Sparking Ideas to Accelerate Change

Chicago, IL | March 14 - 15, 2019

How can the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence enable young children to flourish? Join us in Chicago to co-create areas of opportunity.

The first few years of our lives are formative and a crucial factor of a happy and fulfilled future. Over the past decade, neuroscience has gained valuable insights into the development of young children, and now Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arisen as a powerful way to analyze massive amounts of data to better understand and inform human behavior.

These recent developments offer innovative new ways to evolve the field of early childhood education. While they present an exciting opportunity for some, others fear a mechanistic and reductionist model of early learning which could stifle some of the softer aspects such as empathy and play. The question at hand is: How can we leverage neuroscience and AI-based “machine learning” to honor children’s full selves and help them develop a strong, coherent identity and a sense of purpose in an age of exponential technological change?

To explore this question, and identify areas of opportunity, the Tech & Early Ed Catalyst will feature inspirational, agenda-setting talks, sharing the latest findings from neuroscience, the potential and risks of AI, and some of the current challenges in early childhood development and education. The talks will spark a creative process and ignite new ideas and opportunities for co-creation.

The Tech & Early Ed Catalyst is an invitation-only event. To receive an invitation, please express your interest and details will follow.


Dave and Helen Edwards, Artificial Intelligence Kickstarters


Dave and Helen are founders of Koru Ventures, an advisory and incubation firm combining the best of human and artificial intelligence. Over the past decade, Dave and Helen have founded four companies together. Most recently, they co-founded, which researched how humans and machines will work together in the age of AI. They sold to Quartz, a division of Atlantic Media, and then co-led Quartz’s AI information platform. They are co-authoring an upcoming book that describes the impact of AI on human work and serves as a guide to human-machine collaboration.

Dave is a trend-spotter, analyst, and storyteller. He has spent his career distilling and advancing big technology trends like the internet, cleantech, and AI. His brain is split in two with half dedicated to creatively designing consumer experiences while the other half has an uncanny ability to find the right metric to measure and build upon. His past experience includes being head of software application marketing at Apple, head of consumer strategy at SunPower, and a lead technology research analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Helen has spent her career at the edges of chaos; where technological innovation collides head-on with traditional ways of doing things. She's been described as being able to see new relationships and counter-intuitive outcomes; to "link the un-linkable." Her past experience includes being CIO of Transpower, New Zealand's national grid, head of emerging products at Pacific Gas and Electric, and head of corporate venturing for Meridian Energy.

Dr. Sally Campbell Galman, Early Childhood Education Kickstarter

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Dr. Sally Campbell Galman is an anthropologist, writer, and performance and visual artist. Her research interests include the anthropology of childhood, early childhood studies, and gender studies. She is the Principal Investigator of the Gender Moxie Project. This project, generously funded by the Spencer Foundation, focuses on understanding transgender, gender independent and gender creative children’s experiences and resilience through an interdisciplinary and art-informed lens.

Along with colleague Dr. Laura Alicia Valdiviezo, she is the Editor-in-Chief of Anthropology and Education Quarterly.  She is also an editor at Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. Dr. Campbell Galman was born and grew up in northern Japan and attended Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is Professor of Child and Family Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

She is also an award-winning visual artist.  Follow her on Twitter! @ProfessorMommy and review her work at

Dr. Jamie Roitman, Neuroscience Kickstarter

Dr. Jamie Roitman is a neuroscientist and educator at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Her research focuses on the development of brain circuits responsible for executive function and decision-making. The maturation of these circuits from childhood to adulthood is vulnerable to drug use–ranging from prescription stimulants to alcohol and cannabis. She examines how these substances impact learning and memory, behavioral flexibility, and executive control. She completed a PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior from the University of Washington and a post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University before establishing her lab at UIC.

Outside of the lab, she frequently encourages her own 4 adolescents to make good choices



When? March 14 - 15, 2019

Where? The University Club of Chicago

Dress Code: The Club has a no denim policy. Please view their dress code in preparation for the event.


March 14, 2019

Welcome Reception & Kickstart (5:30 pm - 7:30 pm) Thursday evening we will get started with a meet and greet designed to accelerate our ideation, including a provocative talk on early childhood innovation and exclusive update on the HeadStarter Network’s collaborations and events.

March 15, 2019

Sprint (8:00 am - 5:30 pm)
Friday morning experts from the disciplines of neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and early childhood will stimulate our curiosity. This collision of ideas will set the agenda for the rest of the day via group discussions, pop-up talks, and collective work to be shared before we wrap up.

8 am: Coffee & Croissants

9 am: Stimulation Talks; Neuroscience, AI, & Early Childhood

Morning: Marketplace of ideas and group formation

12 pm: Refuel (luncheon will be served)

Afternoon: Pop-up talks and group work

4 pm: Groups present Opportunity Areas

5:30 pm: Closing thoughts and transition to dinner




Bright Horizons Family Solutions

Hatch Early Learning

Lakeshore Early Learning

Wipfli CPAs and Consultants