Spark Camp Reunions

An evening celebrating our Spark Camp community. Opt-in to reunite with your long lost friends from each Spark Camp, and a chance to meet Spark Campers from different Camps. Food and beverage costs to be covered by participants, but friendship is free! Festival badge holders should look out for communications with additional details.


An introduction to the Festival, the time capsule, and some key speakers.

Marketplace of Ideas

Which of today’s emerging ideas, ​moments, or experiences will most profoundly ​define​ life and work in 2016? Eight attendees with insightful and surprising answers to this question will compete against each other for audience support at our Marketplace of Ideas.
Rodney Gibbs
Chief Innovation Officer -- Texas Tribune. Rodney Gibbs ensures The Texas Tribune leverages technology wisely and creatively across all aspects of the organization. He has started two digital media companies. The first, Fizz Factor, developed handheld games for Nintendo and Sony platforms. The second, Ricochet Labs, created social-mobile games for news and entertainment brands, including the BBC, Lollapalooza, and The Texas Tribune. Active in the digital media community, Rodney serves on the boards of KUT, Austin's NPR affiliate; the Austin Film Society; and KLRU, Austin's PBS affiliate. He has a bachelor's degree in sociology from Rice University and a MFA from The University of Texas.
Naveena Ponnusamy
Executive Director, Development – RAND Corporation. Naveena oversees RAND's fundraising strategy and its engagement with the philanthropic community. The Office of Development also manages RAND's events and outreach programs which convene community members, business leaders, and philanthropists. Prior to joining RAND, Ponnusamy was the assistant dean for external relations at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business where she directed fundraising strategy and operations for the school's development and alumni office. She was also the director of principal gifts for USC. Previously, Ponnusamy was an account supervisor at Edelman, a New York–based global public relations firm, working in the corporate and public affairs group with a variety of clients in the corporate, nonprofit, higher education, and economic development sectors. Ponnusamy received her B.A. in political science from Columbia University and her M.A. in media ecology from New York University.
Katherina Rosqueta
Founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, a multi-disciplinary center that provides public information, education, and advisory services so that philanthropy achieves greater social impact. A frequent speaker on philanthropy and social impact. Katherine's work and comments have been cited in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, and Money Magazine. Kat has held numerous civic leadership positions, currently serving on the board of GuideStar and as co-chair of Greenlight Fund Philadelphia. A native Philadelphian, she lives in that city with her husband Michael Idinopulos and their three children.
Anna Tauzin
Senior Marketing Manager for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Services, National Restaurant Association. Anna connects restaurant operator members of the Association with new technology, operations and marketing concepts. This includes directing the Association’s new innovation outreach programs and maintaining relationships with high tech and startup companies, venture capitalists, and curious restaurateurs. Her projects include the Restaurant Innovation Summit, Startup Alley, Tech Tours, as well as pitch competitions, hackathons, and focused roundtables. Additionally, Anna is the fulfillment lead for business and financial partners, including Heartland Payment Systems, MasterCard, and American Express. Previously, Anna was the web and social media editor for J-Lab, a nonprofit journalism research center and startup incubator. Anna serves on the advisory board for SXSW Interactive, SXSW V2V, and the DC State Fair. She is active in the user experience and food+tech communities and is a volunteer sous chef at Miriam’s Kitchen, a nonprofit working to end homelessness in Washington, D.C.

The Language of 2016

Our words help the ideas that stick. How is our language being invented in 2016? How is it evolving? How historians will view the invention and evolution of language in 2016, and what that will mean 100 years from now. A conversation with wordmasters Erin McKean, John McWhorter and David J. Peterson.
Erin McKean
Lexicographer. Erin is one of the youngest-ever editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary, the co-founder of Reverb Technologies, and the creator of the online dictionary Wordnik.
John McWhorter
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University. John teaches linguistics, Western Civilization (in the Core Curriculum program) and American Studies. His academic specialty is language change and language contact. He is a regular columnist for Time and CNN, writes for the Wall Street Journal “Taste” page, and writes a regular column on language for the Atlantic. He is the author of several books, and frequent television commentator.
David J. Peterson
Language creator and consultant. David has been creating languages since 2000, and is the author of Living Language Dothraki, the official guide to the Dothraki language, which he has been developing for HBO's Game of Thrones since 2009. In 2011, he became the alien language and culture consultant for the Syfy original series Defiance. In 2013, he joined the crew of the CW’s Star-Crossed and also Syfy’s Dominion as a language creator, and in 2014 he joined the crew of the CW’s The 100. In 2007, he helped to found the Language Creation Society, of which David has remained a proud member. David also created the Væyne Zaanics language for the novel The Zaanics Deceit, written by Nina Post. David’s new book, The Art of Language Invention, published last year, is a detailed guide to language creation and goes over some ofthe languages he’s created for television and film, including Dothraki, High Valyrian, Castithan, Irathient, Indojisnen, Sondiv and Shiväisith.

Lunch + Exploration

Enjoy lunch and have fun exploring the interactive exhibits in different rooms of the Engineers Club.

Tinker Lab

Under the guidance of John Keefe, construct your own little gadget to carry with you through the Festival as a Spark Camp keepsake.
John Keefe
Senior Editor for Data News, WNYC. John is part of WNYC's Data News Team, which helps our journalists use and analyze data and also builds interactive maps, charts and data-driven projects. He tweets at @jkeefe. Keefe infuses WNYC's journalism with data reporting and interactive news applications, including census analysis, map mashups, news charts and SMS-based crowdsourcing projects. Keefe builds maps and interactives using a combination of his own coding and free, online tools. In the spirit of public media, and in the public interest, Keefe also shares his processes so that others might learn from and build on them. Previously, Keefe led WNYC's news operation for nine years and grew its capacity for breaking news, election coverage and investigative reporting. His career also includes time as a police reporter at two Wisconsin daily newspapers, as science editor for Discovery Channel Online and as president of a small digital production company. Keefe also teaches in the Journalism + Design program at The New School university in New York.

A Live Taping of the Slate Money Podcast

Hosted by Felix Salmon, recorded live on the Future History Festival's main stage!
Felix Salmon
Senior editor, Fusion. Felix Salmon is widely admired as one of the most insightful commentators on the finance world today, well known for tackling subjects from regulation to derivatives with a zest and a sense of fun, unusual in financial writing. As the senior editor at Fusion, Felix is breaking new ground in bringing intelligent financial analysis to a wider and younger audience, using animation, videos, data visualization, and more. This is just the latest step in his career as a popular online voice; he has written for Roubini Global Economics, Conde Nast Portfolio (where he originated the Market Moversfinancial blog), and most recently Reuters, where his work was awarded numerous accolades including the Loeb Award. His work also has appeared in a variety of print publications, including Wired, The New York Times, New York magazine, and Euromoney magazine.

Personal Challenges Workshop

Workshop with Ruth Ann Harnisch: The scary personal challenge you solved in 2016 that made you who you are today.

Machine Intelligence and the Recently Possible

A.I. is often depicted as a technology that's just on the horizon. But when historians look back at our time, they'll find robustly capable A.I. all over our technological landscape. Hilary Mason talks about frontiers of artificial intelligence that will seem notable when we look back. Join journalist David Plotz and data scientist Hilary Mason as historians of our automated world.
Hilary Mason
Founder & CEO, Fast Forward Labs. Hilary makes beautiful things with data, and believes technology should give us superpowers. She is the Data Scientist in Residence at Accel Partner, and Founder & CEO of Fast Forward Labs, a machine intelligence research company.

The Future History of You

This session will explore the continuity of personal identity, challenge participants to consider what makes them and their past and future selves the same person.
Maria Popova
Founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated cabinet of cross-disciplinary interestingness. Maria writes about design, culture and social good for Wired UK, Design Observer and The Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment fellow.

Messages from 2016

Send a missive to a person in the future, to tell them what you hope historians will note about your time. Discuss your ideas with your fellow attendees over complimentary coffee or a mid-day treat.

Live Story Jam Happy Hour

Friday concludes with a live storytelling happy hour, with the inimitable Glynn Washington, host of Snap Judgment. Unfamiliar? Take a peek.

Checkup: Our Public Health in 2016

We often think about our own individual health, but what about the collective health of our neighborhoods and communities? When future historians look back at this moment in time, will they see new diseases taking form? Will they marvel at our approach to public health? Baltimore’s Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and HICCup/Way to Wellville Founder Esther Dyson discuss the choices we’re making today—and how they will affect cities of tomorrow.
Esther Dyson
Philanthropist, Inventor, and Activist, Road to Wellness. Esther (@edyson) is chairman of EDventure Holdings. Her primary activity is investing in and nurturing start-ups, with a recent focus on health care, human capital and aerospace. Overall, she is fascinated by new business models, new technologies and new markets (both economically and politically). From October 2008 to March of 2009, she lived in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, training as a backup cosmonaut. Apart from this brief sabbatical, she is an active board member for a variety of startups. She has a BA in economics from Harvard and was founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000. In addition, she wrote the best-selling, widely translated book Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, published by Broadway Books in 1997.
Leana Wen
Health Commissioner, Baltimore.

The Police Narrative in 2016

Freddie Gray. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Should we interpret the violence in our communities as a heated moment in time—or have we reached an inflection point in a very long history of structural racism? In the year 2016, how can we change the narrative of the police vs people (and people vs police)?

Ideas So Big They're Hard to See

Four presenters each tell part of a story about the broad and surprising connections that draw together world affairs, biology, the arts, and economic development.
Farah Pandith
Former first-ever special representative to Muslim communities and senior advisor to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Farah served as director for Middle East regional initiatives at national security council and chief of staff for Asia and the Near East at the U.S. Agency for International Development, having served in both Bush and Obama administrations. Farah is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Kennedy School of Government. She currently hosts a roundtable series on countering violent extremism and building a movement to counter extremist ideology.
Katherine Collins
Founder and CEO of Honeybee Capital, an independent research firm dedicated to reconnecting investing with the real world. She is author of the book The Nature of Investing, and her closest neighbors in Massachusetts are several thousand honeybees. Katherine has over twenty years of professional investment experience as portfolio manager and head of research at Fidelity Management & Research Company. More recently she has earned her MTS degree at Harvard Divinity School and studied biomimicry as guides for investing in a more integrated way, in service to our communities and our planet.
Albert Cho
Vice President for Strategy and Business Development, Xylem. Albert leads corporate and business strategy, market intelligence, and business development activities across the global ~$4 billion enterprise. Before Xylem, Cho worked as Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary at the State Department, where he was a White House Fellow and served on Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff.

Lunch + Exploration

Enjoy lunch and have fun exploring the interactive exhibits in different rooms of the Engineers Club.

Exhibit :: Gallery and Time Capsule

Which objects around you will eventually make their way into a museum collection later this century? We're asking attendees to bring a personal artifact with them to the Festival. Renowned curator Nancy Spector will transform our collective findings into an exhibit on the present day. Gallery doors open wide on Saturday.
Nancy Spector
Deputy Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Guggenheim Museum.

Relax. Refresh. Recharge.

Recharge your batteries literally and figuratively.

Spark Camp Sessions

Finally! This is your opportunity to participate in one of our official Spark Camp sessions, which are conversations facilitated by our founders. Festival attendees will pitch and vote on the topics. Spark Camp sessions candid intersections of personal and professional conversations.

Ask Me Anything

Get up close and personal in our "Ask Me Anything" sessions. Each AMA is limited to a small group of Festival participants, ensuring a candid, off-the-record chat. We're putting someone in the hot seat so that you can ask them about their work, what they know and what their perspective on how what we're doing today will impact future generations. Come and get answers to the questions you've always wanted to ask.
Melissa Bell
VP of Growth, Vox Media. Co-founder, Melissa co-founded in early 2014 and became the first person at Vox Media to hold both a technology and editorial title as Senior Product Manager and Executive Editor for In 2015, Melissa became Vox Media's VP, Growth. Prior to Vox, Melissa oversaw digital platforms at the Washington Post. She was also one of The Post’s most-read bloggers and a columnist for the Style section. Before joining The Post, she helped launch Mint, a Wall Street Journal subsidiary in India, where she lived for four years. She hails from San Diego, California and makes a mean banana-and-cheese quesadilla.
Esther Dyson
Philanthropist, Inventor, and Activist, Road to Wellness. Esther (@edyson) is chairman of EDventure Holdings. Her primary activity is investing in and nurturing start-ups, with a recent focus on health care, human capital and aerospace. Overall, she is fascinated by new business models, new technologies and new markets (both economically and politically). From October 2008 to March of 2009, she lived in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, training as a backup cosmonaut. Apart from this brief sabbatical, she is an active board member for a variety of startups. She has a BA in economics from Harvard and was founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000. In addition, she wrote the best-selling, widely translated book Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, published by Broadway Books in 1997."
Obi Felten
Head of getting moonshots ready for contact with the real world, X. Obi leads early stage X projects, helping them get from the lab into the real world. Previously she was director of consumer marketing for Google EMEA. Obi is a startup angel investor focused on women founders and on the board of Shift, a social enterprise. Before Google, Obi launched ecommerce businesses and worked as a strategy consultant. Obi grew up in Berlin, went to Oxford University, and lives in San Francisco with her husband and young children.
Mary Beth Goodman
Senior Director, National Security Council White House. As a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Mary Beth led research in Asia and Africa. She previously served in the Administration as Director for International Economic Affairs.
Jake Shapiro
Founding CEO of PRX, an award-winning nonprofit whose mission is to deliver significant stories to millions of people. Since its launch in 2003, PRX has been a leader and innovator in public media. PRX programs include The Moth Radio Hour,This American Life,Snap Judgment, Reveal, 99% Invisible, and the Radiotopia podcast network. In 2012, Jake helped found Matter Ventures, a for-profit startup accelerator for mission-driven media entrepreneurs. Fast Company named PRX as one of the world’s Top 10 Most Innovative Media Companies in 2015. Jake is an Ashoka Fellow, Senior Researcher at the Berkman Center at Harvard, and advisor to a number of public media organizations, media funders, and Internet startups.
Emi Kolawole
Lecturer, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford ( Emi is a multi-media professional with over a decade of experience in television, web and print media. The founding editor of the Innovations section of The Washington Post, Emi was invited to serve as the editor-in-residence at The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University -- widely known as the She currently works at the crossroads of media and design thinking with a focus on bias (race, gender and sexuality) and creative practice. She designs and facilitates workshops, classes and experiences in addition to her work running the blog, 'the whiteboard,' which she launched in 2013. She is a member of the's Media Experiments Project conducted in collaboration with Knight Foundation.
Tereza Nemessanyi
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Microsoft. Tereza is a tech entrepreneur, blogger, consultant, and mom of two kids. She runs Microsoft’s business with Startups in the U.S., shepherding fast-growth companies to go further, faster through strategic partnership. Her blog “Mashups, Markets and Motherhood”, has set off a number of discussions across the industry, and her startup, Honestly Now, earned her Forbes Ten Female Entrepreneurs to Watch.

Prom Night :: Party Like It's 2016

What's the best way to commemorate the present from the perspective of the future? A prom, of course. The Festival concludes with a prom-inspired celebration put on by two acclaimed producers of stage and screen.
Dana Kuznetzkoff
Filmmaker and producer. Dana has led diverse projects from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire pilot to the network's acclaimed series The Wire. She was also the co-producer of NBC’s Smash. Currently, Dana is one of the producers of the series The New Yorker Presents, an episodic show for Amazon Studios visualizing the iconic magazine’s unique stories.
Jaimie Mayer-Phinney
Founder and Executive Producer of Don't Eat The Pictures Productions, a theatre, film, and event production company dedicated to developing and seeding new work. A Trustee and fourth generation family member of The Nathan Cummings Foundation, she also runs a consulting business working with philanthropists in their 20s and 30s looking to create their philanthropic footprint, with families trying to integrate the next generation, and with non-profits cultivating individuals in their 20s and 30s.

Time Capsule

The Festival ends with the sealing of a time capsule containing artifacts — fashion, media, technology, kitsch, personal — that will come to exemplify 2016. Check back soon to get details on the unveiling of the digital time capsule that will commemorate the event.

About Spark Camp

Spark Camp, the producer of The Future History Festival, is a next-generation convener, dubbed "the ultimate summer camp for influencers" by Fast Company.

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