Board of Directors
Founder and President
Vicki Chen Ben-Yaacov received her BS degree in Electrical Engineering from National Taiwan University and her MS and PhD degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She spent more than 16 years in the tech industry, including nearly 12 years as a Principal Radio Engineer and later as a Technical Product Manager at Sonos, a leader in multiroom wireless home audio systems. Having spent most of her career as a female engineer, she experienced firsthand the challenges tech companies face in achieving diversity and gender balance. She is also the mother of two young girls and is very involved in their education. Through volunteering in classes, she learned that many children do not have access to extra curriculum, role models, or even basic technologies needed to engage them in the STEM fields. During her time at Sonos, she led a number of outreach programs aimed at inspiring a love of science and engineering in elementary school through college age students. She believes that we need to engage youth in powerful, interdisciplinary educational programs starting in primary school, and help them build confidence and solid foundation to face the unforeseen demands of the future.
Karl Hutterer was born near Salzburg, Austria. He studied anthropology and archaeology and received his PhD from the University of Hawaii. He has conducted research in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, focusing his efforts on tropical rainforest ecology and long term human interactions with tropical ecosystems. He has taught at Bryn Mawr College, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington. He came to Santa Barbara in 2000 to assume the executive directorship of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, a position he held for 12 years. Since retiring in 2013, he has done volunteer work with several nonprofits and he is currently on the board of directors of the Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara. His primary efforts at this point are devoted to advancing climate change literacy.
Caroline Harrah still recalls “that” day in elementary school when she eagerly volunteered to organize the school bake sale/fundraiser. She’s been “raising her hand” ever since: helping dozens of non-profits develop and implement breakout strategies to dramatically boost fundraising and amplify donor, volunteer, and stakeholder relations.
Drawing upon experience in business strategy, technology investment banking, and strategic communications & investor relations, Caroline advises non-profit organizations and social enterprises seeking high impact, sustainable fundraising strategies, and strategic marketing & communications — organizing such events as the highly visible and successful “Kick Ash Bash” gratitude event following the Thomas Fire and January 9, 2018 debris flow in Montecito, as well as advising leading non-profit organizations engaged in STEM education, supporting at-risk youth, and offering humanitarian and disaster relief.
In addition to her non-profit work, Caroline manages marketing and communications for Technology Management at University of California, Santa Barbara. Most of all, she cherishes her two children, Chloe, and Chase, with whom she enjoys exploring the world.
John MacFarlane is an experienced technology and consumer high growth leader for both start-up/inception to medium size (~$1B revenue) companies. There are a few constants in his career/personality - lifelong passion for learning, interest in science, organizational design, the application of a broad set of leadership skills particularly in technical areas. He received his BSEE from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1988. He received his MSEE. Degree from University of California, Santa Barbara. While pursuing his PhD, he saw the vast potential of building super scale software infrastructure for Internet Service Providers (Telecom, Mobile, Cable Operators, etc), and founded his first company, Software.com, later EVP Products at Openwave, and was CEO from 1993-2001. After the success of Software.com, he identified the nascent market for multi-room, intelligent, streaming music systems for the home environment, and co-founded Sonos, Inc. and was CEO for Sonos from 2002-2017. He built the team from 4 people to over 1,500 worldwide. His persistence for only deliver high quality products was well known and his vision was often described by his employees as someone who “came back from the future”. After retiring from Sonos, he dedicated his time for another passion of his – education. With his vision in the technology trend, he strongly believes in the importance of including computer science as a regular subject in secondary school education. He helped Cate School to create a curriculum that is current and can adapt to the pace of changes in the industry. He instructed seniors in Advanced Computer Science, a full year subject which starts the students in the Swift programming language, building iPhone applications, learning an increasingly difficult set of iPhone applications, then learn either Go or Python to build projects which allow them to explore client/server networking and give them exposure to a 2nd language. The final team project is ideated, product managed, and executed by the students to build something which improves the Cate community.
Ilan Ben-Yaacov splits his time between working as an Associate Professor of Teaching at U.C. Santa Barbara and performing technical and IP consulting work. At UCSB, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Electrical Engineering and Patents and Intellectual Property. In 2009, he established the Electrical Engineering Senior Capstone Projects Program at UCSB, in which student teams are presented a design challenge posed to them by an industry partner or UCSB research group and then spend the year designing and building a device that addresses the challenge. In the years since, he has overseen more than 60 projects and collaborated with over 40 companies, non-profit organizations, and research groups on these projects, and has built the program to now serve every undergraduate EE student at UCSB.
Tobin White holds a PhD in mathematics education from Stanford, and has spent his career working in STEM education. Since 2004, he has served as a member of the faculty in the School of Education at UC Davis, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in education and run a research lab focused on the design of novel technologies for teaching and learning math and science. His research activities have been supported by over four million dollars in federal and private grants, and explore innovations featuring mobile computing, collaborative learning, and robotics applications to support student learning in middle, high school and university math and science classrooms. Early in his career, Tobin taught mathematics at a high school on the east coast, and over the last two decades he has worked to prepare new STEM teachers through university coursework, and to support experienced teachers by facilitating professional development workshops and activities. In 2017, he returned to the high school classroom, where he is currently teaching mathematics and leading an interdisciplinary initiative to integrate computational thinking into the curriculum at the Cate School.