John Werner

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John Werner
John Werner headshot.jpg
John Kellogg Werner

(1970-04-12) April 12, 1970 (age 49)
ResidenceBoston, US
Alma materHarvard University, Hamilton College, Trinity School (New York City)
OccupationVP of Strategic Partnerships, Meta.[1][2]
Head of Innovations and New Ventures, Camera Culture Group, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge MA, USA.
Board member ofPresident, Hamilton College Boston Alumni Association.
Founder, AR in Action[3]
Erika Alavarez (m. 2001)
ChildrenJavier Sidney Werner
Lucia Dora Werner
Mateo Kellogg Werner

John Werner is the founder of Ideas in Action, Inc. (IIA) and Managing Director at Link Ventures and Chief Network Officer, SVP of Corporate Development at Cogo Labs in Cambridge Ma, Prior he was a Vice President at an augmented reality company. He is also founding Managing Director for MIT Media Lab's Emerging Worlds Special Interest Group (SIG),[4] and former Head of Innovation and New Ventures for the Camera Culture Group at the MIT Media Lab[5] for Ramesh Raskar, director of the Camera Culture Group at MIT Media Lab. He is one of the founding members of the non-profit organization Citizen Schools (founded in 1995)[6] and the curator of TEDxBeaconStreet,[7] an independent event licensed by TED as part of TEDx. He started first ever AR-in-Action Augmented Reality Conference "ARIA" at MIT Media Lab in January 2017[2] and Blockchain+AI+Human = Magic Summit at MIT and Davos.

Early life and education[edit]

Werner was born in 1970 in New York City. His father John F. Werner is the chief clerk and CEO of the Supreme Court in New York County, and his mother Laura A. Werner is the Assistant Attorney General in New York State.[8] His brother, Jeffrey Werner, is the Deputy General Counsel for the New York City Mayor's Office of Management and Budget. His sister, Margaret DeVoe, is a Senior Counsel at New York City Law Department.[citation needed]

Werner attended school at the Trinity School NYC for 13 years where he was a class Senator, and a multi-year Varsity Letter earner for Cross Country, Swimming (Co-Captain) and Lacrosse.[citation needed] He was awarded the Holden Cup, the honor for top athlete in the Senior Class at Trinity.[citation needed]

Werner received a degree from Hamilton College (New York) in 1992.[9] He also co-organized the Hamilton's successful campaign to set a Guinness record for the most people swimming in a 24-hour relay, setting the record at 1:42 AM on April 8, 1989.[citation needed]

In 2008, Werner was recipient of the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

In 1988, Werner gained notability at Hamilton when, as a first-year student, he organized the first ever successful completion of a class-wide challenge issued yearly by Dan Chambliss, Professor of Sociology: If no one in his course showed up for the final exam, all of them would receive an A on it. But, if even one student took it, anyone who didn’t would receive a zero. A variation on the prisoner's dilemma, Chambliss said. "And I think the only reason that it happened was that [Werner] was totally committed to making it happen."[10] After obtaining a roster for both sections of the course from the Registrar, Werner created a "contract" for students to sign and showed up "ready to tackle anyone who tried to go in." Seven students waited outside the testing room, hedging their bets in case anyone broke ranks, but none did. All students in Sociology 101 received A's on their final exams that year. This was a defining experience for Werner; "After I organized this, I began to believe I could organize anything,".[11] Professor Chambliss did not offer the challenge again.[citation needed]


As the Head of Innovation and New Ventures of Camera Culture Group at MIT Media Lab, Werner actively spearheaded REDX (Rethinking Engineering Design Execution) and Kumbhathon initiatives.[citation needed]

Werner worked with the Wediko Children Services, a school for behaviorally disturbed children in New Hampshire, where he was a Principal of the School (Mayor of Think City), before moving on to teaching special education in a Boston public school.[citation needed] He also worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Mark Roosevelt who won the Massachusetts State primary.[citation needed] Later, he and Eric Schwarz, Ned Rimer, and Anita Price developed a program that would become Citizen Schools.[12] Werner was the first employee hired by Founder and CEO Schwarz. He was the first Executive Director for the organization, he also served as Chief Mobilizing Officer and Managing Director at Citizen Schools.[citation needed] He also founded an 8th grade academy that lead to the successful Writing program in Citizen Schools,[13] which went on to take 400 lawyers and teach them to be writing coaches for children at Citizen Schools.

As an Executive Curator of TEDxBoston, Werner and a community engagement team worked independently to highlight the innovative thinking that the Boston region produces. Werner and four others led a team of volunteers and produced TEDxBoston 2010.[citation needed] While at TEDxBoston, Werner piloted a set of TED related excursions in the Boston area known as Adventures. These excursions included visits to local start-ups, well-established companies, research labs, and universities. As of 2015, 5500 people have gone on Adventures.[citation needed] Now,[when?] Werner curates TEDxBeaconStreet, which has amassed over 86 million views online, and continues to run the Adventures program at TEDxBeaconStreet (365+ to date, 10,000 participants). He is also part of the TEDx board of advisors and TED ED braintrust helping to form connections between TED and K-12 education. Additionally, has spoken at TED University and TED ED and TED Global, he nominates and supports TED Fellows, individuals with innovative ideas in the middle of their careers work to fulfill their research or performance goals with TED's help.[14]

Other positions that Werner has held include directing the program at Dever Elementary School, Woodrow Wilson Middle School and Garfield Elementary School.[15]

In July 2013, Werner left Citizen Schools to be the Head of Innovation and New Ventures for the Camera Culture Group at the MIT Media Lab[16] for Ramesh Raskar, director of the Camera Culture Group at MIT Media Lab.

AR in Action and Ideas in Action Series[edit]

John was acknowledged by Forbes,[17] NPR, NYU[18] and MIT[19] for first ever 'AR-in-Action Augmented Reality Conference' at MIT Media Lab in January 2017[2] New York University appreciated his efforts and hosted second edition of AR in Action at Forbes Building in June 2017 [20][21] . Werner also founded Ideas in Action, Inc. (IIA) in 2012, a nonprofit connecting people around the world to inspire and set meaningful ideas into action throughout their communities.[citation needed]

Involvement with India[edit]

At the MIT Media Lab, Werner was one of the spearheads of the Rethinking Engineering and Design (REDX)[22] and Kumbhathon initiatives.[23] John helped launch three Innovation Centers in India and travelling there 12 times in three years. Innovations coming out of the Khumbathon include technologies to prevent stampedes, provide food and shelter, and prevent disease spread at the crowded Kumbh mela.[24] Werner has stated that the goal of the project is to expand to places other than the Kumbhmela, saying "The next step will be to identify the [other] areas facing issues and finding out solutions with the help of technology" [25] He has also served as a mentor to students at MIT like Sudhanshu Nath Mishra on their projects for the Kumbhathon.[26][27]

Fellowships and awards[edit]

  • Recipient of the Loeb Fellowship (1 of 10) at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2008[28]
  • Recognized by the Harvard Business Review for his leadership[29]
  • Recognized as top 50 on Fire in Boston by BostonInno in 2014[30]
  • Named as one of the 10 Innovators Deconstructing Education Brick by Brick by in 2012[31]
  • Recognized by The Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce (Boston Jaycees) with a TOYL Award in 2006[32]
  • Earned the New England Isuzu Afterschool Hero of the Year award in 2001[33] sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance in Washington DC and the Entertainment Industry Foundation
  • Came fourth in 140.3 mile Ironman Plymouth Rock Triathlon.[34] (he has participated in 8 full Ironman (PR 10:19) and 70 half Ironman (PR 4:30) races


  1. ^ "MIT Media Lab Innovation Guru John Werner Joins Meta as VP of Strategic Partnerships". Business Wire. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "For Augmented Reality, Pokemon Go Is Only the Beginning". BostonInno. Archived from the original on 19 July 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  3. ^ "AR in Action".
  4. ^ MIT Media Lab. "Special Interest Group". MIT. MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  5. ^ Epstein, Barbara. "John Werner Heads To MIT Media Lab", LOEBlog, 19 August 2013.
  6. ^ Moser, Kate. "Early Visits Lure Poor Into College", The Christian Science Monitor, 8 March 2006
  7. ^ Clark, Dorie. "Is This The Future Of TED?",, 30 April 2014
  8. ^ "Model Citizen" Archived 2015-04-02 at the Wayback Machine, Boldfacers, 3 April 2012
  9. ^ Villa, Antonia. "Alumni News & Notes",, 11 August 2011
  10. ^ Budryk, Zach
  11. ^ Challenger, Donald
  12. ^ Steindorf, Sara. "How To Be A Hero? Find out, after school", The Christian Science Monitor, 23 January 2001
  13. ^ Anand Vaishnav
  14. ^ "John Werner '92 - Executive Curator of TEDxBoston".
  15. ^ "Solid Citizens", Vermont Quarterly, Fall 2001.
  16. ^ Epstein, Barbara. "John Werner Heads To MIT Media Lab", LOEBlog, 19 August 2013.
  17. ^ "The State Of Augmented Reality". Forbes. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  18. ^ ""AR in Action" to Feature Cutting-Edge Demos & Industry Leaders". New York University. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Augmented Reality Summit at MIT Media Lab brings the world's AR pioneers together on the AR frontier". MIT. 2017-01-08. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  20. ^ ""AR in Action" to Feature Cutting-Edge Demos & Industry Leaders—June 6 & 7". NYU. New York University. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  21. ^ "The State Of Augmented Reality". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  22. ^ "ReDx Camp | Camera Culture".
  23. ^ "MIT Team visits Nashik". DNA. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  24. ^ Thacker, Purvi (July 2015). "From Waze for crowds to Uber for street food – MIT innovations at Kumbh Mela". The Guardian.
  25. ^ "Work on mobile apps for mela in the final leg | Nashik News - Times of India".
  26. ^ "KumbhaThon: MIT team visits Nashik to help for Kumbhmela". 2014-07-22.
  27. ^ "India's Kumbh Mela is Used as an Incubator for Smart City Startup Ideas". 2015-08-03.
  28. ^ Epstein, Barbara. "John Werner Heads To MIT Media Lab", LOEBlog, 19 August 2013
  29. ^ Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  30. ^ "Announcing the 2014 Winners of BostInno's 3rd Annual 50 on Fire Awards". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "The Boston Junior Chamber of Commerce's 55th Annual Ten Outstanding Young Leader Awards". August 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  33. ^ Steindorf, Sara. "How To Be A Hero? Find out, after school", The Christian Science Monitor, 23 January 2001.
  34. ^ "Triathlon results". Gatehouse Media, Inc. WickedLocal. Retrieved 11 April 2016.