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Jody Emmings

Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Idea Lab
Pronouns: she/her
Library 266

Jody Emmings designs strategies related to all entrepreneurial initiatives and the Idea Lab. She is driven by a curiosity and believes courage and relationships precede all innovation. Jody collaborates with students, faculty, colleagues, local founders and alumni across the globe creating work that spans from high-level strategy to program design to workshopping hope with pipe cleaners in the Idea Lab. Her favorite part of her job though is supporting students to test and build their most audacious ideas. A certified welder and visual artist, Jody owns a small business called Hot House Metal where she creates custom architectural metalwork. On her off time, Jody is most in flow when surrounded by nature with her partner and four kids and hand sewing micro-quilts while watching the English Premier League.

Sasmita Tripathy, PhD

Program Manager, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Library 299

Sasmita Tripathy works on designing, implementing, coordinating and managing program to help students in their entrepreneurial journey. Sasmita is passionate about commercializing ideas/innovations to solve the next big problems in the world. Prior to joining Macalester, she helped startups and researchers on Customer Discovery, Market Research and SBIR/STTR grant writing. She is an instructor at Great Lakes I-Corps Hub  and MIN-Corps, where she teaches contents such as Product-Market Fit, Customer Discovery, Market Assessment and Commercialization Pathways by following Lean Launchpad methodology. Additionally, she taught undergraduate students at the Department of Biology of University of St Thomas. She holds a PhD from Oregon State University, where her doctoral dissertation was focused on molecular control of type 2 diabetes and fatty liver diseases. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, hiking and gardening.

Briana Riley

Department Coordinator Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Idea Lab
Pronouns: she/her
Library 229
[email protected] 

Briana facilitates all Idea Lab activities. She is the go to person for scheduling space and working with the student staff to create a welcoming environment that encourages innovation, creativity, collaboration and joy. Briana graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a degree in Global Studies and an emphasis on governance, peace, and justice. Prior to joining Macalester, Briana worked at the YWCA St. Paul in programs designed to empower individuals and families experiencing deep racial and gender disparities. In her free time Briana is energized by traveling with her husband and two children, working in her organic vegetable garden, and spending time with friends and family.  

Linda Seebauer Hansen

Communications and Engagement Specialist, Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Idea Lab
Pronouns: she/her
Library 229
[email protected]

Linda Seebauer Hansen joined the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Department in 2024 as Communications and Engagement Specialist. She brings over ten years of experience serving in communication and marketing to philanthropic roles leading a variety of activities – programs, campaigns, grant writing, strategic planning, and recruiting and developing volunteers and Boards, for two Twin Cities based small nonprofit arts organizations. Prior to that she was the Metals Department Head at the Worcester Center for Crafts, MA, where she was awarded the Barrett Morgan Award for exemplary leadership and teaching. She received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and BA from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with an emphasis in Public History. She is an Individual Artist grant recipient from the Wisconsin State Arts Board and has been a practicing studio and teaching artist, and entrepreneur for over twenty years. She enjoys sharing innovative and 21st century material and design studies with all-level of students, exhibition audiences, and collaborative partners. She has taught in the art department at St. Catherine University and continues to offer courses at Minneapolis-based arts organizations. Linda has been on the Board of Directors for Minnesota Jewelry Arts Guild and Franconia Sculpture Park, and participated in programming at Penland School of Crafts, NC – artist in residence and studio assistant in metals. Linda is enthusiastic to engage with Macalester students from all departments and develop communication and outreach on campus and beyond. She enjoys being creative and curious and is active in several art groups, bakes biscotti, partners with her rescue dog in agility, and hiking, traveling or visiting cultural and art events with her husband. They live in St. Paul.

Ali Alizadeh ’85

Entrepreneur in Residence & Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

Ali Alizadeh is a Principal and a co-founder of Hemisphere. Prior to co-founding Hemisphere, Mr. Alizadeh was a managing director at RBC Capital Markets.  Mr. Alizadeh directs the firm’s development and investment efforts as well as managing the firm’s institutional and business relationships.  Over the last 30 years, Mr. Alizadeh was instrumental in arranging nearly $1 billion of senior and subordinated debt for the gaming and hospitality industry.  From 1999 to 2001, Mr. Alizadeh was Senior Vice President in the Corporate Finance Department of Jefferies and Company, Inc.  Prior to joining Jefferies, Mr. Alizadeh spent two years as a Managing Director at RBC Dain Rauscher and five years at Miller and Schroeder Financial, Inc.  Mr. Alizadeh has also held corporate finance positions at Citicorp, N.A., in Chicago and New York.  Mr. Alizadeh holds a B.A. in economics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business in Rochester, New York.

Allan Martinez Venegas ’14

Entrepreneur in Residence & Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Allan Martinez, an applied anthropology and human-centered design specialist, has extensive experience tackling global social challenges. Projects include recruiting Ebola treatment unit staff in Liberia, addressing mosquito-borne diseases in rural Panama, and launching public-private partnerships in Nigeria. Allan’s research work includes understanding COVID-19 and HPV vaccine hesitancy in Kenya, identifying safeguarding and protection risks in humanitarian operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, and tackling causes of school attrition in Liberia. With a strong teaching background, Allan is a trainer and facilitator for research teams worldwide. He instructs at the University of Turin and the United Nations International Training Center of the ILO, teaching in the Master’s in Social Innovation for Sustainable Development, Master’s of Technology and Public Policy, and the Master’s in Development Management. Additionally, Allan is a teaching team member at IDEO, a premier Human-Centered Design firm. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Anthropology with a concentration in Human Rights and Humanitarianism from Macalester College and a master’s degree in Social Innovation for Sustainable Development from the University of Turin and the United Nations International Training Center of the ILO.

Megan Butler 

Sustainability Director & Professor of Sustainability Design Lab course

Megan received a Masters in Development Practice and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources Science and Management from the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation research focused on community-based natural resource management. She is passionate about creating bridges between research and practice through her work and brings experience with international development, renewable energy transition, governance, environmental education and conservation to her role as Sustainability Director. In her free time she enjoys distance running and volunteers as an english/spanish interpreter. Stop by the Sustainability Office to introduce yourself to Megan and talk about sustainability topics that excite you!

E&I/Idea Lab Student Staff


Anna Keefe
Hi! My name is Anna, and I am from just across the river in Minneapolis. I am a senior at Macalester, and I’m studying Women, Gender, and Sexuality as well as Studio Art. After spring semester studying abroad, I’m so excited to be back on campus this fall to spend time in the Idea Lab, it really is the best collaborative space on campus 🙂  

Maksim Smith
Heyo! I’m Maksim and I am a senior from Lawrence, Kansas. I am an International Studies/German double major with a Human Rights and Humanitarianism concentration. I love button-making and all things graphic design but I am always open to learning new skills in the Idea Lab and providing help to the confused and curious!


Melissa Ballin-Cardona
Hello I’m Melissa! I am graduating May 2025. I’m from Atlanta, GA. For fun I like to paint, bake, hike, and plant. What I love about the idea lab is that it is a welcoming space for all levels of creators and contains all the supplies you could possibly need to bring your creations to life.

Felicia Winfrey

Felicia Winfrey
HI! My name is Felicia and I am a junior, geography and Latin American studies double major from Denver, CO. I love playing lots of different sports, especially ice hockey, and trying out new crafts. My favorite part of the idea lab is being able to do art projects with my friends (old and new!).

Alex Parr

Alex Parr
My name is Alex Parr (she/her). I am from St. Paul and I grew up in Sri Lanka. I am majoring in Geology and ES. I love crafting and creating, especially anything to do with sewing, embroidery, crochet, and glue guns!

Sylvia Choi
Hi I’m Sylvia, a 4th year Biology major! I like to play games, read, do anything related to creating, and have a unreasonably high confidence that I can figure out how to do anything art related. I like working at the Idea Lab because there are so many random arts materials open to everyone.

Natalie Mazey
Hi, I’m Natalie! I’m a sophomore at Mac majoring in English. I’m from Liberty Township, Ohio. I love that working in the idea lab allows me to flex my own creative muscles while also helping others to do the same. In my free time I enjoy dancing, writing, and crafting (especially crochet).

Pema Dolker

My name is Pema and I’m a sophomore (’26) and chemistry major from Plymouth, MN. I LOVE talking Horror, animation, comics, film, fantasy, art, and poetry. My standout favs are The Long Walk by Stephen King, Watchmen, Hannibal, blue sea dragons, JOJO’s, hagfish, Death note, South Park, American Psycho, the Karate Kid, Dante’s inferno, and the Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I paint, do digital art, write poetry, (try to) sew, make jewelry, and love diving into new artistic mediums. I’ve always sought out environments that mix academics and creativity and I’m thrilled at the opportunity to work in an environment that inspires my artistic endeavors. Nice to meet you all! 🙂

Loree Ohanness Keushgerian 
Hi there, I’m Loree, and I come all the way from Lebanon as an international student in the class of ’27. My days are happily consumed by my creative pursuits: whether it’s creating art, soaking in music, or diving into a good book. What really lights up my enthusiasm is being part of the idea lab. The mission it holds resonates with me, and I’m thrilled to join forces with fellow creative minds who share the same drive for change and innovation.

Mohammed Sohail Khan
I’m Mohammed Sohail Khan from Hyderabad, India. I’m planning on majoring in Economics and will be graduating in 2027. I love to play Frisbee and converse with people for fun. I chose the Idea Lab, because for me I think its the most exciting department(Entrepreneurship and Innovation) on Campus filled with Macathon, Mac Start-ups, Mac Nest etc. which I’m very interested about and will definitely enjoy my time in the Department. 

Jace Compton
Hi! I’m Jace (they/them), Class of 2027, and I am from Glendale, California! I like to draw, write, sew and play minecraft in my free time. I chose to work at the Idea Lab because I love making things! Any chance I getI like to be building and designing things, which I’ll be doing lots of at the Lab.

Mila Petit
Hi! I’m Mila, I’m a freshman from Walla Walla Washington. I love music, reading, and lots of crafts, especially crochet and floral arrangements!! I’m excited to work in the Idea Lab and be surrounded by creative people.

Leovigildo Lorenzo
Hey, my name is Leovigildo Lorenzo and I graduate in 2027. I am from San Leandro, CA and I like to hang out with my friends! I chose to work in the Idea Lab because I wanted build my teamwork skills.