Get to Know Us

Deepthi Welaratna

Founder & Principal

Deepthi Welaratna investigates the architecture of social systems and designs solutions to unlock agency, opportunity and resources for people around the world. She has spent the last 14 years influencing complex systems by developing public policy campaigns, cultivating creative leaders, and building movements around a range of social and economic issues.

As a consultant providing advising on the complex interactions between market-based activities, policymaking environments, and issue-based communications, Deepthi has worked with a wide range of clients including Google, the Rockefeller Foundation, Godiva, the Institute of Development Studies, and the British Museum. As a researcher, Deepthi has investigated how design thinking, global media flows, and complex social systems intersect, with a particular focus on how cross-cultural interactions are mediated by the design of digital technologies for social systems.

Deepthi founded Thicket to develop new strategies for applying systems thinking to collaborative problem solving in complex environments.

She received her MA in Media Studies from The New School.

Taylor Corbett

Research & Evaluation Lead

Taylor Corbett is a data anthropologist with experience in systems analysis and visualization. As Thicket’s Research and Evaluation Lead, Taylor works with organizations to design, implement, and evaluate fuzzy cognitive mapping methodologies to understand, monitor, and shape complex systems.

Taylor comes to Thicket having previously worked with UN agencies, governments, and NGOs in the United States, Africa, and Asia to improve data utilization for disaster planning, polio eradication, education monitoring, policymaking, and public engagement.

Outside of Thicket, Taylor consults with companies, non-profits, and universities to improve their data-driven decision-making and data storytelling practices. He graduated with honors, summa cum laude, from Occidental College with degrees in both Diplomacy and World Affairs and Economics.

Sam Hutch

UX & Interaction Designer

Sam specializes in helping others navigate and communicate in complex systems using UX and interaction design methods.

Prior to joining Thicket, Sam studied at Parsons, where she developed her talents for user experience, web design, and coding. She also had the opportunity to work with Flightpath and Boxee on their web based projects.

Outside of Thicket, Sam helps mediate adoptions at the ASPCA and volunteers her design skills to help animal rescues redesign their websites, print material, and services. Ultimately, she hopes to combine her knowledge of systems design and animal advocacy to facilitate better communication within the rescue community.

Jacob Hernandez

Communication Designer & Strategist

Jacob joins Thicket to design responsive solutions to complex social systems as they relate to the felt experiences of community groups. Jacob applies design thinking through both visual and facilitation practices.

As a graduate of Parsons The New School for Design with a BFA in Communication Design, Jacob's interest in design and social justice within urban and social landscapes was shaped through collaboration-based classes and community-driven projects. Jacob has worked with New York nonprofit organizations including the Center for Urban Pedagogy and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. His senior thesis project responded to the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness by designing facilitation tools that worked to affirm and empower LGBT young people.

You can find Jacob playing ultimate frisbee in Prospect Park, embarking on photo adventures through the city, and eating veggie burgers.

Ajay Bhatia

Senior Developer

In addition to his Senior Developer role at Thicket, Ajay Bhatia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management & IT at Rayat Bahra Institute of Management. Ajay heads up the IT Department where he also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses.

Ajay is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Punjab Technical University. His research interests span neural networks, decision support technologies, applied computing technologies, and computational approaches to supporting complex systems. Ajay applies his expertise in an extensive array of languages and development frameworks daily to a variety of development projects.

Collaborators

Debbie Adler

Collaborator

Debbie Adler is an online marketing strategist for nonprofits, media companies, corporations and startups. At present, she manages her own consulting business based in Los Angeles. Before moving back to LA in January 2013, Debbie was an Account Director at Blue State Digital, where she worked on campaigns with clients such as GODIVA, Autism Speaks, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Film Society of Lincoln Center and more.

Prior to BSD, Debbie was the Director of Online Marketing for WNET, the PBS affiliate station in New York City. She also worked in HBO’s digital group developing a content distribution strategy for online platforms while she was getting her MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business. She started her career in LA as the Music Publicity and Promotions Director at the NPR affiliate radio station, KCRW.

Debbie currently serves on the board of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Brandeis University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree. She is a Los Angeles Global Justice Fellow with the American Jewish World Service.

Cory Ip

Collaborator

Cory is motivated by the desire to understand how human behavior interacts with social systems to produce positive change. While pursuing a graduate degree in technology and policy, she focused on the question of how technology can be used to understand and enhance the behavioral effects of social interaction, using mobile sensor data to investigate how individuals influence each other’s choices in group contexts. In her current role at a digital advertising agency, she continues to look at questions of influence at a group level.

Through her academic and professional experiences, Cory has seen that being able to work with complexity is critical to achieving impact. With Thicket, she is excited to apply new methodologies to address complexity and produce significant social change.

Cory received a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University, a BS in Environmental Engineering from the City College of New York, and an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT.

Haydee Izaguirre

Collaborator

Haydee Izaguirre explores the intersection between technology and human rights, mainly focusing on how innovations can address some of the problems affecting marginalized communities.

As a strategist, Haydee studies complex systems and looks for different ways to approach them, whether through policy campaigns, social movements, technology interventions or more traditional social and economic models. Haydee has extensive experience developing and managing donor-funded programs, carrying out international technical assessments and trainings with UN agencies, line ministries and other stakeholders on the implementation of technologies for development.

At Thicket, Haydee looks for development opportunities and innovative approaches to implementing our unique methodology. Feel free to get in touch to learn how we can collaborate!

Ian Rios

Collaborator

Ian Rios comes to Thicket after seven years of working in administration at top secondary and post-secondary schools in the New York area. His admissions work at the secondary school and at the college level exposed him to working with a wide variety of stakeholders in the educational setting.

Although the settings may have changed throughout the years, Ian has spent his life working collaboratively with students, parents, and educators to create communities and spaces where the passionate can embrace their passions, explore the life of the mind, and fulfill their expected goals one interaction at a time. He is driven by working with inspirational managers and employees who design solutions broadly to help to shape the community in which they thrive. He is committed to bridging gaps between communities, organizations, and individuals.

Ian is a graduate of Wesleyan University and is currently getting his Master’s degree in education from Columbia University.

Lukas WinklerPrins

Collaborator

Lukas WinklerPrins is a young mathematician and dilettante. He is a rising senior in the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, while also helping people realize their design ideas in the Brown Design Workshop and facilitating cross-disciplinary collaboration as a senior advisor in Brown STEAM.

He has worked previously as a research assistant under Dr Martin Maxey, in computational fluid dynamics, and as an intern at Community Systems Foundation, researching effective strategies for metrics in international aid and development. His interests include fluids, granular flows, audio processing, network dynamics, and nonlinear dynamics.

In a less academic sense, he enjoys LEGO, short stories, art museums, and cycling. He is currently an intern at Boris Bally studio.

Advisors

Vijay Mago

Technology Advisor

Dr Vijay Mago is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Troy University, where he teaches and conducts research in areas including decision making in multi-agent environments, probabilistic networks, neural networks, and fuzzy logic-based expert systems.

Dr Mago received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Panjab University, India in 2010. In 2011 he joined the Modelling of Complex Social Systems program at the IRMACS Centre of Simon Fraser University before moving on to stints at Fairleigh Dickinson University and University of Memphis. He has served on the program committees of many international conferences and workshops.

Dr Mago has published extensively on new methodologies based on soft computing and artificial intelligent techniques to tackle complex systemic problems such as homelessness, obesity, and crime. He currently serves as an associate editor for BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making and as co-editor for the Journal of Intelligent Systems.

Pritpal S Tamber

Research & Practice Advisor

Pritpal S Tamber is a straight-talking advisor on, and explorer of, the future of health and health care. His work is informed by his experience as a doctor, an editor and publisher of clinical research, and his understanding of technology.

It was through his work with TEDMED, where he was the Physician Editor, that Pritpal realised current thinking in health innovation was not going to be enough to deal with the ever-growing demand for care. It was this that made him want to tell it like it is, work with forward thinking organisations, and explore possible futures.

Pritpal honed his ideas through a movement called Wellthcare, in which he explored the idea of creating health through community rather than just preventing or treating disease.

Prior to working with TEDMED, Pritpal was the Medical Director of Map of Medicine, a company that produces pathways to help clinicians improve the quality of care. It was here Pritpal realised that, although important, information alone cannot change behaviour. He realised the future of health is likely to be “complex, plural and a constant struggle”.

At BioMed Central, Pritpal persuaded doctors that open access publishing was a better way of sharing the fruits of publicly funded research. His work contributed to proving that, with new technologies and a lot of hard work, a sustainable business model was possible, effectively disrupting the incumbent subscription model that limits access.

Rhea Alexander

Design & Strategy Advisor

Rhea Alexander is Assistant Professor in Parsons School of Design’s new Strategic Design and Management graduate program and leads the development team at Parsons Entrepreneurial Lab. She advises entrepreneurs, startups, NGOs, and SMEs. As a Private Sector International Development Consultant with USAID for SMEs, she focuses her design and management strategies on social innovation, empowerment and community development.

Rhea is a designer and social entrepreneur with interdisciplinary expertise pioneering 3BL along the value chain within the manufacturing and designing businesses of international lifestyle luxury goods through her company, DIGS. DIGS collections were developed for top-tier retail companies such as Lane Crawford, Umbra, Neiman-Marcus, Bloomingdales, Mandarin Oriental and Banana Republic. Rhea’s past work has been recognized with industry awards and press for balancing design with socio-environmental perspectives.

Throughout her career, Rhea has consistently fused design methodology with sustainability and resilience principles. Early on, Rhea worked on a variety of high-profile architecture and product design projects in New York and Milan. In the 1990s, she was part of the Small Business Support Project offered through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Today, Rhea continues her investigation and application of design thinking in entrepreneurship to successfully address infrastructure, socio-economic, environmental impacts and capacity building for sustainable business growth.