About Us

Finding a career that you love and are great at often takes longer than you think. It can be hard to connect your interests and strengths with professional pursuits. Or maybe you haven’t had the opportunities—or encouragement—to discover what those interests are in the first place.

At Hats & Ladders, our own career paths have been full of twists and unexpected turns. Lucky for us, it’s worked out: our early interests in music, history, and games gradually led to rewarding careers in technology and education. But it wasn’t always easy, and more support along the way would have helped.

We started Hats & Ladders in 2015 to help reimagine career education. Building off twenty years of developing award-winning educational games and interactive experiences, we created a mobile platform designed to motivate youth to explore, experiment with, and prepare for a wide range of career pathways.

Instead of trying to “match” individuals to a single career or cluster, we want to empower youth as career thinkers, capable of making their own connections between who they are, who they want to be, and how to get there.

Finding your life’s work is a lot like finding a life partner. For a lucky few, the stars magically align. For most of us, it feels more like staring at a far-away galaxy. Figuring it out doesn’t have to be rocket science (unless that’s what you’re into), but it does take vision, self-awareness, opportunities, connections, and trial and error.

Hats & Ladders uses up-to-date occupational data, game mechanics, and youth-driven design thinking to motivate the next generation of career thinkers and doers. Our mission is simple: empower teens and young adults with career-building experiences, skills, and opportunities so they can take small steps now that lead to big leaps later.

Our team has years of experience developing transformative, award-winning interactive training and learning games and software for youth and adults. Our work is rooted in foundational and ongoing user research to gather insights into learners goals and challenges.

We are a diverse group of people who are passionate about making learning fun and reimagining career education. We believe that good youth tech becomes great when subject matter experts, researchers, engineers, and designers listen to and learn from one another.


Leah Potter


Leah is a social entrepreneur and educator, with deep expertise in creating interactive experiences that engage learners of all ages. Her passion for helping youth with career readiness is contagious.

Scott Brewster


Scott, an expert in evidence-based game design and development, is a results-driven jack-of-all trades and ace communicator. He leads partnership development efforts at Hats & Ladders, Inc.

Heather Weston


Heather’s life mission is to improve lives, particularly for those for whom opportunities and justice are not a given. She directs business development and strategy for Hats & Ladders, Inc.

Doretha Dawkins


An educator through and through, Doretha brings her passion for education, instructional expertise and desire to support teachers to elevate Hats & Ladders curriculum development.

Jaclyn Elcock


Jaclyn is a content producing, organizational powerhouse. A graduating information science professional and published writer, they are a divergent thinker with a fervor for community-driven, social justice initiatives.

Julia Zaytseva

Project Manager

Julia is our Hats & Ladders project manager whose talent and creativity has been instrumental in supporting ongoing product development and quality assurance activities.

David Langendoen

David is an award-winning game developer recognized around the world for conceiving and developing fun, smart learning products. He currently serves as VP of Product Development.

Benjamin Galynker

Ben manages all content development for Hats & Ladders, Inc. A former lawyer, he is an information mastermind and Hats & Ladders, Inc.’s in-house occupational data wizard.

Ivonne Karamoy

Ivonne is the talent behind Hats & Ladders’ vivid and impactful visual design. She also creates avatars, badges, scenery, and all the other amazing visual assets that bring our programs to life.

Stefan Winz

Stefan Winz is a net-centric technologist with extensive experience in the systems and architecture surrounding enterprise class Websites and all aspects of technology related system deployment.

Bob Hartlaub

Bob Hartlaub is a hands on, down to earth technology leader who has amassed a wealth of experience across the architecture and development of  education technology and commerce based systems.

Jarret Rackoff

Jarret Rackoff maintains an impressive reputation as a technical strategist, executive level project manager and implementation leader throughout the education technology community.

Claudia Franke

Claudia is a graduate of New York University with a degree in politics and English literature. She is a content producer for the Hats & Ladders app and for the program's career readiness curriculum.

Chantal Hermetz

Social Media
Chantal is a Media & Digital Communications student with a knack for starting conversations on social media and creating compelling content that gets people excited about Hats & Ladders.


Jeff Schon
Commercialization Advisor
CEO & Co-Founder of Akili Network Inc.

Kim Reykdal
Career Education Advisor
Experienced educator and 2016 National School Counselor of the Year Finalist.

Michelle King
Master educator and designer of equitable and empathetic learning opportunities.

Jordan Ephron
Technical Advisor
Software developer and technologist

Matt Wallaert
Strategic Advisor
Author & Chief Behavioral Officer of Clover Health

Dr. Midian Kurland
Product Advisor
Influential Edtech leader with over 35 years experience.

Juliette Adams
Strategic Advisor
Experienced visionary and strategist.

How We Won the Reach Higher App Challenge

Core Team: 7 Makers

Mentorship: 6 Mentors

Testing: Youth testers & co-developers

Duration: 400 hours


Partnerships & Collaborators

DYCD Workforce NYC logo
US Department of Education


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