our ensemble

Yael Swerdlow

Chief Executive Officer & Founder

Yael Swerdlow is the CEO and Founder of Maestro Games, SPC. Yael is co-founder of the Women's Empowerment Foundation, serves on the Advisory Boards of First Amendment Voice, Solution Point+, and a consultant at USC's Game Pipe Labs. She also serves on the MILO Cognitive Advisory Board, the Small Business Association's Leadership Council Advisory Board (NSBA) and the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) and is formerly co-chair of the national leadership council of Games for Change.

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David Shapendonk

Chief Technology Officer & Partner

David Shapendonk has worked for 30+ years on technology development in the fields of Entertainment, Healthcare & Cybersecurity. As an avid pianist, who was introduced to a wide range of music at an early age, David joined Maestro Games because of the scientific evidence showing that music can be integral to fostering mental resilience.

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Richard W. Peterson

Education - Culture - Marketing Advisory Board

Richard Peterson is President & CEO of the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council. His professional contributions have been shaped by his global interactions capturing the diversity of art, music, cultures, cuisine and communities. Richard serves on the U.S. Travel Association At-Large Board of Directors, the National Council of Attractions & Experiences Advisory Board and the California Travel Association Board of Directors - and contributes his time to global cultural and heritage sustainable programs & thought leadership initiatives.

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Dr. Hemalee Patel

Behavioral Health
Advisory Board

Dr. Hemalee Patel is a board certified practicing physician in Internal Medicine and serving Maestro Games as Behavioral Health Advisory Board representative.

Dr. Patel's area of interest and research lies in evidence based lifestyle medicine with the goal to empower individuals to achieve optimal health and mental well-being.

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Dr. Noël Lipana

Moral Injury, PTSD, & Department of Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism Advisory Board

Dr. Noël Lipana Noel is President of the DJD Art Foundation, which uses performing arts to educate communities about moral injury and trauma.  Noel served in various Air Force and Army units throughout his twenty-year career, including time in Afghanistan as a counter-IED specialist. The Disabled American Veterans - California Chapter named him their 2020 Veteran of the Year.

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Dr. Lynne Morrow

Musical Advisor

Dr. Lynne Morrow became Director of the Oakland Symphony Chorus in 2005. During her tenure the scope of the Chorus has expanded to include contemporary, international, and neglected works, along with traditional choral repertoire. She conducts the Chorus’ workshop performances of major works; hosts summer choral outreach “Sing-ins;” and prepares the Chorus for work with Oakland Symphony as well as regional community and youth orchestras with which it collaborates, such as Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, and California Symphony.

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Yael Swerdlow

CEO & Founder

Yael is also co-founder of the Women’s Empowerment Foundation, Consultant for the University of Southern California’s award-winning Game Pipe Lab, and the National Small Business Association Leadership Council.

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Dr. Joy VerPlanck

Advisory Board

Dr. Joy VerPlanck is a former US Army Military Police Officer and leads the cognitive division of MILO, a global leader in simulation training systems for military, government, and law enforcement. As a Doctor of Educational Technology, her research path has included the effects of training with immersive technology on creative thinking and cognitive load, as well as instructional methods of creating empowered and independent thinkers in rigid operational environments. Joy’s love of music was cultivated early when she first joined the elementary school orchestra as a cellist.

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Dr. Mieko Hatano

Musical Advisor

 Dr. Hatano is the Executive Director of the Oakland Symphony with oversight of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Oakland Symphony Chorus, and the Symphony's MUSE related youth-music-education programs.

Dr. Hatano formerly served as Executive Director of Music in the Mountains in Nevada City, CA & Executive Director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta in Augusta, GA. As an alumna of DeVos Institute of Arts Management Fellowship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, she holds a Doctor of Musical Arts & Master of Music from the University of Southern California – and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Michigan.

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Eric Hipple

Brand Ambassador

Eric Hipple played quarterback for the Detroit Lions beginning in 1980 through the 1989 season.  Since his 15-year-old son Jeff’s suicide, Hipple has worked to build awareness and break down the stigma surrounding depressive illnesses.

In conjunction with NAVY U.S. Fleet Forces, Hipple has conducted workshops on suicide and destructive behavior prevention during the last decade, focusing on mental fitness. His book “Real Men Do Cry” received a publisher Presidential Award.  Hipple serves as outreach specialist for Eisenhower Center’s “After The Impact” program, a neuro-behavioral residential treatment facility serving military veterans and former NFL players.

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Steven M. Miska

Military Advisory Board

Steve Miska founded Servant, Leader, Citizen (SLC) Consulting, Inc. after retiring as a Colonel with 25 years in the Army. Previously, Steve served as the Army Chair at Marine Corps University, and in the White House under President Obama as Director for Iraq on the National Security Council.  He earned top academic honors as a Counterterrorism Fellow at the College of International Security Affairs and has taught economics at the United States Military Academy, West Point. Steve holds degrees from Cornell University, National Defense University, and West Point.

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Thea Stauffnecker

Health & Wellness

Advisory Board

Thea (Campbell) Stauffnecker is an innovative servant leader committed to achieving top performance by leveraging a compelling vision of efficiency, growth, and diversity. Over the course of her career, she has worked with key consulting firms that specialize in healthcare revenue cycle improvement and health information management. Thea is an expert in the implementation and optimization of electronic health records, the ICD-10 code set, focused regulatory compliance and computer assisted coding. She has served as the senior director of health information department at the largest academic medical center in the western U.S

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Dr. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh

Cognitive Neuroscience

Advisory Board

Associate Professor Lisa Aziz-Zadeh trained at the University of California, Los Angeles, receiving her BA degree in Psychology with a minor in neuroscience, and her PhD degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Cognitive Neuroscience. She completed postdoctoral work with Dr. Giacomo Rizzolatti’s laboratory at the University of Parma (Italy), Dr. Richard Ivry’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and was a fellow at the UCLA Tennenbaum Family Creativity Initiative. She has published numerous papers and book chapters on the mirror neuron system, embodied cognition and language. In 2008-2009, she was an invited fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Berlin.

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