Meet The Directors

If we want to train young people to change the world, they need to be guided by world-class people to help them along their journey. Our TKS Directors are incredibly talented people with unique backgrounds and experiences.

"We cannot solve today's problems with yesterday's thinking. Collaboration and creativity are key to integrate ideas across traditional silos and perspectives. We need more intersectional innovators."

- Michael

Michael Raspuzzi, Activate Director

Michael Raspuzzi is a serial entrepreneur who focuses on innovation in digital health and global food systems. Formerly, as CEO/Co-Founder of Culinary AI Labs, he helped build algorithms to personalize nutrition support; and as Design Instructor for both the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Harvard University John. A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, he focuses on applied learning and curriculum development at the intersection of design, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Raspuzzi received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and an inaugural Master in Design Engineering from Harvard University—where his project EMMA: Maternal Healthcare Coach, earned him the MDE 2018 Thesis Prize. He serves on the board of directors for Life Changing Labs supporting the Cornell startup community and on the executive board for the Boston Hub of the Global Shaper Community from The World Economic Forum.

"True technical leadership requires a deep understanding of the underlying technology itself, along with a keen intuition for the operational and strategic tradeoffs that must be constantly evaluated. Aspiring leaders need to train themselves to be able to talk shop to anyone in their organization, from engineers to front line operators. There are few who truly excel at this skill - those that do are invaluable and visionary leaders."

- Brandon

Brandon Jennings, Activate

Brandon is a passionate technology strategist, focusing on enterprise applications. A mechanical engineer by training, Brandon has held a variety of technical and operational roles in his career. Formerly, as the CEO/Co-Founder of JS Operations, he worked with clients in the consumer product space to integrate technology into their supply chain operations through developing novel applications of IoT systems. Brandon also worked as a Product Manager for Bowery Farming, helping define and build the future of precision agriculture. Brandon has worked at McKinsey, SpaceX, Raytheon, Li & Fung, and the US Army R&D center. He received his MBA from MIT Sloan, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and his BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Penn. At MIT, Brandon was a Leaders for Global Operations Fellow, where he published work on leveraging technology to solve operational challenges in companies located in developing economies. He is an avid endurance athlete, and loves to train for triathlons and ultramarathons.

“Humanity is still in its technological infancy with a future that could be marvellous — our creative limit is nowhere near being reached. To underutilize the opportunity we each have to contribute to what humanity could one day become would be a tragedy.”

- Steven

Steven ten Holder, Vancouver & Virtual

Steven conceived of and founded Acorn Biolabs, a bioengineering startup accelerated by Y-Combinator, incubated by Johnson&Johnson’s JLABS, and funded by over $3.3M of venture investment from top Canadian VC investors including Real Ventures, Telus Ventures, and Globalive Capital. Acorn non-invasively collects, transports, and cryopreserves young cells directly from consumers to help superpower future longevity therapeutics like 3D bioprinting. During his time at the University of Waterloo, Steven used CRISPR to design an anti-viral immunity system for Arabidopsis plants. Steven co-led the work to bring that design to life in the lab and his team received a gold medal in synthetic biology from MIT (iGEM). He’s also a published scientific author who implemented a mathematical model of antibiotic resistance into a bacterial system by engineering plasmid incompatibility.

"Life isn't going to be spoon-fed to you. You need to realize that you own your success, no one else. The faster you realize this, the sooner you start your life."

- Ian

Ian Lockhart, Ottawa

Ian Lockhart is an energetic entrepreneur and public speaker who started his own investment fund prior to joining TKS. During that time, he invested in dozens of young entrepreneurs to help them turn their ideas into profitable businesses, including multi-million dollar revenues. Early in his career, Ian was focused on a series of startups that raised over 15M dollars in funding. Ian has worked with Fortune 500 brands in media, manufacturing, automotive, and e-commerce. Previously, Ian was a part of a Private Equity Fund, managing portfolios and leading acquisitions. To this day he continues to invest in entrepreneurs financially and through advisory positions

"Have a growth mindset. Recognize that your intelligence, social skills and athleticism didn't come at a fixed level - and neither did anyone else's. Our brains are plastic enough to recover most functions even after removing an entire hemisphere! Use that potential for growth to your advantage."

- Amna

Amna Hyder, Virtual

Amna Hyder has spent several years working with Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) and developing diagnostic tools for various brain disorders including autism, concussions, eating disorders and cerebral palsy among many more. She got her graduate degree in neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. As the founder and CEO of the company BabyChild, she was able to apply her neuroscience background to the development of educational kids’ toys and bring the companies revenue to 1 million dollars in a year while developing research backed developmental products for kids.

“Applying concepts and methods learned under the umbrella of one specialty to a completely new field has birthed many of the greatest innovations we’ve seen. It’s important to explore broadly, but also to go deep in a few select areas - this is the playbook for generating intersectional ideas, yet so few people follow it.”

- Kim

Kim Parnell, Toronto

Kim is a serial entrepreneur that has been involved in a wide variety of ventures – from organizing conferences & events to TV hosting & production to founding, and later successfully exiting, a commercial cleaning company. Kim’s most recent venture was co-founding the data architecture startup Truebase. Using the internally developed, open source data notation “Truth”, Truebase works with many different types of companies across Canada, the US and Australia, to create highly structured data models in the form of ontologies. These ontologies are used to power various business systems such as knowledge graphs, semantic networks, intuitive search, recommendation engines and various machine learning models. Kim loves working with creative & curious individuals, specifically, the young ambitious ones. She has served as an entrepreneurship coach for organizations such as YES (youth entrepreneurship arm) and as a mentor to the startup incubator, Founder Institute. She works closely with educational institutions like Georgian College (Big Data Analytics Program) as an industry advisor, and helps provide students with real world project experience. She is a frequent speaker on technology topics and shares much of her entrepreneurial journey on her various social media accounts.

"Effort is not a metric of success. Want to break the mould? Want to do things others thought were impossible? Stop measuring your success through your efforts and start measuring it through your impact. This mindset alone will help you become successful, influential and happy in life."

- Harrison

Harrison Nolan, Virtual

A serial entrepreneur from the age of 17 Harrison has built, grown and acquired multiple service based and technology businesses over the course of his career. Harrison has scaled businesses to manage hundreds of employees, has personally consulted with fortune 100 brands, and has taken on opportunities ranging from advertising and marketing, to neuroscience and chronic stress.