Diana Rhoten

Diana Rhoten
Co-founder & Co-director, Startl


A social entrepreneur and researcher, Diana has spent her professional life designing and strategizing new organizational models and technological approaches that catalyze innovation.

Currently, Diana is the co-founder and co-director of a new social enterprise called Startl. Launched publicly in 2010, Startl is a social enterprise dedicated to accelerating digital products for learning – from kindergarten to college, inside and outside the classroom. Startl recruits innovators and entrepreneurs, immerses them in rigorous product design and business development processes, and helps them build socially responsible and fiscally sustainable start-ups that will change the future of learning. In this way, Startl seeks to do for the nascent digital media and learning market what the Sundance Institute has done for the independent film community: support promising talent, stimulate alternative products, and open new distribution channels.

At the same time, Diana is also leading a host of New York City institutions—including the New York Public Library, American Museum of Natural History, Museum for African Art, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, Wildlife Conservation Society—through an adaptive design and experimental change process. The goal of this New Youth City Learning Network project is to create new partnerships and pathways that help young people connect different learning opportunities through online tools and offline experiences.

In 2004, Diana established the Knowledge Institutions program at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) to support the transformation of organizations focused on knowledge production and dissemination. Current projects look at the mounting challenges to public higher education, new models for scientific innovation and collaboration, and the social and technical factors that drive individual and collective creativity. While in her role at the SSRC, Diana also served a two-year appointment to the National Science Foundation, where she was the founding program director of the Virtual Organizations and the Cyberlearning programs.

Over the course of her career, Diana has worked with various clients on the design of new organizational strategies and structures for innovation, ranging from large-scale international agencies and national research centers to medium-scale technology corporations and small-scale not-for-profit entities. She has also published in numerous academic journals, including Science, Nature, Minerva, Thesis Eleven, and The Annual Review of Law and Social Science. Her recently completed volume entitled Knowledge Matters: The Public Mission of the University will be available in December 2010. For both her practical applications and theoretical contributions in this area, Diana was named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer (2005-2007), an award that honors individuals at the leading edge of science.

Prior to coming to New York, Diana was the co-founder and research director of the Hybrid Vigor Institute in San Francisco, an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Education, a Fulbright fellow in Argentina, and a policy analyst and advisor for former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. She has a Ph.D. in international development and education and an M.A. in sociology from Stanford University, as well as an M.Ed. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Brown University.


Live Stream, Point of Control
Location: Grand Ballroom Level:
Moderated by:
John Heilemann (New York Magazine)
Ted Mitchell (NewSchools Venture Fund), Diana Rhoten (Startl), Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman)
Average rating: ***..
(3.33, 3 ratings)
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