top of page
Hero Image Mask.png

where education meets the real world

We bring education closer to the needs of our most future-forward industries through engaging, hands-on learning experiences — creating more equitable opportunities for students and ensuring a diverse talent pipeline to meet the demands of tomorrow.

Who’s behind X IN A BOX


Through experiential programs developed alongside the world’s most innovative companies, we expand learning opportunities for students of all backgrounds while cultivating diverse talent pipelines for our partner companies and their industries.

Launched out of a collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy, we’ve found that experiential learning has the power to engage students more deeply than traditional methods.

With hands-on projects, students learn by doing, enabling them to showcase their new skills — because in every field, from engineering to design, a portfolio is the new resume.

And in making our content available to all students, we’re closing the opportunity gap — ensuring that where a child is from does not dictate what they can become.


Our Values

At X IN A BOX we create learning experiences that are authentic portrayals of the real world.


We exist to make education engaging — because engaging experiences are how we make a lasting impact on the students we serve. 


We believe that equal access to education is the most fundamental of rights — and that your ZIP code should have nothing to do with the quality of education you receive.


Excellent Quality 
We strive for excellence, always. We don't do things halfway.  Because the quality of our work defines who we are.


To disrupt the status quo, we must be experimental by nature. It’s what we expect from our students… so how could we expect anything less of ourselves?


Respectful and Inclusive 
We believe that a non-judgmental, open, inclusive culture is key to our success.


Everything we do is in service of students — so we must consider every program we develop through a “student lens.” 

Our Founders
Elyse Klaidman_edited_edited.jpg

Elyse Klaidman


  • Grey LinkedIn Icon

Elyse Klaidman is an artist, educator, and leader passionate about inspiring and developing generations of diverse problem solvers, artists, innovators and storytellers through experiential learning. After 22 years at Pixar as a leader, creative director, and founder of exhibitions and educational programs, she co-founded X IN A BOX.

Tony DeRose X IN A BOX

Tony DeRose

Chief Technical Officer

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon

Tony DeRose is a computer scientist and mathematician with over 40 years experience in computer graphics research and development, 23 years of it at Pixar. Prior to Pixar he was a professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He has always enjoyed teaching, so the opportunity to start an educationally oriented company is a dream come true.


Brit Cruise

Chief Learning Officer

  • wordpress icon

Brit Cruise writes and creates all forms of educational content & products. He began his career with his YouTube channel Art of the Problem. This led him to Khan Academy where he produced educational videos, summer camps and lead partnerships with NASA, Google, and Disney/Pixar. Brit studied Engineering at the University of Western Ontario and Computer Science at McGill University.

While working at Pixar Animation Studios, Elyse Klaidman and Tony DeRose teamed up with Brit Cruise of Khan Academy to create Pixar in a Box and Imagineering in a Box, with support from the Walt Disney Company. Based on the success of these two programs, Elyse, Tony, and Brit founded X IN A BOX to scale their unique experiential learning approach, advancing access and equity for all students.

Our Team

Dennis Henderson

VP, Education and Strategy

Dennis is a dynamic educator and practitioner of social justice through education. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Manchester Youth Development Center in Pittsburgh, PA. For over 20 years, Dennis has collaborated with a variety of industry leaders, public servants and community members to design a wide variety of authentic project-based lessons to promote social mobility and economic opportunities. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Farzad Sangari

Farzad Sangari


Farzad’s first feature documentary was selected for several film festivals before premiering on Netflix. He has also written/produced television and digital content for a variety of networks and clients, including Vice, VICELAND, The Discovery Channel and NBA2K. Additionally, Farzad has taught filmmaking at a wide array of educational institutions from the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego to UCLA Extension. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Pam Darrow

Pam Darrow

Sr. Xperiential Project Manager

Pam has a passion for production, which combines her love of team camaraderie, wrangling details, and creative filmmaking. During her 21 years at Pixar Animation Studios, Pam worked on 10 theatrically released films before moving into operations as Department Head of technical artists and film editors. She is thrilled to partner with the X in a Box team to help execute the Story Xperiential program, making storytelling and project-based learning more accessible for youth. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Kathleen Dargis

Kathleen Dargis

Video Editor/Producer

Kathleen has over 20 years of experience working on a diverse selection of creative projects ranging from broadcast television to multimedia performances.Kathleen’s personal interest is working on documentaries, non-profit profiles and educational content with mission-driven themes and character-driven portraits which are short in form, though certainly never short on character.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Diana Lowe (Edit)

Diana Lowe

Administrative Professional

With over 20 years of experience as an administrative professional, Diana believes the success of any company is directly impacted by how it manages the routine, day-to-day functions. Over the years, Diana established herself as a master of the details, managing and executing projects while setting a standard of timeliness and excellence. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Lexi and Joshua Hoyt

Joshua & Lexi Hoyt

Front End Developer/Designer & Customer Success Representative

This brother and sister team from Canada have been working together on various media projects for ages. Joshua designs and develops websites, and has become a ‘Legend Level’ Wix Partner. Lexi graduated from the human services program at NBCC and enjoys spending her days helping others. She thrives working with children and youth with experience as an educational assistant.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Our Advisors

Students, educators, and business leaders are integrated into our work from the start, so that the materials we create are optimized for all of the people they’re intended to serve. Our advisors provide us with critical feedback to support the creation of hands-on experiences that meet the needs of diverse students and to help set future strategic directions.

Minli Virdone_edited_edited.png

Minli Virdone

Strategy and Operations

Minli is a Mechanical Engineer by training and is currently the Vice President of Business Operations at Twilio. Among her varied experiences, she was the Chief of Staff at Khan Academy, a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company, a social policy officer in the government, and a high school math teacher. She brings her expertise in strategy, operations and fundraising to the X in a Box team. Minli loves making things, building strong teams, and laughing at word puns.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon

Ted Dintersmith

Change Agent

Ted Dintersmith is consumed with issues at the intersection of education, career and citizenship skills, and democracy. His films, books, keynotes, and philanthropy focus on the urgency of reimagining school to keep pace with the tsunami of innovation that is reshaping society.  He is the founder and Chairman of, an organization that is catalyzing progress at the school, district, and state level across America, and in countries around the globe. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Maureen Suhendra Headshot_edited.jpg

Maureen Suhendra

Ed Tech Strategy

Maureen is a teacher at heart and is currently a User Experience Researcher at Google. She's worn many hats over the years, including leading K-12 Partnerships and developing a UX Research function at Khan Academy, building teacher mentoring tools at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, creating an edtech startup focused on classroom review games, and being a 6th grade teacher on the border of Texas and Mexico. She brings expertise in user-centered product development and hard-earned wisdom about go-to market strategies in the K-12 world. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon

George Overholser

Social Entrepreneurship

George is a business entrepreneur turned social entrepreneur.  For twenty years he has chased the dream of accelerating America’s transition to a performance-driven social sector.  He was on the founding team of Capital One and went on to build Third Sector Capital Partners, a nonprofit that connects social outcomes to sources of funding.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Denia Henderson (Edit)

Denia Henderson


Denia is a junior at Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy and aspires to attend Carnegie Mellon University or the University of Pittsburgh to pursue her goal of becoming a structural engineer.  She is a member of the varsity basketball team and the National Society of High School Scholars. Denia is a creative artist who enjoys ceramics, painting, and drawing. She also enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and enjoys anime.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Matteo Aldon_edited.png

Matteo Aldon


An artist and aspiring animator, Matteo champions the fusion of creativity and education in an effort to shift society towards a more inclusive future. His belief that authenticity creates change continues to drive his storytelling and pushes him to diversify the stories seen on the big screen. As an all-around creative, Matteo has experience in traditional & digital art, 3D computer graphics, and graphic design, however, his desire to learn is never-ending.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Mónica Juárez Reyes

Mónica Juárez Reyes


A Mexican student and aspiring storyboard artist, Mónica is passionate about books, movies and painting. She believes that art creates a medium that communicates in all languages. That's why she intends to provide an opportunity for students from all backgrounds to keep expanding their knowledge and artistic skills—so that they can tell their stories through art.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Ayush Sawant

Ayush Sawant


With his first stint as Director in a film-making project at his college, Ayush realized his potential of taking his dreams from pencil sketch to visual treat


The blend of creativity and storytelling pushed him to garner new aspects around creating visual media and take the plunge into the vast territories of film-making.

Now with hands-on experience in rigging, rendering, computer graphics, and digital art, he aspires to continue to bring form to his dreams in this field of imagination and ethical messaging to society!

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Sydney Barnett.jpg

Sydney Barnett


Sydney is a multimedia artist, filmmaker and high school educator in Oakland, CA. She is passionate about community empowerment and strongly believes in uplifting youth voices. She comes from a background of DIY culture and continues to advocate for accessibility within the arts and social justice movement. She holds a BA in Film Studies from UC Berkeley.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Bill Gowsell

Bill Gowsell


Bill is an elementary school teacher in Ontario, Canada. Teaching from grades 3-8 has taught him the importance of engaging a variety of learners. As education continues to evolve, it is important to find new avenues to meet students at their level and show them how their learning is connected to real-world applications. 

Meghan Salter.jpg

Meghan Salter


Meghan Salter is a public education teacher located in Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University with a BA in Elementary Education in 2007 and obtained a MA in Special Education from Marshall University in 2009. Meghan has been teaching gifted/special education in Cabell County Schools since 2009. Meghan is a Part 107 Remote Pilot and has been incorporating drone technology into her curriculum since 2015. She is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher for Students with Exceptionalities and is the 2019 Education Honoree for Women to Watch in UAS by Women and Drones. In 2020 Meghan was named Cabell County Schools Teacher of the Year and qualified as a finalist for West Virginia State Teacher of the Year. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon

Nikki Wallace


Nikki Wallace is an award-winning science educator and innovator. She has taught at Crosstown High in Memphis, Tennessee, since the school opened in 2018, having emerged from the original XQ Super School competition. Understanding the importance of education in the larger social justice movement, Wallace is committed to reducing barriers to the STEM fields for young people from marginalized communities in order to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion. She develops project-based curricula that challenge students to imagine themselves as scientists, make meaningful connections to their communities and the environment, and experience the utility and power of science.


Wallace is a Biorad Explorer Fellow, a committee member for the West TN STEM Hub, a member of the Frayser PTSA, and has been featured in XQ America, PopUp Magazine, and The Daily Memphian for her work with Crosstown High and the STEM in Medicine Ecosystem in Memphis. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Masters in Science Education. 


When Nikki is not working she enjoys spending time with her 3 boys and her significant other of seven years. She loves to travel and tend to her home garden. Nikki also enjoys reading and dancing in local Zumba fitness classes.

Brigitta Engebretsen Headshot.jpg

Brigitta Wright


In her years as an educator, Brigitta has come to realize one truth: she loves students. Her specialties fall in English and Storytelling & Animation, but the overlying verity is that relationships with students transcend any subject. She sees education as an opportunity to spark enthusiasm and unveil passions, and sometimes the way to do that is a step outside of the traditional curriculum.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Mary Dempsey_edited.jpg

Mary Dempsey


During her 25+ years working with children, Mary has become passionate about creating an inclusive, diverse learning environment that addresses needs and enriches the experience of every student and recently began facilitating local professional development sessions to aid fellow educators in generating their own creative hands-on activities and assessments.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Erin Whalen_edited.jpg

Erin Whalen


Erin Whalen serves as the Principal of Da Vinci RISE High School. RISE is a school devoted to providing equity to students experiencing housing instability, foster care and the juvenile justice system. Born into a proud Black, Chicano and Indigenous family, Erin has always found himself enticed by education’s power to be a force of empowerment. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Katelyn Johnson_edited.jpg

Katelyn Johnson


Katelyn is a high school science teacher who is passionate about helping students learn more about science, applying their knowledge to real-world situations and becoming more globally-minded. She enjoys creating a dynamic learning environment, focusing on student engagement and community building. Over the past few years, she has collaborated with colleagues to create cross-curricular innovative learning experiences.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
Jorge Flores_edited.jpg

Jorge Flores


Jorge Flores is an artist, activist and educator who lives with his wife and son in Lancaster, California. He has over a decade of experience working in major studios such as the Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros Television. He is passionate about bringing new technologies and opportunities into the classroom. His commitment to equity and social justice is an integral part of his lessons. 

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
School Picture.jpg

Taline Ketenjian


Taline Ketenjian is an English Language Arts teacher based in Southern California. She has been teaching 6th-8th grade ELA for the past five years. Taline holds BA in English & Creative Writing and an Master's Degree in Education. She is passionate about empowering youth stories and pushing students to use their creative gifts for good.

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
bottom of page