the thing that doesn’t need too much explaining. Her background in design helps her see the visual potential in every brand that she works on.

  • Samantha Perry
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Nick
Stoner
AFVS Resident Advisor

From birthing a movie starring Luke Skywalker, sculpting modern art on view at LACMA, compose an orchestra, filming a super bowl spot in Frank Sinatra’s house, premiering a documentary, designing a controller out of a beer can, selling spaceships, writing copy in The New York Times, to rebranding the entire sport of baseball Nick's work over the course of a decade in advertising shows an obbession with the type of work that's simple, powerful, and demands a reaction. In 2022, his work for Clash of Clans was awarded two Grand Prix at Cannes. It also won the Film Grand Clio, Best of Gaming at the One Show and the Webby for Best Documentary, propelling Wieden + Kennedy Portland to Independent Agency of the Year and onto Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies list. In 2021, he was named to Adweek’s Creative 100 and their work with Alex Prager at DDB helped LACMA open their doors to the public for the first time since the Pandemic began - leading Miller Lite to its first One Show Gold Pencils and Cannes Lions. With over 100 international advertising awards, including a Best of Discipline in mobile, the #1 trending video on YouTube twice, and two Super Bowl spots, he knows advertising is a constant conversation where the only limit to what we do are the things we can't imagine.

  • Nick Stoner
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Mike
Spear
AFVS Resident Advisor

Mike is a social entrepreneur, content creator, and social impact strategist. He’s the host and producer of the Cause & Purpose Podcast, and founder of Altruous.org, an impact discovery, funding, and management platform for the next generation of philanthropists. A visionary leader who enjoys strategic thinking as well as in-the-weeds tactical work, Mike has planned, built, and executed dozens of fundraising campaigns and recurring gift programs. He’s implemented several CRM and marketing automation platforms as part of his consulting work. An avid traveler, Spear has volunteered internationally on several occasions, supporting soccer and educational programs across South Africa and Lesotho, and building WASH projects in Ecuador, in addition to providing skilled volunteer support for several domestic nonprofit organizations. Whenever he’s not working, you can find Mike traveling around the world, hiking, camping, skiing or hitting the beach, cooking or mixing cocktails, and winning the occasional poker tournament. Before founding Altruous, Mike was part of the founding team at Classy.org, and spent several years as a journalist and filmmaker.

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Jessica
Fryer
AFVS Resident Advisor

With over 20 years of diverse experience including serving as CFO to Memorable Experiences Group, Jess Fryer's background incorporates finance and planning roles across various CPG companies, including Stone Brewing, Constellation Brands, Harmless Harvest and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, as well as engineering in the technology sector. Her expertise includes long term planning, financial projections and modeling, budget performance management, and business process identification and improvement. Jess holds a BS in Material Science and Engineering from MIT, a MS in Material Science and Engineering from University of Illinois, and an MBA in Finance from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

  • Jess Fryer
  • Mike Spear
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Marco
Torres
AFVS Resident Advisor

Marco Torres is a seasoned professional in Industrial Design with two decades of experience perfecting his craft in creating thoughtful, well-executed, and timeless products. His journey in design has been marked by an extensive exploration of diverse product designs, methodologies, sourcing sustainable materials and cutting-edge technologies, allowing him to continuously evolve and refine his expertise. As the Founder of MT Design Studios, Marco applies his deep understanding of sustainable practices to lead innovative business strategies and product creation. His leadership has been instrumental in steering the company towards a future where design and environmental consciousness go hand in hand. Prior, Marco has extensive and diverse experience at renowned companies including Specialized, Ariat, and Lenartstudios. Marco has spent his career building a well-rounded portfolio of design experience from high-end packaging design, consumer electronics, medical equipment, and to his passion, cycling/outdoor goods.

  • Marco Torres
  • Mike Spear
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Amber
Brandner
Principal

Amber Brandner guides individuals and organizations toward excellence through authentic interaction and grounded optimism. With a focus on engaging people in strategic and creative processes, Amber is a champion of fostering inclusive environments within all facets of an organization, experience, or product. Her approach to authentic collaboration and artistic coordination is rooted deeply in humanity-centered design principles. Amber learned how to be a leader with experiences at TEDx, the National Science Foundation, World Economic Forum Global Shapers, and Singularity University. Amber is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of California San Diego, a founding advisory board member at the Center for Applied Ethics and Values in Emerging Technology at UCSC, and supports community partnerships with 501c3 Generation Impact.

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Brad
Harris
Principal

Brad Harris is a seasoned entrepreneur and startup advisor with a track record of founding three companies and expertise in go-to-market strategies, marketing, brand management, operations, and technology. A co-investor in the revitalization of Mirth Water, Brad has played a key role in rebuilding the brand. Brad's experience spans CPG/consumer packaged goods, consumer brands (New Balance, Expedia, Peloton, and Molekule) and B2C and B2B SaaS (ex Classy.org, acq'd by GoFundMe, and Groupon).

Brad successfully exited his previous consumer brand, Good Wave, after scaling internationally with wholesale presence in U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

  • Amber Brandner Website
  • Amber Brandner
  • Brad Harris
Image by Matteo Vistocco
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