Introduction by Bruce Hecht, Future Leaders Forum Co-Chair



The constant through John Werner’s career has been a passionate commitment to combining innovative thinking and collaborative, creative solutions to deliver human and environmental impact.

John Werner is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Meta where he strives to exceed expectations of what Augmented Reality can be – and do – in the future. Werner is helping Meta design a future where augmented reality becomes a healthy, vital extension of who we are and creates deeper understanding, freer expression, and optimal productivity. Werner brings his experience pioneering innovative technology and network of relationships, to help Meta in the fast-growing field of augmented reality (AR). Werner is very excited about Meta’s technology, the DNA of which is neuroscience – science of the brain. Werner plans to merge the best and brightest thinkers of the East Coast with Silicon Valley and the world to help create an entirely new computing paradigm, a vector of real change for a new society.

Prior to Meta, Werner was Head of Innovation and New Ventures at the Camera Culture Group were he supported developments on new imaging platforms, including hardware and software technologies (at MIT he co-taught the first Google Glass Application course), and was the Founding Managing Director of Emerging Worlds SIG at the MIT Media Lab. Werner is one of the leaders behind REDX (Rethinking Engineering Design eXecution) an MIT inspired platform of bottom-up innovation designed for addressing big challenges worldwide – that was recently recognize by the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention. For four years Werner implemented REDX efforts in cities, states, and regions. This effort convened people with diverse interests, skills and backgrounds — young engineers, business people and designers — to collaborate openly with government officials, business leaders and academics, as well as with researchers who together they looked for creative solutions to pressing local challenges that can be solved with new technology. REDX addressed themes across many sectors, including food and agriculture, financial inclusion, energy and water, health and wellness, housing and transportation. Using digital technologies such as machine learning, Internet of Things, and mobile devices, the platform created digital solutions to leapfrog current technology with potential to impact billions of lives.
He is the founder and head of Ideas in Action which produces TEDxBeaconStreet, an accomplished photographer and triathlete who has qualified for and competed in the Ironman World Championship four times.

Werner began his career in education and worked as a teacher and principal in Boston for a number of years. He continued his involvement in STEM education, co-founding Citizen Schools, an education initiative dedicated to democratizing education and improving middle school achievement in underserved areas. Werner’s expertise in scaling organizations helped Citizen Schools grow into a national organization with a $30M+ operating budget, partnerships with top technology companies, and thousands of volunteers.

A sought-after public speaker, Werner is active in the TED community and has spoken 10+ times at TED events and curated more than 400 speakers for TEDxBeaconStreet, garnering more than 100 million views. Werner’s TED events are global in scale, with one event viewed in simulcast by people in more than 177 countries. He introduced the Adventure concept to the TED organization, enabling participants to go behind the scenes at places of innovation and engage in transformative, collaborative experiences. Thanks to Werner, thousands of people have participated in Adventure events in 60+ countries and all 50 US states.

John Werner was selected for a Loeb Fellowship by Harvard University, an opportunity to nurture leadership potential in professions related to the built and natural environment. He has earned countless accolades for his work in technology and education including “50 on Fire” from BostonInno, “Top 10 Education Troublemakers” from the Business Innovation Factory, multiple “Social Capitalist Awards” from Fast Company, and the “Up and Coming Leader” award from Education Week, among others.

Werner has demonstrated an equal level of passion and commitment to his personal endeavors. He is an accomplished triathlete and has qualified for and competed in the Ironman World Championship four times. He is a two-time USTA All-American and earned a spot on Team USA for the 2013 Sprint Triathlon World Championships. Competing in the Nationals, Werner placed in the top 6% of competitors.

For years, Werner has been actively involved with non-profits and community initiatives as a board member and contributor. Causes he has championed include city leadership exchange, history, schools, politics, entrepreneurship and youth sports.

An active videographer, photographer and social media expert, Werner has had more than 10 million views on his photo blog and is a contributor to Getty Images. His photography has been featured by numerous organizations including The White House and Aspen Institute. He has produced several videos and launched successful viral social media campaigns.

Werner is a graduate of Hamilton College. He lives in Boston with his wife and three children. He’s an avid cyclist, world traveler, and Rubik’s Cube® and Star Trek enthusiast.

[updated 2/23/2017]
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