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X IN A BOX:
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

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

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

 

Equitable
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.

 

Experimental
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.

 

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

Our Founders
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Elyse Klaidman

CEO

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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.

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Tony DeRose

Chief Content Officer

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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.

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Brit Cruise

Chief Learning Officer

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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
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Dennis Henderson

Educational and Community Partnerships, Development 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. 

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Pam Darrow

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. 

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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. 

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Farzad Sangari

Director

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. 

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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.

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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 has been designing and developing the front end of websites for 13 years, and has become a ‘Legend Level’ Wix Partner. He also advocates for mental health awareness and has helped create short films to tell the stories of those who have struggled and learned to thrive with the support of those willing to listen and help without judgement. 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.

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Carlos Rojo

Curriculum Designer

As faculty in Math & Sciences at San José City College, Carlos is working to change the way STEM is taught. Towards this goal, he created and teaches the first "flipped", active learning STEM course at the college. Since 2020, Carlos has been working with the X in a Box team to design resources and lessons that teach STEM concepts in the context of future careers and that drive student engagement.

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Taylor Fox

Filmmaker

Taylor Fox was a freelance filmmaker in BC, Canada, for 14 years, performing diverse roles as a generalist, before completing a post-grad VFX program to specialize in visual effects for film and TV. He has worked on projects for Netflix, Amazon, Apple, as well as theatrical release productions and broadcast documentaries. He continues to work as an FX and motion graphics artist based in the Pacific Northwest.

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Peter Collingridge

Software Engineer

Peter got his degree in Biochemistry and Ph.D. in Pathology from the University of Oxford and taught himself to program. He spent five years at the Khan Academy as a freelance programmer, mainly building math exercises and interactive explorations, including all the interactive content for the NASA partnership, the Pixar in a Box and Imagineering in a Box series. He currently works as a software developer for Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

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Joseph DeRose

Editor/Sound Designer

Joseph DeRose is an editor and sound designer based out of LA. A recent USC School of Cinematic Arts alum, he is passionate about both fiction and documentary work, with a special love for stories related to the scientific and outdoor communities. In 2019, he directed and edited a documentary following the USC Rocket Lab as they became the world’s first students to launch their own rocket into space. Currently, he is editing a feature on Angela Madsen, who died at sea while attempting to be the first paraplegic and oldest woman to complete a solo row of the Pacific Ocean.

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Jeremy White

Writer/Director

Jeremy is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated writer-director of both documentary and scripted film/TV. As the Series Producer of VICE WORLD OF SPORTS, Jeremy wrote and produced both seasons of Viceland's acclaimed anthology docu-series. Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, the series won the 2017 Producer’s Guild Award for Outstanding Sports Program and was Emmy- nominated in its second season. Jeremy has produced documentary films, series and digital content for dozens of clients and networks, including Showtime, Nike, Blumhouse, Complex, MLB, The Players’ Tribune, Hyundai, Subaru, the Truth Initiative and LiveNation. 

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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.

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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.

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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 WhatSchoolCouldBe.org, an organization that is catalyzing progress at the school, district, and state level across America, and in countries around the globe. 

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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. 

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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.

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Nova Sonomura

Student

Nova, an avid storyteller and passionate artist, is allegedly an alumnus of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. In all likelihood, however, he’s probably just a kindergartener wearing stilts—at least, that’s what his overactive imagination and cherubic baby face would leave you to believe, but no one’s ousted him just yet, so then again, maybe not. Though he aspires to be an animator, this guy loves everything and everyone.

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Amara Chimezie

Student

A self-proclaimed storyteller and creative technologist, Amara works to push the boundaries of education, media, and technology by continuously searching for the intersectionality between each industry. She believes that if education is the great equalizer, the modern-day media world can only amplify this effect. She is currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California's Iovine and Young Academy.

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Anthony Ramirez-Garcia

Student

A community leader and local entrepreneur, Anthony enables change through organizations that focus on educating and cultivating young talent in South Central for students of color. His ultimate goal is to disrupt the foundations of learning through technology and entrepreneurship. He is currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California's Iovine and Young Academy.

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Denia Henderson

Student

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.

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Noa Teiblum

Student

An aspiring cognitive biologist, Noa is passionate about utilizing psychology to justify changes to the current American education system in an effort to provide an equitable learning experience for all students. She is currently a rising senior at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California.

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Valentino Andrewin

Student

Valentino is a computer programmer who uses his skillset to educate and create opportunities for younger low-income students in South Central Los Angeles. He ran multiple classes, teaching over 100 students in total how to code and progress in the professional world. In addition to coding, he also has experience with sound and audio design, producing music during his free time. His main goal is to help the youth of South Central Los Angeles through music and technology. 

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Charlee Sue Dreisbach

Student

Charlee Sue lives in Big Sky Montana and is currently attending Lone Peak High School as a sophomore. She spent her summer writing a series on the sustainability efforts in her community for her local newspaper, the Lone Peak Lookout. From her experience at the paper, she grew an interest in sustainability and hopes to help prevent any further damage to our planet.

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Matteo Aldon

Student

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.

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Mónica Juárez Reyes

Student

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.

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Sydney Barnett

Educator

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.

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Bill Gowsell

Educator

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. 

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Meghan Salter

Educator

A community leader and local entrepreneur, Anthony enables change through organizations that focus on educating and cultivating young talent in South Central for students of color. His ultimate goal is to disrupt the foundations of learning through technology and entrepreneurship. He is currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California's Iovine and Young Academy.

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Yvette Logan

Educator

Yvette has been teaching Chemistry at Steel Valley High School for more than 20 years. She teaches all levels of Chemistry including a course taught in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh. In 2009, she earned her National Board Certification in Adolescence and Early Adulthood Science with a specialty in Chemistry. She is an advocate for change in her district and a leader for both teachers and students.

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Brigitta Engebretsen

Educator

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.

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Mary Dempsey

Educator

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.

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Alex Campbell

Educator

Alex is a co-founder of the XQ Super School Project winning Bartleby Program at Elizabethton High School and published his first book, Ten Lessons That Will Get You Fired in 2016. A 20-year veteran of the classroom and a multi-time teacher of the year recipient, he is well regarded as a creative and innovative teacher who emphasizes connections between people over standards and curriculum.

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Erin Whalen

Educator

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. 

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Katelyn Johnson

Educator

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.

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Sally Nhomi

Educator

Sally “Sal” Nhomi is the high school internship coordinator at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama (KSK) campus in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, where students are nurtured to rise as local and global servant leaders anchored in Native Hawaiian values, wisdom, and commitments to excellence. The KSK internship program encourages students to find individual gifts to contribute as they “learn through doing” with the support of “real world” mentors. 

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Jorge Flores

Educator

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.