Team

Our Team

Teachers are facilitators, never the decision-makers. The cities are run by and for the kidizens.

Imagine a job where you have an opportunity to – come to work every day (or work remotely), think on your feet all the time, unleash your creative thinking while getting challenged by kids, share your knowledge in the context of everyday life situations and above all be immersed in an universe of LEGOs! Kidizens offers our teachers, staff, and volunteers the opportunity to build future leaders of tomorrow who are civically engaged and socially responsible. We’re a community of creative thinkers and educators who share the vision that children should develop civic awareness and apply their civic knowledge to become engaged stakeholders in their communities.

The Kidizens team is made up of experienced teachers, dedicated volunteers, and other professionals who are committed to designing a highly interactive and collaborative LEGO-based learning programs that students love. Our dedicated, creative team guides students to experience, discover and learn life skills and think “outside the box”, as they collaborate to build, manage and run their LEGO cities.

The Kidizens Team

Prerana Vaidya

Kidizens CEO

Prerana Vaidya is the CEO and Director of Kidizens. She is focused on overseeing the growth of the company and help Kidizens expand its program offerings, scale its geographic footprint and continue to form new partnerships with educational institutions and school districts. Prerana has worked as an independent consultant providing strategic and growth advice to small-size companies in the SF Bay area. She was the Director of Technology Investment Banking at UBS where she provided corporate finance advisory services to companies in the telecom and Internet infrastructure sectors. Earlier in her career she was at Philips Electronics with responsibility for new business development.

Prerana is also on the board of two non-profit organizations in the Bay area – including The School Fund, a crowdfunding platform supporting secondary education for children in developing countries across the world. Prerana has an MBA from the Stern School of Business, New York University and an MS in Computer Science from Iowa State University. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending her free time in creative pursuits of all sorts. Above all, she is passionate about working with children – finding it one of the most challenging as well as fulfilling things in her life. She is committed to sharing all that she learns with our kidizens with the hope of inspiring them to develop a love of learning and to celebrate their individual strengths as they grow into responsible leaders of tomorrow. [email protected]

Donald Woodson

Lead Teacher

Donald joined Kidizens in March 2019 as the Lead Teacher. Born and raised in St. Louis, MO, Donald studied Theater Studies at Yale University. During his undergrad career he taught drama and improv workshops for local kids as well as wrote, directed, and acted in original shows with the Yale Children’s Theater. His passion for working with kids led him to a life at sea. Donald worked on cruise ships, sailing around the world for two years as Youth Staff with Holland America Line. Most recently, his mission to inspire creativity and self-confidence in kids has led him to working full-time with Kidizens!

In his free time Donald loves spending time with friends, watching Marvel movies, running, and reading sci-fi/fantasy. A recently acquired quarantine hobby of his is Dungeons & Dragons. He also really enjoys watching baking and cooking competition shows, although his culinary skills could use some work! [email protected]

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Grace Leete

Birthday party Coordinator & Camp Counselor

Grace is currently a Junior at Santa Clara University, pursuing Sociology and Child Studies Majors with an an Urban Education Minor. At SCU, she is the director of Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP), the largest service organization on campus and a Miller Center Global Benefit Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship. Grace started working with Kidizens in May of 2021. She says – “I like working for Kidizens because of the connection with what I am learning in school and putting it into action as well as working with such awesome people!” She is planning on pursuing law for graduate studies. For fun, she likes to hang out with my friends, explore beautiful California, visit art museums and puzzle!

Camille Thrall

Camille Thrall

Summer Lead Counselor

Camille joined Kidizens as a lead counselor in the summer of 2021 and has been running numerous Kidizens camps for the past year. She is a 4th-year Psychology student at the University of California at Merced and originally from Mountain View, CA. She is pursuing her interest in cognitive development, specifically child cognitive development research at UC Merced. She really likes working with children because she finds them more intelligent than society and the media portrays them to be. In her words – “When given tough challenges and asked to think outside of the box as we do at Kidizens, it is rewarding and exciting to observe these children meet these challenges with enthusiasm, ingenuity and creativity!”

Fiona Watson

Program Director

Fiona joined Kidizens in March 2015 as the Program Director. She recently moved to California from England, where she gained her undergraduate degree in math and geography, with additional teaching status, from Bath Spa University. She has spent the past 20 years working in a number of UK schools. Most recently she was brought in to an underperforming school as a Vice Principal to support the school’s raising in standards. The school successfully achieved this under her leadership. Fiona has also worked for several years for Southampton University; lecturing under graduates and mentoring student teachers.

Fiona is passionate about providing an interactive, fun learning environment where children are prepared for the ever changing world ahead of us. In her own time, Fiona loves to spend time with her family and friends, hike in the beautiful local mountains, cook and bake, read and explore California. [email protected] 

Alex Smedile

Teacher

Alex joined as a teacher at Kidizens in April of 2016. Originally from Washington State, he recently returned to the States after four years working as head teacher of an English academy in South Korea. He completed his degree in cultural anthropology with a minor in teaching English as a second language(TESOL). He has a deep interest in linguistics and language acquisition in young children. His mother and father were both elementary school teachers and he has followed in their footsteps and dedicated his life to education. He plans to continue his own education and complete a MA in elementary education. Alex has a very high energy teaching style and prides himself on being able to connect with his students and create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable and are actively engaged in their own learning.

Alex is thrilled to be newly settled in the beautiful bay area. He enjoys hiking, running, camping, sea kayaking and snowboarding among other outdoor sports. He has also well-traveled and loves to try strange new foods and learn to cook some of them! [email protected]

Rachel Cedar

Teacher

Rachel Cedar joined Kidizens in October 2015 as our newest teacher in the Los Altos center. A recent transplant from New York City where she had a private parenting education practice, Rachel earned her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of California-Berkeley. Rachel has an area of specialty in child development with an emphasis in early childhood, toddlers and preschool-aged children. She has taught parenting courses and conducted workshops and training as well as facilitated support groups for new and second time parents. Rachel also published the sibling preparation children’s book “When Mommy Has Our Baby” in 2014.

Rachel stays busy as the mother of two young boys. Together they enjoy watching and playing sports, hiking, biking, and traveling. In her own time, Rachel is an avid reader, and enjoys book club and literary readings, photography, farmers markets and cooking. [email protected]

Scott Gentile

Teacher

Scott has been with Kidizens since Fall, 2015. Scott has a BA in English with a Secondary Education minor from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA, and a BS in Biology, with a minor in Theatre from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Scott has taught children for seventeen years, cumulatively, including the past fourteen years as a Naturalist Instructor at the Web of Life Field School in Santa Cruz County; also, Scott has taught hands-on science lessons for the past fourteen summers at Renaissance Camp, an Art and Science day camp in Aptos, CA. Scott loves to make learning fun! An avid baseball (Red Sox) fan, Scott plays on and manages an adult baseball team. He also enjoys cooking/dining, hiking, writing, listening to music, camping, and relaxing to Nexflix with his wife, Katie. [email protected]

Drew Jones

Consultant

Drew has been working with Kidizens as a consultant for over 3 years. Drew is a kindergarten teacher at Synapse. He graduated from Radford University in Virginia with a BS in Environmental Biology. He has spent much time teaching environmental education to children across the country in Virginia, Mississippi, California and Alaska. His passion and dedication toward teaching environmental activism and civic awareness made him a popular teacher with many outdoor education programs. In his free time you can find him hiking, longboarding, playing music, running and smiling at the beach and spreading smiles and cheer at Kidizens birthday parties as the main birthday party coordinator!

Anjali Pathak

Teacher

Anjali has been involved in teaching children of all age groups for about ten years now. She has always enjoyed counseling and teaching kids from pre-K to high school in various settings, with a Bachelors in Psychology and Gender Studies and MS in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Counseling, Human Development and Educational Psychology.

She has had experience in counseling individuals, couples and groups through internships and at private agencies. Anjali has also worked as a grant coordinator for her graduate school, which financially assisted student/parents by providing them with the security of semester-based grant money that went towards childcare for their child/children while they were in school. She is a driven person and loves to see others happy. Teaching children has always been a part of her life as many of her family members are or have been teachers. She moved to California from Texas in early 2014 after getting married. She loves the beauty of California and wants to continue exploring the area more! [email protected] 

Steve Putz

Consultant

Steve Putz has coached award winning FIRST LEGO League teams since 1999 and has been teaching LEGO robotics, computer programming and animation classes at local schools and summer programs since he founded RoboticsLearning.com in 2002. He was a member of the LEGO Mindstorms Developers Program (MDP) and helped test the LEGO Mindstorms NXT product before it was released. Steve has a degree in Computer Science from U.C. San Diego, did software research at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, and has several software patents. our resident LEGO Social skills expert and a consultant to the Kidizens team. He was a member of the LEGO Mindstorms Developers Program (MDP) and helped test the LEGO Mindstorms NXT product before it was released. [email protected] 

Stephen Stauffer

Consultant

Stephen Stauffer graduated from the Academy of Art University with an MFA in 3D Modeling. Though he originally moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue a career in the entertainment industry his passion for working with children was reignited when he started volunteering at Epic Church as a Kids Program Teacher. A Lego enthusiast from a young age Stephen is excited to bring his passion and skills to the Kidizens program and help children learn and grow while also having a great time. Aside from Legos, Stephen also enjoys board games, video games, movies, theatre productions, reading, just about anything Disney and spending time with his wife and three cats. [email protected] 

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