Stella Grizont is the Founder and CEO of WOOPAAH, a company dedicated to helping organizations and individuals flourish. WOOPAAH designs happiness and well-being learning programs that range from immersive play (think splashing around in paint and breaking stuff) to online classes, workshops, and consulting. WOOPAAH has worked with clients such as Google, Columbia University, and The City of New York.
Grizont was one of the first 150 people in the world to receive a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a regular contributor to MSNBC's Your Business Show and has been featured in ABC News, The Today Show, Fox, Entrepreneur Magazine, Vanity Fair, and other media outlets for her insights on business and happiness. Stella has also lectured at several universities including New York University, MIT, Rutgers, Barnard College, Baruch, and Bowdoin College.
Prior to WOOPAAH, Stella spent 12 years in Brand Strategy with Y&R and Living Breathing, leading market research and communication initiatives for NBC Universal, American Express, Four Seasons, Sotheby's, Dannon, and Weight Watchers. She simultaneously operated another business, Ladies Who Launch, in New York City, supporting and coaching over 1,200 women entrepreneurs locally and impacting over 100,000 nationally.
Stella graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University where she serves on the Alumnae Leadership Development committee. She is caught regularly wearing absurdly bright colors and now resides in Oakland, California, with her husband, Ilya.
Susan Patel, Business Development + Operations Manager, comes to Woopaah after four years in the role of co-founder and vice president of a consulting firm providing sustainable solutions to the hospitality industry including Hilton Hotels, Marriott International and Starwood brand hotels. She specializes in sustainability and operations management, connecting company needs with effective business improvement solutions, whatever the sector. In addition to her corporate social responsibility experience, Susan has managed various types of projects in financial services, real estate, and non-profit sectors comprised of Hostelling International, the Association of Indian Americans in North America (AIANA) and Fortune 500 companies such as MetLife Inc., General Motors Asset Management and Merrill Lynch.
Susan is a globally certified Project Management Professional (PMP), sits on the Seeds of Peace Young Leadership Committee, has a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics and Communications from Rutgers University, and was a financial analyst for six years prior to entering the start-up world. During her time at EcoGreenHotel, she published numerous articles ranging from carbon offsets to step-by-step green team guides and led social media and energy efficiency seminars. Susan isn't your stereotypical business woman. A fabled humanitarian and lady with a hammer, she is a unique mix of city-creative and mountain goat, equally at home centering in an eagle pose and testing her limits on Mt. Kilimanjaro. "Wake up and live!" is her motto.
Genevieve has been writing music for over a decade, and she’s been playing instruments for over two. She holds a masters degree in film scoring from NYU, and has scored numerous independent film and art projects. She met Stella at the University of Pennsylvania, where they explored the field of positive psychology and earned their MAPP degrees. Since then, Genevieve has applied her MAPP knowledge in organizations and as a yoga teacher, while continuing to be involved in research at Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, and Fordham. She is excited and grateful to be able to incorporate music and psychology at WOOPAAH. You can find her songwriting at eskimosand.com, her writing on positive psychology here, and all other things related to her at genevievedouglass.com.
Melanie Simonson, a Junior at Barnard College studying Psychology, is an intern and tweetist at WOOPAAH. As someone who works with kids of all ages at summer camps and preschools, she loves playful and creative environments and is excited about bringing this energy to adults in the workplace. In her spare time, Melanie loves tap dancing, baking dessert, listening to Dave Matthews, and exploring New York City.
Sophie Smith, is a Junior at the University of California Santa Barbara where she is studying Psychology. She is excited to bring her passion for psychology and love for creativity and play to the workplace for adults while WOOPAAHING it up! In her spare time she loves to explore her surroundings and go on new adventures with her friends, run, hang out at the beach, play volleyball and relax with her family.
Anne Gates graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2012. She studied Fiber Arts with a concentration in Fine Art and Creativity.
She has shown and sold work at the 30th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show as well as the 35th Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. She was also featured as an invited artist at Savannah's Butcher Gallery. Anne Gates was juried into the Grand Rapids Art Museum out of 900+ Artists in the Fall of 2012 as a part of ArtPrize. She was the youngest of the 21 artists exhibiting at the GRAM. She was voted into ArtPrize's Top 100, and Detroit Free Press listed her work in their Top 10 of ArtPrize.Her art consists of unconventional embroidery, and sculptural objects. She has an affinity for fragile materials, and challenges the definition of a fiber artist. Her pieces explore the nuances between home and place, growth and fear, and above all else explores human motivation.
Emily Jacobi is a rising sophomore at Mcgill University in Montreal Quebec where she studies History and Cultural Studies. A Bay Area native, she is thrilled to have joined the WOOPAAH team in San Francisco as a summer intern where she has had the best experience collaborating, brainstorming, and learning the ropes of social media! Emily loves writing film, concert, and album reviews for the McGill Tribune, drinking lots of coffee, exploring the city, and partaking in Montreal’s abundant winter activities including cross country skiing, sledding, and basically being cold for 6 months straight. She has immensely enjoyed her first month interning with WOOPAAH, and cannot wait to share some of WOOPAAH’s exciting new summer projects.
Her official title at WOOPAAH is Kick-Ass Sidekick. Though it's a tough job, someone's got to do it - and it's no secret that Judith Meer is crazy qualified for the position. As a Senior Experience Coordinator for LivingSocial Adventures, she regularly takes people out on fun, social trips: paintball, kayaking, go-karting, whitewater rafting, ice climbing, shooting, surfing, you name it! She also volunteers with Ladies Who Launch, helping with event management, social media and copywriting. When she's not busy working for companies she loves, Judith is busy doing things she loves: she's an avid practitioner of Krav Maga (Israeli contact combat) and after an intensive Krav Maga Federation (KMF) instructor course, offers private instruction, women's self-defense seminars, and group classes at Ki Martial Arts in Tuckahoe, NY. Besides training and teaching with KMF, Judith loves dancing, biking, kayaking and just generally being outdoors.
Judith graduated from Barnard College with a degree in psychology, one of her favorite topics, and began her doctoral studies in physical therapy in 2012. She writes a blog on topics in neuroscience, physical activity, rehabiliation and psychology, and runs her own copywriting company, www.copybyjudith.com
After a stunning debut as “Woodsman #2” in her second grade holiday show, Amanda Rodhe went on to perform professionally in musicals at various regional theatres, worked as an Acting Apprentice at the prestigious Williamstown Theatre Festival, dabbled in opera and cabaret singing, and tried her hand at sketch comedy writing. It is no surprise then, that this proud graduate of the Barnard College holds a degree in Theatre. Amanda currently works as maître d’ at the award-winning new restaurant, ABC Kitchen, and as WOOPAAH's Junior Editorial Assistant. She is excited to join the team to help spread love and joy through creative endeavors!
Our Advisors and Partner Consultants
Lisa Zigarmi is a Lead Client Service Partner for The Ken Blanchard Companies® in New York City. She works with Fortune 500 companies to build the leadership capacity of their staff and is passionate about creating saner, more effective, more meaning-driven organizations. She researches employee work passion/engagement and spends her time helping leaders and organizations create the conditions (role, organizational, and relational) for their employees to flourish. Lisa is also the coauthor of #Positivity at Work—a book that highlights the best practices for enabling positivity within individuals and organizations.
Lisa’s parents are cofounding associates of the Blanchard® organization as well as coauthors of some of Blanchard’s most influential programs, including Situational Leadership® II, Leading People Through Change® , and DiSCovering Self and Others. Thanks to her lifelong personal relationships with a majority of Blanchard’s thought leaders and conten providers, she understands how to apply Blanchard concepts most effectively. Lisa manages many of Blanchard’s largest accounts including Deloitte, Saks Fifth Avenue, Toys “R” Us, and Newell Rubbermaid. She is service-oriented, values driven, and concerned with excellence. Lisa has an MA in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a certified coach, completing her training through The Coaches Training Institute. She is a leadership consultant, author, coach, speaker, friend, and avid learner. Lisa is committed to helping people expand their awareness and activate their well-being.
Sarah Endline is the mastermind and chief rioter of sweetriot, healthy dark chocolate covered cacao nibs that can be found in Whole Foods, Zabars, Balducci’s, Safeway and many more. She has worked in Product Development & Marketing for companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft and The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). She was also Project Manager at the World Bank and President of AIESEC.
Belle Frank is the Executive Vice President and Director of Strategy & Applied Research at Young & Rubicam. She directs communications strategies for Y&R and co-manages the Brand Planning Department. In more than 25 years with Y&R, Belle has had a range of experience. Starting in Account Management, she joined the Account Research Department in 1984. Belle has worked with all the Agency proprietary strategic tools and is responsible for Y&R perspectives on key brand, consumer and communication development and measurement issues. Beginning in 1993, Belle was part of the small team assigned to develop Y&R’s BrandAsset® Valuator (BAV) model. Belle co-authored “Reinventing Qualitative Research” which was published in the February, 2007 issue of Admap. She received an Advertising Women of New York, Trailblazing Working Mother of the Year award in 2007. Belle has a BA in French from Tufts and holds a Master’s from the Harvard School of Education where she studied human development and the effects of communication. She has also taken courses in Measurement & Evaluation at Columbia Teachers College.
Barbara Fredrickson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory (a.k.a. PEP Lab) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research reveals how positive emotions, fleeting as they are, can tip the scales toward a life of flourishing. Winner of several awards for her research and teaching – including the American Psychological Association’s inaugural Templeton Prize in Positive Psychology and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology’s Career Trajectory Award – Barb created her broaden-and-build theory to describe how positive emotions evolved for our human ancestors and how, today, they vitally shape people’s health and well-being. Barb’s scientific contributions have influenced scholars and practitioners worldwide, in disciplines ranging from education to business and beyond. Her research has been featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, CNN, PBS, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Oprah Magazine, and elsewhere. In May 2010, she was invited to brief His Holiness the Dalai Lama on her research. You can find out more about Dr. Fredrickson on her site http://www.positivityratio.com/.
Stephanie Gerson is a fluent systems thinker, who used to ramble on about “parallel manifestations at different levels of reality” until she learned there was one word for them: fractals. She now applies systems thinking (...and fractals) to cultivating transformative social change.
Stephanie is a longtime designer of innovative social experiences, ranging from tele-events, occurring simultaneously in multiple locations and connected through tele-presence, to dark feasts, curated for blindfolded participants to enhance the non-visual senses of their culinary experience. Not unrelated, she has somewhat of an obsession with blindness: showering in the dark, playing drum set blindfolded, and eating Dans Le Noir. Stephanie is determined to more explicitly bring experience design into her movement-building work. For now, she's thrilled to help breathe life into enlivening experiences as a WOOPAAH adviser.
Lori Hoberman is the chair of the Emerging Companies / Venture Capital practice at Chadbourne & Parke LLP. Her practice emphasizes venture capital, private equity, and general corporate counseling for emerging as well as later stage and publicly traded companies. She focuses on a range of industries, including telecommunications, software, biotechnology and life sciences, real estate, consumer products, Internet search and advertising, gaming and other media.
Ilya Perchikovsky is a design researcher and user-centered design evangelist. He advises organizations on creating strategies, products, and services from an understanding of the experiences and needs of real people.
Ilya received an MS in Design Ethnography from the University of Dundee (Scotland) and a BA in Applied Sociology from the James Madison College at Michigan State University. Born and raised in Moscow during the final years of the Soviet Union, Ilya immigrated to Detroit as a child. Growing up in Motown, he cultivated a love for soulful music and soulful automobiles. Beyond Moscow, Detroit and New York, Ilya has lived in San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires and Dundee, Scotland.
Ron Pompei is the principal and creative director of creative services firm Pompei A.D., which creates transformational brand experiences by integrating commerce, culture, and community. His innovative firm has collaborated with a wide spectrum of clients including Té Casan, Sony, Coca-Cola, Kmart, The Discovery Channel, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Rubin Museum of Art, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, Fortune magazine, Harley-Davidson, California Academy of Sciences, Levi’s, Herman Miller and MTV. Ron’s visionary approach to his work and groundbreaking progess in design, experiential branding, and cultural entrepreneurship has been recognized by publications such as the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Fortune magazine, Business Week Online, Interior Design, Blueprint, Metropolis, Fast Company and the Financial Times.
Lilly Zhu is passionate about personal and professional development for ethnic minorities. She is the Founder and President of Kuaguoren, a personal branding firm aimed at elevating overseas-educated Chinese to pursue professional and personal dreams. She is also the Director of Partnerships at Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a NYC-based career development institution for African and Native American and Hispanic communities. With a prior background in investment banking and consulting, she also helps entrepreneurs strategize growth plans and fund raising.