Executive Producer and Founder
Jonathan Finkelstein is the Executive Producer of LearningTimes. He is well-regarded as a pioneer and innovator in developing and leading online events and gatherings. With upwards of 25,000 hours of actual live online facilitation experience to his name, Jonathan leads the event production team at LearningTimes and ensures that partners receive a level of guidance, quality and expertise that few others can deliver. No two events are ever alike, and Jonathan loves making each unique with the LearningTimes brand of innovation.
Jonathan is author of Learning in Real Time (Wiley/Jossey-Bass), which translates fifteen years of experience facilitating online learning into a practical resource guide for anyone facilitating or teaching online. He also authored the chapter on live online outreach in the The Digital Museum: A Think Guide, published by the American Association of Museums (AAM). As the founder of the first online certification program on real-time online instruction, Jonathan shares his expertise leading effective events and building community with education professionals around the globe. The program is offered in association with Training magazine.
Prior to founding LearningTimes in 2002, Jonathan was a co-founder and senior vice president of product strategy at HorizonLive (now Blackboard Collaborate), and designed the first synchronous collaboration platforms for academia, associations and other non-profits. He also hosted a highly-acclaimed, interactive weekly live online talk show about the people, technology and business of learning.
Jonathan can be seen as the host of the Real Time Minute, MuseumTimes, and the Online Teaching and Learning podcast series, and is the executive producer of the LT Green Room. He is the moderator and producer of countless live webcasts, online conferences and 3D virtual world events for museum and education professionals. Jonathan also serves on the board of the AAM Media and Technology committee (M&T), one of AAM’s professional networks. Jonathan, the son of two New York City public school teachers, is a Certified Synchronous Training Professional (CSTP) and received his AB degree with honors from Harvard University.
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Magical Moments Online:
“So many of the values I bring to my work as an online learning producer are informed by my first job — performing as a magician. Good magicians learn how to tell stories with ordinary and extraordinary props, interact with audiences in real time, embrace the unexpected, and make others feel as though they can do the impossible. All key elements in producing online events that people won’t forget. Voilà!”
Chief Executive Officer
John Walber is Chief Executive Officer of LearningTimes, and leads the sales, marketing and finance teams. John is LearningTimes employee #2, joining in 2002, and has a diverse background in high-tech management and operations.
Prior to LearningTimes, John served four years as Chief Operating Officer of HorizonLive (now Blackboard Collaborate) where he oversaw all aspects of the start-up e-learning platform company, including Product Strategy, Software Development, Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Customer Support, and Finance.
John began his professional life as a television producer and developed the first educational programming for the City of Boston’s Municipal Cable TV Channel, produced live and on-demand events for Boston Public Libraries, Massachusetts Department of Corrections, and the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, where he was the executive producer of ElderUpdate, a weekly TV news magazine for Seasoned Citizens and long-term care providers.
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Lights, Camera, Action:
“The day Paul Latrelle discovered unopened video equipment buried in my high school library closet, my life changed completely. Paul was my creative writing teacher, guiding my journey as a teen poet, playwright and improvisational actor – but his discovery turned me on to television as an educational and organizational tool. Together we produced in-depth coverage of the student/teacher “smoking areas,” food fights, the role of cheerleaders in society, and finally into racism, sexism, and the prevalence of recreational drugs – topics that got us both in big trouble. But we always aired opposing viewpoints, and experienced the beginning of interactive educational TV through this community participation in learning opportunities. Thanks, Paul …”
Marketing and Business Development
Denise is a strategic marketing executive with over 25 years of marketing and product development experience in financial services, telecommunication, and high-technology industries. She has held senior marketing positions in Fortune 500 corporations, start-ups and ran her own marketing consulting firm.
Prior to LearningTimes, Denise led a new ventures team at Intuit that successfully built and launched a new web-based business line in family financial education. While at Charles Schwab & Co, Inc, she developed the strategy for a state-of-the-art consumer web-based Investor Learning Center, including the curriculum and site functionality.
In 2008, Denise founded the Economic Independence Group™, which offers Money Wizdom™ workshops, products, and content licensing to support the development of money skills and habits in children.
Denise earned her MA in Education and Technology from the University of San Francisco and her BS from the University of Michigan.
Susan Manning, Ed.D.
Susan Manning is a producer and event host at LearningTimes. She is a certified master online instructor who proves it every day in the virtual classroom. She teaches instructional design, technology tools and general pedagogy related to online teaching and learning. Known for her responsiveness, personal communication, and her ability to set learners at ease, she coaches, cajoles and nudges others to excellence. Susan is co-author (with Kevin Johnson) of Online Education for Dummies and The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching.
Teaching is Susan’s second career. She started in higher education building community and supervising student groups in student housing. Her transition to technology may have called for new tools, but the fundamental communication skills and understanding of human and group dynamics remains constant. Susan has now been teaching and training online for 10 years.
Susan’s communication skills are also apparent as she co-hosts the LearningTimes Green Room. Exploring themes in learning and technology, Susan and her partner Dan Balzer are recognized as early voices in educational podcasting.
In addition to her certification from the University of Illinois, Susan earned her Doctorate in Adult Education from Ball State University, a Masters in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelors in Communications from Truman State University.
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Look Up in the Air!
“I once completed a high ropes training course where you dance across high wires and on top of telephone poles (and jump from pole to pole). All the while, you’re wearing a belay system like a rock climber and you’re monitored by a professional. Knowing that I was safe, I took greater risks and enjoyed the novelty of the experience. I try to give our conference presenters that same kind of experience by being their ‘belay system.’ I train them and coach them through making better presentations, all the while knowing I’ve got them covered.”
Director, Business Development & Client Events
Hope Kandel produces LearningTimes’ library-focused online programs, conferences and events. Her main day-to-day activities include fostering new client relationships and partnerships. Hope has produced very successful LearningTimes online conferences for:
- American Library Association
- Association of College Research Libraries
- Public Library Association
- American Association of School Libraries
- North Carolina Partnership for Children
- Interpretation Canada
Before joining LearningTimes, Hope Kandel was the Executive Producer of live online library programs for LearningWeek, a weekly interactive webcast examining the people, technology and business of education. Library editions covered virtual reference desks, censorship and First Amendment issues, as well as a range of professional development topics reaching thousands of library and education professionals.
Prior to her return to New York, Hope managed all of the Electronic Marketing and Communications functions for the data integration software company, Evolutionary Technologies International, ETI. Hope’s interest in effective teaching and learning online began while she was in graduate school. Among her responsibilities in running The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information Multimedia lab, Hope designed media-rich web-based tutorials and taught various short courses.
Hope is the “mayor” of the LearningTimes Library Online Community and a member of the LearningTimes.org Editorial Board. Hope holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University and a Masters in Library and Information Science from The University of Texas at Austin.
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“I remember the first time I did a live online event for librarians. It was probably the first of its kind — an online gathering in real time about virtual reference desks. I thought maybe we’d get about 50 people. Over night, about 750 librarians signed up. It was an amazing discussion, with lots of voices and opinions. I was hooked.”
Mike Morneau is a senior producer and host at LearningTimes. A certified synchronous training professional, Mike produces online and hybrid conferences, online certification courses, and webcasts that reach a diverse international audience. Highly motivated and organized, Mike’s professionalism is demonstrated every day as he focuses on providing a superior customer experience. Known for his beguiling sense of humor, Mike’s application of his expertise and experience helps ensure participants and subject matter experts are comfortable, calm and having fun.
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Blue Plate Special:
“As someone who enjoys cooking, I find that producing online events is like preparing a multi-course meal for a large group of people. It requires good time management skills and the ability to coordinate multiple ingredients from various origins so that their flavors/qualities complement one another and culminate in a feast enjoyed by all present.”
Adam La Faci
Adam La Faci is a field producer and host at LearningTimes. He is no stranger to producing, having co-founded and developed the non-profit theater company, State of Play Productions Inc, in 2006. He has worked as a producer on multiple theatrical productions including a month-long off-Broadway run, multimedia arts projects, and several short films. His other roles within the theater company have included everything from project budgeting to new program development.
At LearningTimes, Adam translates his on-stage production and performing skills into the crafting of engaging online experiences that grab and hold audience attention. He works with subject matter experts to envision, produce and host memorable web-based events.
Acting is Adam’s artistic pursuit. He was a founding member of the resident acting company at Chester Theater Company in Massachusetts, taking part in the launch of their educational outreach program modeled on the 52nd Street Project in NYC. He later starred in the Massachusetts tour of State of Play’s The City That Cried Wolf which culminated in a New York Times critically acclaimed run in the off-Broadway theater, 59E59 Theaters. He has also appeared in several independent short films which screened at the Big Apple Film Festival, Asian American Film Festival, and the Shockerfest Film Festival.
Adam received his BA cum laude from Bard College at Simon’s Rock with a concentration in psychology and theater when he was twenty years old. His educational experience extends into the teaching realm as well. Adam has worked as a teaching assistant for theater college undergraduates, taught summer acting workshops to students ranging from six to sixteen years old, and substitute taught at the high school level.
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And now with feeling:
“My work acting and producing in the New York City theater scene has surprising parallels to hosting and producing online conferences. In both worlds, we stay tapped into audience feelings while preparing and performing. We improvise to turn potential speed bumps into performance highlights and help coordinate both on-stage and behind-the-scenes. When great events take place online, the participant should feel like they got to jump on stage and shape the show.”
Virtual World Event Producer
John Howard is Virtual World Producer for LearningTimes. He began his involvement with virtual worlds in 2007 while working for Alliance Library System, where he was involved in the creation and operation of Land of Lincoln, a historical simulation based on the life of Abraham Lincoln, and with Smart Investing InfoIsland, a grant funded project designed to encourage consumer education on financial issues. In 2008, he helped organize the Virtual Worlds: Library, Education and Museum conference, one of the first conferences to be held entirely in Second Life. He has since organized, hosted and provided technical support for over a dozen conferences in virtual world settings, including the popular Stepping into Virtual Worlds series. John is currently working with District 75 of the NYC Dept of Education on Citywide, a virtual representation of New York used to help teach life skills to teens with autism and related disorders. John received joint degrees in business and education from Drake University, and spent much of his earlier career doing and teaching fundraising for a variety of nonprofit organizations.
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“As drum major of my college marching band, I had to see that the music matched the marching and make sure that the flutes and tubas all got to the right place at the right time while playing wildly different parts. In many ways this is the same kind of thing I do as a virtual world producer, helping educators and builders and volunteers come together to make true education happen.”
Dhal’s background includes 15 years of leadership and innovation in education, curriculum design, program management, and professional development. This experience is complemented by two advanced degrees – a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Counseling.
Dhal has worked extensively at both the programmatic level and with individual subject matter experts to develop effective instructional approaches, with a special emphasis on the effective integration of technology into the learning process. He has developed numerous virtual programs to help facilitate effective online and hybrid instruction.
Dhal also specializes in moving degree-granting programs online, and is currently working with leading organizations to design, launch, market, and sustain new online course/workshop offerings in a variety of disciplines.
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Out of the box:
“My psychology counseling training comes in more useful than I would have expected. As an instructional designer, I am always trying to understand learner motivation and what drives subject matter experts from a cognitive perspective. However from my further understanding of psychology I realized we can also be unique in our thinking (and our processing) and it’s not always good to create ‘boxes’ – we need to be flexible!”