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WaitWhat

The Team

Jeff-Berman

Jeff Berman

CEO

Jeff Berman has had the kind of career that lends itself to the game Two Truths And A Lie. After starting as a public defender representing children facing life in prison, he moved to Capitol Hill where he served as Chief Counsel to US Senator Chuck Schumer. Jeff entered the private sector at MySpace overseeing policy before moving to the business side where he ultimately led the content, marketing, and sales teams. Jeff has run digital media at the NFL, been part of the first and only team ever to simultaneously chart 7 of the top 10 App Store apps, and most recently co-founded Magnet Companies where he helped launch TOGETHXR and LoveSeen along with leading the Series A investment in Dear Media.

After the 2016 election, Jeff helped start and continues to serve on the board of Protect Democracy, a non-partisan organization whose mission is as urgent as it is self-evident. He has been CEO and a re-founder of WaitWhat since September 2023.

Reach Jeff at [email protected].
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June Cohen

Co-founder

Prior to co-founding WaitWhat in January 2017, June headed up media for TED, building its digital media operations from the ground up. In 2006, she launched TED Talks on the Internet. And in 2009, she introduced the TED Open Translation Project, the largest subtitling effort in the world, with 120 languages, 20K translators and 100K translations. She also co-hosted the annual TED Conference with Chris Anderson and co-founded TEDWomen with Pat Mitchell.

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Deron Triff

Co-founder

Deron is the co-founder and Chief Business Officer of WaitWhat, the media organization behind Masters of Scale, Meditative Story and Spark & Fire. Prior to co-founding WaitWhat in January 2017, Deron served alongside June Cohen on the executive team at TED where he built nearly 100 partnerships that grew TED’s audience to over 100 million per month. His love and unique skill set for creating successful partnerships resulted in hits like the TED Radio Hour on NPR, TED Weekends on The Huffington Post, TED in Cinemas with Fandango, TED Shows on Netflix, TED English with National Geographic Learning, and international collaborations throughout Asia, Latin America, The Middle East and Europe. Deron negotiated significant funding for TED-Ed from Google and a joint venture with Simon & Schuster to relaunch TED Books, among other collaborations that brought millions of dollars in new annual revenue. Prior to TED, Deron served as Vice President of Digital Ventures for PBS, where he launched the kids cable network Sprout. He holds an MBA degree from McGill University in Montreal.

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Jai Punjabi

Co-founder & Head of Television

Jai Punjabi is Head of Development and Production at WaitWhat. He produced the feature film Patang (The Kite), which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, played in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival, and earned a New York Times Critic’s Pick and 4 stars from Roger Ebert. Alongside his career in film, Jai has led product management teams at major digital media companies including Vimeo, TED, and Major League Baseball.

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Alex Morris

Producer

Alex Morris is a writer for WaitWhat’s business podcast Masters of Scale. Prior to joining the WaitWhat team, he performed and taught improv at The Free Association Theatre. His work in comedy led him to multiple summers at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He’s also written and directed a number of short films.

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Alfonso Bravo

Head of Content Operations

As Head of Content Operations at WaitWhat, Alfonso uses his unique combination of experience in design, audio, and education to empower those around him to do great work while facilitating internal communications and planning. His responsibilities include overseeing production for Wait What’s shows and supporting its creative teams across the board in the creation of world class content. 

Prior to joining the team, Alfonso acted as Managing Director at nclud, a D.C.-based digital creative agency, with past clients including Amazon, Bethesda Softworks, RAINN, and Giffords. His past experience also includes producing design courses for General Assembly, assistant engineering and digital recording instruction at D.C.’s famed Omega Recording Studios, and a formative two years as a Tower Records clerk. After spending most of his life in D.C, he recently relocated to Los Angeles and can usually be found at a live music venue or with a guitar and his two dogs in his home studio.

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Anya Profumo

Creative Producer, Alliances

Anya is a native to Los Angeles and began her journey in production and storytelling right out of high school. She worked as part of the content development and writing team at Mammoth Media for their app Yarn, helping to build out their narrative catalogue across a wide spectrum of genres. While at Mammoth she collaborated with Nick Hornsby, The CW, Headspace, and Marvel to name a few. Her experience in the audio landscape began as the studio manager for Unbridled Sound, a post audio production house. She oversaw sound design and sound editing for projects across networks like ABC, Comedy Central, and Netflix, as well as major motion pictures. She then transitioned to Rabbit Grin productions, the team behind Armchair Expert with Dax Sheppard and several popular podcasts. While at Rabbit Grin Anya produced Ellen Pompeo’s interview style podcast Tell Me. Anya’s passion for both writing and acting led her to co-found Sidecar Pictures, a women-run production company.

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Brandon Klein

Production Manager

After teaching meditation to groups for four years, Brandon fell in love with creating his own shows. Soon after the passion developed, he built a podcast studio in his Michigan hometown and began freelance podcast producing for others. Before joining WaitWhat, Brandon spent time at Kast Media, a Los Angeles based podcast network, as a Studio Engineer and Producer. In his personal time, Brandon is especially interested in reading philosophy, watching sketch and stand up comedy, and live-streaming concerts for artists out of his LA-based music venue.

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Bryan Pugh

Audio Technical Director

Bryan is an audio engineer who specializes in sound design, post-production mixing for music, film, and podcasts. He started with WaitWhat in 2017, marking the beginning of season two of Masters of Scale. Since then, he’s mixed nearly every episode of Masters of Scale, Meditative Story, Spark & Fire, Should This Exist, and many episodes of Masters of Scale: Rapid Response.

Before joining WaitWhat, Bryan spent the last 18 years predominantly in the music industry. He worked with many notable artists and producers such as Tony Visconti/David Bowie, Phil Ramone/Ray Charles & Gladys Knight, John Mayer, and Eliane Elias, whose album he recorded “Made In Brazil” won a Grammy in 2016 for Best Latin Jazz Album. He was a house engineer for Converse Rubber Tracks Studio where he recorded hundreds of bands of every genre at pop-up studios in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Hamburg, Germany.

Other notable projects include original music recordings for Ken Burns’ Prohibition, Baseball, The Roosevelts, Vietnam, and The Mayo Clinic. One of his favorite personal projects was working with his brother Casey Pugh to create a full-length crowdsourced version of Star Wars called Star Wars Uncut. It won an Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media in 2010 and a Peabody Award in 2022.

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Chineme Ezekwenna

Producer of Live Events

Chineme Ezekwenna is a multilingual Igbo-American who has worked in the areas of international development / education, marketing, and events on three continents. In her personal time and as a freelancer, she has coordinated events and programs for Black-owned businesses and women-led organizations — often remotely, across North America and West Africa. She works diligently to create strategic partnerships and ensure smooth operations across global teams. 

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Colin Howarth

Digital Producer

Colin is a digital producer at WaitWhat where he helps coordinate the production of editorial, design, and audio assets. Based out of Providence, Rhode Island, Colin previously helped launch and manage Harvard Business Review’s podcast network, HBR Presents. Colin holds a Master’s degree in Media Studies from The New School.

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Dan Neilan

Senior Writer

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Dan began his career as a writer performing sketch comedy with friends in a local theater company. He took this experience with him to Chicago, where he studied at the Second City training center and became a contributor to The Onion, the nation’s leading satirical news source, as well as its absurdist sister-site ClickHole. He has written award-winning television pilots and a feature-length audio comedy for Conan O’Brien’s digital production company Team Coco. Now residing in Los Angeles with his wife and dog, Dan brings his love of concise storytelling and narrative structure to Meditative Story, where he collaborates with a broad range of storytellers to bring their personal experiences to life.

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Erika Flynn

VP of Alliances and Audience Development

As Head of Alliances, Erika manages, ideates, and executes WaitWhat’s strategic partnerships programs. With each, she is enthusiastic to build solid relationships and unearth new ways to co-elevate the partnership experience.

Before joining WaitWhat, Erika spent 7 years at TED, where in her director role she strategized and produced creative partnerships with corporations and foundations. She is particularly proud of founding and hosting the TEDWomen Leadership Intensive, a professional development initiative focused on intrapreneurship across businesses of all sizes and industries. Experiences prior to TED include leading the individual giving strategy for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, where she developed programs to engage a younger generation of donors, and managing the board of trustees at Sundance Institute, where she worked to diversify the board, advocating for gender and minority equity.

Erika is a California native and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and young son. Together, they spend much of their time (dreaming of) traveling to faraway places, cooking ambitious meals for friends, and growing things in their garden.

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Jodine Dorcé

VP of Live Events

Jodine Dorcé is an award-winning executive producer for live and virtual events with over 15 years of experience. After graduating from the University of South Florida, her career path led her to the areas of event marketing, event programming & productions for experiential agencies, media, and consumer brands with a focus in culture. Her event achievements include the Apollo Theater, Time Inc, Reckitt Benckiser, Redbull North America, ESSENCE Festival/Magazine, ONE Musicfest, 651 ARTS, and other leading organizations.

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Jordan Larsen Warner

Director of Alliances

At WaitWhat Jordan brings to life impactful partnerships spanning cross-platform programs. She’s energized by the creativity and deep integration embedded in WaitWhat alliances as she strategizes to amplify partners within WaitWhat’s properties. Prior to joining the team, Jordan spent four year cultivating new partnerships and producing conference activations at TED, and honing her culinary skills in homes and restaurants across New York. She’s a graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business. 

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Juliette Luini

Producer

Juliette Luini is an award-winning audio producer who has produced and edited 100+ episodes. She’s worked on shows with a breadth of topics: from the energy transition in Colorado to protecting the Okavango Delta, from local food systems to nuclear nonproliferation. Juliette is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and Middlebury College. When she doesn’t have headphones in, she’s either reading a library book, soaking up the sun, or putting Tabasco on her food.

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Justin Winslow

Animator

A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Justin has applied his classical training to a career in motion graphics. His work experience encompasses multiple design disciplines, including digital illustration, animation, and public art. In the past, he’s created animated spots for PBSkids, HBOfamily, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, Amazon, and many others. When he’s not working, Justin can be found painting, attending drink & draw events in Brooklyn, and chilling with his cat, Gus.

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Kelsie Saison

Senior Graphic & Web Designer

Kelsie is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. Before joining the WaitWhat team, she worked as a freelance designer for companies such as Generosity NY, Apple, Every Nation, and Flatiron Health. She studied at Belmont University and has a background working as a creative in the music business. When she’s not immersed in the wonders of photoshop, Kelsie enjoys blogging, practicing yoga, and eating her way through New York City.

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Leital Molad

Head of Podcasts

Leital Molad is the Head of Podcasts for WaitWhat. Before that, she ran content development for Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries, where she helped create award-winning, chart-topping podcasts such as Lost Hills, A Slight Change of Plans, Death of an Artist, The Loudest Girl in the World, and Hot Money, as well as the Apple Fitness+ program Time to Walk. Previously, she was the executive producer of podcasts at First Look Media/Topic Studios (Missing Richard Simmons, Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill, John Cameron Mitchell’s Anthem). She began her career at WNYC radio, where she produced the Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen. Molad has an MA in journalism from NYU and teaches podcasting at the School of Visual Arts.

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Masha Makutonina

Assistant Producer, Masters of Scale

Masha Makutonina is a producer from Odesa, Ukraine, now residing in New York by way of Wales, France, and Vermont. She graduated from Middlebury College where she spent the majority of time directing film, theater and dance projects. Masha’s work as a filmmaker and public speaking coach led her to TED Conferences, where she worked as a content curator and strategist for the YouTube shorts series. She is a proud alumni of the United World College program and actively participates in the life of the Ukrainian national committee.

On a rare occasion that she isn’t listening to a podcast, Masha likes to dance, read Flannery O’Connor and come up with scripts for her imaginative run-in scenarios with favorite celebrities in New York City.

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Nicki Williams

Director of Audience Development and Product

As Senior Growth Marketing Manager at WaitWhat, Nicki strives to craft holistic go-to-market strategies that prioritize a user’s wants and needs. Prior to joining the team, Nicki managed B2C communication and growth initiatives for various mobile startups, ranging from a social media live-streaming app to a neobank fintech. Nicki graduated Cum Laude from Boston University, where she studied Film & Television and Spanish.

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Ryan Holladay

VP of Music

Ryan is a music composer, producer and sound artist who has helped shape the sound of WaitWhat since its founding. In addition to his role as Music Director, Ryan and his brother, Hays, create work at the intersection of music, art and technology as The Holladay Brothers. Works include interactive sound installations for the US Embassy in London, the Hirshhorn Museum and Dolby HQ in San Francisco. They received praise for their pioneering work with “location-aware music,” compositions designed as mobile apps that use GPS to sonically map a physical space. Their first location-aware album, The National Mall, was included in The Washington Post’s top ten records of the year. (“Magical…Like using GPS to navigate a dream” ). Ryan has presented his work at the TED Conference, SXSW, the New York Times and IBM annual staff gathering. He is a Senior TED Fellow, an Aspen Ideas Scholar and past visiting artist at Stanford University’s Experimental Media Art Lab.

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Sarah Tarter

Senior Director of Audience Development and Growth

Sarah is a creative growth and content strategist who brings a human-centered approach to audience development. At WaitWhat, she dreams up exciting collaborations with industry-leading brands, launches inventive campaigns, and drives audience engagement and retention across WaitWhat’s portfolio of premium content. Her background encompasses managing global campaigns, go-to-market strategies, and content marketing initiatives in the tech startup world, as well as writing, research, and communications experience in the nonprofit sector. 

Sarah graduated summa cum laude from Santa Clara University, where she studied English, Rhetoric & Writing Studies, and Political Science. She later earned a post-graduate certificate in Storytelling from New York University, where she studied narrative tools and applications.

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Shira Ackerman

Head of Learning Products

Shira Ackerman has worked in learning and education for the span of her 20+ year career. She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from Teachers College, Columbia University and has taught people of all ages ranging from preschoolers to adults. Shira has spent most of her career creating and advising on curricular and learning content for a wide variety of media and platforms including podcasts, videos, ebooks, digital games, live events and print material, for organizations such as BarnesandNoble.com, Amplify, Scholastic, The Girl Scouts and Pinna. In all her work, Shira thrives on collaborating across teams to create joyful and transformative content that enriches and engages, all while empowering people to learn new skills, and about the world, themselves and others.

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Tim Cronin

VP of Design

Tim is a graphic designer, printmaker, and sometimes teacher with over 10 years of experience. He has worked with small studios, large agencies, and non-profit organizations and loves solving all kinds of design problems from branding, packaging, and web design to illustration and animation. Tim holds a Master’s degree in graphic and web design from Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he explored the impact of making printmaking technologies accessible to everyone — particularly young people — as a tool set for vital self-expression and social justice.

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Timothy Lou Ly

Producer

Returning to WaitWhat after a stint as Associate Producer at Religion of Sports, Tim draws on his past work on Should This Exist? and Meditative Story to serve as our “hero producer,” solving problems wherever he is needed. He got a taste for editing and storytelling with a degree in film and television before deciding audio was the medium for him; he worked with KALW Public Radio in San Francisco, and went on to helm the audio production of The Moth podcast and Self Evident, among others.

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Tucker Legerski

Researcher

Tucker is a writer who seeks adventure. He’s lived in NYC, the Deep South, Oregon, Ecuador, Mongolia for two years in the Gobi Desert as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and on a ship in college that stopped in nine countries. His life was forged by the Rocky Mountain West trifecta: Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. He has a BA in English earned at Colorado State and an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Alabama. His resume includes an anti-boredom specialist for seriously ill children in hospitals in NY & NJ, a reporter for Alabama Public Radio, an English and writing teacher, a pandemic delivery driver. 

Books and storytelling play a visceral role in Tucker’s life. He is an avid writer of fiction, non-fiction, and sometimes journalism. He is currently at work on a book about his mother and diabetes. He celebrates bicycles, libraries, coffee, and charcuterie. He lives happily with his splendid partner, Meg and a jungle cat, Stella.